Your bio mentions the closeness of the band and how you’re genuinely good friends. How did you first meet?

We were all friends, and I think that’s pretty important. I’m sure a lot of bands form because they want to find four guys who are really good musicians or want to make it. But it was really different for us, and I feel that helped us a lot. ‘Cause being in a band, and now we’ve got a chance to tour a lot, you realize how much time you spend with other people in the band. In a van, driving for eight hours a day. And playing a show with them and sleeping in the same place as them. You spend a lot of time with the people that are in your band. Playing music was just an extension of other stuff we’d do together—we’d go to shows, hang out. I was friends with Peggy [Wang, vocals/keyboards] and Alex [Naidus, bass] and Kurt [Feldman, drums] was my roommate, and initially we had a drum machine, but after a few months of playing with the drum machine, it was definitely limiting. Peggy was like, “Well, your roommate Kurt plays drums, you think he’d be into it?” I was kind of scared to ask him, because he was pretty cool. But I asked him, and he was like, “Yeah, dude, I’d totally do that!” He was psyched, so he joined up, that’s how we formed. Every band has its moments, but I think we’re pretty lucky in that we never had a problem with each other as people. I genuinely would hang out with Kurt and Peggy and Alex and Christoph [Hochheim, guitar], even if we weren’t playing music with each other.

How did Christoph join the band and how does he impact your sound?

It was actually wonderful. At first, after the record [their self-titled debut] came out, we went on tour…there’re ideas of our sound, which is a big, heavy, guitar kind-of sound; but it was hard to really convey that live, with just one guitar. I think after that first little tour we did in February/March of 2009, I realized we hit a wall with what we could do performance-wise. And Christoph was a friend of ours, and he was playing with Kurt in Depreciation Guild at the time. He’s a good guitar player, but he’s also a really good person. It was the same idea; it wasn’t just some random dude to play guitar. Him joining the band initially made us more full live, but I think also in terms of songwriting for the new album. Now that he was playing with us, we had to write guitar parts for him to play and kind of think in bigger terms—like, “Now that we have two guitars, they can’t just both be playing an E chord the whole time.” There have to be other things going on. And in a weird way, just having him there forced us to find a way to make use of his skill, because he’s talented, and you don’t want to just have two guys on stage both playing the same thing. It was wonderful in those terms. I also think he also really fits with us in terms of music—he’s really as passionate a music fan as I know. I feel like we’re more a bunch of music fans than an actual band—we’re just people who love music and love playing it. He really got us into a lot of stuff; he’s a huge Ariel Pink fan, he loves John Maus, R. Stevie Moore—he’s really cool. He’s also an easy person to spend time with, he’s a genuinely nice, smart, intelligent person. I don’t know how to say this—I think people forget that if you’re in a band with a bunch of junkies that seems cool for, like, a day, but that leads to the band falling apart the second you get out of range of your junk, or whatever. The New York Dolls tried to go on tour in Florida in the ‘70s and they had to quit the tour half-way because they couldn’t get any heroin down there and they had to go back to New York. There’s something to be said for playing music with people you want to hang out with anyway. It almost feels like being on a road-trip with your friends.

A band name question: I read the story about it coming from the title of friend’s unpublished children book—what attracted you to it?

It was just a beautiful name. And I think we selected the band name before we even started the band. We started the Myspace profile and we hadn’t written any songs yet, but just the idea of it was so right and perfect for us. That just seemed to really fit what we were going for, I don’t know—there’s so many bands, so much music being made—why not just take a risk and do something kind of extreme and not make compromises and push the idea of emphatic pop to its limits. Even if a lot of people look at that band name and are like “These dudes aren’t cool” or “These guys aren’t for me,” that’s fine. I’d rather a handful of people really believe in the music that we’re making and really enjoy it, it be meaningful to them, than just be like the generic band of the moment—really popular, but very skin-deep. I‘d rather a handful of people still listen to our record in ten years, than everyone listen to it this month. It’s not an egotistical thing, and it’s not elitist, it’s just those are the kind of bands I grew up loving.

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