There are many things Rebecca Keith, lead-singer of the band Butchers And Bakers, likes and dislikes about New York. One thing is for sure though: Don’t ask her to go out to brunch with you. Her distaste for the ambiguous meal is evident from the Brooklyn four-piece’s new psych-tinged single, “Brunch,” which CMJ has the pleasure of premiering today.
The track kicks off with an ambient, haunting guitar line that will lure you into a false sense of calm—like eating a syrup-drenched stack of pancakes and sipping a mimosa—but the tone changes as the band breaks into the powerful, impassioned chorus with Keith proclaiming, “I don’t live here/I’m not one of you.” Maybe this brunch isn’t as friendly as you thought. Listen to the track below and read our interview to find whether Keith, drummer Mike Orini, bassist Hank Baker and guitarist Eli Jacobowitz really have beef with brunch.
How did you first start playing together?
Rebecca Keith: Mike, our drummer, started this band years ago in a very different form. Hank brought Eli in last year, they’re old friends and have played together in previous projects, and “Brunch” is the first song we wrote with him.
Where does the name Butchers And Bakers come from?
Mike Morini: Honestly, we went with it because it just had a nice ring to it. Lame, I know. A friend suggested it and we liked it right away. Then we lost some members and our music changed a bit. We really considered changing the name but then Hank, our bassist, joined and his last name is Baker.
RK: Plus the band is split half meat eaters/half veggie, and Mike makes killer buttercream frosting cake.
In the lyrics to “Brunch” the line: “I don’t live here/I’m not one of you” is repeated throughout the track. Are you addressing anyone in particular there?
RK: Me, you, us, them (not the band). Me and you and everyone we know (not Miranda July, but maybe a little bit). Certain alphabet trains bet K+M. “Shoot me an email.” The Edge (not U2). People who talk too loud or at all on the subway in the morning about their “projects.” A rock promoter, as Kim Deal would sing. They is us.
What’s your favorite place to get brunch in New York? Or is this an anti-brunch song?
RK: If we tell you will we have to wait in line behind you? Essentially yes, it’s an anti-brunch polemic, though being totally anti is kind of like hating the beach. How can you not love pancakes? Pancakes are like puppies that make you fat, except not enough places even do pancakes in New York. But all those spots that won’t seat you until your whole party arrives and then not for another hour and a half—forget it.
When I moved home to New York and lived with my parents for a year (it was just like Tiny Furniture except we didn’t have floor to ceiling white cabinets and I couldn’t afford to quit my job), the city had started morphing into the designer handbag it is today, pushing even more people out. On a serious tip, I felt like both one of the pushed and the pushers. On the not serious, I used to joke about starting a Dos/Don’ts kinda blog, gobacktowiliamsburg.com, even more so after I found myself living there (cheapest room I could find) and was confined to the L train, plus a ten-minute walk down fashion avenue past McCarren Park. I wished someone else would wear sweatpants to do their laundry and go to Rite Aid. I half-loved/half-hated that everyone I knew from Portland (yes, ugh) moved here and became part of the drinking-margaritas-and-Sparks-before-and-after-kickball-league in the park mob (remember them?). The hate was for those who acted like they, not the old Polish men on the benches, owned the place. Dark times. So “Brunch,” the song: We needed to replace the working title for the song about a week before mastering. “Brunch” came to mind as the epitome of all the above. There was some dissent, but it stuck. I’ve lived in stroller Brooklyn too and that’s a whole different beast with an even longer wait for a table.
But okay, best brunch—anything at a friend’s house, especially Sarah Hull’s. Lately I’ve been loving Fanny on Graham Ave. Maple mascarpone French toast. Don’t think it’s locally sourced though. Best brunch ever ever is Mother’s in Portland or Pat’s Diner in Salisbury, MA.
Eli Jacobowitz: Shout out to the baguettes and egg thingies at Bakeri in Williamsburg!
What’s the worst brunch experience you ever had?
Hank Baker: Contrary to Rebecca’s anti-brunch stance, I actually really enjoy brunch, but yes, brunch in Williamsburg can be a terrible experience. I once had a guy try to attack me with the broken end of a beer bottle at brunch in Williamsburg. I wouldn’t say that’s typical, but it hasn’t turned me off to brunch entirely.
RK: Probably one that followed a night of puking. Also, buckwheat pancakes.