Leland Sundries is a new act from New York City, which sounds ubiquitous, as does their well-toned guitar stroll—at first.
Let this sunny day walkabout while away into you and there surfaces some fine character building and mixed-beyond-their-years guitar and piano tinkling going down. You might surmise, as the chorus refrain does, “This is not how New York is supposed to go.”
“Stripper From Bensonhurst” comes from the band’s debut LP, Music For Outcasts, out in June. Give it a listen and see what lead Sundry Nick Loss-Eaton has to say about it, below.
Okay, a quick history of the band please.
Formed as an indie-Americana band in Brooklyn and put out The Apothecary EP and The Foundry EP, both recorded in Greenpoint at an unheated former creamery loft studio now known as The Creamery. Both of those were kind of a broken down, handmade late night/sad bastard, banjo-tinged, whiskey-soaked, lyric-driven thing. Toured mostly as duo act, but played some opening slots for Todd Snider, Eef Barzelay (Clem Snide), Taylor Hollingsworth (of Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band) and Kingsley Flood here and there. We put out a 7-inch single of “Roller Derby Queen” and the Live at the Creamery EP and have been slowly moving more towards rock and roll with those records, a musical move that solidifies on the full-length debut Music For Outcasts.
Was there really a stripper story from Bensonhurst? I ask this because, you know, most indie rockers claim they don’t hang out at strip clubs.
Well, as a band we’ve always been fascinated by that line between sleaze and art that the Velvets and Tom Waits and Timber Timbre and others explore. But more specifically, like many of the songs on the album, this was one that was started at the end of my active alcoholism. One has a tendency to not finish projects while drinking that heavily, and this batch of songs was no exception. So yes, I hung out at strip clubs a bit a few years back. Sorry, mom!
Alcoholism is a disease of more and makes you feel like whatever you have and whatever you’re doing isn’t enough. So I’d be on a late night bar crawl with some friends and would want to up the ante and get wilder, and so there was a brief phase where that meant taking a cab to Queens to get whiskey shots at a strip club at 3 a.m. At one point, I got into a great conversation with a stripper at Gallagher’s 2000 on a weeknight while she was on break and eating a burger, and she was telling me about her son. I went home and started sketching it out. I suppose you could say that woman inspired it, but I always pictured the character in the song as an immigrant, though that isn’t in the lyrics. After I got sober, I realized that I had two solid verses and a few good chord changes and fleshed it out, uh, so to speak.
Are you all from Bensonhurst?
Nope. Started writing the song while waiting for a train on the Queensboro Bridge platform with strip clubs down below and realizing that the neighborhood was getting pretty gentrified, and wondering where the strippers who work there actually live, and thinking that since many are Eastern European, they may live out near Brighton Beach. Also, it’s a non-hipster area out there, and it seemed to fit the hard-working characters in the song.
The line, “This is not how New York was supposed to go.” How is it going for Leland Sundries?
New York is tough on people and on bands. Rent is high, and there are a lot of things to do so it’s hard to get people out. You can feel a little lost in the shuffle here. But the great thing is that you meet incredible people and you sort of grow into your own little scene. So knowing a bunch of other musicians has been amazing, and it feels like we’re all growing together and that’s really cool.
Where are you based now?
Still in NYC. Four of us live in Brooklyn and one in Harlem at the moment.
How are the strippers there?
Not sure lately, to be honest, though recently we scheduled a last minute rehearsal and all the spaces were booked except Pumps, which is above a really seedy strip club in Bushwick. We didn’t enjoy the downstairs, but the strippers were really helpful in directing me to the proper space.
Plans for the band this summer?
Music For Outcasts comes out June 3 in North America (already out in UK/Europe). We’re going to tour the U.S. from mid-June to early July, and will play at Green River Festival in western Massachusetts on July 10. We’ve got three videos that we’re working on at various stages. Hope to get to the UK at some point. Maybe someday we’ll get to play this song at the hybrid strip club/garage rock/punk club in Atlanta.