By John B. Moore
There are few things lonelier than being a post-hardcore band in Hipster Mecca (aka Brooklyn). You were raised on Glassjaw and Motörhead, while your skinny jeans clad neighbor wears a Motörhead t-shirt ironically.
Such is the cross the guys in Deep Pockets have to bear for their art. Comprised of Long Island natives Darren Nanos (drums), Matt Brennan (vocals), Conor Hickey (guitar) and Justin Williams (bass), the band plays a stellar brand of post-hardcore punk with plenty of 80’s Indie rock touchstones (Indie rock before it started wearing an ironic mustache).
Three-fourths of the band (Williams had to work) spoke recently about the founding of the band, their latest full- length (You Feel Shame) and being a noise band in a town known more for snarky song titles than turning the amps up to 11.
Let’s start with how the band first got together. You guys have been around for a few years now.
Brennan: Coming on two years this New Years.
Hickey: No, it’s more than two years. It’s almost three-and-a-half.
Nanos: No, it’s not three-and-a-half.
Hickey: It’s in between two and three-and-a-half.
So more than two years. Are you all from New York?
Hickey: Yeah, we’re all from Long island.
I tried to figure out how to phrase this question without insulting where you live, in Brooklyn…
Hickey: No, insult away.
I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that your sound is nothing like what I thought it would be when I found out you guys were based in Brooklyn. I bristle whenever I hear “Brooklyn Band.”
Nanos: So do we.
It’s got to be pretty lonely being a post hardcore band in a town known as the epicenter of trendy indie rock.
Nanos: We can’t get served in certain restaurants.
Hickey: To be completely honest with you, it’s nice to get that question, because it’s something we talk about a lot. We have a hard time finding a niche, especially in New York.
I look at the bands you guys have played with and they are all in a similar vein, but you are the one band that’s from New York and everyone comes in from out of town. Do you play outside Brooklyn for a lot of your shows?
Hickey: We try to. I think we had been a band for about a year and hadn’t played a show in either Brooklyn or the city. We’re all from Long Island and still have friends there, so we play there pretty frequently. But as Darren was saying, we’re friends with a lot of bands.
Brennan: We’ll play a Deep Pockets show in Brooklyn and think “this is cool, we’ll be close to our apartments,” and the night of the show it turns out Jack and The Kite Flyers [editor’s note: not a real band, but definitely should be. Ideally with a viola player] will be playing down the street and there’s 300 people there and it’s packed… It’s not that we dislike all of those bands; it’s just that we dislike a lot of those bands. I guess we’re all going to have to put a lot of shoes in our mouths after this runs.
You all grew up in Long Island, so did you all listen to the same bands growing up?
Hickey: I think one of the cool things that we all have in common, because we all grew up in Long Island, we all have that New York hardcore and New York punk background. We all still listen to a lot of that and play a lot of that in different bands. It might not be there in what we sounds like, but it’s still very much there in all of us.
Have you noticed your sound changing a lot since those first few songs you put out?
Nanos: Absolutely. The funny thing is, the way we started the band, we thought we would be a lot softer and quieter and as we kept writing songs we said, “let’s just be this loud rock band.” We didn’t play a show before releasing something.
That’s funny, because quiet is probably the last word I’d use to describe your sound. This is your first full- length. Is this a collection of older songs or were these all written specifically for this record?
Hickey: it’s about 12-14 months-worth of songwriting.
Nanos: But one of them is definitely from the first demo, but if you listen to the original version and what it sounds like now it’s a completely different vibe.
Did you record all at once or in stops and starts?
Brennan: We went down to North Philly to work with a fellow named Steve Roche who runs Permanent Hearing Damage Studios. We had the tunes pretty much set and then had a three day process of pretty much hammering them out and adding a lot of cool textures and stuff. (As the singer) I had a lot of time to really up my texting. I didn’t do much then, but we came back a few months later and did lyrics. So it took us awhile.
Nanos: We moved around a bit to get the best sounds and it turned out, we got the best sound with Matt half-naked in Justin’s bathroom. That’s where the best stuff comes out.
Hickey: Aside from the pause in between, we did the instruments in about two-and-a-half days and the vocals in one day, so aside from the lag in between, it was a pretty quick process… Overall it was a really good experience.