The So So Glos: The Internet Hate Machine Cure
"We’re all a bunch of So So Glos," says Alex Levine of The So So Glos. With Alex’s brother Ryan, step-brother Zach Staggers and friend Matt Elkin, the group has been making a name for themselves promoting DIY venues at The Market Hotel and Shea Stadium with longtime friend Adam Reich. Their latest album, Blowout, landed on Rolling Stone’s list of best albums of 2013, and now the Brooklyn punk rockers have the platform to spread their message: Get behind a cause — any cause — but do it without hiding behind the Internet’s anonymity like in the time back before blogs and Honey Boo Boo episodes with the fart-scent scratch and sniff. You know, back when if you talked shit, you got your ass handed to you.
Milk Made: Can you tell me what the name "The So So Glos" means?
Alex Levine: The band name The So So Glos is slang term that we coined when we started the group, and long-story short, the meaning of a So So Glos is a post-modern narcissist whose devotion to their own ego is more in the forefront then any social, political or moral cause. So it’s really a comment on the ego and how everyone is really kinda into themselves nowadays. We call ourselves this to eradicate this type of behavior, to try and do something about it. It’s a “don’t take yourself too seriously” type thing. We’re all a bunch of so so glos.
MM: What started the DIY venues?
AL: We got involved with two separate DIY venues that we helped run. One was called The Market Hotel which is down in Bushwick and the other one is Shea Stadium. Shea Stadium is a public recording studio all-ages space and that’s the key aspect of these: they’re all ages. We helped get involved in that because it’s something that’s important to us — our ethos as a band — that all-ages movement. Adam Reich, our oldest friend and producer of all of our records, helped start Shea Stadium, it was his brain child. So we got involved with him in the idea of making a public recording studio space and also having shows and it’s just a great family spot. To redefine a venue and bring it back to its old roots of being just a room where a family can get together, you know.
MM: What made you want to start the DIY venues?
AL: It was just exciting. Our roots are in all-ages punk rock. Growing up, that was the music that inspired us as kids, and there weren’t as many all-ages spots in New York City at the time when we started our band in 2006, as there are now. It was a necessity for our band and also I think for the scene. I think rock and roll definitely belongs to the youth and the youth movement. All-ages venues are something that’s important in a place like New York City.
MM: What are some things that inspire your band and your music?
AL: I don’t know [laughs]. Inspiration comes from so many place, we get inspired by people that stand up and face their demons and try to be the best version of themselves. Everyone from Woody Allen to Joe Strummer I’d say is an inspiration to our band.
MM: What is it like being in a band with mostly family?
AL: To be completely honest, it’s very tough. The highs and lows are super accentuated, everything is really intense. There’s a fire in our band, it’s not a bunch of guys that were put together. We were grouped together at an early early age, by divorce and remarriage. Our band started out before we even knew what we were doing, probably around 4 years old. It always comes natural for us to be in this band, but it’s tough, we fight and we get along in a really unique way and that’s the fire that propels us. We wouldn’t have it any other way when it comes to The So So Glos.
MM: What can we expect from your new music video?
AL: We have a new video coming out for our song Speak Easy. In this video it’s kind of like everyone is turning into these Internet zombies and no one can not stare at their cell phones or screens. I’m a police man using my authority, trying to break them out of the 2-dimensional world. That’s where we find ourselves in that video.
"Speak Easy" is an attack at the anonymous blog culture where all this anonymous hate is allowed to flourish because you don’t have to be held accountable nowadays. So you have comments and you have people that are hiding behind computer screens that are allowed to spew all kinds of racist and horrible stuff, just ignorant speech. It’s an attack on that, if you got something to say you should be held accountable for that. Previous to the Internet, you weren’t able to hid in clandestine locations behind a screen. That’s what the song is about, let’s take it back to the streets, let’s take it back to the corner bodega — “Speak Easy,” you know.
MM: With all the music your band is putting out, what kind of message do you want to send your audience?
AL: There are a lot of messages in all of the music. I don’t think there’s one singular message we’re trying to get across. If you had to put something on it, I would say the world is a scary, scary place and what we can do is start some form of movement. That’s all that we can do. We need to get active, that is the message. I don’t want to tell people what we’re trying to get them active about, but I think it’s time to get excited about getting behind some causes.