On May 25, 2014, Boston ska/punk band A Guy Named Guy played their last show. We talked with them about how they got their start, some highlights from their four-year run, and what’s next for the band members. The full text of the interview follows the full video of the show.
Like quite a few other stories of Boston bands, this one starts at Berklee College. Alex Pickert, a drummer from California, began gathering a few of his fellow classmates in November 2010. Jamming on the seminal album “Keasbey Nights” while writing originals led A Guy Named Guy to their first show just 4 months later at B. Good, a burger spot on Mass Ave.
They started off playing with mostly other Berklee bands. Anxious to break out of that “bubble,” they picked up a gig at All Asia in Cambridge. That led to a fortuitous introduction to musician and promoter Andrew Lowrey of FORT! The Band and Secret House of Pancakes (SHOP) Productions. Lowrey introduced them to the Allston basement scene where they bonded with musicians and fans of ska and the DIY ethos. Alex booked his own “Skalloween” themed show in 2011 and began booking house shows at The Audio Jungle, a place that would be home to a significant scene and community.
In the spirit of DIY and community, A Guy Named Guy helped get the younger band Poor Jeremy off the ground. Poor Jeremy have gone to frequently share bills and a mini-tour with AGNG, leading to close friendships between band members. Dan Sigman, sax player from Poor Jeremy, and Alex now run Coach & Sons Olde Time Family booking (Alex is Coach, Dan is his son, so the story goes). What started off as a joke, booking one show a week, has become an indie booking powerhouse, connecting local and small touring bands to intimate venues. They booked 7 shows in March and have 14 scheduled this June. They’re still enjoying it and anticipate bringing on a third member of their team.
All things considered, up until this past spring semester, everything was going pretty good. In April, they went on tour with New Jersey ska/punk band Survay Says! who are now touring in support of Reel Big Fish. Waiting for them on the horizon, though, was impending graduation. As with any life event (speaking from experience, it doesn’t get easier), AGNG considered how to keep their party going. It was clear some folks would be moving on to other projects and phases of life. They tossed around the idea of continuing in the fall with new members, but as conversations progressed, it became apparent they could not continue on and still be “A Guy Named Guy.” On May 25th, their show at TT the Bears in Cambridge changed from a last-show-before-hiatus to a farewell show. We’ve got the complete video of that show below.
The good folks that they are, AGNG has a parting gift for their fans. The day after their last show, they entered the studio to record the last few originals they hadn’t yet recorded. It’s unclear when it will be completed, but the band plans to track throughout the summer, not just wrapping up the band’s run, but clearly giving some closure to the musicians that made it happen. I wouldn’t hold out for a CD release show. Reunions should never be ruled out, and we know members of AGNG will continue making music together in other capacities.
WATCH: A Guy Named Guy – Last Show – T.T. The Bear’s, Cambridge, 5/25/14
Video by Kevin Davila
A Guy Named Guy – Interview
We’ve left this interview more or less as is, editing slightly for clarity.
Kevin Davila (KD):Thanks for talking with me, I’ve enjoyed following the band over the last couple of years. Can you give us a brief origin story for A Guy Named Guy? I’m assuming Berklee college of music played a big roll.
Alex Pickert (AP): Of course Kevin! You’ve shown so much support since we have met, always so kind! It’s my pleasure to talk to you! WOW I LOVE YOU THIS GOOGLE DOC THING. THIS IS THE FUCKIN FUTURE!!!!
So anyways, I wanted to start a ska band when I moved here in 2010 for college. Within the first few weeks of school, I met Dylan our vocalist through a friend in the dorms, and Joe (bass) lived across the hall from me. I met Adam our saxophone player and Phil, our first guitarist, at a party, and Jacob in my english class. We agreed on a time to practice and Phil brought Julia our trombonist, who he knew from high school in Texas, and someone brought our old saxophone player, Kyle, who later quit the band. We all met up sometime in probably November 2010, at the Fordham Road practice facilities [at Berklee College], and played “Keasbey” Nights [the Tomas Kalnoky penned classic originally recorded by Catch 22, later rerecorded by Streetlight Manifesto] about 20 times, and the Dylan brought out the song Loser. We wrote a few more songs, rehearsed a bunch, and in February, we played our first show at B.Good on Mass ave with a bunch of friends. That’s how it all started.
KD: That’s amazing. I’m pretty sure I discovered the band by stalking Llama Tsunami’s tour schedule years ago and hitting a local show, only to discover an entire community of amazing local acts. I think the first few AGNG shows I saw turned me on to Fort The Band, Porctopus, Threat Level Burgundy, and so many more. How have you seen the local New England ska-punk scene evolve since you guys have been together?
AP: Llama are our dudes! They rock and are keeping the scene alive in Connecticut! As for the New England scene, It’s grown up so much since we started. Granted, I came from California, and had no clue what was going on, but it was difficult to find any kind of scene other than the hardcore scene. I’ve seen a huge influx of Ska/Punk lately, and I like to think we helped with that. We started off playing shows with pretty much strictly Berklee bands, and it was frustrating to be stuck in what the Jazz-Cats call “The Berklee Bubble” but here we were playing at All Asia because some promoter asked us to, and I get handed a sticky-note with the name Andrew “F-Word” Lowrey on it and a phone number. Andy booked us at his house in Allston, The Secret House Of Pancakes (SHOP), with his band FORT! The Band. That’s when we first found some kids with the same thing on their mind as us. Ska, and DIY ethics. Together our show started bringing together some people who would have never met otherwise. I started booked Skalloween in 2011 and each year it’s been growing, I think it might need to be in a real venue this year. We started throwing more shows at Adam’s house under the name The Audio Jungle and they did really well. More bands started emailing us, and showing their faces, it was like the scene was in hiding. [Audio Jungle] shows were a huge thing for us that we’ll never forget and I think they were important to a whole bunch of other people besides us.
More recently there are bands like Poor Jeremy, The New Limits, Meracula, The Takeaways, The Rolling Coasters, Germhead and more Boston Ska bands that are kicking ass and playing a bunch of shows. It’s really cool to be a part of the growth of a scene, and feel extremely lucky to have been a part of one that is so supportive to all walks of life.
KD: The [Audio Jungle] shows, and discovering the SHOP were definitely a big deal for me as it exposed a local scene that I didn’t know existed. Before that, I remember just hoping Brunt Of It would be playing somewhere so I could see some bands. And while there were certainly things going on in town, it’s awesome when people get on the same page, because it’s not all that easy to be aware of what’s happening. I think having a band band like the New Limits, who is made up of ska scene vets, playing with this amazing young ska-punk band, Poor Jeremy, and amazing 18 year old like The Rolling Coasters, is the best thing ever. I feel like you guys were a part of that happening, and it’s amazing. Talk about Poor Jeremy for a bit, because I think you guys booked their first show, and they have really turned into awesome performers.
AP: Poor Jeremy are our best friends.
About 2 years ago, I saw flyers around Berklee for “Ska Band Seeks Drummer/Vocalist” and I got extremely excited and emailed Ashley right away and said to gimme a call when they got their shit together. Once they found Nick and converted Steve from a metal head to a rude boy, they gave me a call, and we booked some shows. They are an extremely talented group of people, and it’s been an honor watching them grow from a baby ska band into this powerhouse that is Poor Jeremy. They have such a sound, and such energy on stage, and I know theyre gonna do big things. We took them out on their first mini tour a few months ago, and it was a blast, they are a party in a band. I’m happy to say that everyone in the band has now become some of my best friends, and Dan and I even started a company together (Coach & Sons) and Nick and I are moving into a house in Allston together this September. Seriously the best band. CHECK THEM OUT WORLD.
KD: This is a good opportunity to talk a little about that last AGNG tour, and also, for you to tell us about Coach & Sons, which has been pretty active. Are you Coach?
AP: In February AGNG and Poor jeremy went on a 4 day mini tour and it was fantastic, it was our first time on the road with another band, and I’m glad it was them. We hit Oneonta NY, and played with a BUNCH of amazing East Coast Ska bands(No Such Noise, The Best Of The Worst, Eli Whitney + The Sound Machine, Threat Level Burgundy and Ryan Eldred of Catch 22) and then hit Plymouth NH with The Pants, and Mystic CT w/ Llama Tsunami, ending it in Boston with a Coach Show at Roggie’s (Skalentines Day).
In April, AGNG went on a 4 day run with up and coming Ska/Punk heroes Survay Says! (WHO IS KICKING ASS RIGHT NOW ABOUT TO GO ON TOUR WITH REEL BIG FISH) and we had a great time in Boston, Maine, Rhode Island and Albany NY. Survay Says! are gonna be huge soon, make sure and check them out, too.
Yes I am Coach. Dan from Poor Jeremy is my son. We run Coach & Sons Olde Time Family Booking, and have been driving ourselves insane booking shows almost every week now. It started off as kinda a joke, I only really booked AGNG shows and Skalloween every year, but it got to the point where I had enough bands hitting me up for shows, and enough houses, and venues I could book at that I decided to start a show booking company, for non-profit, with DIY ethics, to get good bands good shows, and money at the end of the night. We’ve had really good luck with booking awesome shows, and have really good connections with Roggie’s Pizza, T.T. The Bear’s, and some houses. In March we had 7 shows and we thought that was a lot, but June we have 14 lined up. I’ve been loving what I do, and I want to keep doing it! We’re booking so much we’re about to add a third person to our operation.
KD: It’s a big deal, the more good people we have booking shows the less bands have to deal with bad situations. Can you please book another Dylan Ewen and The Sulk Scouts show, they helped open the TT the Bears show, and that band blows me away. Fantastic stuff.
AP: Dylan Ewen and The Sulk Scouts are the best! Dylan and I are in a new band called Yeehaw! And I will MOST DEFINITELY book them again soon. They’re all good friends of mine and I was so stoked they were able to play our last show with us!
KD: That brings up an important question, I noticed that the last AGNG show morphed a bit from last show for a while, to quite possibly the last show. Is that pretty much where things are at this point? The show definitely served as a celebration of the last 4+ years, as an audience member, it was celebratory and beautiful. Definitely a good note to end on.
AP: I think it’s safe to say that the May 25th [show] at T.T. The Bear’s was the last A Guy Named Guy show. We played around with the idea of replacing members and starting again in the fall, we even found new members, but I think it would be too hard to continue this project without the 6 original members that have played every show since the day we started. Adam, Dylan, Jacob, Julia and Joe have become some of the best friends i’ve ever had, and the remaining members decided it wouldn’t be right to continue the name without them. As for now, Dylan Zobel plays in Fall Risk, an incredible Pop-Punk band, Adam Elmarakby is playing keys in a sick new jam band called Fat Aztec, and I am playing drums in a new pop-punk/emo band called Yeehaw! Julia Maree Hoffman is moving to Nashville in the fall to pursue a career in songwriting, Jacob Rego just got a job at a sick studio in New Hampshire, and Joe Sodati is gonna be gigging in New York and Chicago by the fall. We have no clue what will happen with us playing music together again, but I won’t say it’s not a possibility. I loved playing music with all of these guys, Phil Peloubet, and Tommy Cantwell included.
This is for the band: I will never forget A Guy Named Guy, in every form, and hold it very close to my heart. All the times from sweating out B.good, to that awful O’briens gig, from Toy Shop to We Know It’s True, from our first trip to the News Cafe in PAWtucket, to my Senior Recital. I’ll never forget mooning people on the highway, getting pulled over in Columbus, turning 21 right before tour, attempting to cross that stupid bridge in NYC, breaking down in CT, and that day off in Chicago, playing pool just about everywhere, Jacob forgetting his wallet in Pittsburgh, to what WE ALL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED in Rochester JOE. And we all know what went down at Kevin Campbells house in New Hampshire with Poor Jeremy. From being best friends to fighting all the time, from the MIT Senior house to a packed last show at T.T.’s, you have become family for the past four years. I have enjoyed every second of this, and I hope you did too. It was a journey, and we’ve all grown up so much. I hope we remain friends for the rest of our lives and I can’t wait to see what you all do with yourselves. You are incredible people with a lot of heart, talent, and kindness and i am honored to have been in this band with you. I love you all.
Sorry I got all sappy there but yea, I agree the last show is all I could ever have asked for. It was a night to remember, and very celebratory. We even played Ska’s Not Dead just for the hell of it. It meant the world to all of us that so many friends we’ve made over the past four years showed up. It was cool that Phil was there and played a song with us, I wish Tommy could have done the same. But I had a blast, I’m glad you were there to share that experience with us!
KD: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. I purposefully did not ask much about a possible final release, because I want to be surprised down the line, but I know that some studio time may have happened immediately after the show. That’s exciting.
AP: Of course dude, you and Jake have been super supportive, taking awesome videos, and posting about us constantly on BostonSka.Net. And yes, we did hit the studio the day after the show, and will be tracking the rest of our final release throughout the summer, who knows when it’ll get done, but Joe already left Boston, so we had to get his parts done fast. It’s pretty exciting, just had to get the last few songs we wrote out there, nothing big, but hopefully the songs mean something to someone other than us. Sorry, i know you wanted to be surprised, but I’m excited. I didn’t think the timing would work out, and it sucks our last release was over a year ago. Sorry i’m rambling, i’ve been extremely sentimental this week. Also, sorry if I ruined the surprise. The past 4 years have been the best of my life. Thanks for caring enough to ask me these questions.
KD: We would like to send our love to all of A Guy Named Guy for the good times, and to the talented Freddie Ross for the use of his photos on this page. Alex, we look forward to your other projects, and to more fantastic bookings!