BOYTOY are about to embark on a seven week tour to celebrate the release of Grackle, their brand new full-length record that’s out on PaperCup Music THIS FRIDAY OCTOBER 2! Two weekends ago I met up with Saara Untracht-Oakner and Glenn Van Dyke (two-thirds of BOYTOY // *digitally waves @ Matt Gregory*) to talk about all of these major life events AND all of the events that led up to them. (Or like, some of the events that led up to them.) Internet-eavesdrop on our conversation below, and ALSO stay tuned for a spooktacular extra on Friday in which Saara tells us some g-g-g-g-ghost stories, you know, in honor of October being thirty-one days of Halloween and fear! In the meantime, follow BOYTOY on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news, pre-order the record AND be sure to grab tickets to the show at Good Room on Friday. HERE WE GO:
So first and foremost, how long has Grackle been in the works, exactly?
Glenn: We had a lot of these songs for about a year.
Saara: More, probably.
Glenn: Yeah, more. We recorded it in February in Philly…
Saara: And we demo’d in December? January? We made demos in Matt’s basement in December or January, and then we started tracking in Philly at Fancy Time Studio with Al Creedon (he was in Bleeding Rainbow) and we tracked at the end of February, beginning of March. Then we mixed it when we got back from SXSW with our buddy Chris Mclaughlin in like April, and then I think mastered it in May.
And so how many songs did you guys have to choose from?
Saara: I think we had fifteen or sixteen? And then we demo’d a bunch and cut out the ones from the demos that we didn’t like, and then we went in with a clear idea of…actually, originally I think we thought ten songs, and then Glenn had another song that’s the newest one (we’ve never played it live, but we will on this tour) “Wild One”; that was kind of a last-minute, “Let’s just put it on.”
Glenn: Super simple.
Saara: And it’s actually one of my favorite songs on the record. I think a lot of people that hear the album will agree.
Glenn: It’s a sneak attack.
Saara: Yeah, it’s the first one on the B-side.
Cool. And would you say you went into the record-making process as a whole with a “mission statement”?
Saara: Sort of, but then it kind of changed.
Glenn: I mean, obviously when you’re paying to record, you kind of want to figure out how to be the most economical with your time, and be efficient. We only had Matt down for one weekend to record drums, so we were going to track everything live, but we didn’t have enough time, so we just focused on the drums and ended up overdubbing everything, which is different from what we’ve done before.
Saara: I guess what we originally thought was that we were just going to do a live room recording, and then we ended up doing more overdubs than we originally thought.
Glenn: It still sounds like a live record, but it made the most sense to do that with the amount of time we had.
I mean, was it stressful to have those kinds of time constraints?
Saara: I think we were well-prepared going in and having the demos. We also did a bunch of practices beforehand so we could be tight and get it in as few takes as possible.
Right. And now that you’re hitting the road with the record, what do you typically do to get the songs stage-ready?
Saara: We write them and then practice them until the point that they feel like, “Alright, this is done.” (Or at least ready.)
Glenn: And then we test them. Because the more you play them live, the more you figure out what you want to actually do. That’s why I like demo’ing a lot, because you can record what you have, and then when you listen to it back, you can say, “Actually, I think I’m going to change that.” And you can fiddle with it. But you have to stop at some point; when were mixing, we had to just be like, “Nope, it’s done.”
Saara: A song can never be done. And that’s what I think the problem is sometimes if people have their own studios, and it takes them like five years to make a record because they just keep changing it. You’ll drive yourself crazy, and you lose sight of what it even sounds like.
Totally. Now, with the upcoming dates, how extensive is this tour?
Saara: Very. [Laughs] I think it’s turned into seven weeks.
Is that the longest you’ve done so far?
Saara: Yeah. I think it’s something like forty-one shows?
Glenn: That’s the longest I’ve ever been on a road trip.
Saara: I mean, that’s a long tour for bands that are massive. But it’s cool; we’ve never been to the West Coast, but we have a ton of friends out there. And actually, we’re meeting up with the Gooch Palms (they’re from Australia, another Burger band), so we’re doing New Orleans across the desert with them, which’ll be cool. I’m excited about camping in the desert.
Glenn: Yeah, and then I think we have some good local bands playing shows, which is so fun, because then you can go back to those cities and you randomly have some friends there.
Saara: Basically being on tour is kind of like summer camp. I used to go to summer camp as a kid and the sessions were like a month or two months long.
Glenn: Saara loves summer camp.
Saara: I do. I mean, my camp experience was like Wet Hot American Summer, basically.
Glenn: Anything fun you’re like, “It’s like summer camp.”
Saara: Yeah, it’s like camp. But it really is! It’s like, you’re out in this kind of bubble of a world that’s different from real life, and you’re meeting all these people that you have these really close connections with for a short amount of time, and it’s intense, and it’s intimate, and then you stay in touch and it’s like, “Can’t wait to see you next summer!” [Laughs]
So what do you think the eventual comedown from that is going to be like, then?
Glenn: Terrible. You have to completely readjust.
Saara: Basically we get back and we’re going to hustle a little bit more to make some more money, and then be in LA this winter for January and February, and tour back from the West to the East for SXSW.
What does an average day of hustle look like for you guys? Saara, I know you do some art stuff…
Saara: Yeah, I do some art stuff, and then I also work in a restaurant, do some odd jobs here and there. I just finished up Point Break Live, actually.
Saara: Yeah, I wouldn’t call that a hustle, but it’s a nice gig. I did a fun little understudy thing. But just doing whatever comes up.
Glenn: Pretty much anything. There’s a random picture of me in some ad for a 1-800-LAWYER ad somewhere I’m sure. There’s never a boring moment.
Saara: I will never be behind a desk in an office building in a 9-5.
Me neither, I’m starting to realize more and more. I think my mom is super bummed out about it.
Glenn: Well what’s great about our generation compared with our parents’ generation, is that they were always told, “You have to sit in an office, it’s your duty.” Now our generation is like, “Yeah, but we’re gonna die.” So it’s like, we’re figuring out how to be happy and doing things that we want to be doing.
Saara: Yeah, I feel like our parents…well, grandparents were like, “You have no choice.” And then our parents were like, “You have to work for your choice.” And then we were like, “You can be whatever you want! Everybody’s a winner and great!”
Glenn: I don’t think that. I don’t think that at all. I mean, if you work hard, you can do whatever you want. It just takes a lot of work. You can’t be apathetic and just expect things to come to you.
Saara: Yeah, but you know, with our parents it was like, “Women don’t do these jobs.” And I think that made people say, “Well, I’m going to work towards this.” Whereas we grew up with them saying, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up if you work hard.” So it’s like, “Alright, now we’re going to do whatever we want!”
And we are! Now, how long have you two actually known each other?
Saara: Four years?
Glenn: We met because our old bands played a show together.
Saara: And then we realized that we like to do all the same stuff. Now we’re best friends.
So is that cool when you’re on the road, then? I mean, I feel like it has mega-potential to be overly close quarters, but is that easier since you guys get along so well?
Glenn: We’re like a little family.
Saara: Yeah, we fight, and then the next day it’s like, “Hey, sorry, I was being stupid. That was dumb.” And then it’s cool.
Glenn: Even just a few hours…I mean, one of us might walk away and be like, “UGH!” and then you come back and it’s totally fine.
Is it the same sort of dynamic when you’re doing songwriting as a band? And who actually does what when it comes to that process? (Do you have set roles, or is it fairly collaborative?)
Saara: It’s all different. Some of it’s just a jam or a riff…we’ll send each other phone memos a lot.
Glenn: Sometimes there’s a more fully-fledged song that comes from one of us, and everyone else is like, “Oh, cool.” Sometimes we’ll restructure it or write different parts for it. It’s fun.
Saara: But usually we’ll just be like, “Keep going,” and you can generally feel when it’s like, “THAT’S IT! THAT’S THE ONE!” Or if it’s a guitar that’s not quite there yet or a chorus isn’t working, I think all of us are open to transforming things; nothing’s too precious.
Glenn: It’s a malleable thing. I like when people have input, or SOMETHING, because in a way it validates it. It adds something that you maybe didn’t think of. It’s nice, like a workshop.
Cool. And so FINALLY, what’s the plan when you wrap up this tour and then eventually head out to LA?
Glenn: Write, write, write.
Saara: Yeah, write a new record. We’ve already started writing, so hopefully we’ll demo a few songs out in LA, and ideally do a record a year.