Interview: Astoria Boulevard
December 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Astoria Boulevard: A Folk Trio out of Queens
Three grey suits with skinny red ties adorn the men who have just silenced the audience seconds after starting their set. On stage in Soho’s The Living Room, the boys of Astoria Boulevard hold the audience still as they open up acapella. Each voice blending into the other, the chord of three then breaks out their instruments. Dan Scott switches back and forth between a guitar and ukulele, Philip Drennen leads with vocals shaking a tambourine or maracas, and Max Demers hits the harmonica and plays acoustic guitar.
Classified as an indie-folk/pop band, the trio has been performing together since 2009. The charm that engages their audience has much to do with their chemistry. “You can make a lot of things happen but you can’t force chemistry. People can feel it and have fun watching. It’s just the indefinable quality,” explains Philip. Dan and Philip originally started off as a two man band but soon began searching for a third member who could play acoustic guitar and give bass to their vocals. “You have this chord that you can create with three voices. You can create almost any musical experience,” Dan says.
The Inspiring Queens, NY
Settling into New York City from Ohio and upstate New York, the name of the band was selected in admiration of their new home, Astoria, Queens. Philip says, “We fell in love with Astoria. It’s sort of what we identified home with. We want to pay homage to our new home.” Their influences range from Ingrid Michaelson to Amy Winehouse to Mumford and Sons. “There’s a lot of music we all like. Musically we have to stick to a certain genre but lyrically we can put a stamp on things and that really comes from the influences that we listen to or grew up listening to,” Philip explains. Dan adds, “I grew up singing around a campfire to John Denver and James Taylor songs. Those guys were melody writers and just wrote beautiful melodies that stay in your heart forever.”
Compared greatly to the Beatles for their songs of simplicity, they remain humble and grounded. “Stories are stories,” says Dan. “A love song is going to be just as touching now as it was a hundred years ago.” Addressing their New York niche in folk, Dan says, “I think that our music speaks to everybody in ways that other genres alienate people. I think everyone can find joy in it.” Phil adds, “We can play for a kindergarten class and then go to my grandmother’s nursing home and still get a really good reaction there then come to somewhere like The Living Room in New York City.” And yet Astoria Boulevard has found a way to put their own stamp in folk. “There’s something different to when [we each] take a solo on a song and then come together in this harmonic voice,” says Max. A fact that can easily be supported just by looking at the faces of those sitting in the audience.
Music, Dreams, and Impact
Many times the association of drugs, sex, and alcohol are made with bands in New York. Astoria Boulevard is on the opposite side of that spectrum. “We’re just nerds. When the three of us are together and had a beer or two we just want to sing and talk about the future,” says Phil. These dreamers are soon on their way to stardom having already played at venues such as The Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. “We’re playing in rooms that a lot of people we look up to have started in,” says Dan. Philip adds, “The first time I came to The Living Room I remember thinking I wanted to play here. And we played here and we’ll never have a first time playing here again.” Recalling his most memorable moment, Max shares, “I had a specific moment [at the Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2] when I looked up into the balcony. Instead of looking down at the audience I got to look up. That was pretty cool to me.”
Mumford and Sons, Phoenix, and Ingrid Michaelson are just a few of the many artists the band believes they would compliment as an opening act. Although the road to their dreams may be paved with gold, their pockets are not. Dan, Philip, and Max each wait tables to fund their musical aspirations. Hustling like many other New York musicians, their loose work schedules allow for nightly bookings, song writing, and booth recordings. Self managing their dreams, Max says, “For me I think I have something to say. And it’s more important than asking ‘How do you like your burger.’” Dan adds, “I do believe that three of us together can create a sound and experience that no one can. We can’t do it by ourselves and we couldn’t do it with anyone else.” Philip finishes the conversation by stating, “If we were solo artists I don’t know what I would do. I may have given up by now. But to have two guys that have your back all the time it makes it so much easier.”
Support their music – One of These Days EP is available on iTunes
Check out more of Astoria Boulevard at: