And by night, they are Shake the Baron, a Connecticut rock band that moved to Brooklyn in 2010 to take advantage of the opportunity and develop in one of the most fertile stomping grounds in the world for new music.
Front man and bandleader Oedel plays guitar and sings; Currier is the shy longhaired bassist; Addison is the straight-headed and focused drummer as Markson fulfills the role of band comedian. He can also play guitar.
They performed and screened their new music video for their album's title track, “Ghost Hits” last weekend at the Glasslands, 289 Kent Ave.
I had a chance to sit down with the band before the show at The Woods, located at 48 S. 4th St. in Williamsburg, for PBR’s, Coors Lights, tequila shots and tacos to discuss their new video as well as some of the things that brought them to where they are today.
What is the story behind Shake the Baron?
Matt: The first time we played music together was the two of us (Andrew and Matt) in our freshman year of college at Connecticut College in New London. It was a little folkie, I was playing the djembe drums and he (Andrew) was playing guitar. The next year Max threw some bass into it and the following year we were still a trio.
In our senior year I had been messing around with the drums when I learned of his (Jon) guitar chops, and so he came and sat in and played a show with us, without playing with us actually at all.
Jon: My first week of freshman year at Connecticut College, there was this organization called Musicians Organized for Bands Rights on Campus (MOBROC) who made a practice space that was in a dilapidated barn.
The first week of school I met a bunch of bad musicians playing bad music, all good people, but then I heard good tunes coming from the barn, so I walked over there.
I remember I was a freshman and kind of nervous, and they were giving me beers and they had no idea who I was, and I was spilling beers all over myself because I was probably “freshman drunk.” And then we played and it was the end.
What brought you guys to New York?
Matt: We wanted to continue doing what we felt we should be doing.
Andrew: It was really a no-brainer, too. Everybody in our graduating class was like, “Where do we go?” But for us it was never a question.
Matt: We really had a good idea that there was no questioning of that and we were really excited to do it. We just thought, where can we go to be young and creative; and that was perfect. We moved to Bushwick because we could afford it.
Was it difficult to find a place in the city where you could practice?
Matt: The place that we found, we had been looking for a long time. We started our search in late August and continued through September and October. Max and I walked into a place that wasn’t finished yet. It had a backyard, had a living space and it had a basement that was a great size for a bedroom and a practice space.
Jon: It ended up being where we recorded a majority of “Ghost Hits.” Between me and Andrew’s gear, and a couple other engineer friends of ours, we got together a pretty impressive studio. It was an undertaking.
And it was cool because we recorded the drums, the vocals and the bass in the place where we wrote the songs, and that was definitely not the norm.
Andrew: It was great except for the floods.
Jon: Yeah, while we were recording there were floods sometimes.
Matt: We were lucky because the three of us lived together and we lived in the same place. We live in a building that’s just a family, and us being the ones that were not the family, they took us in and they even cook food for us sometimes.
Aside from day jobs, how did you decide to take that risk of playing in a band?
Jon: I just love playing music and being in a band because it’s fulfilling to write and perform and work on music with the people whose artistic directions and voices I care about and invest. I also like hanging out with them.
But it’s dangerous and short sighted if you’re, like, “I’m going to be a rock star and I’m going to make money.”
Matt: You just have to understand what it is you want to be doing and then the things you don’t want to do. None of us necessarily are the type to be like, “I have this job, I have to go report to this place.” It just wouldn’t feel right.
You just kind of believe in what your doing and hopefully it falls into place one way or another.
Is it intimidating, or is it just a no-brainer to play music?
Andrew: We’ve been going at it for so long, and in addition to everything else, it’s just hard to fathom not being in a band.
Max: You just flip that switch. Of course I had a feeling of “this is the most insecure thing I could possibly do,” but now I don’t care.
Has it been difficult to find places to play since moving to Brooklyn?
Jon: You can play at a Bodega. Literally, the other day I played at this place called the Living Bread (2 Knickerbocker Ave.), and that place is a bodega. If you can play at a bodega you can literally play everywhere.
There’s a saturation of opportunity and agents, creators. I’m not sure if you can call that positive or negative because there’s so much talent, a humungous amount of talent. A lot of people are active, they’re aesthetic in aim and I don’t necessarily vibe with that, but there’s so much out there that you can throw a stone and find a talented group of individuals just doing it for the sake of the craft.
Has this been a good way to collaborate?
Matt: Absolutely. For a while we were playing a lot of the shows with a handful of bands and it was something we could often identify with as these young newbies trying to do something and doing it with other people. At the same time it made it a little more powerful.
Andrew: There’s a little league of like three or four bands that we were all down with and we’d play with. Every band that we play with in Brooklyn winds up being like the chillest people on the planet.
Why do you think that is?
Andrew: I think it’s just where everybody’s coming from. Just being on the trajectory of coming here to make music, there’s a similar experience set. There’s a band, Howth, now in Bushwick and they’re just the nicest people.
Max: The whole thing is fueled by PBR drink tickets.
Jon: Thanks for the two drink ticket - every venue ever!
Is that you’re beer of choice?
Andrew: We’ve actually always been Coors Light drinkers, which is a very serious point.
Tonight you are revealing your new video, Ghost Hits. What happens in the video and how does it represent you as a band?
Jon: Andrew punches me in the face.
Andrew: He had it coming.
Do you actually punch him in the face?
Jon: Yeah, I think I actually called him the chief taco, pizza janitor of the Bushwick Lofts Alliance. (laughs)
Matt: The video itself is a very serious effort and the song is a very serious effort and the song is to show people that this is what we do, we exist like this, we really dig it and hopefully you do too. Check it out.
What is the meaning behind the video?
The film’s director Alex Amoling: The video is about that moment in time when you’re in a serious relationship when words no longer speak for the people in it. Basically, it’s a relationship in turmoil and they bring it metaphorically into a boxing room.
Andrew: We met Alex on the set of our last video and he is an incredible talent. He’s the best guy in Brooklyn making films.
Matt: He kind of got to know the band without ever really sitting down and meeting all of us, and then taking our relationships as musicians and telling it to tell a story. The video is a cool way that this guy shows that he knows us.
Shake the Baron will perform with These Are Animals at Mercury Lounge, 217 E. Houston St., on August 2 at 8:30 p.m.