The So So Glos. Live and In Conversation.

“I can’t go to sleep without having dreams about a city exploding.”

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The So So Glos.
Live and In Conversation.

“You’re sick of the sound of your own voice, eh,” grins Alex Levine. “Me too.” Tonight is the final date of The So So Glos European tour. A majority of it has been supporting The Hold Steady but the final five dates have seen The So So Glos go it alone, in support of their second album ‘Blowout’. A twelve track roots record of aggressive, New York punk that longs for change.

Shirking the Shoreditch bar and taking to the street, I speak to Alex and his brother Ryan ahead of their headline show at London’s Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen. Walking out of an off-license, Ryan asks about the legality of drinking on the street as he opens his beer. “We’d get arrested back home. I’ve been arrested for this,” he offers before taking a swig.

Home, for The So So Glos is Brooklyn, New York. The band’s first, self-titled album was released in 2007 but they’ve been making music together since they could walk. Completed by stepbrother Zach Staggers and childhood friend, Matt Elkins, The So So Glos share the same blood they spill on stage. It’s a history they’re proud off, with last years ‘Blowout’ featuring home recordings off the childhood incarnation of the band wrestling, singing and questioning the world around them. Some things never change.

“Tour’s been a whirwind,” states Alex, sipping his drink. “We got to see a lot of different cities, playing to twenty five kids a night that really care about rock ‘n’ roll and are there for all the right reasons.”

“It’s been reminiscent of our first tour we did in the states,” Ryan adds.

“It’s as disconcerting as much as it is inspiring,” Alex continues. “I think where we’re at right now, there’s s a load of bullshit in mainstream culture. All that anyone really cares about on the internet is clickbait . Who said something risqué that we can put in a headline and get a bunch of people to click on our stupid fucking website. That’s basic journalism nowadays and rock and roll has taken a backseat. I think we’re in a dark time where there’s no generational voice, no ones really saying anything.”10696463_10152787951454738_3282477151817223751_n

The So So Glos are clearly unafraid of speaking out, so do they see themselves as a potential voice of this generation?

“That’s a lot of pressure. I think we’re one of the voices,” starts Alex. “I would say our music stands for something. We’re not afraid to say that. There’s social commentary, political undertones and subversive stuff that we tie into pop songs. They’re pop songs, they’re not exclusive. They’re anti-racist, anti-homophobic, and anti-sexist. They’re pro-fun and pro-movement. We say something, I don’t know if it’s something that hasn’t been said but nothing is new under the sun.”

“We’re not really the kind of band that’ll be mass marketed or anything like that as far as I can see. That’s not to say we don’t want to get our music out to as many people as possible,” Alex ventures. “A lot of kids come into this with a plan. It’s a very calculated list of ‘do this and this, then bleach your hair.’ We grew up doing this, we’re kids whose parents got divorced and we started a band and it was as natural as that. It’s the real deal and there’s no gimmick. It’s not something you can market or make it. It’s just what we’ve always done.”

Punk rock is often torn apart under a microscope as people become obsessed with the authenticity of it all. The first track on ‘Blowout’ is ‘Son Of An American’. Starting with a youthful reaction to Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’ the opening track is a national anthem critiquing America in the same vein as Woodie Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ .

“That was a ‘Kill your idols’ thing,” says Alex. “I was obsessed with Kurt Cobain and his suicide was crushing but it was calling bullshit on him. ‘Yes he does have a gun,’ and that’s wrapped into the So So Glos ideology. It’s anti narcissist, anti pretend, anti pretentious and it’s be what you are. He’s also a typical son of an American, an explosive, suicidal perfect microcosm of American culture.

I don’t think there’s anything more real than a little kid calling bullshit on his hero,” he continues.

“A lot of ‘Blowout’ is just anxiety,” explains Alex. We’re the post 9/11 generation. I can’t go to sleep without having dreams about a city exploding every once in a while, so that’s in there. It’s subconsciously buried underneath all of our psyches nowadays. That fear that we live on the fringe of something blowing up, I feel that. People are desensitised to it because we see it all the time. We have a song called ‘Xanax’ (pulled off of ‘Blowout’ because of a Phil Spector owned Darlene Love sample) which is about how staring into your phone can be a form of sedative.

“Our biggest fear is that kids will stop caring about rock and roll,” admits Alex. “I know that will never happen but we’re getting to a point where it’s so much the underdog, it’s terrifying. I’m not just talking about the genre but the spirit of it all, the rebellion and the danger. It’s endangered and I think that has a lot to do with how we communicate and our culture. The youth are tapped into the internet and electronic devices that distract. They’re playing video games when they’re two years old and borrowing their parents cell phones. We’re already done,” he warns.

“The people that feel they don’t fit in or are worried about the society they live in retreat into screens,” begins Ryan ”Maybe talking to people on the Internet is a way to deal but it doesn’t bring anyone together. Subcultures of music, punk and politics that usually intertwined don’t exist anymore. People aren’t seeking like-minded people out in the flesh; they’re looking for them on the Internet. I don’t know where this goes, butt it’s going that way. Not to be so ‘Terminator 2 about it but human interaction will lose. That spirit will lose. I don’t think it ever will because I’m an optimist but that’s a fear,” he finishes.

Alex Levine may be tired of hearing himself talk but The So So Glos come bearing an important message. They’re not attaching themselves to a scene, or a movement. They’re creating their own, just like they always have done.

“When I was five I used to dream about getting off a plane in England and there being crowds like for The Beatles and in that Bob Dylan video,” shares Ryan.

“I didn’t,” cuts Alex. “I didn’t think I was in a dream because, to me, we were already an official band. It was delusional, but that’s the way it is. We just got a little better at our instruments and got into our craft. That’s the only thing that’s changed, sadly,” he says before a pause.

“I don’t know if you should say you want to inspire bands, but I would like that to happen. If we inspire other bands, I would be proud of that.”

The So So Glos can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Their album ‘Blowout’ was one of my Top Ten Albums of 2014. and you can read my review of the show mentioned above, here.

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~ by justdip on 26/01/2015.

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