Sam Goldfine doesn’t have any tattoos—yet. So say his bandmates, the other three NYU students who together make the pop punk quartet Beast Make Bomb, who also promise to pressure him into getting his first one. “We’re just trying to get him real, real drunk,” wheedles lead singer and guitarist Ceci Gomez. “Might happen tonight,” suggests Hartley Lewis, the band’s drummer.
Tonight is July 20, the night of Goldfine’s twenty-first birthday, and the band is sweating in the un-air conditioned upstairs bar of New York’s Cake Shop before its set. Although he just graduated from NYU’s College Of Arts And Sciences (the boring, normal people school, as any NYU student will tell you) and deferred from law school, Goldfine is the youngest member of Beast Make Bomb, not to mention the least tattooed. He is also the only member not enrolled in NYU’s Clive Davis Department Of Recorded Music, a Tisch program founded in 2003 that prepares music business hopefuls to enter the industry as musicians, producers, managers, publicists, record executives and journalists. “I’m just lame,” Goldine told CMJ.
So far, Beast Make Bomb is one of the most successful acts to come out of Recorded Music. The group plays regularly at venues around New York City, has recorded two radio-ready EPs titled Skinny Legs and Sourpuss, raised $4,695 through a recent Kickstarter campaign to afford a tour bus, and is fresh from a six-city nationwide tour with Tokyo Police Club and the Whigs. This included a spot opening up for Queens Of The Stone Age at SXSW, which the band scored by winning Converse’s Get Out Of The Garage contest last spring.
The contest awarded Beast Make Bomb $10,000 in credit at Guitar Center and, perhaps more importantly, a taste of what it’s like to play for some 900 people at large venues like the El Ray Theater in Los Angeles. “We had never toured before, and we got put on this insane tour where Converse would pay to fly us,” Gomez told CMJ. “It kind of made us want to reach that goal again, to be able to play at huge venues.” Beast Make Bomb’s polished, uptempo tracks and simple, catchy melodies give the group a valuable mainstream appeal that lends itself nicely to the group’s ambitions.
“There was this moment when we were on that tour where we were like, “‘Wow, we can actually sustain this,’” says guitarist Glenn VanDyke. At this point in the conversation the band is visibly excited about the future of Beast Make Bomb, which does seem promising. “It’s crazy,” Goldfine chimes in. “We were playing like, no shows out of New York, and then we were flown to Austin [for SXSW] and had our own film crew and played a show opening for Queens Of The Stone Age. That’s insane.”
Beast Make Bomb’s exhilaration is charming, even cute. Maybe none of the band members want to say it aloud, but it feels like something is brewing for the NYU quartet; on top of winning the Get Out Of The Garage contest and the success of its Kickstarter campaign, Beat Make Bomb recently hired a new manager and, as of the night of Sam’s birthday, was looking forward to a few upcoming gigs in southern California, including playing at the U.S. Open in Huntington Beach. But the band’s cuteness runs counter to its punk rock heritage, something its members are sensitive to. “We’re hardcore cute. Punk as fuck,” declares Lewis, ostensibly the most punk rock of the four with dark, serious looks and quite the collection of tattoos.
According to its constituents, Beast Make Bomb is “punk attitude and pop sensibility,” which means the group creates tight, well-produced recorded work that it performs with less polish, much like the indie garage grungeheads of Brooklyn-based Grooms. “We write them poppy and play them punk-y,” VanDyke explains.
That night at Cake Shop, Beast Make Bomb puts on its best punk attitude. Certainly it is loud and distorted, with Gomez at the front providing the powerful stage presence required of a leader hoping to play for bigger and huger audiences in the future. If all goes well for Beast Make Bomb, the foursome is probably looking forward to a career of comparisons to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, with its cute and vaguely ethnic frontwoman (Gomez is half Paraguayan and a quarter Mexican) and its hardcore cute sound. So far, things have been looking up. “We’re super excited,” Gomez concludes.
“So punk of us,” Goldine replies.