We caught up with Ang Bocca via email this week a few days before she and her band, The Damn Band, take the stage at Ortlieb’s on Friday night to, hopefully, play some new stuff they’ve been cookin’ up. It was tough shortening her verbose answers. But she dropped a few gems along the way. Can’t wait to see what she and her band’ve got up their sleeves this Friday. Get your info tight!
PW: Ang! What’s goin’ on? Seriously, what’s happening? Does the Ortlieb’s show signify a new project or new band or new record or new something?
ANG BOCCA: A LOT is going on! We are recording our untitled EP with Collapsible Empire, which will be hot and ready for release appropriately by mid-summer (July-ish). We are really super stoked to be playing Ortlieb’s! It’s one of my favorite hangs and also one of my personal favorite venues. It just looks like it popped out of a Tarantino movie. Barb (drummer & co-captain) and I haven’t performed for a minute because we have been recording. And this gig has a NEW feel for us. We have a few friends playing with us this time. We have Rachel Icenogle on electric cello, Joe Smith of Southwork on bass and Joe Humeaus of Nobody Yet filling in on guitar. I’ve been calling it Flamingo Friday! I don’t have any idea what that means, but our music feels hot pink for this show to me.
Tell us a lil’ about yourself, would ya? Where’d you grow up? Who is your spirit diva? (Spirit divas are the diva you most embody and, in a way, function kind of like a human spirit animal.)
I’m from South Philly. I was the only blonde pale person from my neighborhood. I grew up wanting to be a ballerina and competetive figure skater. I was uber serious about the dancing, but when I wasn’t getting far, I chose to try skating, and I was uber serious about that, too. I was involved in theater in between all of this. However, when I was on the ice, I had a lot of alone time and would come up with beats and melodies. I would fake sick during a lesson if inspiration struck and would record it into my Nokia. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was uncontrollable and as most people do when they fall in love with music, it became the most important thing to me forever. Hmmm, my spirit diva? Oddly enough, I always have weird dreams where Ryan Gosling shows up randomly and grabs my chin to feed me one-liners of brilliant advice, like “What’s the matter with you? You act like you’ve never been loved before!” And then he walks away. It’s very cinematic. He’s also my spirit animal.
What kinds of things have you been singin’ lately? What kind of stuff’s been influencing you? Like rock ‘n roll times? R&B flavors? Pop delights?
I’ve been lovin’ me some JT. Of course. “Pusher Love Girl” blows my mind. I cannot wait for the next 10 tracks he’s releasing. He’s my pop delight. We are pretty exclusive. I love Bruno Mars, too. He’s my side piece. Robyn’s Body Talk is literally my favorite pop album, probably of all time. I am a nerd for doo wop and swing. I love Cab Calloway—he was a huge inspiration for our EP—and I am an avid rockabilly and Americana fan. I love local bands of those genres, like Coffin Fly and the Lawsuits. The Lawsuits just played a kick-ass show at Johnny Brenda’s with Grandchildren! Just the other night, Brendan from the Lawsuits was singing some ’90s jams at Hotbox Studios with Kyle Perella from Levee Drivers and Ron Gallo of Toy Soldiers. It was slammin’.
How long’ve you been at this grind? I’m sure your performance art has taken many shades of packaging and focus. So, what’s the end goal?
I have many shades of purpose. Right now, it’s hot pink. Ya know, I’ve been wanting to perform my entire life. There was never a question in my mind that I wasn’t going to produce art in some fashion. The grind has been long. So many bands, open mics, weddings, cover bands and musicals, etc. I know that everyone in this music game has to really love it in their gut. It is your only relationship that you always have. We work that extra job to pay for our music. Rock ‘n roll, man. Nothing beats the feeling you get at a show or music blasting in your car. It is essential. We’ve re-worked all the songs, replaced band mates, and chose to work with Collapsible Empire. It finally feels right. We just hope to reach people and make people feel like they can have fun and also feel a part of this with us. I found that a lot of my writing draws from my friends’ experiences, and it reaches people we don’t personally know, and there’s something really beautiful and priceless about that. Success is truly just relentless belief in yourself and what you’re doing. And I honestly feel that same way about music as I did when I first fell in love with it, if not more.
Does Philly have your heart? Is this the city you want to keep working on your craft in? Why? And where do you most like to sing your heart out?
I love Philly. There’s no place like home. I really want to make the most of this life thang. So, the more I see, the better. Motown Philly is back again, and I intend on bringing Philly to any and everywhere I go. Philly is awesome, though, and the perfect way to spend a day here is to go grab some grub and see some local art. We have the best of both worlds. Most things can’t beat a soft pretzel and a local live show. And I sing my heart out most in the shower. Duh. Doesn’t everybody?
*Photo c/o G. Marie Photgraphy.
One of Philadelphia’s indie juggernauts, keeping Dr. Dog and Kurt Vile company over on Pitchfork, plays a hometown show this week that’s sure to be a sickening moment in time for Union Transfer. See, something that people tend to say about the band, other than that they’re “wacky,” is that their records don’t really do their performances justice. They’re vicious live. And with their most recent, 2011’s Life Fantastic, they brought in Saddle Creek’s Mike Mogus, and he does a great job of cramming the tons of emotion that Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) has clearly got bottled up inside him into calm, slightly disturbing, dark piano rock. Sure, there’s a few of those elements in the mix that Man Man audiences have come to know and love: marimbas, saxophones, xylophones, flutes, moogs, pots and pans. None of it is unwelcome on a Man Man stage.
They’re now a proud member of a strong Anti- label’s roster, but four records and eight years ago, they were friends in a band in Philly. With tour opening duties fulfilled for Modest Mouse and Yeasayer, they’ve grown and spread—even done Coachella and Primavera Sound. Their weirdo circus noise rock sound’s also been getting more sophisticated and serious over time. Life Fantastic’s got some stunning lyrics and turns of phrases, but also captures the charm and worldliness of Fools Gold, the Dodos, Beirut, Calexico and Tom Waits. So yeah, there’s a little bit of the macabre spaghetti western in them, but it’s not a boot-stomping, 10-gallon-hat kind of night. More like a battles-in-Mr. Bungle’s-clothes kind of night.
8pm. $20-$22. With Murder by Death + Northern Arms. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com
You may have heard of these guys – they’re starting to becoming THE Philadelphia band. However, their area of expertise is snarling punk rock that focuses on the unchangeable ennui of life as we’ve come to know it. In a way, that’s always what punk’s been about – damn the man, screw the system, we wade through bullshit all the time, etc. But what’s so refreshingly sophisticated about these 12 new tracks is how they conceive of and execute the trope of punk with regard to the kinds of things we’ve come to accept as regular annoyances and frustrations; and how when they pile up on you it feels just plain suffocating.
Yesterday, Pitchfork reviewed the Philly-via-Allentown’s newest with a strong 8.1, and, to be perfectly honest, there’s some good writing in here. In fact, it’d take mulitple listens and dedicated earnest spins to tease out lyrics and themes. The magic is mostly in the thrust of the guitars, endless screams, merciless percussion and muscular pace. But, in the interest of concisely showing you what kind of content is delivered by these angry wails, take a look at this excerpt from Ian Cohen’s review:
“Honeys is the most concentrated and consistent display of what Korvette does best. He’s reliably quotable largely because his deadpan literalism allows him to be funny without aspiring to cleverness, and lets the ridiculousness of his actions and those of others speak for themselves: a chemically processed, preservative-laden frozen meal calls itself “Healthy Choice,” a stick figure family decal on a car proudly boasts one’s humility, the friendly “ding” accompanying an incoming email reveals the death of a coworker, a lazy boyfriend who thinks his girl should appreciate the effort it takes for him to say “let’s do it.”"
Cohen’s review focuses, primarily, on the content within the lyrics of these songs: commiseration rock, he calls it. A punk that’s born of frustration and helplessness that comes with feeling like an office drone with no hope for escape, and perhaps a rage that essentially has to get stifled because it’s hard to dignify loathing people talking about cat allergies and gluten intolerances. While it’s exciting to hear songs written about stuff like this because it’s so rare for psychological and intellectual nuances of our lives that maybe we try to repress and Pissed Jeans is able to tease out of us, of course, it wouldn’t be what it is without the shredding guitars and in-your-face energy. It’s what perfectly compliments the burning feeling that we are merely getting through each day without submitting to the piling-up of frustrations that push us closer to the edge.
You can catch them bludgeoning eardrums at Underground Arts on Friday with Lantern and Leather; tickets are going for only $12. Doors are at 8p and openers go on at 9p.