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New Boyz Club Take Aim At Oppression on ‘G l O r Y g L o R y’

Sep. 27, 2016
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When upright bassist Johanna Rose and pianist Katie Lyne were in the earliest stages of starting a new group together, they didn’t have a completely clear idea of what they wanted the project to be. But after years of playing in the folk scene, they knew what they didn’t want. “We wanted to play music where people couldn’t peg us as being cute,” Rose says.

From there the pieces for what would become New Boyz Club fell into place. The band, its name a dig at the historic boys club mentality of rock music, would represent everything that women historically have been discouraged from being: loud, strong and outspoken. “My brother William was drumming, and he was pretty stoked about being in a band that he could really do some real rock ’n’ roll drumming on, so we knew we wanted to be loud,” Rose says. “We also knew that we wanted harmonies, and we knew that we wanted a big sound.

“And then I wanted horns and strings, too,” she says. “I’m also a really big fan of Billie Holiday, and I especially love the old videos of her playing with a big band orchestra. So I kind of wanted to have a punky version of a big band orchestra.”

When all was said and done, they’d assembled a somewhat unwieldy eight-piece band, which over the last couple years has become one of the great live spectacles of the local music scene, playing shows that are part party, part carnival and part protest sit-in.

This week New Boyz Club release their debut, G l O r Y g L o R y, the first in a trilogy of three-song EPs. Why EPs? Because, Rose explains, she believes the songs work better in threes. And also, she admits, because the band is extremely difficult and time consuming to record. G l O r Y g L o R y is a fittingly flashy first installment to the group, opening with protest hymnal “The Police State Will Fall,” a Black Lives Matter anthem recorded with a 23-member choir, and culminating in the manic suite “Taxes,” a twitchy, real-time nervous breakdown.

“There’s a story that runs through the EPs that will be revealed eventually,” Rose says. “It’s a loose story, almost like a Radiohead concept album, that deals with the ways that institutional oppression plays out in your personal relationships. It’s about living in a patriarchal society, and seeing how overall oppression plays out in all of our lives.”

If that all sounds like a lot to chew on, it is, and that’s why Rose felt songs were the best way to address those loaded themes. “I think that music can influence people in ways that maybe pamphlets or speeches can’t,” she says. “You can reach more people through music. Look at Kendrick Lamar, and what he did with To Pimp A Butterfly. He reached so many people through that album that maybe would have never thought about things unless they had heard that music.”

But for all their politics, Rose says, her songs are grounded in her own personal experiences. “The EPs follow my journey to the person I am today, and how I arrived at the beliefs that I have today,” Rose says. “As a woman, you don’t necessary want to believe that you’re oppressed, and you’re told that you’re not oppressed. People who are marginalized and oppressed are always told they’re not oppressed. So it takes a while to figure out that, yes, you really are being treated a certain way because you’re a woman.”

New Boyz Club play an EP release show on Friday, Sept. 30 at Company Brewing at 10 p.m. with SistaStrings, Fox Face and Hello Death. It’ll follow one of the venue’s Counter Craft Night Markets on the patio at 8 p.m., which will feature music from Michael Swan, Alex Shah and the Sweet Sisters, and Abby Jeanne Rebel Love. 

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