The Ugly Club
The Ugly Club is an American psych/indie rock band from New Jersey. Having self-produced and self released their EP, and currently recording their first full length album, Meghan Player and Emma Dean got the lowdown from the band at SXSW in Austin, TX about influences, recording and the Kickstart Program.
Coming from New Jersey [the home of legendary musicians/bands], is there any sort of pressure to, I guess, ‘live up to’ these standards that have been set?
Not so much, because I feel like it comes in waves. In the 70s, there was a lot of cool stuff coming out of Jersey, then it went off for a little while. In the 90s and early 00’s, we had waves of popular stuff come out – like Thursday, Saves The Day – those kinds of bands. But right now, its kind of died out for a couple of years, and now actually, tons of bands that we know – some up and coming groups from New Jersey – are killing it, and really starting to get a lot of attention. It seems like it might come back around again – where the industry switches focus to NJ. It’s definitely special. There seems to be a rugged vibe to some of the bands there. The way that you can almost tell a Seattle band or a New York band apart. It’s definitely a unique sound [that comes out of NJ].
Keeping that in mind, are there any local Jersey bands that have inspired your sound?
We’re all into different bands. We all grew up listening to bands like Thursday, and a lot of the bands that were coming out of our area. But yeah, not more than anything else.
We’re not influenced by that necessarily – though Bon Jovi is probably our major influence [laughs].
You self produced and self released your own EP – which is without a doubt, a lot of hard work on your part – would you recommend that process to another band?
If you have the means, then yeah, go for it. We were kind of fortunate the second time around, to be involved with a studio – which Joe engineers at. So we kind of lucked out.
The first one was very ‘do it yourself’ . We mixed it in a car. In a Dunkin Donuts parking lot. That was our first recording experience. [laughs].
But yeah, not every band works the same way we do though. We have a pretty solid vision on what we are trying to accomplish, and we’re able to get it ourselves. We have a studio space, we have an engineer in the band, and we are able to put in the time – and really work on the sound so we can get it the way we want.
At this point, I think we would all be sweating if we sent off our music to be mixed somewhere by someone else because we really rely on us putting the time in to get the sound right.
When you’re working on something new, will you approach it in the same way?
We will definitely do as much as we can in the recording process. We’ve never really had the budget to work with any ‘bigger names’ or work with any other producers – which we would love to. But it will never be something that we won’t have our hands on.
Are you working on something at the moment?
We’re currently recording our first full length album, which we’re really excited about. Obviously, Joe is still engineering and producing it – which is great. We’re at the same studio as well. We’re sort of split between a recording studio and a home studio as well, so we’re going back and forth between those. We’re pressed for time, but we’re still doing it all on our own.
When will the album be released?
It should be early Summer – so around June.
You used the ‘Kickstarter’ campaign to raise money for your projects – can you tell us a little about that?
We set our goal for $3000 – and we actually raised 216 per cent – so we ended up with $6500. We were just ecstatic! It was such a cool experience.
We were all familiar with the program, and wanted to get involved in it ourselves. One day we just thought ‘we’ll try this out’. We did a lot of research into the gifts we could give out etc. No bands that we knew from NJ had done this before. When we did it, it was news to a lot of people.
We’ve been giving out free music and playing free shows and being that band for a long time – which is going on a year and a half now – so, when we had this opportunity for people to contribute to support us, they stepped it up. It was amazing. We were really moved and excited.
How have you found your SXSW experience?
It’s been awesome. We’ve been working pretty hard since we got here. We’ve had the mindset of ‘we’re here, we’re going to make the most of it’. So, we’re playing on the street, handing out flyers, talking to people and doing everything we can to make the most out of it.
You know, we’re here for 3 days, and we’re killing ourselves – but we’re like, every minute we can be out on the street, handing out flyers, playing, spreading the word – on top of our showcases – we’re really just trying to leave a stamp here.
A huge thank you to Ryan Egan (Vocals/Guitar), Joe Stasio (Guitar/Vocals/Production), Taylor Mandel (Keyboard/Trumpet/Vocals), Rick Sue-Poi (Bass), Ryan McNulty (Drums) for taking the time to chat to us.
For more information on the band, check out: www.TheUglyClub.bandcamp.com