CHAMPS PULL NO PUNCHES
On that ridiculously hot Saturday a couple of weeks back where it was 96+ degrees out (yeah, that Saturday), I met up in midtown with the guys of the U.S. Americans. They go by Jeff, Roy, Dan and Emerson for their followers, or ODB/Starship, Roy G. Biv, The Ukrainian Cossack and Bastard Lovechild of Thomas Jefferson and John Bonham for the sake of this interview. The original idea was to spend the whole time hanging in a candy store and shooting the *poop* but, that required corporate clearances etc. so we went for a walk. The area had a bar on just about every other corner and we ended up choosing to get lunch at a Mexican (authentic) spot out of exhaustion if nothing else.
U.S. AMERICANS INTERVIEW
HENRY R. (HIGHLARK): First of all, it’s good to see you again. We’re here today because I got to cover your set at the Highline Ballroom that one time and we’ve been fans ever since. How’s it been? What have you all been up to?
ROY ABRAHAM (GUITARS // U.S. AMERICANS): We have 3 new songs…
JEFF WEISS (VOCALS // U.S. AMERICANS): We also had a show on the 4th of July, ‘Fireworks,’ and American Beauty on the 15th.
HENRY: Okay so, let’s hold on for a minute. Let’s back up because I’ve seen you live, I listen to you, but there are going to be readers who are just finding out who you are and want to know the basics. Basic enough, where’s everybody from?
EMERSON WILLIAMS (DRUMS // U.S. AMERICANS): Buffalo, NY.
DAN DEYCHAKIWSKY (BASS // U.S. AMERICANS): Rockville, MD.
JEFF: Basically Queens.
HENRY: Alright, so everyone was in the northeast, how’d you come together?
JEFF: (spits it out quicker than I can process) I was mad at a girl and decided to start a band. At first I had trouble finding members, put some ads up on craigslist etc. the usual. Then when it got going Wood (Roy) wanted to switch from bass to guitar.[Explains uncertainty over the decision]
Then it became real. Not some bullshit hobby.
ROY: They (Emerson and Dan) were in another band,
JEFF: and [sic] were opening for someone else while we were on hiatus. We already knew Emerson was the best drummer in NYC so…
HENRY: And how long has it been with this group?
ROY: About half a year.
JEFF: Before that it was like before Christ.[laugher – At this point, we’re all coming down from a couple of beers, guac, tacos and other goodness with more to follow]
HENRY: I’ve noticed that during the shows, and in a few of your photos you can be seen with a replica world championship belt. Tell me about that and tell me about the name U.S. Americans?
JEFF: 2 things, one, I’m the champion of the muthafuckin’ United States AND, as fucked up as it is, (the United States) I love it and I never would’ve become the person I am if I weren’t born here.
[If there is a person better at putting on a show in New York, I’d like to meet that person. I don’t believe they exist]
ROY: (smiles) Make him eat his words.
JEFF: (pointing at everyone except for himself around the table) These guys are the actual musicians.
HENRY: Great that you should mention the music because that’s where I was hoping we could get to next. How would you define what you do?
JEFF: (pointing at Roy) he says psychedelic punk.
ROY: Actually, I tend to lean toward acid rock, Jeff tends to go toward the punk.
JEFF: It’s hop-hop sometimes as well. When we sit down to write, they’re rhymes, y’know?
HENRY: Jeff, you and I are connected on social media and you pull no punches. Yet, I notice that no one ever gets pissed off.
JEFF: People know my heart’s in the right place. I’m just an abrasive son of a… But really, I love everybody.
HENRY: One of the takeaways for me in seeing you live was that sort of ‘can do no wrong’ presence. What you said just then sort of speaks to the whole picture for you all. Crowds receive you incredibly. How does that work? What are you looking for when you get out there? What do audiences give that gets you going?
JEFF: I can feel a crowd from the beginning, maybe 20 seconds in. I don’t know if I’m trying to get anything from them, I’m trying to give everything to them. I want people who come to our shows to enjoy themselves. I think they are.
ROY: I think people don’t know what to expect, especially when we open with “Playtime.”
HENRY: Let’s talk about “Playtime” for a minute. It’s one of the 3 new songs mentioned earlier correct?
JEFF: Yes, and it’s out there on SoundCloud but we don’t want to give anymore than that. We don’t want to (spoil it). We just want them to hear it at the show and we’ll throw some chocolate in their face.
HENRY: Fair enough, last thing, since we’d planned to be in a candy shop, I won’t throw this question away. What’s everyone’s favorite candy?
JEFF: 100 Grand.
ROY: *under his breath* weed cookies?
EMERSON: Haribo Sugar-free Gummy Bears.
**I was going to add to not Google that last one but no, go ahead. It’s better that you know before you end up writing a review for a 5lb bag of sugar-free gummy bears somewhere like Amazon or something. Thanks to the U.S. Americans for a great chat and be sure to check them out back at the Highline Ballroom on Sept. 7th.