WHEN the rock gods close a door, they open a window.
...or, you know. Something like that.
While Hang Fire, downtown’s HQ for indie-pop, garage, punk, and countless other magical musical manifestations will close its Whitaker Street doors at the end of the month, our friends over at Dollhouse Productions have announced that they’ll once again be holding shows in their Industry Drive space.
While Peter and Blake Mavrogeorgis have hosted several “Dollhouse Presents” events in other locales, they say it’s time to get back home to their gorgeous wartime-era warehouse.
So, as we bid adieu to Hang Fire-as-we-currently-know-it with a countdown of great shows (is it too late to get some kind of boozy Advent calendar going here?), Dollhouse is throwing one last shindig at 37 Whitaker Street.
Blake and Peter’s own Twisty Cats, along with Curbdogs, welcome Brooklyn’s Boytoy to their first Savannah gig.
If you’ve enjoyed Dollhouse’s past Lolipop Records bookings and their penchant for garage gold, you’ll wanna be there.
Boytoy’s self-titled EP is a stony, sweltering 22-minute romp, flush with garage grit, big toms, and vocals dripping in sneering charm.
“Welcome to hell, it’s a helluva scene!” they greet on opener “Helluva Party.” It sure is.
Guitarists Saara Untracht-Oakner and Glenn Van Dyke met when their old bands toured together in college. Around the time those projects had run their course, Untracht-Oakner was living in Boston and ready to get out; she gave Van Dyke a call.
“I was like, ‘man, I’m going to move back to New York, let’s start a band,’” Untracht-Oakner recounts. “And she was down!”
Untracht-Oakner paid a visit; while the two were wandering around in the wee hours of the morning , they happened to walk right past Van Dyke’s practice space. A 2 a.m. jam sesh paved the way for Boytoy.
“It felt good playing together,” Untracht-Oakner says.
BOYTOY came out in May 2014; while turning out a full-length just months after tracking your first release may seem an exhaustive task to some, it’s an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Brooklyn-based trio. And hey, Oh My Rockness didn’t name ‘em one of the “10 Hardest Working Bands of 2014” for nothing.
“It’s definitely easier to write a record when everybody writes,” says Untracht-Oakner. “Everybody brings five songs in and you can cut it down to 10, 11 you like, and work on those. That’s kind of what we did.”
Song contributor and drummer Matthew Gregory Aidala—their second drummer—has been with the band for about a year and a half. He and Untracht-Oakner met each other in the Long Island scene during their high school years.
Aidala’s was the “big, popular high school band,” Untracht-Oakner remembers. “We always played shows together, but had never been in the same project.”
In March, they headed to Fancy Time Studio in Philadelphia to track with Al Creeden of (recently split-up) Philly band Bleeding Rainbow.
“We went into it kind of thinking we want to try to be in a live room, and ended up wanting to overdub stuff a little more,” Untracht-Oakner explains of the band’s approach.
“It’s still a pretty simple, straightforward record, but we do have some overdubs of guitar tones and stuff like that.”
“It was nice,” she recalls. “We did it in the beginning of March and through all the snowstorms in Philly. It was nice to be stuck inside, in one place with no window. It was like, all right! Time to get in a time warp and buff it up!”
Once tracking was done, the trio headed home to mix with Chris Mclaughlin. On October 2, PaperCup Music will release the results, Grackle, on vinyl; Burger Records, the U.S. authority on all things garage rock, will handle the cassette release.
So far, the band has teased fans with a single, “Postal”—it’s a hard-edged surf joyride, shirking the band’s breezier summertime tendencies and opting for a full-throttle skate-punk approach that’s sure to have listeners pogoing in front of their turntables.
The final mix is a treat, as well: Boytoy doesn’t have a bassist, but you wouldn’t know it. The low ends are punchy and deftly handled—“Postal” sounds anything but hollow.
To fill out their sound, Untracht-Oakner uses an octave pedal, and makes sure to tell sound engineers to boost the low end and toms on the drum kit when they play live.
“We definitely write with that in mind,” she adds; she and Van Dyke play off of each other’s ranges and dynamics to sculpt a full-bodied sound.
“When we first started, we were going to have a bass, but it didn’t really work out with the person we had in mind,” says Untracht-Oakner.
“We liked the dynamic of the three of us, so we were like, ‘let’s just keep it like this.’ And it definitely worked. Maybe in the future, if Glenn and I get a bass, we’ll mess with that. But we like the three-piece dynamic. The triangle is a strong shape!”