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2004_08_artsmidtown.jpgFor those music fans interested in sampling various genres, Midtown is a band to watch. Too jaded to be teen-friendly emo, too emotional to be fuck-all indie, Midtown walks the fine line between pop and punk better than most bands they tend to get grouped with (Saves the Day, Jimmy Eat World, New Found Glory). Though fairly young, the band sounds grizzled and seasoned like only a New York offspring can, singing about post-9/11 apocalypse and the ripple effect it had on our attitudes, beliefs, and hell—sex drives. Midtown is Gabe Saporta (vocals and bass), Rob Hitt (drums), Tyler Rann (guitar), and Heath Saraceno (Guitar). Gothamist got Rob and Tyler to take time out from their cross-country road trip with Welsh rockers, Lostprophets, and talk city with us. Turns out the Jersey natives are living the NYC dream… complete with shithole apartments, wayward homeless men, and mixed opinions on the Bloomberg regime.


What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?

Rob: I have many memories of NYC, but my first, of living here, is getting into my apartment in Brooklyn a week before my roommates moved in, with only a mattress and an acoustic guitar. It’s very rare that a person ever sleeps in an apartment where every wall is white and bare. At least I had 7th avenue to fill my curiosity.

Tyler: I know a lot of people claim they lived in the biggest shithole in the city, but I actually did. For real. It won awards. Anyways, I remember seeing what I thought to be a homeless guy down by the mailboxes one night, and it kinda freaked me out. The next day I saw him again going through the trash out back. When I saw him again on the third day, I realized that he had keys just like mine, and was actually my neighbor, on the floor below me.

What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?

Rob: I swear to god every time I ride the F train into the city there is this same beggar guy named Sunny Pane, this 70-year-old looking dude who recites the same lines every time I’m on the train. I find myself mumbling his shpiel along with him when he begs for “some change, a piece of fruit or a sandwich.” And “if you don’t have it,” he “understands” because he “doesn’t have it either.” Anybody who has seen this guy knows exactly what I’m talking about. He’s my favorite.

Least favorite? Very easily, the drive from Brooklyn to Jersey City for band practice. Probably one of the most un-fun rides possible. Although, on the way back home after practice, if it’s between 5 and 8 PM, there’s this one cop right outside the Holland Tunnel who dances while he’s giving traffic directions. I swear sometimes he’s just dancing and you have no idea if the dude is telling you to go, stop, or what.

Tyler: New York City is a place of vast contrasts and contradictions in my mind. What I love about it is sometimes also what I hate. While there is everything in the world to do at your fingertips, and every kind of person you’d ever like to meet, it’s very easy to get lost. I think realizing how lonely you can be, even when surrounded by tons of people everywhere, was both favorite and least favorite memory for me. We artists thrive on misery, don’t we?

What is your favorite place to drink in NYC? What’s the best night of the week to go out in the city?

Rob: Ooooh, this is a tough one. Hmmm, my favorite place to drink has got to be my apartment. It’s so much cheaper! I don’t know how people afford to drink all the time out in this city. Can somebody please find me a trust fund? Hell, I’ll take a sugar mamma! Any takers? There’s also this bar in Williamsburg, right on Bedford, that serves beer for cheap in these huge styrofoam cups. It’s fun until you realize you’re the only one in there not speaking Polish.

Tyler: Living on the Lower East Side there are endless choices. Max Fish and Pianos are obvious ones, but I love this place Tenement. It’s got great drinks, a cool vibe, outdoor space and best of all…its always totally empty. It’s a great place to get the night started when you don’t want to deal with crazy bar lines and just want to get drunk. There’s also a cool wine bar called Punch N’ Judy’s on Clinton street that’s a good date place, I guess, and has a great wine list. And you also can’t go wrong with Odessa—home of the $3 cocktail—still the cheapest in the East Village!

What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York? Is there a difference between shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?

Rob: I don’t think we’ve actually played a show in Brooklyn yet. It seems to rotate between Irving Plaza and the Knitting Factory. Although, I do find myself going to North Six more than any other venue in Brooklyn and eating right next door at Sea way too often. When we first started out 5 years ago we’d play The Wetlands, Coney Island High, and The Continental quite a bit. I remember being a little kid and my sister would take me into the city and we’d go to ABC no RIO. The Lower East Side wasn’t so nice and “hip” 12 years ago and I was this little Jewish kid, all freaked out… my sister would always tell me how she was going to leave me there.

Tyler: New York City shows are the greatest because everyone must be on the guest list or they say they won’t show up. And unless they know they are on the VIP list, they really won’t.

(Obvious question alert, but please elaborate) Do you think your New York connection shows in your music? If so, how?

Rob: That’s really tough to say considering there is so much damn music here. It’s like this: you could say Interpol is an influence to a band, or Anthrax, or Lordz of Brooklyn, or Jay Z. But in reality, I don’t think [any New York influence] can reflect specifically, only because there’s so much of it. If you lived in Oklahoma circa five years ago, you probably only had Limp Bizkit and Korn shit shoved down your throat, so you wouldn’t know any better. At least living here gives you an open mind while writing music.

Tyler: In the vein of many other New York bands, we are also really good and have cool hair.

Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action:
“You know you’ve made it when….”

Rob: YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO LIVE IN YOUR ROOMATE’S CLOSET TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO LIVE HERE! (We better make it soon because a 9’x6’ room is ridiculous).

Tyler: The Victoria’s Secret model that I always see in the coffee shop finally understands that it’s out of both of our hands, and fate is simply in control… don’t fight it.

“It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when….”

Rob: You have to move back to Jersey because you can’t afford the city. God I hope that never happens.

Tyler: I am dead…unless there is some sort of undead zombie music circuit, and in that case, never.

“I’ll never forget the first time my….”

Rob: Car got broken into.

Tyler: Drug dealer got busted.

“I’ll never forget the first time [one of our roadies]….”

Rob: Lost his virginity in the hotel room bed next to mine. I can’t say who, sorry.

Tyler: Helped me move into the city, got a ticket on his car and then tried to make me pay it. Too bad, fucker!

And finally, let’s have some fun with word association. Give Gothamist your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that won’t embarrass you in the morning):

Yankees

Rob: RIGHT FIELD BLEACHERS!
Tyler: The people who shit in the subway on the ride up to the stadium. The train is not a toilet.

Mets

Rob: 1986
Tyler: Keith Hernandez

Britney

Both: Who?

Bridge & Tunnel

Rob: UGH
Tyler: Long and girthy.

The Darkness

Rob: Yes
Tyler: Yes! (in falsetto)

Times Square

Rob: Boooooo!
Tyler: Never heard of it.

Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws

Rob: THANK FUCKING GOD FOR THE SMOKING BAN! I’m like Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years. You know, the guy allergic to everything. That’s kinda me but not really.
Tyler: I hate it, so like most things I don’t like, I just ignore it and pretend it never happened.


Oh, and actually, we’ve got two quickies on the music tip:

Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup? Think fantasy sports leagues… and yes, the members CAN be dead (and no, you can’t just repeat the members of Damn Yankees).

Rob: NOT SHAQUEILLE O’NEIL, I think the Fu Shnickens ruined that for all of us. Ok, Emilio Estevez, Mario Van Peebles, the guy that was one of the dancers with Hammer in the “2 Legit 2 Quit” video with the obnoxiously big hair with the weird fade, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Tyler: Paul Stanley, Serge Gainsbourg, David Lee Roth, and Wilt Chamberlin… and they would not be playing music. They would just go onstage and tell stories of sexual exploits. Who wouldn’t pay to hear that?

What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?

Rob: Oh man, now you make me feel lame. We actually did this really silly thing where the whole band went out to Virgin in Union Square at midnight the day the album came out, and all bought it. That’s why, if you noticed, our first week sales equaled at least 4!

Tyler: Good question. There are few albums you must have right when they come out. I remember buying Nirvana’s “In Utero” the day it came out, and then Radiohead’s “Kid A” and “Amnesiac” too. I guess bands you trust, that really have something to say, are always a safe bet. Even if you don’t like it at first, you know you just don’t get it yet. But the fault is entirely yours, not the record’s.

2004_08_artsmidtowncd.jpg•Midtown roll into Webster Hall on August 16th (with Lostprophets).

•Their major label debut, Forget What You Know (Columbia), is in stores now.