I had a nice little chat with Andy Adler from Crystal Stilts Wednesday afternoon. Among other things, we talked about why he joined ranks with Crystal Stilts and what life in Brooklyn has been like. We also made speculations about who would win a theoretical fight between Crystal Stilts and all the other ‘Crystal’ bands. We came to the conclusion that Crystal Castles would be dead meat since they’re only two people (and Canadian), but in retrospect, I’ve started thinking Alice Glass could probably fuck shit up regardless. Anyway, get to know Andy a little better right here before you see Crystal Stilts live this Sunday @ the Black Cat.
What’ve you guys been up to? How’s it going?
Oh, pretty good…just been mellowing lately.
But this kind of kick starts a little tour, right? You’re in Manhattan in two days?
Yeah, we play on Friday.
And then you’re in DC on Sunday…
Yeah, and then Philly. That’s pretty much it. So it’s just a small little tour.
And then you’re headed to Europe in August, right?
Yeah, for like two weeks.
Are you guys excited about that?
Yeah it should be really good. It’ll be nice to be there while the weather is warm.
Yeah, I’m jealous! So the current line-up you guys have had for the last year and a half/two years has been pretty solid…do you foresee any changes to that anytime soon? Maybe any new additions?
Uh, no, I think we’re pretty solid. It’s the first, or the only real stable line-up the band’s ever had, so why mess with it?
So the dynamic works pretty well between you guys? You all work well together?
Yeah, for the most part. No yeah, definitely.
And so what made you want to join the band? Because you’ve been a member for what, two years now? Something like that?
Yeah, probably about two years. Well, I guess up to that point it had just been mainly JB and Brad, the guitarist and singer, and then they sort of had different people at different times…there were two different people playing bass. When they played live, which wasn’t that often, there would be a drum machine and JB would be playing the kick drum, and then Kyle would play bass or organ. Like I said, there were two different people playing bass. But they wouldn’t really play live too often, so it was just sort of picking up people here and there. And then I guess they wanted to, you know, have more of a full band and play more and stuff, and I was friends with JB and Brad for a while, so I guess it was just pretty natural. And that’s kind of the way it’s been with everyone in the band, because we’re friends.
And which band member would you say is the most difficult to tour with? Like, who’s most likely to be “accidentally” left behind at a gas station?
Hmm…I don’t know. I don’t think anyone’s ever been left behind. We’ve left a lot of stuff behind…we’re all really bad at that. We’ve left bags and instruments. That’s happened a lot. I think that’s generally our biggest casualty.
So has it been Crystal Stilts all the time for you guys now? Or have any of you been working on different projects or collaborations recently?
Umm, yeah people have been doing some side things. It’s kind of like small things here and there, playing with people that we know and stuff like that. But I mean I guess Crystal Stilts is the main thing at this point. Frankie does her own stuff as well, she’s got a record coming out at some point, a single I think. And Kyle’s crazy busy with a million different bands. Like he’s in that band The Ladybug Transistor as kind of a main one, and then he plays with a bunch of other things that he’d probably rather I not mention.
And you guys will be playing with The Ladybug Transistor this Sunday in DC, right?
Yeah we’re playing with them. They’re friends of ours. They were playing at the Merge Fest and when they were coming back they asked us if we wanted to play their shows on their way back with them.
Cool. So how do you guys typically write your music? Like, what’s the process? Is it typically collaborative, or…
Umm I mean these days, well, it used to be JB who would just kind of do everything and then Brad would just kind of jam and then whatever I guess. And now it’s sort of…well, there’s a couple ways I guess. Either JB will have a part of a song but it’s nothing very fully formed and then we’ll get into a practice space and play for a long time and just piece it together. Sometimes things come about more spur the moment…we’ll be jamming and hit upon something that sounds good and then work from that. So it’s not like there’s one person coming in with a fully formed song. It’s generally playing around with stuff. I mean a lot of it sort of stems from JB having a little part here or there and then we just kind of fool around. And then Brad writes the lyrics, that’s his territory. But I think it’s always kind of been the work in progress thing. You know, you hit upon a part that works good and then you work on that and come up with something else, so we’re pretty organic that way.
Right. And as far as comparisons go, I know you guys get compared to bands like Joy Division or Jesus and Mary Chain…I mean, are you guys usually flattered by that or do you just sometimes kind of wish people would say that Crystal Stilts sounds like Crystal Stilts?
Well I think we’re all record nerds and like a lot of music so that definitely seeps in. I think that sometimes some of the comparisons might be kind of lazy. I don’t think it sounds anything like Joy Division myself per se. I think someone writes that and then someone reads it and it gets perpetuated. I think there’s a lot of bands we all listen to and it sort of is an influence but it’s not necessarily a conscious decision. I think what maybe gets written about is not always true. I think there’s other bands that are probably more of a direct influence, but we can’t control that.
Right. So any day jobs right now for any of you to generate a little extra revenue?
Oh, we’ve still got jobs. I don’t have one right now but I need one. Yeah, we all kind know we still need to supplement our income.
What’s the last thing you splurged on? I can’t even remember the last time I splurged on anything…
Oh gosh, I guess I got a new bike recently. Well, a used bike, not a new one. My old one didn’t work, so I let it get stolen because I’d gotten it for free and it wasn’t worth putting money into it. So I guess that’s about it. But it ends up saving me money so it’s a good investment. I don’t have to take the subway. Everytime I bike it’s $2.25 saved so it pays for itself. But that’s probably about it, otherwise I don’t buy too much…I guess books, but that’s about all.
And what’s the last show you went to see? What was that like?
I had a busy week, actually. Well, let’s see, I went to see…I normally don’t go to very many shows but for some reason this past weekend I ended up going to a lot of shows. So that was kind of a change of pace. Let’s see…I saw Ladybug Transistor play, (laughs) so there you go, the clientele, that was pretty fun. I went to see the last Oxford Collapse show ever, that was pretty awesome. Those guys are friends of ours from way back so…but they went out on top, they did it very well.
Wow, that is pretty busy for shows. So you guys all live in Brooklyn, then? That’s where you’re based?
Uh, Brooklyn and Queens.
And how’s working in Brooklyn? What’s the scene like with all the other bands? Is it ever a competitive vibe? Like do you guys all spill out into the streets and have rumbles?
Oh, no. Not at all. Maybe for some people it is, but I don’t think we’re too competitive with anyone. I feel like people are a lot more spread out and in their own worlds than it sometimes gets depicted as being. I mean we have a lot of friends who are in bands and we like playing with them, but it’s sort of more just that those are our friends. So that’s our main focus. I don’t think we have too many concerns with that.
What are the best and worst things about living where you guys live in Brooklyn and Queens? At least for you, anyway.
The worst is probably that it’s expensive. I guess there are other flaws, but…the best thing is that I like movies a lot, and it’s a good city for going to movies. There’s a lot of stuff going on I guess, but I don’t know. I’m kind of a homebody I guess. But yeah I guess I’m just kind of used to living here. I guess the best thing is I’ve lived here a long time so a lot of my friends live here.
Yeah, you’re from Boston originally, right?
Yes. I am. And I like living in the Northeast.
So I heard that the band name was kind of formed jokingly because there are so many ‘Crystal’ bands out there right now. So I guess in a theoretical fight between Crystal Castles, Crystal Antlers, maybe the Crystal Method…who do you think would win? Or do we even know who some of these people are?
Umm, I don’t know. Let me think. Probably those dudes from the Crystal Method. They’d probably beat us all up. Well, Crystal Castles, there’s like two of them, so…and they’re Canadian, right?
Yeah, I think so.
Yeah, two people from Canada? Alright, no problem with that.
(laughs because we’ve just perpetuated the mildly anti-Canadian sentiment harbored by many Americans, eh?) And so what’s up next for you guys? I know you’ve got this little Europe stint coming up, but in the long run I guess, what do you foresee?
Uh, we’ve just been jamming and writing songs and hopefully we’ll get to record at some point again. We’re just mainly working on that and trying to take it a little easier on the touring front to have time to just go and play and then work up and spend some time recording hopefully.