Discovery: Black Light Dinner Party
ABOVE: (LEFT TO RIGHT) JOEL, ZACH, DAN, JACK. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER GABELLO.
Interview did not know much about Black Light Dinner Party before we met them yesterday afternoon. No one did. We’d stumbled across their four electronica-laced indie-rock songs perusing the internet, and had them on repeat ever since. Eager for more, we searched for an album, a city of origin, the names of the band members, and found… nothing. It seemed BLDP had achieved the impossible—they were entirely, to use invented verbs, ungoogleable.
BLDP agreed to meet us, chat with us, and reveal their identities—an event we approached with trepidation. There is always the risk that, in getting to know a favorite band or celebrity, you will be disappointed—we’re always reminded of Singing in the Rain and the silent film star’s grating accent. This did not happen with the four boys (first fact!) of Black Light Dinner Party. A little nervous, very polite (they offered to wash their dishes), and well put together, Dan, Jack, Zach, and Joel explained to us how they met, and why they’d avoided revealing themselves until now. The secrecy was not a cunning marketing plan, or even intentional—they’re not pulling a Rhye—but rather rooted in the very personal reason they formed a band in the first place. Here is what we learned:
AGES: 23 to 25
CURRENT HOMETOWN(S): Brooklyn, NY (Zach & Jack), Boston, MA (Joel), New York State (Dan)
BAND ROLES: Jack: We all kind of do everything. When we play, Zach plays drums, I play guitar and sing. The songs themselves, we all produce everything and record everything.
Dan: I do bass, synthesizer.
Joel: I play the keyboard.
BITTERSWEET BEGINNINGS: Jack: We all met in Boston. Originally we were all working on music—different kinds of stuff—individually, and we’d all play the same venues. We were all friends, but then my mom got sick, my mom had breast cancer, so we decided to do a project that was maybe a little less out there, and more accessible for people, like my mom. That’s when we started working on tracks and writing songs. That became “Older Together,” that was the first song we wrote. My mom died. When people really started liking it, it was all bittersweet, it was a little sad, but people really loved it.
ALL THE SECRECY: Jack: It really wasn’t a gimmick or some sort of “We’re going to be elusive” [thing]. Just given the context of my mom, it just felt weird. It seemed kind of wrong to come out and be like “Hey! We made this great track.” But eventually, we are here, life goes on. Obviously probably no one is aware of what it’s for, to give them this thing that’s my mom’s… but if people dig it that was what it was supposed to do.
Dan: We have friends who absolutely love the band, but don’t know [that it is us], because no one knows. That was when it was like, “Maybe we should do an interview.”
CURRENT MUSICAL STYLE: Zach: I think it’s electronic music, but we’re definitely a rock band.
Jack: Yeah, an electronic rock band… that sounds so terrible. [laughs]
PRE-BLDP MUSICAL STYLE: Jack: Flying Lotus-type electronic stuff. Really fun music that we all love, which is why Mike Slott is going to play with us [at Glasslands]; we love guys like him. Will we take the band in a more electronic direction? Potentially. The whole basis of the band has kind of been to make stuff that people enjoy listening to. Not in a canned, commercial way. We love it too, but it was originally meant for other people to enjoy, for my mom to be proud of her son.
Joel: We were all listening to Mike Slott when we started.
FIRST SONG THAT STRUCK HOME: Joel: [Ragtime composer] Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer or Maple Leaf Rag. Sort of a curveball.
Zach: It was when I was at camp, when I was a kid. There was a Jimi Hendrix CD and a Nirvana CD. Those two were kind of my thing.
Dan: The first one that comes to mind, that struck me when I was really little, is a Radiohead [song].
Jack: I’ll have to cop out and go with the Beatles. When I was a kid I listened to “Oldies” radio—”A Day in the Life,” “Sgt. Pepper.” That and, who did that song “Big Girls Don’t Cry?” One of those singers from the ’50s with a really high voice. Great song. [laughs] I think I was good at hiding [the fact that] I just listened to oldies radio, I was a closet Beatles fan, it was when you had to love Sublime. I love Sublime too, but [back then] it was Sublime or nothing.
WALK-ON SONGS: Jack: Sisqó? [laughs] We should try calling Sisqó, maybe he’ll walk on with us. No, I don’t think we’re quite at the ostentatious level of a big, baller walk-on song. [laughs] I don’t know if we’ll want that, but we’ll consider Sisqó.
DINNER PARTIES: Jack: Do we ever have dinner parties? Yes. I love to cook, [laughs] but that has no relation to the name. Maybe on a subconscious level, but that wasn’t the plan.
Dan: I like a nice meal too.
CONVINCING PORN “LEGEND” RON JEREMY TO APPEAR IN YOUR MUSIC VIDEO: Zach: I think it was just an email. I think it was “Hey, do you want to do this?” [laughs]
Jack: How did we get his email address? [all laugh] We had fun googling him.
Dan: I actually had his phone number that I’d gotten from a friend a few years ago, just as a goof. We used to call him, it wasn’t so much a prank, because we’d end up talking to him. It wouldn’t matter that he didn’t know you, you could have a 10-minute conversation with him and eventually he’d be like, “All right, I’ve gotta go.” We used to call him at parties and stuff to get a rise out of him, but no one would ever believe it was him until we put it on speakerphone. It was pretty funny. Did I mention this when I met him for the video? No. [all laugh]
AN ALBUM? Jack: We have lots of songs but we’ve being trying to get them into an album because people have been hounding for a record and we want to make a record. When is that going to happen? Remains to be seen.
Zach: Hopefully soon enough
THE FIVE-YEAR PLAN: Jack: Where would I like to be in five years? On the moon with Newt Gingrich [all laugh]. I’m totally kidding. I’m sorry; I don’t want to offend anyone.
Zach: I, personally, would just like to be playing as much as possible.
Joel: I would like to have a couple of records. I’m really in to the song writing, the production. I get my kick out of writing songs.
FAVORITE CATCHPHRASE: Joel: “Never say never.” Justin Bieber. [all laugh]
Jack: I like “Be gracious with people, but ruthless with your time.”
Zach: I agree with both.
WHAT’S YOUR (SMALL) BAGGAGE? Jack: I drink a lot of mint tea.
Dan: I love to sleep.
Joel: I have a toothbrush that I carry around in my pocket, a little travel toothbrush, and sometimes I’ll just brush my teeth. I also drink a lot of coffee, so I’m kind of neurotic about how much coffee I drink and how much that stains my teeth.
RESOLVING DISAGREEMENTS VIA HOME RUN DERBY: Jack: We love home run derby. We have a very heavy bat, heavier than any other bat; it’s almost beyond belief. Most of the time we can’t find baseballs or tennis balls or anything, so we have a deflated basketball. We try and hit it as far as we can, but it ends up being very difficult.
Joel: We solve our problems by playing amongst ourselves.
ON BEING ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BANDS ON THE HYPE MACHINE: Joel: I would never expect myself to immediately get placed like that. People seem to like it. It is what it is. We’re kind of growing into the music.
BLACK LIGHT DINNER PARTY ARE PLAYING THEIR FIRST-EVER NEW YORK SHOW TONIGHT AT GLASSLANDS. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BAND, YOU CAN VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.