Just before taking the stage at Union Hall, I sat down with Jonathan Byerley and Joshua Carrafa from the Brooklyn band Plates of Cake. We discussed their new 7” record, some side projects, and their music video made by L.A. film editor, Pepper God.
How did you guys originally come together as a band? I understand some of you had solo projects going on previously.
Jonathan: Ian Burns and I went to high school together and were on the freshman football team. And then we met Josh in college. We’ve been playing in bands since 2002 in one form or another. I put out one [solo] record in 2006 and then a label based in Pennsylvania is putting out another solo record of mine this February too.
Joshua: Ian and I have a side band called Old Monk and we’ve been active since 2009. We got our start in our band in college, called the Nightmare Fighters, though.
Was Nightmare Fighters’ music similar to what you play now with Plates of Cake?
Jonathan: Actually, all of our projects have had their own kind of sound and they’ve all gone different ways.
Joshua: It’s was a lot darker and more angular. But it was our first attempt at being a band.
So how did you all end up in Brooklyn?
Joshua: I’m from out east and went to college in Colorado. And I came back here and called [Ian and Jonathan] every day and told them to move to New York.
Jonathan: Everyone basically went and lived on his couch for at least two months until we could find our own apartments. He got like five people to move out here that way.
You just released two new songs, “As If the Choice Were Mine” and “Transit Trials,” on a vinyl 7”. Where did you record that? I heard you recorded your first LP in a church.
Jonathan: For our first record, we rented this church basement and we did the basic tracks there on a bunch of old equipment that we hauled out there ourselves. Then we finished it in our apartment. But this latest record was done in the house that our record label, All Hands Electric, is based out of. There’s this house, out in Gowanus, and it’s a record label, a recording studio, and a house.
Joshua: They did our album art there too.
Jonathan: Yeah, the All Hands Electric guys do our art direction for the band.
So they came up with your current album cover?
Jonathan: That was a piece by an artist named Stan Vanderbeek. He was a Swedish artist. But the layout and the typography that says “Plates of Cake” was designed by Ryan Johnson who is a visual artist and also did our previous LP cover.
Do you guys have a full LP coming out soon?
Jonathan: We’re going to make a record early next year. I don’t know when it’ll come out though. Early next year is busy with other projects. A solo record that I made a while back is coming out in February. And they have an Old Monk LP that’s coming out on January 17th. So in March or April, we’ll probably record another Plates of Cake album, which will be released next fall. We’ve kind of been putting out records every fall.
Josh: The album’s ready to go pretty much.
Jonathan: Yeah, the songs are written, we just have to record them.
What have you been up to in this past year?
Jonathan: We made a single and played CMJ and just played shows around New York. We made a music video.
Where did you make your video?
Jonathan: We made that in Colorado. The guy who made that, Pepper God, he makes really great videos. He lives out in Los Angeles and he’s a professional editor.
Jonathan: Well, his real name is Josh [laughs]. But his online name is Pepper God. He and his wife actually have their own band called Band of the World. Their videos are amazing.
So you recently played at the CMJ Music Festival. How was that?
Jonathan: We played at Union Pool in Williamsburg. We played at the label showcase. And the label has a lot of great bands so it was a fun time.
At your show tonight you’re playing with Black Forest and Little Anchor. Have you played with either of these bands before?
Jonathan: Gann [Matthews], who’s in Black Forest, was an original member of Plates of Cakes actually. And we went to high school together. He was my high school rival [laughs]. Then he became my roommate and then he became my co-worker and then we were in two bands together. And now we’re just buddies. He put the show together. We thought it would be fun to play one last time together before everyone stops doing stuff for Christmas.