Boy Morgan

Early Show

Boy Morgan

Steve Schiltz (of Hurricane Bells)

Sat, February 23, 2013

Doors: 7:30 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

This event is 21 and over

Boy Morgan - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Boy Morgan
While music nerds the world over trade deep-cuts for currency, grow asthmatic from skulking around dollar record bins, or eviscerate their social skills chasing one too many You Tube k-holes in search of the new, the strange, and the obscure, Boy Morgan keeps it simple: Their Beatles albums are always in heavy rotation and they write catchy pop songs that aren't afraid to openly celebrate their biggest influence. (Their shows close with the occasional Beatle bow, and-here's a stick in the eye to all those who would banish playfulness from rock music: they pull it off, and even make it look cool, the way that one guy you know somehow manages to keep a moustache without presenting as ironic.) At the hands of another group of musicians, this approach could fall flat, however (yes, like a certain group of Liverpudlians you may know) these five friends complement each other in such a way that the style they emulate is easy to recognize, but entirely fresh. Boy Morgan's aesthetic is so straightforward-so obvious, in a way-that in today's musical climate, it's almost punk rock.

Last year, Spoon drummer Jim Eno heard Boy Morgan's self-titled EP, released on the band's own Check It! Records: five songs on which all members trade vocals, songs that stay in your head and demand repeat plays. He invited the band to record at Public HiFi, his Austin studio. The session picked up where the EP left off: rounded out with the rich, yet spare, production Eno is known for. These tracks will be released later this year as a single.

Nadir Naqvi and Fowzy Butt, Boy Morgan's two guitar players, hail from the rock n roll wasteland of Karachi, Pakistan. In high school, Naqvi-one of a handful of rock musicians in the city-became a local guitar legend, playing Zeppelin and Queen covers in hotel bars devoid of alcohol and women. Fowzy grew up on the other (wrong) side of the tracks devouring fuzzed out VHS tapes of 1980s MTV. On opposite sides of town, the two obsessed about London (via Q Magazine) and America (via Spin and Rolling Stone) and got sent home from school for their shaggy haircuts. The two met at Bennington College in Vermont and have been playing together ever since. They currently live in New York's East Village.

As a kid, drummer Ben Trokan lived a few blocks away, on 14th Street. At a young age, he was already a fixture on New York's music scene, having played guitar in a late incarnation of Marky Ramone's band when he was still in high school. (In his spare time, he borrowed his mom's Oldsmobile to drive Dee Dee to gigs.) But Trokan is best known for fronting NYC's Robbers on High Street, and, more recently, for backing the likes of Greg Cartwright and Lee Fields.

Center stage, is Morgan King, who, along with Fowzy, hid out in a Brooklyn rehearsal space for months, writing and recording several songs before assembling the line-up that had long been Fowzy's dream team, his own personal Traveling Wilburys. King, who became "boy" Morgan to avoid confusion when Trokan started dating "girl" Morgan, is one of the most sought after bass player in New York City. He plays in Robbers with Trokan, and has toured and recorded with the likes of Longwave and Blonde Redhead.

But Boy Morgan's secret weapon is Mitchell Wareham, the product of a classic rock n roll conundrum: We love this guy, he's fun at parties, likes to dance, but he plays guitar like a ham-fisted chimp. A tambourine and a few hand-claps later, Boy Morgan has a killer percussionist. Dancing around next to the drum kit, Mitch looks like he's having the most fun ever at the best party ever. Mitch makes the occasional vocal cameo; during, for example, the build-up/breakdown at the end of a live cover of Nick Lowe'sWhat's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding, one of several covers that amp up the band's live set. This is the prevalent mood at the band's live shows: even when the lyrics lean towards the occasional bum out, the songs are poppy enough to keep people moving.

At many of these shows, Fowzy calls out his bandmates' names during the instrumental break in My Sweet Baby, a love song in the vein of Oh, Yoko with a trio of up-tempo pop hooks. He ends this bit with a nod to his buddy at the front of the stage: "He is, and we are, Boy Morgan." And that's perhaps the trick to forming a great band and writing great songs: Take the music you love the most, let it do what it does best, then coax your best friends away from their other bands with promises of beer, Beatles, and Mitch.
Steve Schiltz (of Hurricane Bells) - (Set time: 7:30 PM)
Steve Schiltz (of Hurricane Bells)
July 28, 1907 was a bad day for New York City, but an inspiring one for Steve Schiltz.
A lit cigar sparked a fire that engulfed Coney Island’s Steeplechase Amusement Park, reducing one of the city’s wildest destinations to ashes. But the next day hope sprung — founder George Tilyou posted a sign outside: “I have troubles today that I had not yesterday. I had troubles yesterday which I have not today.”
104 years later, the second album from Hurricane Bells springs from that same hope — literally. The opening track of Tides and Tales, called “I’ve Got A Second Chance,” begins with Schiltz singing Tilyou’s immortal words.
“I always thought that was a beautiful way to say it,” says Schiltz.
The only full member of Hurricane Bells, Schiltz first made his name as the singer/guitarist for New York’s Longwave, releasing four albums of dreamy critically-praised rock’n’roll before the band went on unofficial hiatus in late 2009. With a new clean slate, Hurricane Bells is Schiltz’s own second chance.
His debut, 2009’s Tonight Is The Ghost, touched down with a wave of good press and excited fan reactions. Alternative Press named the band a ‘Band You Need to Know in 2010’; Blurt called the songs “hazy, melodic… and nearly impossible to forget once they stick in your noggin”; “If the Killers and Devendra Banhart had a baby, and then that baby wrote skillfull acoustic pop music, the result might sound something like Hurricane Bells,” wrote Consequence of Sound. Quite the pedigree.
Unsurprisingly, it was Schiltz’ inclusion on The Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack that truly introduced his new project to the masses. His song “Monsters,” a Tonight Is the Ghost B-side, was chosen to give a guitar-heavy punch to the teen vampire sensation — and was unofficially Schiltz’ first album atop the Billboard 200 charts.
Now, after a 2010 EP, Down Comes the Rain, Schiltz is ready to take the next step with Hurricane Bells. Tides and Tales was written and recorded again solely by Schiltz, but this time performed with the help of a few friends: Ashen Keilyn (Scout), who’s toured with Hurricane Bells from its inception; Christian Bongers (bass) and Colin Brooks (drums), who round out the live band; Travis Harrison (drums); Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October, who plays harmonica on two tracks; and Dave Doobinin, who sings on “Let’s Go.” He calls his new 12-song set “a leap ahead sonically,” as he slaved over the recording to make each echoing drum sound, each dirty guitar stroke and each shadowy dash of reverb perfect.
Inspired by Jack White’s rule of self-imposed limitations, Schiltz wrote most of the songs in a 2-week stretch of isolation. “I didn’t have a day job, didn’t have any shows going on, didn't see my friends,” he says. “I just wrote.”
“I tried to write on different instruments each day, for no other reason than to change it up,” Schiltz says. “If you sit with a guitar every day, sometimes you end up doing the same thing over and over. So I wrote on a ukelele, a Wurlitzer, an Omnichord — just finding new ways to write songs.”
The result is Hurricane Bells’ finest music yet: effortlessly catchy guitar pop packed with as many big hooks as beautiful, intimate moments capturing love, loss, redemption and — just like George Tilyou a century ago — second chances.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002