B-Boys could best be described as a cross between Fugazi and Katy Perry. The Brooklyn based band recently released their first full-length album with the appropriate title, Dada. Dada is a unique mixture of fast riffs, fat drums, and an attitude not found in popular music. That and the album coasts in just around 30 minutes of unrentless energy. B-Sides caught up with chief songwriters Brendon Avalos and Britton Walker to discuss the new record, philosophy of song lyrics, and their economical songwriting style.
B-Boys are from Brooklyn, NY, How has the city influenced your sound as a band?
- Britton Walker – “I don’t think that Brooklyn itself has influenced us as a band… as a sound…Well, actually it does because we have a lot of friends that play in bands in Brooklyn like Parquet Courts. I think that we indirectly influenced each other, just from hearing each other’s music. Right now, me and Brendan (Avalos), who plays bass in B-Boys, we live in Brooklyn, and Andrew (Kerr), the drummer, lives in Florida.”
How Does that Work?
- Britton Walker – “Andrew lives in Florida right now, when we first started he didn’t, and then he went away for a little bit, and then he went back to Florida. We went on some tours that didn’t make sense for him to come up if he didn’t want to. We fly him up when it’s time to do something, and use the time we have together to flush out songs, or jam, or get some built up energy out of our system.”
For whatever reason, I couldn’t get Fugazi out of my mind when I was listening to your new record Dada. Where do you find the drive to create that energy that fuels the band’s writing and performing?
- Britton Walker – “Probably for all of us we have, what I presume, is a normal amount of anxiety. I think that is a source of energy. New York is a constant source of energy, working 9 to 5, and then trying to do all the stuff you do on the side including relationships, maintaining friendships, taking care of your body and mind, making music. There is just not enough time in the day, which creates anxiety.
- “The proximity to the band, we’re not close, so when we are together the urgency to make music, we only have so much time trying to get it all out. We only have so much mental capacity to jam all the stuff that we do into our daily lives. We try to take those moments and pump them out.”
The record feels so immediate, like on the edge of something. Was there a conscious decision to drive that urgency around the record?
- Britton Walker – “Part of it is because we have a little ADD, we don’t want the songs to be super long because it doesn’t need to go there. We wanted to have enough to get you moving, like when you play a show, you go to the next song, and keep changing up the vibe. We have heard our songs been called economical. Which is a funny and appropriate way to display the songs. Keep them at 2-3 riffs, the “keep it simple stupid” mentality.”
Why did you call the album Dada?
- Britton Walker – “We wanted to name the album Dada before we even had the EP. it was more of a phonetic thing. We like to play with words, and say funny stuff when we’re practicing. But, of course there is a connection to the Dadaist Art Movement itself and how it was so anti-art. Not taking yourself too seriously, but in the same sense being serious.”
Can you speak a little to the lyrics on the record?
- Britton Walker – “Brendan and I write the lyrics. Words just come out when we are jamming, like ad-libbing or finding a phrase, make it around that, and then the whole thing changes. We find vocal patterns in the melody that makes it fun. For Dada I didn’t have a lot of the lyrics before we went in the studio. One weekend we did all the instruments, and the following weekend we did the vocal tracking. That gives us time to really dig into one thing that I was thinking, and then expand on it and play with the words for the 3 seconds I was able to during the week.
- “I was doing a lot of reading and seeing how I can place the words together that make sense. Coming into new topics, and ideas that I understood with topics that I thought I new more about than I really did through reading. It’s kind of a therapy really. One song was written right after Trump was elected. Some of it is just everyday live shit that I wanted to get off my chest, some of it is trying to get a deeper understanding of myself and other people.”
- Brendon Avalos – “I don’t ever think of myself as a really good lyricist. My songs always feel like they fall short. In that sense I have a different couple of writing styles that I try to achieve with the band. I think with a song like ‘Discipline’, it’s how I think of the world personally, and relatively obtuse and large- scale. There are a lot of questions that could be answered in those phrases you have to boil them down to… there’s no answer for them. The answer is so complex that one answer never really works, which is how I view most of the world.
- “A song like ‘Fear It’ I tried to make it super down to earth and simple, feeling of personal change, and taking some of the most simplified lyrics so the message isn’t just super-crazy to understand, it’s just in your face. There are some really obtuse lyrics, and some that just slap you over the head.
- “A song like ‘Fade’ was a personal experience of a relationship between people with a metaphor. Each song has a different feel, so we try to manifest it into lyrical form. I don’t take a long time to write lyrics. I look in a Thesaurus to find the words that I am thinking of. And I’m not much of a storyteller either. That is just not how I think, I can’t think in narrative.”
How did the band approach this record differently than the No Worry No Mind EP?
- Britton Walker – “It was a similar process, and we didn’t think too much about it. Most of the songs come from jamming. There were some songs that were riffed out ahead of time, but other than that we had about 30 demos on our phone. This one had more planning, the last EP was more of like – these are the songs that we can record right now. We didn’t think that No Worry, No Mind was going to be a record. We recorded it with one day in the studio and recorded as many songs as we could. Out of all the demos that we had we could at least plan the new record and know we wanted to start with a particular song, and end here with an up-down flavor, have an instrumental in the middle if we wanted to. I think there was one song that we recorded in that session that didn’t make it on the record.
- “I think we have a good grasp of the songs ahead of time so we can take a song that is 80% and make it 100% in the end. This one was a little more planning, but still loose like in the way we handle all things in our life.”
Does the band still feel good about the album format vs releasing singles?
- Britton Walker – “I think the album format from beginning to end is very much a thing that most people should be focusing on. I think that is how you make a good record. We want to make something that we want to listen too. And then we want to make something that our fans want to listen to so that they can be inspired themselves to make music at some point. To record a record, you are creating a physical and historical document of the three members of the band and the engineer in a studio that will live on forever. We wanna capture that time the best way that we can.”
What do you want your fans to get out of a live B-Boys experience?
- Britton Walker – “We just want them to have fun, because I’m having fun doing it. It’s cool to make records and stuff like that, but playing shows is the best part. I want someone to dance, which is probably the number one thing. It’s a touching moment for us as a band when a fan comes up to us and tells us that a certain lyric or feeling with the band was a touching moment for them and a good experience. And… inspire other people to start bands. It’s super easy to start a band, it’s not even that hard to be kind of good. You don’t have to be too technically skilled. Our drummer, Andrew, is really the only one that is good at playing. That’s why we keep the songs short, cause I can’t solo.”
What are B-Boys major influences?
- Britton Walker – “We like pop music, really whatever is on the radio. But, a good pop record, that is produced well…. Todd Rundgren, Talking Heads, Fugazi, Minor Threat, Curtis Mayfield, Kool Keith… A lot of African music, House, Techno, pretty much everything…. We’re banging pop-country on the radio right now as we speak. It inspires us to make better music.”
What’s next for the band, and new music or tours?
- Britton Walker – “We’re on tour in Colorado now, but I would love to do a show from Montreal all up and down the East Coast. We’re always writing, there are always songs in the bank. We’re gonna go to Europe at the end of August, try to flush out a few more songs and see where we’re at. I think we are all wanting to put out a new record ASAP. It’s a fairly long process, not the writing process that’s fairly quick, but as far as the recording, mix, and mastering that’s a 6 month process. By the time we are done with the record making process, we’ve already started the next album.
- “We always have a bunch of weird ideas that we would like to do in the future that we all joke about, but secretly at the same time want them to be reality. Ideally we would get a huge chunk of change and go to Ibiza and make a record. Get Calvin Harris in there and pump out some pop record.”
Check out B-Boys here…