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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Confessions of a punk rock lifer and So So Glo

Brooklyns So So Glos is a literal band of brothers.
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  • Brooklyn's So So Glos is a literal band of brothers.
Three-fourths of the So So Glos really are punk rock lifers, as brothers Alex and Ryan Levine and their stepbrother, Zach Staggers, were still children when they started their first Brooklyn punk band back in 1991. Sloppy, youthful efforts led to the formation of So So Glos in 2007, along with their "long lost brother," guitarist Matt Elkin. Though they've grown musically, the band has not turned its back on the child-like exuberance and D.I.Y. ethos that had them recording their own punk cassettes as young children. This can be heard on the band's latest effort, Blowout, which has gotten positive press and landed the guys on a cross-country tour with Diarrhea Planet. In anticipation of his band's Tues., Aug. 20 show at the Earl, lead singer Alex Levine opened up about family, D.I.Y. culture, and his beloved New York Mets.

It's well documented that you, Ryan, and Zach have played music together since 1991. How young were you guys then?
Yes, it is true that we are in fact an early '90s band and NOT a '90s revival band like many of our contemporaries. Our band was born in 1991 when I was 4 , Zach 5 and Ryan 6. We were so much older back then, we're younger than that now.

What pointed you to a life of playing punk rock? Did one of you discover good music through skateboarding, or was there a cool older person there to enlighten you all?

Our group came together out of a broken home. We first found punk rock and pop music as an escape from all that frustrated us. Punk rock was and still is a place where you can go to escape anything that troubles you. As our worlds got bigger, we turned up our volume. Our parents had great record collections of mostly rock 'n' roll, '50s, '60s, and '70s stuff. We were glued to MTV for most of the early '90s. I'll never forget the fridge full of 40s in the Dr. Dre / Snoop videos. I guess Dr. Dre was the cool older person who enlightened us.

How does Matt fit into the picture?
As a kid, Matt was going through a very similar situation only a few hours away. He was a cool skateboarding kid, though. He's got the skills on the guitar, and he can skate. When we met in 2007, he was playing in the great Le Rug. He joined our group a few months later and it was kismet. He felt like a long lost brother. Sometimes I feel like we grew up together. We did, in a sense. Our childhoods were pretty similar.

Did your early start in punk and D.I.Y. culture inform your continued interest in all-ages spaces like Shea Stadium?

Music saved us at a very young age. Because of that, we have always championed all ages spaces and valued the importance of the D.I.Y. movement. Protest culture belongs to the youth. Anyone out there who is sticking their necks out to throw all ages shows in the face of stringent American laws are the true heroes keeping these ideas alive. We've always tried to serve the New York D.I.Y. community to the best of our ability.

Though you guys likely have to play some 21 and up spaces when touring with the likes of Diarrhea Planet, such as the Earl here in Atlanta, do you feel more at home when it's an all-ages show?

Sometimes we must [play shows that are 21+]. We try to play all ages whenever possible. Naturally, it always feels better when all ages can come. We're working on changing things from the top down while also doing the bottom up. We do the D.I.Y. thing from the bottom up while we're working on getting to the top. That way we can work down from there, too.

Speaking of Shea Stadium, you guys aren't shy about representing the Mets. Displays of local pride by bands of your type seem more common elsewhere, like in the Midwest, than they are in New York. Are you guys all about New York because you're actually from there and aren't transplants from some other city?

We're all about rooting for the losing team. If they don't win it's a shame.

So So Glos, Diarrhea Planet, Carnivores, and Concord America play the Earl on Tues., Aug. 20. $10. 8:30 p.m.

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