Brooklyn D.I.Y. leaders mix punk ethics with pop songwriting
The quartet is comprised of two brothers (Alex and Ryan Levine) and their stepbrother (Zach Staggers), who’ve been playing music together since they were kids growing up in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood. The only non-relative, guitarist Matt Elkin, joined the band in 2008 after the brothers persistently sweet-talked him into it mere days before their first national tour. Since then, the So So Glos have formed a full-fledged North Brooklyn scene around themselves while honing their musical chops. Their second full-length, Blowout, was release on April 23rd through their own label, Shea Stadium Records.
D.I.Y. or Die: If you’ve ever been to an all-ages D.I.Y. show in Brooklyn, there’s a high likelihood the members of the So So Glos had something to do with it. First, they co-founded the beloved Bushwick performance space Market Hotel (now shuttered, soon to be reopened), then moved on to Shea Stadium, a bigger, badder venue that runs co-op style with help from all members of the So So Glos. The venues were created out of necessity – the band couldn’t get shows at first, so they created their own opportunities – but now the So So Glos are the ones dishing out advice to the baby bands looking to navigate the house show circuit.
Punk Ethics, Pop Songwriting: They describe themselves as simply rock & roll, and their simplicity is refreshing. Blowout is tight and well-crafted, with the guys name-checking 1960s Brill Building songwriters and Iggy Pop in equal measure. The album’s themes, on the other hand, are decidedly modern, chronicling 21st-century struggles with identity and technology in an earnest way.
New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down: The band’s perspective lies in its name, which originated as a reaction to the cooler-than-thou New York garage-rock scene of the early 2000s. “The term ‘so so glo’ originally was written into our song ‘Broken Mirror Baby,’ which was a self-critique of a whole generation of narcissists and egotists, inspired by the hip nature of New York City,” singer/bassist Alex Levine tells Rolling Stone. “It’s the apathetic vibe that we encountered when we first started the band, and it became a term that we called each other when we felt like we were being full of ourselves.” His brother Alex adds, “It’s a fight on pretending, but it’s also a self-awareness thing – a fight against your own ego.”