The People in Your Neighborhood: Mr. Dream Drummer Nick Sylvester

03/03/2011 1:49 PM |


Of all the things I’ve seen written about local trio Mr. Dream this week, to mark the release their debut full-length, Trash Hit, the most spot-on came from Zach Baron at the Voice: In a blog post on Tuesday, he wrote. simply, “You will have your type of nostalgia, and we will have ours.” It’s draws a clear line in the sand, but it also leaves room for the possibility that none of us are right, or even, I suppose, that we all are. At a time when so many people seem to be longing, unbelievably, for the cheap, mainstream R&B of the 90s, or for whatever unrecognizable 80s music could possibly be the source of inspiration for that lazy, hazy thing everyone else is doing, Mr. Dream is onto something entirely different: raw, guitar-heavy rock that is undeniably indebted to bands like Nirvana, Shellac (or Big Black) and the Jesus Lizard, with occasional hints of Guided By Voices popping up from time to time as well. They manage to sound sinister but still playful, and incredibly energized yet simultaneously bored to death. It’s an impressive feat and an obvious breath of fresh air for those of us familiar/at one point obsessed with the source material.

The band’s drummer is Nick Sylvester, known primarily for his work as a music writer, formerly for Pitchfork and the Voice, and most recently for We got him to answer some questions for us, about the particular Brooklyn neighborhood he calls home. Read that below, and then go see their record release show at Glasslands tomorrow night.


Best place to drink?
Not Metropolitan Avenue. An old friend of mine was in town and I wanted to show him how much I had mellowed out since high school. This is the same friend who played me Medeski Martin & Wood, and once insisted I smoke cigarettes with him because he was worried I wouldn’t know how to handle “real” peer pressure. It was my idea to buy tall boys at that bodega on Graham. We were fined within five minutes of walking.

Best restaurant?
Probably Marlow and Sons. But I would be wrong not to say Doner on Bedford. Whenever I’m recording I make a point of taking the band there for lunch. Something spiritual happens in the last few bites of their mixed pita. Make sure they put in the sauces.

Best bookstore or record store?
Spoonbill. I used to live in the same building as Quentin, who co-owns the place. He has great taste in weird books. You can’t go in there looking for anything in particular. I once found what was basically a compilation of random Dave Hickey quotes, stuff a student had written down from Hickey’s course on L.A. Noir. It was photocopied and stapled and there were only about six copies on the table. All of them were gone by the next time I stopped in.

Best person in the neighborhood whose name you don’t know?
Sometimes on the track at McCarren Park, there is a man who runs the innermost lane, screaming obscenities at anyone who laps him. He wears military fatigues when he runs and looks a little bit like Howard Stern. He’s a terrifying man. If you pass him, he does this thing where he pretends to chase you for a few seconds, which of course makes you run much harder, but not so hard that you end up lapping him again.

Best grocery store or farmer’s market?
Bravo Supermarket on Kingsland Avenue.

Best outdoor spot?
Last week my band Mr. Dream shot a music video along Kent Avenue. I don’t spend too much time around here. It’s wide open, and between the condos you can see the water. There aren’t too many cars on the side streets, so you can just walk down the middle of the road like in the suburbs. It feels dangerous but you also feel unobserved. There’s something haunted, or really hauntological I guess is the word, about this area. It reminds me of what Williamsburg must have felt like before I came here. I also like the backyard of Cheers Thai.

Best place to attend a show/view art/see a movie?
Walker Waugh’s WORK Gallery in Red Hook. Walker has impeccable taste.

Best coffee shop?
El Beit.

Best subway line?
The G train. This is the only train, I’ve found, where strangers talk to each other. Most of the conversations are about how the G train is the best subway line.

Best date spot?
Thing is, there are so many different kinds of dates. When I didn’t live in New York, but went on dates here, I took a lot of girls to SEA. I didn’t know any better. It was right when Garden State came out, and the restaurant was where Zach Braff worked in the opening scene. That was my big reveal. I still enjoy when people in cars ask me for directions to “The” SEA.

According to neighborhood folklore, are there any celebrities in the area?
Sometimes I see the blond chick from Vivian Girls at Variety.

Which are there more of: dogs, bodega cats, strollers, American Apparel ads, or old men on stoops?
Dogs, but I don’t mind them, except this one dog named Mugshot.

What’s missing from your neighborhood?
A Bank of America ATM.

What’s the biggest change since you’ve moved in?
The L train fills up sooner and sooner. I live off Graham. You used to be able to get a seat.

It’s a Saturday night in December. You don’t feel like traveling very far but are antsy for a night out. Where do you go?