It’s a good time to be a punk band. Hatred and intolerance are rife, politics is becoming increasingly divisive, and with the music industry hitting hard times there’s a rise in bands with a stripped-back, do-it-yourself aesthetic. Into this pit of charged emotions steps The So So Glos. A New York punk-rock four-piece with echoes of Rancid, Anti-Flag and The Clash, they team the riff-based punch of a hard rock band with the sharp-edged energy of punk. They’re livelier than over-sprung jack-in-the-boxes and have the most shoutable-singable choruses in their neighborhood.
Riding on the wave crest of second album ‘Kamikaze’, The So So Glos are in the UK for a short tour alongside charity Shelter to combat homelessness. GIGsoup’s Matt George Lovett managed to catch up with bassist Alex Levine and guitarists Ryan Levine and Davey Jones before their show at London’s Sebright Arms. Under the contrary backdrop of plastic pub-stereo chart music, the Brooklyn natives gave their take on politics, old school hip-hop, the nature of success and how to make the world better.
For this tour you guys teamed up with homeless charities Shelter and Shelter Scotland. How did that happen?
Alex: Well, it was just an idea we were kicking around. We figured a lot of rock n roll bands, you know, they do a lot of talk but not that much follow-through so we figured it’d be a nice thing to do. Small acts of kindness in a world of terrifying bullshit. It’s very important to put small acts of kindness out there, now more than ever I think.
And why specifically homelessness as an issue? What drew you to that?
Alex: Well you have to start somewhere, right? Homelessness is a big problem both in The States and here and everywhere. You gotta do what you can do. If you’re able to do something you should probably try to do something. Every little bit counts.
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So this is your third show of the UK tour. How’s it gone? Would you say it’s been a success?
Alex: Success is relative. Success is transmitting energy. Success is transmitting a message. Success is getting the message through, whether it be helping someone dance if they didn’t feel like they wanted to, and then they got the memo and they decided to. An escape. Providing someone with an escape. Small success. There’s no success like failure. Failure is no success at all.
Davey: I think it’s all just relative to what you feel it is in your own mind. I don’t think it has a particular point. It’s what makes you happy, I guess. What you think makes you happy.
What about your new record, ‘Kamikaze’. That seems to have gone down really well, how do you guys feel about that?
Alex: What do we think of it? I think it’s good. I think it’s the best record yet. The best record ever.
Ryan: I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a record better than ours. That’s what we really think!
Kamikaze finishes with a pair of covers. Grandmaster Flash and Elastica. Of all the songs you could have chosen, why those two?
Alex: Well we recorded a couple covers. Grandmaster Flash, I mean…New York. There’s not much to say. I mean we love hip-hop and we love old school hip-hop.
Davey: It’s a challenge, you know, to recreate something so special. Try to reinvent it in a different way.
Alex: Doing rock or punk covers of rap songs, it’s been done bad so many times. I think we did a good one. There is a real comradery between hip-hop and punk rock as well I think. It’s protest music, that’s what it started as at least, but it’s also party music. It’s people rising up and having fun in the face of other stuff that’s maybe holding them back. And it’s also very socially conscious. Grandmaster Flash is very much a storyteller, and the lyrics…that’s Melle Mel actually on the track. It came out under Grandmaster Flash but it’s Melle Mel who wrote those lyrics. They were going through a weird break up when that song came out, there were some internal squabbles. But yeah, it’s just one of our favourites from that era for sure.
Ryan:Elastica, another great song. We did a nod to that Wire track, ‘Three Girl Rhumba’. So that’s kinda like a double cover. Wire’s a great band.
Alex: It’s like one of those forgotten hits. Especially in The States, even though we released it here.