Neo-eighties melancholic synth-pop outfit My Favorite filtered through the suburbs of Long Island, converging on their inevitable epicenter with distilled inclinations toward the stylish new wave music of their youth. My Favorite are a quintet comprised of Michael Grace, Jr. (vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizers), Andrea Vaughn (vocals, melodica, synthesizers), Darren Amadio (guitar), Gil Abad (bass) and the so-called Todbot (drums). Making the move to more-than-just-friends in 1999, they settled on a sneaky name for the band that effectively declares the band Winner every time they are announced on stage or on air. Characterizations of the band elicit references to the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division and Saint Etienne, an infinite stream of comparisons to the Smiths and even more to New Order. My Favorite figurehead, songwriter and historian (See? We fell for it, too.) Michael Grace, Jr. crafts responses to our inquiry.
First, some questions about Home Sweet Home:
What is your first conscious memory of living in New York?
I lived in Queens as a small child, so if I answer the question honestly then it would be a memory of a musty smelling, long green hallway in Glendale which I would transverse on a hobby horse. The sound of Italian being spoken downstairs.
What about your most favorite or least favorite memory of New York?
My most favorite memory is from when I was in High School and living on Long Island. I took the train into NYC to see The Warhol Retrospective at the MoMA, a year or so after he died, I think it was 1989. Then we walked 50 blocks to The Village because we didn't understand the subways. I remember how wild-eyed, graffiti-covered and endless the city seemed. I remember lustily flipping through exotic British vinyl at Rebel Rebel and Bleeker Bobs. I remember my feet being swollen and sore inside my black Converse All-Stars as I sat next to my friends on the train going home feeling like I'd been to hell and heaven all at once. It was like an annunciation.
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Do you have a favorite place to drink in NYC? What do you think is the best night of the week to go out in the city?
I like The Phoenix a lot, I like that bar on the Lower East side with the blue neon in the window. The bar beneath the Chelsea for Fringe Benefits parties. Monthly "Mondo" night at Bar 169. The Great Lakes in Park Slope is good for twee debauchery. The Foggy Dew in Sunnyside for playing pool. I like to go out on Wednesdays.
What is your take on playing shows in New York? Do you notice a difference between in shows in Manhattan and Brooklyn?
Shows in New York are so wildly unpredictable. The patterns of people moving around, the space, the sound. A great show in New York is instantly imprinted upon your memory, a bad one makes you feel like immediately quitting music and becoming a kiwi farmer. I think shows in Manhattan feel a little more glamorous and decadent which I think complements our rainy moods and gestures surprisingly well. In Brooklyn it sometimes feels like people want music as grim and mannered as their lofts and find stirring pop music passé. It can be overcome though.
Is your New York connection revealed in your music? If so, how?
I think our music is very New York in that Euro-American High/Low Art project way. Like Warhol painting "The Last Supper" or Jarmusch remaking Godard in Cleveland. Truman Capote reinventing Princess Grace as a prostitute. We harken back to the New York Hipster of the Pre Colonial Hipster period, the New York of penniless, desperate, outsiders, transplanted from dreary towns, who covered themselves in poetry and crawled towards the spotlight. No children of celebrities were allowed.
Finish the following statements:
"You know you've made it when ."
Michael Musto comments on your ass.
"It'll be time to pack up the gear for good when ."
The Workers of The World unite. I'll volunteer to make posters.
"I'll never forget the first time I ."
saw a young lady undress to a Belle and Sebastian record. It was like the transition from Joy Division to New Order. I realized, all at once, that the grey decade I had just spent reading books could be inverted by simply striking one of six specific Jean Belmondo poses.
"I'll never forget the first time [insert another band member's name here] ."
Andrea drank a beer out of the bottle.
Now for some quick word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following:
Easy to hate but would you hate Michaelangelo?
Easy to love but would you love a limbless puppy if it stunk?
In need of a Smiths record.
Bridge & Tunnel
Hating B&T people is no more chic than racism. You shouldn't kick a struggling group when they're down. See Palestine.
Prostitution has increased dramatically since prostitution decreased.
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
I am sheepishly for the Smoking Ban in bars, because all the smoke made singing hard, breathing harder and visibility of dimly lit dance partners a potential problem. However I am all for noise, tasteful pornography and dancing whenever and wherever one pleases.
A couple of questions inspired by movies...
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in 10 words or less). (Reality Bites)
Coca-cola everywhere but not a drop to drink.
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
And finally, two quickies on the music tip:
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup (living or dead)?
Vocals by Chrissie Hyde, Guitarists Johnny Marr & Johnny Thunders, Mick Talbot on organ. Erik Satie on piano. Georgio Moroder on synths. Stephen Morris on drums. Sid Vicious on bass. The marimba player from Roxy Music. Produced by The Belway Brothers.
What were the first & last albums you bought on the days they were released?
I think I bought Morrissey's "Viva Hate" the day it was released. That probably answers both halves of the question.
My Favorite play Sin-e Saturday, August 28 with Pas/Cal, Mixel Pixel and The Finer Things. My Favorite takes the stage at 10:00 p.m.
Their most recent release, The Happiest Days of Our Lives, is available through Double Agent records.
Some MP3s and a music video are available on the Lost Detective website.