Suckers and Rewards are two bands from Brooklyn. As far as biographical details go, that’s about as unique as two investment bankers being from Manhattan. But that doesn’t mean it’s without significance.
Every once in a while, the borough produces what feels like a class of acts; bands that cut their teeth at the same venues, share concert bills together, lend a hand on each other’s records, and collectively blow the fuck up. A few years back, this script played out with a group of bands that included Yeasayer, Bear In Heaven, Real Estate, Chairlift, and Suckers. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
On Thursday night at DC9, a few of those good friends will share a stage yet again: Rewards and Suckers.
Rewards is the latest project from Aaron Pfenning, Chairlift’s former guitarist, songwriter, and producer. Pfenning has landed on New York’s hotshit DFA Records, which released Rewards’ equally slinky and banging Equal Dreams 12″ – featuring the fabulous Solange Knowles – this summer. Suckers, meanwhile, is something slightly more… wild. The band is a four-headed monster, bringing together the yelping voices and multi-instrumentalism of Quinn Walker, Austin Fisher, Pan, and Brian Aiken to create pop music that’s utterly dynamic and, in their words, “extraterrestrial.”
Rather than subject the bands to a BYT interrogation, we decided to get out of the way and let Suckers’ Fisher (above) and Rewards’ Pfenning (below) handle the questions and answers themselves. Naturally, the discussion turned to Cadillacs, astrology, and transvestities.
Rewards: How will you be celebrating Halloween this year?
Suckers: Suckers will be celebrating Halloween in the recording studio this year. I will be recording all my vocal parts dressed as Frankenstein.
Rewards: I read on your Twitter that you’re working on another album.
Suckers: We’re working on album number two with Matt Boynton at Vacation Island Studios. We couldn’t come up with any new songs, so we’re just re-recording all the songs from our first album. That’s what Nickelback does, right?
Rewards: I gave Quinn a song, like, three years ago for him to remix. He sure takes his time.
Suckers: Don’t rush him, man.
Suckers: We’re neighbors. We bump into each all the time on the street. This isn’t a question.
Rewards: Do you remember the time we shared a turkey sandwich near the east river and fully developed a plot-script for a movie starring Steve Coogan and Kristen Wiig?
Rewards: You have been praised for your dapper fashion sense and trendsetting looks. Are you excited that jacket season is upon us?
Suckers: Thank you. Jacket season is one of my favorites. My friend says it’s the most nostalgic season. But mostly, for me, jacket season is the season when all the mosquitos die. And I hope they die soon. I live right on the East River and they have been horrible this year.
Rewards: What’s your favorite album thus far in 2011?
Suckers: So far I like Gang Gang Dance’s new album and SBTRKT and 4 by Beyonce. Also, Michael Bolton seems to be having a resurgence this year – my girlfriend is thrilled. And I’m eagerly anticipating Rewards’ debut LP.
Suckers: What was the first album you ever bought?
Rewards: Alanis Morissette. Jagged Little Pill.
Suckers: What was the first concert you went to without adult supervision?
Rewards: Weezer at the Ogden Theater in Denver. I snuck away with a girl from school. I think I should leave it at that.
Suckers: Most favorite car in 1997?
Rewards: My favorite car in 1997 was my 1983 Cadillac – an enormous machine, and perfect for just cruising. Actually, that’s all I could do in my Cadillac was cruise, because it wouldn’t accelerate past 50MPH. Which is fine because the backseat was so big and soft that it was fun to have friends just hanging out back there while I’d shuttle us around town, listening to Prince on the tape deck.
Rewards: What is your most treasured memory of Washington DC?
Suckers: I have many. I remember being at Will from Durkl‘s New Year’s Eve party which ended when someone started throwing up blood at around 6am. Also, Suckers were robbed by trannies in DC. They broke into our van while we were at lunch. The cops told us it was homeless travestites. Those aren’t really good memories but they are treasured. We’ve also had a lot of fun hanging with the Durkl crew and the band Exactly at Gold Leaf Studios.
Suckers: Ice cream question – cup or cone?
Rewards: Let’s be serious for a minute. We are, shall I say, lovers of food. What is the best meal you make and who, if given the chance, would you wish to make it for?
Suckers: I can make a scallop dish that involves bacon and a tomato cream sauce that’s pretty good, and I would cook it for my girlfriend. My cat seems the most excited when I get in the kitchen though. He has full confidence in my abilities.
Suckers: Favorite restaurant of 2011?
Rewards: This is tough. I’m gonna say Nan Xiang Dumpling House, in Queens NY. It’s not a new restaurant, but I just discovered it. Probably the best soup dumplings I’ve ever tasted.
Suckers: When did you decide to become a vegetarian (if you are a vegetarian)?
Rewards: I was a vegetarian for a year because I had a girlfriend that was vegetarian, so I thought I’d try it. Once I started eating meat again, I loved meat more than ever. I bought a book on butchering, and learned all the different cuts of beef, and how to roast a pig, and where to buy and what to look for. I’ll eat meat for the rest of my life, I don’t think I can go back to being vegetarian but if I hadn’t spent that year without it I don’t think I’d have the level of appreciation I do now.
Rewards: Do you have any ambition to pursue an acting career?
Suckers: Aaron, I told you I don’t talk about that anymore.
Suckers: What other projects are you working on besides Rewards?
Rewards: Butchering. Learning cheese names. Knife skills. Free-throws.
Suckers: You grew up in Colorado. Are you a skilled skier?
Rewards: Proficient. Bold. Colorful. I haven’t been skiing in about ten years though. I loved it as a kid but now whenever I think about going skiing, I just think – well, I could go skiing, but I’d rather stay warm inside and work on a remix with a Guiness.
Suckers: What’s your sign?
Rewards: Scorpio. Triple Scorpio, in fact. At least that’s what I’m told.
Suckers: Will you go out with me?
Rewards: We’ll discuss this at the show, perhaps over some baguettes with Raclette cheese and a Pinot Noir, and maybe even a pan-seared flank steak. Then later after the show, we’ll take in a few oysters (Saint Simon, preferably) and then we’ll see where the night takes us.