Band Name: The Culinary Rockers.
Text by Brian Wilensky. Image by Matt Hindman.
A band that lives together sort of sounds like a cliche. Maybe it happens a lot. But for the three members of Band Name, who have been living together in a North Philly loft above a warehouse for a few years now, cohabitation wasn’t exactly intended. Nor was meeting and playing in a band together.
“The house brought us together,” says guitarist and singer, Jeremy Jams. “We all moved in separately and just started playing music together.”
Hard-hitting drummer Gregory Labold says he was the last to move in and he gave them fair warning – he has a lot of stuff. But in the grand scheme of the loft, it doesn’t look like it would’ve made a difference.
The number of people living here is somewhere in the double digits. Most are musicians or artists or both, and they all fuel each other’s muse. So naturally, there’s a myriad of stuff around the room, ranging from faux slot machines with piles of trinkets on it to stacks of VHS tapes from decades ago, to random, displaced items on their kitchen table, including the plate to press an Algernon Cadwallader record.
“This place is about constant ebb and flow and just making whatever changes you need to make it work,” says Labold. “You can see there’s a lot of stuff in this place. It’s organized chaos.”
Which is a bit like Band Name’s riff-laden, needle-past-the-red-line punk music about youth and lost jobs that they displayed on their 2010 full-length debut, Breakfast, released on Jams’ own Soft City Records label. Since then, they put out King of Surfers, a split 7-inch with D.C. punk band Shat Shorts.
Even though Breakfast isn’t about the first meal of the day, it isn’t an arbitrary title.
“It kind of started when we all lost or quit our jobs and we were just living together and writing,” says Labold. “We’d wake up, make breakfast together and then we’d make music. So that’s how we found out what the band connected on.”
Jams, Labold and bassist Cat Park regularly play house shows, tearing up the basement scene. They prefer house shows to bars because occasionally bars can be tougher to fill. Then making them slam along is the next challenge.
“It’s sort of like when we played up in Boston and everyone stood with their arms folded,” Park says. “I think they were there with the mindset of meeting people or something.”
But with low-paying house shows comes some couch-surfing and having to pay gratitude to whoever it was that took them in. Jams says that they’d make breakfast for whoever let them crash, insisting they buy all the ingredients and cook them breakfast.
“We now have bands text us pictures of them making food together,” Park says.
As happy as Band Name seems to be about sharing their culinary skills, they couldn’t believe how many 20-year-olds can’t cook.
“We met a ton of people who we stayed with that don’t know how to cook food for themselves,” Labold says. “It’s like we taught them – all you do is put oil in a pan and then put a potato in it, or an egg, or a piece of meat. What’s salsa? Seriously, it’s just tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, a little lemon or lime. Maybe not even lime. Just cut some stuff up and put it in a bowl and it’s food. I mean, come on.”
Aside from the good eats, the Band Name oven bell is about ring with a couple new releases.
They’re expecting to put out a new cassette and a 7-inch by the end of the year – but only in small batches, and cut by hand. They say the hip thing to do these days is to get your own lathe and physically press records yourself.
“It’s really the way to go when you don’t need, like, 500 7-inches from old releases,” says Park. “We know so many people that have hundreds left over.”
Labold agrees, saying he’s got a stack holding up a table in his bedroom from a previous project.
“We’ll probably put out about 50 lathe-cut records for the seven-inch,” Jams says.
That may be just enough for the house show circuit. Good luck getting a copy for your collection.