Photo by Keith Baillargeon
New Noise Magazine is bringing forth an exclusive band to band interview between Jenny of Neighborhood Brats and Brian of Night Birds. These two bands are playing night 1 of the New Noise Presents 3 day showcase at the Ivy Room on Dec 6th.
Both of these bands are a sensation live, and have numerous jams running around in their catalogue. Neighborhood Brats recently dropped Claw Marks via Dirt Cult Records on November 16th. The video for “Night Shift” can be viewed below. Purchase the record here.
Photo by Keith Baillargeon
Earlier in September, Night Birds dropped Roll Credits, a record through Fat Wreck Chords. This raged filled energetic assault lasts only 17 minutes, but will transfer to the live stage extremely well. Purchase the record here.
(After a back-and-forth of G Chat and Facebook Messenger trying to decide where to conduct this interview…)
JENNY: Caller are you there?
BRIAN: Are we moving the convo over here?
JENNY: Which do you prefer? This or facebook? The book of faces…
BRIAN: Let’s stay here! But I’d like to carry over the shower convo and I want to go on record saying I need a shower every morning of tour. I don’t care if it’s the punkest of squats, I will find the local slop sink to shower up. It’s my hitting the recharge button. I hear people brag about not taking a single shower on a 2 week tour. That’s just gross.
JENNY: Dude. the Struggle is real. Ugh not showering for 2 WEEKS ON TOUR??? that sounds like my nightmare. I’m Mediterranean. I get funky real quick. Like I just said I have to shower ever night after I play a show. I literally cannot go to sleep if I don’t shower or yeah, at least find a hose and spray myself down. There’s been a few nights on tour that I haven’t been able to shower and I can’t sleep. I get itchy. I can smell my dirty hair. It’s like living in a horror movie.
BRIAN: Yea, I don’t subscribe to dirty messy sloppy punk mentality. I’m a germaphobe, I like to be clean.
JENNY: I like that our last conversation was that I was so excited that I showered in the secret bathroom at Zoro (amazing long running venue / squat in Germany) that I had to text you from Germany!
BRIAN: Yea, that’s right! That’s a great shower, a diamond in the rough, if you will. Anyway. Good morning Jenny! How are you today?
JENNY: Good Morning! I’m good! I’ve been in migraine hell for two days. But I’m starting to turn the corner. The worst part of my migraine hell was that I had Inna Gadda Da Vida stuck in my head. But not the entire song, just the beginning riff.
BRIAN: I get that too! Every morning I wake up with like 1 line of a song, or even the line of a movie just going over and over and over in my head. It’s really weird.
JENNY: How are you Brian? How’s the east coast this morning/afternoon?
BRIAN: Things are good! I just dropped my daughter off at school. She’s 5. She told me a boy made fun of her winter hat with the ball on top yesterday and I’m boiling over inside wanting to kill a child. I haven’t figured out how to deal with that yet, I’m not ready for it.
I’ve never been so protective of something before, and kids are so shitty and mean.
JENNY: That’s new territory! You are the father of a little girl! Are you going to be like one of those Dad’s who comes to the door with a baseball bat wearing a wife beater when a boy comes to pick up your daughter for a date? I’m just thinking of ever stereotype of a guido east coast Dad aka MY OWN FATHER. I have no other frame of reference.
BRIAN: I don’t think so, but I’m also daydreaming about making violence to an actual child that laughed at her, so I suppose nothing is off the table! It’s tough, people just seem so rotten these days, I don’t need the actual most innocent human I know to be involved in that, yet I brought that human into this world, so I guess it’s my job to figure that shit out.
JENNY: Good thing there’s that excellent piece of cinema, award winning at Canne and Sundance, the hard hitting and emotionally gripping documentary that will show you how to navigate fatherhood…. I’m talking of course about the punk rock dad documentary. I can’t even remember what it’s called… The OTHER F WORD. I just asked Siri
BRIAN: Ah yes! I should just study up on that! Hey, I wanted to talk to you about breakfast. Did you have any today? If so what did you have, if not, what will you have?
JENNY: I had a salad for breakfast! With salmon and a half an avocado and a cup of coffee. I eat dinner for breakfast. By the way, the fact that I eat dinner for breakfast is another one of my tour struggles. I don’t do “breads and spreads”
BRIAN: I love breads and spreads! I could eat Euro tour breakfast every day and love it.
JENNY: What did you have?
BRIAN: Dottie (daugther), Amanda (my wife), and I have a big breakfast every morning. Veggie sausages and bacon, eggs, avocado, toast and jam, strawberries, juice, coffee, etc. It’s the main meal we eat together. I never used to be huge on breakfast and in the last few years it’s really turned my life around.
JENNY: That sounds EPIC. I eat a big breakfast “dinner” every morning. It’s truly the most important meal of the day. I don’t understand people who don’t or forget to eat breakfast. I’d be so grouchy all day. I’ve never had road rage ever but if I skipped breakfast I’d be beating people out of their cars or challenging fools to sideshows on the 880 freeway in East Oakland by the Coliseum every morning. I can’t do Euro tour breakfast (sad voice) but thankfully my food requests are getting better so I usually split half of my dinner and save it for breakfast.
BRIAN: Sounds like you’ve got it all figured out!
JENNY: It’s always an experiment. Hey speaking of touring…I’ve got a question for you. It’s actually something that I’ve thought about asking you as we are both around the same age and touring in the same “scene” or whatever. Have you ever had that moment on tour where you’ve had like, a mini existential crisis? Like, “holy shit this is my life?” I’ll back this up with a story – last european tour I was laying in a triple tower bunk bed, which was in the kitchen of an old squat in Oslo Norway, unable to sleep. It was freezing, the kitchen smelled like curry (I actually smelled like curry for 4 days after that), and as I’m laying there listening to the boys snoring all I can think about is “Yup. 39 years old. This is my life.” “…this is my life. Most 39 year old women have families, and careers and children and my biggest worry is that some crusty is going to go through my backpack and steal my clean (or dirty) underwear.”
BRIAN: Yes! I can very much relate to that. Night Birds very rarely get hotels, we stay at friends homes or with people who are nice enough to put us up. I don’t drink or party, the rest of my band does to a degree… Around 4 AM on many an occasion I find myself zipped in my sleeping bag, tee shirt wrapped around my eyes to block the light, and headphones on gently playing the Cranberries to try and block out the noise as people get drunk and annoying around me, and as they stumble over my body as I’m ALMOST asleep, I can’t help but wonder sometimes what the hell I’m doing.
I don’t resent peoples good times, and it’s not like it’s ever a surprise, I know I continue to put myself in those situations, so I just deal, and it’s not a deal breaker for me to not do this stuff, but it’s not ideal sometimes.
JENNY: I can totally relate to everything you said. I don’t drink or party either. After a show I need to eat immediately (I can’t eat 4 hours before we play or I get pukey. It’s like that eating and not going swimming rule), I need to shower and I usually want to go to bed. I can stay up and hang but it gets to a point where I know that I can’t and won’t be able to “do my job” the next day aka perform if I don’t get sleep. And no matter how good the driver is I can’t sleep in the van. And I trust Michl Krenner with my life. haha
BRIAN: Yea, tour life is essentially the exact opposite of my real life, so it’s a tough mode to just dive into. The eating, the sleeping, the showering, and personal space… It’s just all massively different.
JENNY: I like touring and I know what comes along with it, so yeah I sign up for it too. It’s about knowing yourself and your limits and having boundaries with those around you and also asking for what you need to be comfortable. Or semi comfortable. $350 Bose noise reducing headphones where the best money I’ve ever spent. Real talk. I never usually spend money on shit like that but it’s now a necessity.
BRIAN: I also have nice headphones which I find extremely important. I have bad anxiety in general, but it flares up when I tour so I wear headphones in the van 75% of the time to turn my brain off and try to relax.
JENNY: Yes dude! Self-care on the road is important. I also find I need to check in with my friends and my family at home (when there’s free wifi) to keep me grounded.
BRIAN: People reading this probably think we are real jerks to tour with! For the record, I’ve gotten pretty good not making my issues anyone else and deal with them accordingly, I think that’s important to anyone in a touring band.
JENNY: I’m actually the best to tour with! I am really only cranky if I’m hungry or I need coffee or a nap. George and Michl are really good at this point at identifying my needs – they just look at me and how I’m behaving and say “do you need some food?” or “I think Jenny needs a nap!”
But the key to getting along on tour is communicating, being honest, avoiding being PASSIVE AGRESSIVE (I can’t stress this enough) and respecting everyone’s space, boundaries and feelings. Wouldn’t you say?
BRIAN: Yea, I agree. That’s just kind of a life thing I think, not just a tour thing. But then again a lot of people are just bad at life as well.
Hey, you mentioned lack of sleeping leading to not being able to do your job properly. Does lack of sleep fuck your voice up? Cause you can like, actually sing, which is really cool! Follow up question, did you ever take singing lessons or anything?
JENNY: Thank you Brian! I’ve never fancied myself much of a singer – I’ve always considered myself a loud dancer who can yell in time with music. Haha…lack of sleep, extreme weather changes, The Pacific Northwest and cats fuck up my voice. I lost my voice last tour and couldn’t speak or barely sing for two days because we stayed with someone who had a giant fluffy cat. All I can say is I had to take allergy medicine every day of tour (which also made me bonkers) and if you are in Finland the cough drops are excellent. And every time we play a Pacific Northwest tour I lose my voice. Go figure.
BRIAN: I guess I should consider myself lucky I have no allergies, that sounds shitty.
JENNY: Never had any voice lessons! I got kicked out of 9th grade chorus and thus ended my vocal “training.” How about you? Any singing lessons? How about piano or guitar or any other musical lessons?
BRIAN: No, no singing lessons. I tried to “sing” a bit more on our new album, I’m happy with how it came out. I took guitar lessons when I was 13 and got my first guitar. That lasted about 3 weeks and when the fella wasn’t teaching any Toadies or Candlebox tunes I pretty quickly lost interest.
JENNY: Hahaha Candlebox! Recently George and I were driving and we were trying to have a competition to find the shittiest 90’s music and Candlebox was definitely on the list. For the record – Green Jello is actually pretty sick.
BRIAN: Don’t get me started, I have a soft spot for all that stuff. I still won’t change the station when that sick SILVERCHAIR single pops up.
JENNY: Here’s a slightly related question but also not related question, for my fellow front person… What’s the biggest misconception that people have about you as the front/person singer with a sometimes outrageous stage persona? Because let’s be honest – neither one of us just stands still and looks at our feet with the microphone on the stand in front of our face…
BRIAN: Yea, no way! I love to run around and dance and have fun when we play, it’s a really good time! I love playing live, I mean, I’m assuming that’s why we both deal with all the annoying junk we were talking about? As far as misconception, I don’t really know. I’ve had beer dumped over my head, or sprayed all over me while playing shows before, which I really don’t dig. I guess meaning the misconception may be that I party… Which I do not. I don’t mind of course if someone being polite and wants to do shots or something, I just politely decline, but I really can’t imagine the world where you are on tour with one pair of pants and someone assumes that you want to be showered in fucking beer. That shit sucks.
JENNY: Years ago while on tour in Texas somebody dumped a full beer INTO my pants and told me “where they come from” that’s how they show appreciation. It was fucking awful. Oh – were they “come from” was Berkeley, CA.
BRIAN: That doesn’t seem appropriate at all. Hey, I’m going to plug your new record like a late night host in late night host voice… NEIGHBORHOOD BRATS new FANTASTIC album CLAW MARKS is out Nov. 16th! Night Birds are coming out West to do shows with y’all in LA and the Bay in December which I believe will be your record release shows? Do you like your new record?
JENNY: HAHAHA I imagined Rick Dees voice. Where the hell is Rick Dees? Is he dead?
BRIAN: Let me google that for you…
JENNY: Remember he had that cameo in La Bamba? His career when downhill from there. Same with Lou Diamond Phillips.
BRIAN: God bless their souls.
JENN: NOT MY RICHIE…. (Cardenas)
BRIAN: Shot out to Richie Dons!
JENNY: To All the Richies in our life. We salute you! And you know what Brian? I actually fucking love the new record. I normally don’t get all gushy about my own stuff. Recovery was and still is extremely painful to listen to but Claw Marks is epic AS FUCK.
BRIAN: Hell yea! It rules, you should be stoked. When Night Birds finishes a new record I always listen to it a bunch. Ya know, hard work pays off and all that, makes sense to be excited.
JENNY: Literally, there are songs on the new album like Dear Angelo, Nina’s Ghost and Misery Parade that are my proudest work. I want the lyrics to Nina’s Ghost on my tombstone. It’s my Moby Dick. My War and Peace. My Reign in Blood.
BRIAN: I’m really excited for you / y’all! That’s a great feeling to have something come out how you want it to.
JENNY: And I’m super duper excited to play shows with you guys! I think the combo of N Birds and N Brats is a killer show. I can’t believe we’ve only played together once! Remember? That warehouse in downtown LA that had scabies so none of us wanted to sit on anything.
BRIAN: I do remember! I got SO sick the following days after that. Not blaming it on the venue, necessarily, but it was the only time I had to cancel a show.
JENNY: You can blame the venue. It’s the only time in my “career” I’ve ever worn a trash bag dress. And not because I was trying to be punk. It was for safety reasons.
BRIAN: Until right now I just assumed you wore that trash bag because you thought it looked cool, which truthfully, it DID look cool! I just assumed you woke up that morning, flipped through your closet, and then said, ya know fuck it… and then grabbed the nearest HEFTY bag.
JENNY: Hahaha. I referenced old photos of punk girls at shows in LA at the Masque like Belinda Carlisle, Pleasant Gheman and Lorna Doom and they’re all looking fabulous wearing trash bags. Also can I say just to mutually inflate each other’s egos – Roll Credits is fucking brilliant. I don’t wanna sound like a cliche or cheesy but it’s a new punk rock classic. I love it because it’s timeless. And I know it sound dumb but it sounds like California to me. It feels like “home”. It feels like the punk I fell in love with as a teenage kid growing up in Nebraska dreaming of coming to California because I’d just read a Flipside.
BRIAN: Jeez, thanks so much! You’re not wrong. It is pretty brilliant, and absolutely an instant classic! The thing already has like 400 plays on youtube, so the money is bound to start rolling right in.
JENNY: CHA….CHING!!!! I can’t wait for you guys to get rich. Don’t forget about us. Me and my trash bag dress. Also, you are HELLA singing on Radium Girls. Sounds great!
BRIAN: Yea, went out of my comfort zone a bit on that one, but I’m happy with it! I was worried my voice sounded bad on our Suicide Commandos cover of I Need a Torch so I asked Fat Mike since I knew he’d be honest and he said “Dude, seriously, you sound good to great. Do it!” So we did! I like it. It’s hard to get outta your own head sometimes.
JENNY: “Good to great” I’ll take it!
BRIAN: Yea! That’s like a solid B-
JENNY: I wish I could get out of my own head. Noise reducing headphones help.
BRIAN: Quit trying to get a headphones sponsorship in this interview.
JENNY: If you guys are going to get rich I’m at least going to try and get sponsored. Hello Dr. Dre? Are you reading this. Hook me up with some ‘Beats. But seriously in the studio when I have to sing it’s like I’m working on the hardest math problem ever. It’s like I’m doing AP calculus and Advanced Chemistry and landing a shuttle at NASA. Sometimes I wish I could just go into the booth and go bananas like I do on stage but I’m really hard on myself.
BRIAN: OK, here’s my closer for you… If you could get any company to sponsor your band, who would it be and why?
JENNY: Well, obviously besides Beats by Dre and Bose (because I’m selfish) we need two things to keep Brats functioning at it’s peak – coffee and shoes. Hello Easy Spirits. Sketchers, New Balance? Are you out there? Comfy shoes for aging hardcore kids..
BRIAN: Dang, good one!
JENNY: And if someone could stock (George’s very new Sprinter Van) with coffee that would rule. And no Folgers or Maxwell house we want good shit.
BRIAN: Get it done before December so we can share the road in ultimate comfort and style!
JENNY: Okay I gotta go to work now but my closer question for you is if you could play on any ridiculous tour or festival what would it be? Like no limits. Like Bono calls you up and like asks you to play Bonnoroo do you do it? (also I have no idea if Bono is in charge of Bonnoroo but I’m just assuming because of the name) (Also I have no idea how to spell Bonnoroo)
BRIAN: Easy, the Gathering of the Juggalos. Like I always say, Jenny, go big or go home!
JENNY: Yes. That was the right answer.
BRIAN: Yo also, Bono has nothing to do with that.
JENNY: I have been asking for years if we could play the Gathering.
BRIAN: Also, for the readers out there: “The founders chose “bonnaroo” (Creole slang meaning a really good time) for its literal meaning and to honor the rich New Orleans music tradition they had enjoyed in college.”
JENNY: I think The Gathering would be next level. I mean, we’ve both played Zoro…
BRIAN: That’s OUR gathering.
JENN: So wait, Eddie Vedder solo is considered “rich New Orleans musical tradition”?
I quit. See you at The Gathering.