1-800-BAND: Hüsker Dü is one of the greatest bands on Earth
1-800-BAND is a name you aren't likely to forget. That's right, we said name. Don't try calling it as you would a toll-free number -- you won't get an answer. What you will get is an onslaught of catchy power pop tunes cooked up by a foursome of seasoned musicians bred of Brooklyn dive bars, sharp hooks, and an affinity for humor.
Gimme Noise caught up with Polly Watson, keyboardist of 1-800-BAND who also happens to be a music critic herself -- she is the music editor at High Times magazine! -- as the band prepares to hit the road on their first tour, which will be stopping at the Triple Rock on Monday evening.
Gimme Noise: How did 1-800-BAND start?
We started playing together a couple of years ago. We had all been in different bands together and apart, but we just liked hanging out together. We all have pretty disparate tastes I think, but it turned out everybody could agree on the sort of late '70s, early '80s style power pop.
What is your taste like?
I personally am really into metal and thrash, and hardcore, and punk; but, I also love power pop, and I love the more melodic hardcore. There's a band from Minneapolis, a much older band, Hüsker Dü, who I thought did a great job of blending power pop and hardcore. That's one of the greatest bands on Earth to me.
How did you all originally meet?
We all met in college years ago. We went to Antioch College, which has no grades, notoriously. No grades, and you do internships, so basically, you know, you go to school for a few months and then you work on a turkey farm for a few months. It's super liberal, obviously. I think somebody got credit for being in prison. If you can write a good essay about it, and get a good life experience out of it... We were all like, oh my god, can you get credit for having sex?
Your first introduction to playing music was on the piano. Did you have dreams of someday being in a band?
I totally wanted to be in bands. Actually when I was younger I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mother said it wasn't ladylike. Instead of playing in bands when I was younger, when I was about 15 or 16 I would just put on shows in the backyard. I didn't actually learn how to play guitar until I was just out of college, and playing in my first band.
How does your songwriting process begin?
Usually what works best is Al comes up with some sort of hook, which is good for all of us, because I think he has the most mainstream taste of all of us. He likes bands like X.
Your songs are quite catchy, and accessible to a broad audience. What were your intentions when you were recording the songs? Was that a conscious decision?
No! Our intentions were like, wouldn't it be cool if we could be in Cheap Trick? But no, we can't. Our intentions were just to write stuff that we like. I think that's all any band can do, and if people like it then it's great, but you can never ever aim for something that someone's going to like -- that's just a lost cause, I think.
With so many bands coming out of Brooklyn, how do you plan on leaving your mark?
We have so many venues. We're super lucky. I remember having to go to Philadelphia to see a lot of shows that I wanted to see, especially if they were hardcore or punk. Now we have an amazing scene. We have some of the best punk bands, I think, in the country.
To make our mark...It's always nice to leave your mark, but we're more interested in playing with different bands that we like, that we're friends with, and having a good time and seeing other bands.