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Broke-Ass Band Interview: You Are Plural (Tonight @ Bottom of the Hill)

Updated: Sep 07, 2011 11:29
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You are Plural is comprised of Jen Grady (cello, vocals) and Ephriam Nagler (Wurlitzer, piano, vocals), two of the loveliest people and most creative musicians I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. I reviewed their debut album a few months ago on SFGate. Here’s what I said (and yes, I’m quoting myself because, well, it’s a damn good review):

“With new (and often underwhelming) releases coming out every day, the indie music scene can feel like Groundhog’s Day. But You are Plural’s ‘Hand it Over’ is truly different. The unlikely marriage of Wurlitzer and cello presents unending dualities: the combo’s percussive yet melodic style, the intense yet soothing rhythms, Grady’s strong yet delicate voice complimenting Nagler’s sonorous yet airy one. Broad sweeping vocal harmonies weave in and out of sparse instrumentation, then suddenly they switch roles: the music swells as the haunting voices fade out. The music is palpable, almost visual and wholly sensory.

Listening to this seven-song gem is the aural equivalent of watching highly polished and inventive dance choreography. Whether plucked or bowed, every note leads to the next with intention like the movements of limbs in a ballet. And like a very fine and practiced ballet, the players convey heavy emotions while appearing weightless themselves. These are no flats. These are pointe shoes.”

In celebration of the release of their new EP “No More,” You are Plural play with Avi Buffalo tonight, Tuesday, September 6th, at Bottom of the Hill. Check out the videos below from the amazing EchoLocale.

Introduce yourselves!

Hello! We are You Are Plural.

Describe your sound in five words or less.

Wurlitzer, Cello: like greased lightning.

Tell us about your band name.

It comes from an episode about identity on NPR’s Radio Lab. Specifically that you are made up of multiple living organisms. For us it also means that you aren’t who you are without everyone else around you.

Favorite thing about San Francisco?

The giddy feeling you get inside your belly when crossing the Golden Gate for the first time in a long while.

Favorite SF restaurant?

Evergreen Gardens on 18th and Harrison, the pho will keep you full all day.

Favorite SF bar?

[vimeo 19404154]

We don’t have one. We can only afford to drink in parks or on rooftops.

How do you prepare for a big show? What will you be doing the night before?

Tuning, maintaining and/or repairing what broke on the Wurlitzer from the show the night before.

What can people expect at your shows?

Our shows are the two of us sweating our hearts out. Our new songs are kicking our ass, but we wrote them that way and are excited to be performing them.

What do you do during downtime on tour?

We love to explore when we have free time. Last tour we brought our bicycles and were able to see a lot on our rides. Local bike paths are awesome to blindly follow!

What’s next for the band? (i.e. plug your next show!)

Opening for Avi Buffalo at Bottom of the Hill on Sept 6th for our new “No More” EP release!

Three things you’d take to a desert island?

A 4-track, a piano, and a shovel.

What movie can you watch over and over and never get sick of?

Again and again: Wayne’s World.

Favorite season or time of year?

Summer is our new favorite because of all the bike rides you can take to swimming holes. Some spots can pleasantly surprise you with food stands that have root beer floats.

Three things that are in your fridge right now?

PBR, sharp cheddar cheese, corn tortillas.

Anything in your sock drawer besides socks?

We haven’t had a dresser since last August but in our suitcase we have hankies, old worn-out band shirts, and a few burnt capacitors from my deluxe reverb.

[vimeo 19398321]

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, i.e. money.

We only work with bands, so we treat every paycheck like it’s our last. Being a musician can be very unpredictable, but it’s what we love to do. Making money means we’re performing, but not making money means we’re at home writing and recording. Both are equally important for us to continue this project.

Have any tips for aspiring musicians trying to make it on their craft?

DIY all the way. Chances are you can find whatever it is for cheaper and make it better yourself.

Best money saving tip in general?

Cook your own food and get into it! It’s amazing how much money you can save by making your own tacos.

Where do you live now and what are some good cheap/fun things to do in that area?

We’ve been living in Olympia, WA and the house show scene here is amazing. In our small neighborhood there are at least four houses that put on shows on a regular basis. We have seen everything from punk to jazz and sometimes both in one night in a cozy setting. Nothing beats taking a walk and ending up at a house two blocks down who is hosting bands from across the country.

What do you refuse to spend money on?

Apparently rent. We only have a $40 storage unit in Santa Rosa ever since we moved out last August.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and how did that feel?

My cello. It felt like shit because I was in debt for over a year. Sadly these instruments are always expensive.

What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?

Our friend John Courage bought a Wurlitzer for $200 from someone who didn’t like it because it only had “one sound.” He traded it for recording time.

What is your favorite free thing to do?

In San Francisco there are the free shows from the SF Chamber Orchestra. Love going to Herbst Theatre for free and hearing a large group of people perform their acoustic magic.

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

A home on wheels, so we could tour forever.

What’s one GOOD thing about not having a ton of money?

Feeling successful with your craft is all the more satisfying when you put more of your heart rather than your wallet into it.

Any last words?

San Francisco we have missed you immensely and are incredibly excited to see you again!

*Photos via Facebook. Photo Credit: Nolan Conway.

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Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe's youth was split between California and Kauai, frolicking on a macadamia nut farm in the tropics and landing finally in the Bay Area. Raised by super-Jew hippies, and the youngest of three sisters, Chloe learned early the virtues of thrift, economy, and green living. To the chagrin of her parents (who hoped, of course, for a Jewish doctor or lawyer), Chloe has put her degree from UC Berkeley to great use by becoming a folk singer. As "Chloe Makes Music" she plays shows throughout SF and beyond, donning vintage frocks, selling handmade merch, and pinching pennies as she sings for her supper. Calling Berkeley home for the last six years, you can think of Chloe as the website's East Bay Correspondent, opening your eyes to the hippie-filled, tree-hugging, organic-loving, vegan-eating, but way-overlooked and awesome assets of Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.

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