Meet The Bad Manners, the Downtown Club Kids Turned Post-Punk Trio

The Bad Manners

The Bad Manners, photographed by Alessandra Schade.

The band is wearing white button-downs, neckties, and some sort of plaid. It’s raining and they’re running across the street to duck into Library Bar, take tequila shots, and talk shit. With giddy smiles and flapping blazers, they look like a group of naughty school kids cutting out of homeroom early.

This is THE BAD MANNERS coming out party. The trio—Jazzelle Zanaughtti, John Muller, aka “Stonegroov,” and Jean Carlos Pina, aka Robot MoonJuice—are each, in their own right, veterans of the New York arts scene. John, the band’s “music guy,” is a Grammy-winning producer and engineer who’s worked with the likes of Frank Ocean and Dua Lipa. Jazzelle, or @uglyworldwide, is a model, Fenty-collaborator, and indie-mag darling whose strange and intoxicating style has seeped into the band’s aesthetic. And Robot MoonJuice is a veritable man-about-town, a collaborator of Princess Nokia and Ashnikko’s and creator of Fight Club, a queer party collective. They’re the kinds of downtown fixtures that know and are known by just about everyone. When I spent the day with them last month, there were numerous sidewalk run-ins and dap-ups. One is with a cop who ticketed John last weekend but now texts him updates about his newborn baby, Zeus. 

The group is punk in the most stripped-back sense of the word, behaving outrageously and toying with normality. They worship chaos and don’t care that, at the time of this interview, they only have 14 Instagram followers. They know their shit is worth listening to. “NO PAIN (FT. LILLITH),” the first taste of their project, is a swaggering ode to nihilism and pleasure. “Our music is fearlessness personified,” says Jazzelle.

On a gray, smoggy Wednesday, the band and I meander around the East Village to discuss their debut single, the lure of being a bad kid, the remnants of the 2010’s club scene, and if New York City is dead. If it is, they’re here to revive it.



The Bad Manners

ALESSANDRA SCHADE: This is the first band interview. 

JAZZELLE: Yeah. It’s so exciting.

SCHADE: So where are we right now?

JOHN: We’re at Flux Studios, NYC.

SCHADE: It’s like, psychedelic as fuck. Do you guys record here often?

ROBOT MOONJUICE: 98% of the time we’re at Flux. Since John works here and he’s one of the partners and he’s our music guy, we’re always here. This is like a second home when it comes to making music.

SCHADE: What are you guys working on today?

JOHN: We were just doing some final prints of two different tracks that we’ve been working on for a minute.

JAZZELLE: It’s been like, what, probably two years since we’ve been making music together. And obviously John has a really big background in music, as does Robot. I do not. I’m breaking mirrors in the bathroom, you know what I mean? But we were recording new stuff yesterday and really ate it up.

MOONJUICE: We started off kind of having ideas and then we would do little voice memos, but then we would be so cringed out. We’d be like, “Ew.”

JAZZELLE: Yeah, “I cannot listen back to this.”

MOONJUICE: And then yesterday was the first time where we were able to go straight through it. We just kept on playing our voice memos because we were like, “Wait, this is great.” Because we all come from so many different walks of life and experiences, it’s really starting to show in the music. Most artists have a leading sound, and then when there’s a band, there’s usually a lead singer. But in our music, we all let it out. 

SCHADE: I want to start at the beginning. Where are you guys from?

JAZZELLE: I’m from Detroit, Michigan, unfortunately. But we love it—humble beginnings.

SCHADE: I love Detroit.

JAZZELLE: Yeah, it’s a cool place. But I left as soon as I could. I graduated somehow when I was 17 and then went to Chicago. I had a modeling agency there at the time. Got dropped about a month after because I was doing drag and a bunch of weird club kid shit and they were not with the shit like, at all.

The Bad Manners

SCHADE: They weren’t?

JAZZELLE: They were like, “Either pick and choose.”  Because they were marketing me as this very light-skinned, pretty girl, big curly hair, very commercial. And I’m like, “I don’t know what about me says that…”

MOONJUICE: I’m from the Dominican Republic. I moved here when I was about four, illegally, and then I ended up being deported and then had to go back and get my papers legally. And then I moved back to the US before I was 12.

JAZZELLE: Deportation diva.

MOONJUICE: Girl, they literally came to school and I got taken out of my class.

JAZZELLE: They said that you were too cunt. You’ve got to go.

MOONJUICE: Yeah. And I’ve lived in Harlem ever since.

SCHADE: Damn. And, John, what about you?

JOHN: I’m from Athens, Greece and my mom’s from New York, so I’ve been back and forth since I was a kid. But I moved to the States in 2012. Lived in Colorado for two years, Arizona for one, and I’ve been here since 2015.

SCHADE: Yeah, you sound like a cowboy. 

JOHN: It happens. If I’m mad, I might sound like a New Yorker.

JAZZELLE: Oh, he fucking wishes. I always think that my own personal lore for John is that it’s all an act. He’s not actually from Greece. He speaks Greek but obviously, I don’t know what that sounds like.

SCHADE: Were you guys cool in high school? Do we have any prom queens? 

MOONJUICE: I somehow ended up going from being severely bullied in middle school to a performing arts school where I sort of kind of became the Godfather figure because I had a big personality and I was tough and very alternative. I was the person that you came up to with a problem. Like, “Oh, this person is doing that.” I was a bully for bullies. But yeah, I definitely had the privilege of going to a school where my weirdness was rewarded.

JAZZELLE: Yeah, you definitely got lucky, bitch. All I could have ever wished for was to grow up in New York and go to a performing art school because—

MOONJUICE: Yeah, I also had to go to an alternative high school after. I was getting into too much trouble.

SCHADE: What were you doing?

MOONJUICE: I got a fake ID at a really early age.

JAZZELLE: Bad girl.

MOONJUICE: I basically started working the scene when I was 16, so I would be coming to school after the gig smelling like straight up alcohol. And my teachers just being like, “Dude, I can smell alcohol on your breath. There’s glitter all over your hair.”

JAZZELLE: Mind your business.

MOONJUICE: So yeah, I kind of got introduced to nightlife in New York really, really early. I remember this really cringey moment that I’ll never forget where my mom’s like, “What is it with you, this obsession with the makeup and going to these clubs?” And I would always be like, “That’s where I need to be. That’s where I’m going to get discovered.” She’s like, “Well, you’re going to school to get trained.” I’m like, “I need to be in those scenes.”

JAZZELLE: That’s where the community is. That’s where you build up who you are and get that confidence and that cunt to really take what you’re doing somewhere.

MOONJUICE: And I was gung ho about it to the point where my mom was just like, “Okay. Well if you don’t come home by 11:00, the door’s locked.”

JOHN: I had to hop through the bathroom window a couple times.

MOONJUICE: I just left and slept on the train. Don’t worry about it.

JAZZELLE: Period. Back and forth.

SCHADE: So what kind of community did you find in nightlife?

MOONJUICE: I found what I dreamt of as a little kid. I was really a big X-Men fan. And I’ve always loved teen dynamics. I was always drawn to Rocket Power, The Powerpuff Girls, Totally Spies!. I always loved the idea of a crew. So in nightlife I found my people and it just felt really great walking with that empowerment. I no longer felt unsafe. You can call one of us a faggot if you want, but now it’s five against one. And we all fight. It was healing. 

SCHADE: So what were your early days in New York? You had just come from Chicago?

JAZZELLE: Yes, by the skin of my fucking teeth, girl. I think I was 19 and I don’t know, it was just so written in the stars. I was on the brink of homelessness in Chicago and then had a Facebook friend who just was like, “Oh, I see what you’re going through. Come stay with me in New York.” So I sold all my shit, packed my bags, got here, and then it was a spiral. And then Robot was there in that apartment that I was moving into. Right when I pulled up, it was just immediately so welcoming. I poured everybody shots of tequila with my feet on the counter.

MOONJUICE: That was the first day. We had actually met in Chicago before she moved, when I was performing my solo music. It was my first show out of the state somebody had paid for.

JAZZELLE: At Berlin.

MOONJUICE: At Berlin. And I remember being on stage performing and then I saw her in paraplegic kind of bandage-wear.

JAZELLE: I had broken my ankle a week before while I was out in drag.

JOHN: It was not a fashion statement.

JAZZELLE: My drunk friend literally fell on me while I was in these crazy platforms and fucked up my ankle. So I was like, “Okay, I guess we’re running with this drag.”

MOONJUICE: Mind you, I’m watching her the whole night, and she’s limping and I’m like, “Oh, she’s so committed.”

JAZZELLE: Crutches and all.

MOONJUICE: So I’m like, “Oh, I love. And she’s beautiful.” I remember in the middle of my set, I performed two songs, and then I just stopped, and I was like, “Who are you?” And then I asked if I could sniff her pussy. And then she let me sniff her pussy. I went to the crowd and I was like, “It smells great.” And then we became internet friends after that. That’s when we were like, “You should just move here.”

SCHADE: John, what about you? What scenes were you a part of?

JOHN: Pretty much dive bars in the Lower East Side.

MOONJUICE: Everyone knows it.

JOHN: Where there was skate culture. A lot of people that are into the punk scene or goth kids, stuff like that. Days before NYU kids took over and ruined everything. And then also I would bounce around the weird parts of Brooklyn, those underground raves and after-hour shit. 

SCHADE: Are there any local haunts that remain untouched and for the people?

JOHN: I don’t know if anything’s really that untouched anymore.

MOONJUICE: For me, it’s Library Bar, honestly.

JAZZELLE: I love the Library.

MOONJUICE: Library’s been the same for years.They always have a really tough hot chick bartender and they have pepper spray that they don’t want to use. They want to punch you first.

JOHN: Or throw a shot glass at you, whichever one.

SCHADE: They’re consistently playing emo and grunge music, and that’s just going to deter someone who doesn’t want to listen to that.

MOONJUICE: “Get out.”

JOHN: It’s a lot of post-punk, punk goth, and rock shit.

SCHADE: What do you guys make of the Dimes Square scene?

JAZZELLE: It’s very contrived. Everybody’s on a mission to find the somebody or the something. It’s very all calculated. They’re there to network or to find somebody or to do something or to show off something. And they’re never really showing off that much…

MOONJUICE: If I don’t see a crackhead, you’re not really doing it. You want to get culture and art, go to Harlem, look at those BMX kids. Get into the fly guys in the corner, them motherfuckers are punk. Riding your bike into traffic and then moving at the last second. The fashion is so experimental out there. People play around with so many things. It has energy, it has swag. Amazing music comes from all the hoods of New York, from Brooklyn with fucking Biggie. It’s like, if you don’t have that contrast of the grit, I don’t know if you can call yourself an art hub. You’re just artists. That doesn’t really do anything. What’s the difference between you and Cooper Square? You’ve got to go to the hood.

JAZZELLE: Yeah. I mean that’s where everything fucking starts.

MOONJUICE: When you’re in a look, nobody will give you more life and be more genuine than a crackhead. I get the most compliments from crackheads. They’ll be like, “You look so good. I remember in the ’80s, oh my god, it used to be just like that.”

SCHADE: Should we hit it? Should we walk a bit?

JAZZELLE: Yes, absolutely. I’m going to piss. Also, I don’t know where my phone is.


The Bad Manners

SCHADE: So where are we right now?

MOONJUICE: We are in the famous Library bathroom where a lot of people tag. They luckily don’t remove anything from the wall. The tags of two of my friends who have passed away are here. I’m very happy that it’s still there.

SCHADE: Do you style yourself?

MOONJUICE: I style myself. I’m not a model, but I’ve been in a lot of magazines from when I was like 15 all the way to 21. I’ve always had a very different body type. So I have a lot of really sad moments when I’m getting styled.

SCHADE: Do you feel in your heart that you’re going to make it big?

MOONJUICE: Yeah. My mom, who’s spiritual, has dreams about it. My boyfriend is very protective of me, super supportive and close to me. It’s super emotional for me because when I first started my music career, I didn’t make it. So to have this happen in the way that it’s happening, especially when you meet someone that you love to do stuff with, it’s beyond. And the people who changed me and I felt connected to, they weren’t mainstream. It was like, M.I.A and Peaches.

JAZZELLE: Peaches?

MOONJUICE: Spank Rock, a bunch of stuff. All the people I liked were never mainstream, but oh my god, am I so thankful for your art.

JAZZELLE: I feel the same way. I think probably the main person who’s really mainstream that affected me was probably Lady Gaga when I was a kid. There’s a bunch of others, like David Bowie. But the music that I listen to on the daily are people who never made it, who are probably still in the same tax bracket as me.

MOONJUICE: Yeah, we’re not doing this to be Top 40. I think we’re doing this to let it out a little.

JAZZELLE: We’re doing this because it’s just what we are meant to do. The second that we think too hard about what we’re trying to say, it doesn’t work. We just sit down and let some shit spew out. 

SCHADE: What are some of the themes that come out when you look back at what you’ve written during the day?

JAZZELLE: Running, fighting, appearing, blowing shit up.

JOHN: Bonnie and Clyde.

MOONJUICE: I would say it’s a love letter to chaos. We’ve accepted chaos in a way where it’s not negative and we’re not scared. We’ve accepted the chaos in our creativity, the chaos in our minds, and the chaos in our lives. We’ve put it in the music. Sonically, you’re going to hear it. There’s stuff that shouldn’t be next to each other.

JAZZELLE: It’s fearless. Our music is fearlessness personified.



JOHN: It’s like fucking oddball hour out. I smoked salvia in Tompkins Square Park once. I was hanging out with these girls and they were just like, “Yeah, we can go get salvia on St. Mark’s.” I was like, “Whatever, that sounds fucking wack. But let’s go.” It’s still filled with crackheads.

MOONJUICE: Why did you guys want to come to Tompkins?


JOHN: It’s Lower East Side fucking history right here.

MOONJUICE: This is where it goes down.

JAZZELLE: Can a bitch even fix her pussy these days?

MOONJUICE: I’m not getting arrested for an open container again.

JOHN: No, you’re not getting arrested. You just get a $25 ticket.

MOONJUICE: The last time I got a ticket, I got a warrant.

JOHN: That’s avoidable, though. 

JAZZELLE: Have you guys ever been arrested?

JOHN: Yeah.

MOONJUICE: I had a friend go to Rikers Island and be like, “Oh, I saw your tag on the wall.” I was arrested four times before I turned 18.

JOHN: I saw your tag on the wall at Rikers.

MOONJUICE: You want to know my best arrest?

JAZZELLE: I’m so sorry. I apologize about my pussy.

MOONJUICE: I jumped a New York City turnstile, got a ticket, didn’t pay it, turned into a warrant. I “littered” and threw a water bottle on the ground and a cop watched me, he came to give me a littering ticket. Just to find out that I had a warrant. I went to jail for throwing a bottle of water.

MOONJUICE: The kids that were in our scene started hanging out at Union Square. Union Square was a cultural hub where everything was happening. And you became a Tompkins girl. The girls would only come here to either buy drugs, pee, or get out. You never wanted to be photographed here.

JAZZELLE: You wanted to serve.

JOHN: These Greek people walked by, they’re talking Greek. They’re saying fucking shit like, “Look at this guy getting a ticket.” I was like, “Yeah, man, it’s fucked up.” And then he turns around. He’s like, “Motherfucker, you’re Greek, bro.” He’s like, “I feel so bad. I wouldn’t have given you this ticket.” 

COP: Say that you’re fucking Greek, man. I told you.

JOHN: What the fuck is that supposed to do in New York, bro?

COP: Get a fucking sticker. Put it on your forehead. 

JOHN: What the fuck?

MOONJUICE: That is the most random shit.

JAZZELLE: Can I please ask how the fuck you guys know each other?

JOHN: He gave me a ticket. That’s what I’m saying. He gave me a ticket.

MOONJUICE: But apparently if he wore a Greek flag on his forehead, he would’ve been fine.

COP: Well, he’s a good kid, you know.

JAZZELLE: He is a piece of shit.

MOONJUICE: No, he’s a good kid. He’s a piece of shit, but he’s not doing illegal stuff.

JAZZELLE: Your name is Yannis?

JOHN: Yes. It’s John.

COP: I go by John, too.

JOHN: Bro, he just had a baby. He texted me about it.

MOONJUICE: And you don’t get maternity leave?

COP: I got like two weeks.

MOONJUICE: Congratulations, though. You had a boy or girl?

COP: Boy.

MOONJUICE: What’s the name?

COP: Zeus. 

MOONJUICE: Zeus is fire.