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When did you become The So So Glos?
Alex: 2006. Zach was in Israel when we agreed on the actual name. It was spring, and I remember we were just talking about... I don't know, there were a lot of new songs we were sending back and forth to each other, and we just thought of that name, and that was it. Once he got back we started playing back-to-basics rock n' roll, you know? Cuz we'd been doing like really punk stuff...
Zach: 'So So Glos' came out of a lyric that Ryan had written. We were living in Williamsburg—we moved to Williamsburg in 2004, we were like 18, I was working at American Apparel, going to college briefly, just fucking around. (I'd graduated high school a year early.) And then that was like the first time we saw what is a hipster, what was a hipster. And I think that name, The So So Glos, couldn't come out of any other... that's when we became so so glos, too, in the sense of the meaning of what a so so glo is.
What is a so so glo?
Ryan: I can tell you where it started. Zach went to Israel, and we weren't playing music, and I kinda lost my mind. And I was partying a lot, cuz I was going to college and I didn't care about college, and I was just going out every night, and going to these really plastic, hip parties with plastic, hip people. And I realized it while I was in it, and it disgusted me, so I drank more and to not feel like I was there, and it was a vicious cycle kind of thing. Anyway, I wrote this song called "Broken Mirror Baby" about myself and my friend, and it's about being really into your image and being into your ego. But the song is about combating that, having a self-awareness to not let that part of your ego go crazy. You know, fighting it. That's how it started. We started calling people [that weren't self-aware] like that so so glos. If you're standing in front of a mirror too long, you're a fucking so so glo. If you're walking down the street and you're looking into every single store window even though you're gonna look the same in every fucking one, but you still look into every single one as you walk down the street, you're a fucking so so glo. There was a line in that song—cuz I did that, and I was like, "god, this is really stupid." It was pathetic. I would walk to the subway, and I always walked the same way because... it was, I looked in the mirror before I left the apartment, I'd walk to the Bedford stop, I would always walk by this place that, the first floor was reflective, it was a mirror, and I would walk by that so I could look in the mirror again.
Alex: Just an attack on hip, egoist culture.
Zach: It almost means hipster, narcissistic hipster. Hipsterism, what we've seen from the aughts on, hipsters just reappropriate other fads from other ages, dressing like they're either from the 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s, depending on what their style is. But there's no new culture around it, it's all borrowing from old cultures without using any of the actual principles the culture stood for. It's just rehashing without the original glow. A so-so glow.
Ryan: And at that time, the Lower East Side was cool. It was very... still a hangover from the Strokes period of Lower East Side. That was still a thing at that point. Skin-tight pants, beadle boots and fucking a black-and-white striped shirt and bangs in your eyes.
Alex: A time in New York when showing any kind of emotion, real emotion, was really not cool. Here we came on with this brash, in-your-face punk rock, rock n' roll...
Ryan: We were trying to say something, not necessarily... some of it's political, but a lot of Alex's lyrics are really social commentary. It wasn't just about doing drugs and hanging out with girls. It was songs about what we saw and commenting on what we saw, disagreeing with things, and calling things out that we thought were bullshit. And that's what the lyrics were about. And people were like, "what the fuck do you guys care about so much?"
Alex: We were getting in trouble a lot at those hip parties. We were getting banned from a bunch of them. And talk about outcasts when we were growing up—we really didn't fit into that scene at all. That beginning was where the So So Glos name, mentality, philosophy came from originally. But then somehow we found Joe Ahearn and this all-ages scene, which was just starting to become a thing. He kinda rescued us from that, our friendship with him in those really early days before this was a scene.
Ryan: It was a feeling like we were looking for something but we didn't know what. And then when we played our first show with Joe we realized this is what we were looking for. We walked into a basement all the way, deep Broadway, like Bed-Stuy area, and there were like 20 kids, young kids, not like 27-year-olds, too-cool-for-school, hanging out in Piano's. It was young kids, leather jackets, drinking 40s in the basement of a bar that obviously none of them were old enough to get into. I'm talking about Micheline's.
Matt: How much do you think 9/11 impacted this New York wasteland culture? The Strokes record came out on September 11th, if I remember correctly.
Alex: That kind of disheartened, apathetic feeling that was like a hangover from 9/11 definitely influenced that too-cool-for-school culture.
Ryan: It made people not want to care about things, because they were like, "everything's fucked." A plane can just come out of the sky and kill you. It was like, what the fuck do we care about? And then, something's gotta happen—someone's gotta care again. And we just started to feel that, and as we started to feel that, we simultaneously started playing music, and it came into our music. You know, we were raised on punk rock.
Alex: We were really welcomed into the all-ages thing with Joe, and we felt like... not like we belonged, because there weren't any rock n' roll bands in that scene at all. It was mostly art-school stuff.
Ryan: And we hated that whole Lower East Side thing at that point. And this was a rebellion against it—against those shows at Piano's where they would just tally off who came into the show for each band, and people would come into the show and just leave. And we were all underage, so we were sneaking our friends in the backdoors and getting kicked out of the clubs.
Zach: We got kicked out of CBGBs the first time we played there.
Alex: Banned from CBGBs. The more safe the city got, the more clean and restricted the art scene got.
Matt: Plus, shit just got too expensive.
Photo by Boogie