Suckers is a Brooklyn-based rock band. Their awesome self-titled EP generated lots of deserved attention. They are working on their debut LP to be released sometime next year.
Epilogue: How did the residency at Pianos go?
Austin: It went really well.
Pan: It was awesome. We sold out every show.
Austin: It’s unusual to play the same place every week. I didn’t know what to think about it, if people were going to come to every show. We’re so new that usually just our friends come. I didn’t know if they’d come every week. But a couple other people showed up. It was good. It was heartening that they all sold out.
Pan: It made me really psyched. It made me think that, oh, maybe if we could play at a larger venue like Bowery we could probably pack it.
What do you think of the success of the residency? The word got out pretty fast.
Pan: I still don’t think anyone else knows who we are besides people in New York.
Austin: I don’t know. We were playing together for a long time, but not in a very organized fashion. So last summer we just started getting it together, trying to be a band and record something. Then we got managers. They really do a lot of work.
Pan: Getting a manager was one of the best things that ever happened to us.
Austin: It kind of seemed like, wow, this is actually working! Better than I expected, in terms of being written up on the Internet. It’s kind of funny. But it’s hard to figure out what that means. It doesn’t mean we’re getting like, paid.
Pan: For a couple months there was a lot of buzz, and then it just dies down. So you’re like, did people even care? Or did they just like us because it was cool for a little while?
I have a hard time placing your sound and I mean that in the best way. What do you attribute that to?
Austin: It’s a conscious effort, a really serious effort to not sound like everybody else. It’s a big part of writing for us. It’s like, oh, this sounds like something else, so we get rid of it. I think that ever since Quinn and I were little, we were obsessed with “don’t copy me!” or whatever. We’re not one of those bands that is like, “Our influences are going to be this band and this band and this band.”
Pan: And I’ve been doing experimental stuff for a really long time. Why would I ever want anything to sound like anything else? It doesn’t make sense.
Austin: It just seems to me like that should be everyone’s goal.
Is there a particular type of music that you ground yourself in?
Pan: I guess in our case it’s pop music.
Austin: I’ve been getting really into this mainstream pop music. Not as much contemporary stuff.
Pan: I don’t know. It probably changes all the time.
How do you find the roles in the band? You’re all multi-instrumentalists and I figure that might be tough.
Austin: That’s a difficulty we ran into. We started writing and we were trying to make songs together at the same time, and it would quickly become too much. I think now we’re becoming sparser. When we started off playing we were a three piece, we didn’t have a drummer, we all played what we could to get the sound that we wanted and then that carried into having a drummer who also played keyboard. I think that everyone has the same tools when they’re making songs, it’s just how you think about the arrangements. So we want to be able to have different things when we’re making the arrangements.
Pan: When we start writing, someone will start playing something and it’s like, ok, what can I play to make this sound cool? Like, I’ll play a sample, or I’ll play a trumpet, whatever.
Austin: It’s like, oh, that’s a nice progression, but it would sound a lot more interesting if it was played on this sampler instead of the guitar.
How does the process work? Who starts it?
Pan: It’s different every time. Sometimes we’ll just walk into practice and start randomly playing something and before we know it, we wrote half of a song.
Austin: Sometimes we do that and it doesn’t work out at all.
Pan: We wrote half of a song that we will never, ever finish. For some reason we can’t find the other half. Maybe in ten year we’ll find it.
Austin: But now that we’ve been focused on writing, we’ve realized these things like we can’t all go start going bananas at once. It’s made things a little quicker. We’re focused on being as concise as we can.
Do you feel like you’re holding back at all when you can’t just play on top of one another?
Austin: I think that the idea is everyone wants the song to sound the best it can. Pan went to film school, and it’s like that saying, you may have to cut the best scene, your favorite scene…
Pan: Sometimes you’re like ‘This part of the song is my favorite! It’s so awesome.” But there’s absolutely no reason to have it in there. It’s a really cool part, but it doesn’t make sense.
Austin: You might be playing the instrument, but you’re not the only person writing the part.
Pan: We all contribute to everybody else’s part.
Do you argue at all?
Pan: Not really. Every once in a while. It’s nothing really crazy, it’s like, I really really like that part, but someone else doesn’t think it works. That’s generally the extent of it.
Austin: We put whatever’s best on the song.
Pan: We are just a big filtering system.
What's coming up for Suckers?
Pan: We’re writing for our full-length album that we’ll probably have out early next year.
How’s that going? Who are you recording with?
Pan: We don’t know that yet.
Austin: We’re going to try to record in the fall. The residency in June didn’t give us that much time.
Pan: Between now and fall, we’re trying to focus more on writing.
My cousin’s moving here soon, the cousin I do Epilogue with. Dude’s a total zero. Is it weird having a family member in the band?
Austin: No. We’ve been best friends since we were growing up. We grew up right down the road from each other and he’s just a year older than me. We’d been playing stuff and we wanted to start this new project and we asked Pan to do it. I don’t think there’s any particular differences except that you have Christmas dinner together.
When you go into record are you going to do different things than what you did on the EP? Will there be any songs from the EP on the new record?
Pan: Probably nothing from the EP.
Austin: We might…maybe one song. It depends. We did the EP really quickly. We recorded all the basic tracks in one day and all the overdubs in two days. I think we’d all like to spend time making it more of a studio album and less of a live album.
Pan: We’re interested in using the studio as another instrument. We’re all about technology.
Are you going to record the LP yourselves?
Pan: We’ll probably bring somebody else on, like a producer.
Austin: We haven’t gotten that far. We’re still sorting out that part.
Do you feel like you’re a pop group? Is that how you think about it?
Pan: I guess so.
Austin: I think that’s how we think about it, but in reality for most Americans, we would not be considered a pop group. I get kind of annoyed when I read people say, “Oh, we’re a pop group.” No, you’re not. Justin Timberlake - that’s pop music. I think we want to move towards that.
Pan: And I think that most of the songs are based in a pop sensibility. We just try to make them sound weirder or more interesting than your average pop music.
How do you ensure longevity making music you want to make without it being reactionary?
Austin: I think it’s just to keep doing what you’re interested in and not really pay attention. I think it’s natural that people will get interested in something and they’ll try to find other things like it, especially writers, I feel like.
Pan: We definitely make it a point to not sound like somebody else, but I think everything we play is genuine. It’s not like, I have to construct this riff to not sound like anybody else! This is what comes out and it’s just a matter of orchestration. If it goes in one directions we’re like, maybe we should steer it in a different direction.
I feel like in pop and rock there’s not a lot of room for technical innovation.
Austin: I think there’s more than people realize. We used more samples and stuff and I don’t think people would realize that from our EP, at least. I think there’s room to be, in the rock framework, to really be something else in general. If you’re playing a certain type of music, you know, there’s not a wide expanse of musical ground to cover. But, also, people don’t want to hear it, in general. And a lot of that can get really conceptual or whatever, but it’s already been done. Like, no-wave, took it as far is it can go, minimal music that’s already been done. I feel like in music, and sort of in the art world too, there’s not one big movement that has overtaken this decade, but there’s people forging their own way out of the many things that have already happened, the extremes. We try to find the balance between catchy, something people hum, and also being weird.
Pan: We definitely pull from movements like no-wave or maybe even lo-fi at times. Maybe in the past, people had laid the groundwork and made the palette, painting with this palette, each color would be a different genre or sound. Definitely influenced from everything like—I used to play in a death metal band—definitely all different types of music.
Photo By: Sam Fleischner