Interview: The Britanys
Every once in awhile, New York City begets a band edgy, young, and creative enough to instill hope for 21st century rock and roll. Lucas Long, Steele Kratt, and Gabe Shulman make up The Britanys, a Brooklyn band exploding out of the lo-fi party and club scene with much hype. The Britanys have been said to be the Strokes of our time, resulting in much attention for the trio despite their having yet to release an official album. I got the chance to ask Lucas and the boys a few questions about their music, their creative process, and their gritty New York City image.
Source: The Britanys
Give me one word to describe each of you:
Jake: Trash-Bird (does that count?)
Lucas: The Ringer
Most of your songs seem to be about your life in the city. Is New York your biggest muse or does your inspiration come from elsewhere?
I guess you could say that. Honestly, the lyrics, or at least the final lyrics, don’t really come until it’s time to record. A lot of the time what’s on the recording isn’t what we say at shows… should probably get better at that.
What is your favorite song to cover? Have you noticed one that gets the biggest audience reaction?
Don’t think we’ve ever done a cover live. We’ve done some in practice, but we like doing our own material live.
How do you feel about all the recent comparisons to The Strokes? Are you pressured by the idea at all?
We don’t really get the comparison ourselves, but we’ll take whatever we can get at this point. There’s no real pressure at all. We’re just here to play music. It’s what we’ve always done.
I know Lucas interned for Cult Records (Julian Casablancas’s record label). What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from that experience?
I was working under the mastermind Liz Hirsch, doing graphic design. Learned more from her than I ever learned at school. It helps that she’s one of the best (take for instance The Growlers latest album, The Strokes EP, etc.). All in all, it was a very good experience for me [laughs].
What is the best story from your shows?
We’ve never really done a proper tour — yet. But we did witness a shooting in Savannah in the spring. Guess you could say that was at least the craziest.
New York City is in the middle of a huge DIY indie band explosion. What do you think differentiates your band from the rest of the converse-clad kids who move to Brooklyn to be musicians?
I don’t think we’ve ever really fit into the DIY scene here, or at least [we’ve] always felt [like we’re] on the fringe. Our music doesn’t really fit into what’s “in” at the moment, but then again maybe that’s what sets us apart?
Why do you think Brooklyn has became such a cultural center for indie music?[Because] no one has the money to live in Manhattan, which is a little sad. As great as Brooklyn is, it’s more like LA than New York, in the regard that the buildings are shorter, [there are] more warehouses, people are more spread…Personally, I think it’s a little early to call it a cultural center. I think Brooklyn is still finding where it stands in the whole scheme of musical lineage.
You guys aren’t signed to a label yet. Do you have a dream label you’d like to sign with?
My dream has always been Domino and then the obvious Rough Trade. Mom + Pop has also been doing some good things with bands lately.
I know you didn’t get the funds to head over to Berlin to produce with Gordon Raphael (The Strokes’s producer). Is that still something you’d like to happen in the future?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say. We’d love to work with him. Now that we’re getting the heavy Strokes comparison, though, it might be tricky. At least from the management side [laughs].
Your personal styles are an example of what I particularly love about your band. Who are your style icons?
Harry Styles, definitely — for Steele at least (kidding). Steele has a very English soccer style, Adidas track wear, etc. He’s a big Arsenal fan. Jake’s a little in the same boat; I actually don’t really know [laughs]. We’re all about the same size and [we] share a lot of clothes, but Steele’s probably the most fashionable. We all wear a lot of Steele’s clothes.
Do you each write your own instrument’s part of a song, or is there one person who writes the bulk of it?
I’ll usually write the parts, and then we’ll change accordingly in the practice room as a group.
What’s the one song that you wish you wrote?
“Fine and Mellow” by Billie Holiday.
Thanks for the interview!