THE INTERVIEW: Schocholautte
Brooklyn-based super band, Schocholautte, are the kind of guys who give rock ‘n’ roll the good name it should always have. Their electrically charged live shows betray nothing of the kind demeanor they have offstage. As a fairly recent addition to the NYC music scene, they’ve played in all the old favorite spots; The Knitting Factory, Goodbye Blue Monday, and they’ve already had their first live radio show on New Jersey’s WFMU. With their first EP, Oodles of Charm coming out soon, a residency at Niagara Bar as part of the new show Alphabet City Soup (sponsored by the Antagonist Art Movement), and touring on the horizon, the only place these guys are headed is up, up, up the music ladder. And when they do, they’ll still be nice enough to sit down and have a drink with their fans. To get the dirt on these gentlemen, founder/lead singer/man with the plan, Michael P! was gracious enough to answer some of my questions.
Not many bands choose names that are hard to spell, where did the name Schocholautte come from?
I started a boy band in high school with some guys in art class and I came up with the name Schocholautte. We all had names. I was White Chocolate, there was one kid who could dance and he was Hot Chocolate, and my friend Alejandro was the “DJ” called DJ Special Dark. Anyways, the music was awful, but I always loved how difficult the name was, and once the boy band broke up, I held onto the name and kept using it to label jokey demos of mine throughout college. Eventually, I started taking writing a little more seriously and ended up with this band.
How did you guys come together as a band?
I recorded a four song demo with my cousin Michael Patrick, which ended up turning into the first Schocholautte EP. The intent of the four songs was to define what I was trying to do and use it to find a band. I’m not very good at meeting people, so I sat on Craigslist every night looking for a band, which is where I met Artie. I met a drummer on craigslist and I also met this acoustic guitar player named Kris. The first day that Kris came in to play guitar, the drummer just didn’t show up and Kris said that he was a better drummer than guitar player, so we found a pair of sticks at the rehearsal space and that was it.
So much of your music is like storytelling, what do you pull from when you are writing it?
3 things: Haley Jane, Catholic School, Disneyworld.
Whether it’s intentional or not, every song ends up having something to do with my partner in crime Haley Jane Samuelson. She’s a special kind of awesome. All of the good one-liners come from our random conversations. As far as subject matter, I can draw from my childhood forever. Almost every Sunday morning, my parents would take me to church and then to Disneyworld. I think that pretty much explains everything.
The Antagonist Art Movement are pretty rockin’ people, how did you get involved with Alphabet City Soup and the Antagonists in general?
The Antagonist Movement has been the most supportive group of people in New York City for the band and for me as a young artist trying to figure out what I’m doing. My first experience with them was going to the Thursday night art shows to see some of my friends work. Then I was showing artwork with them too. A few months later, I booked the first “Schocholautte” show in New York there. It consisted of me screaming into a microphone and rolling around on the floor while my friend Alejandro, aka DJ Special Dark, played songs on a portable cd player. While no one else would take me seriously, Un Lee saw something in that mess and kept in touch with me on a regular basis until I actually had a band. While most people in New York only really care about the final product, the Antagonists are totally fascinated with the concept of process and watching artists grow and giving them a venue to do so. So, somehow I’ve become pretty active with working with those folks and now I’m running this show with Julian Stockdale and you, to give performers a venue to showcase their process. The show is called Alphabet City Soup and we’re setting out to make a variety show that pairs music and comedy and performance art, be it a monologue, or tap dancing, or magic tricks, we want to bring it all together in true variety show fashion in a way only the Antagonists can do it.
What are your hopes for the coming months?
Complete phase 1 of world domination. Begin phase 2.
Do you have a favorite live show memory so far?
There was this one show at Niagara where we started a march through the East Village with a crowd of people. We totally looked like a protest march…. It was awesome…. Then we played for 2 hours in the basement of Niagara. Ethan from the Antagonist Movement filmed most of the show. Some clips made it into the “Water on the Coast” video….. plug……
What would be your dream venue to play and with whom?
On a rainbow stage made of chocolate products built on a marsh mellow cloud headlined by Tony the Tiger and Barak Obama playing covers of Blues standards duet style on a brown baby grand piano.
Out of all the bands in NYC, what makes you guys stand out from the pack?
A focus on songwriting. Starting a band is easy, making noise is easy, wearing tight pants…. okay, that can be difficult…. getting drunk and prancing around on stage is easy, but writing a song that people care about long after they’ve heard a loud rock band play is a challenge that I don’t think enough bands really consider….. The other thing is our visual aesthetic and art direction to cover up for the fact that none of us are male models. Except for Artie. He’s so hot right now.
Tell me about your new EP, Oodles of Charm. How did it come to life?
I wrote a bunch of songs, gave them to the band, and then we met this producer named Dean Baltulonis and he hated all but four. We tricked him into recording two more. We all went broke for about 9 months. During this time, we worked overtime at our menial day jobs until we raised enough money to release it. Then we called it Oodles of Charm.
What first made you want to be a musician? What keeps you in it?
The first night my parents brought me home from the hospital after I was born, my father sat me on his lap while he played piano. He did that every night until I was too big to sit on his lap. Without music, I would be profoundly bored.
Expect more from these guys in the coming months, and don’t be surprised if that rainbow stage, Tony/Barack duet becomes reality. World domination indeed!