Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Sexy Girls are ‘just guys being guys’

By Jake Reed

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Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

Shaina Mishkin/Daily Collegian

“We bond over pizza sometimes,” says Sexy Girls’ Alex Whitelaw on how he got chummy with the band members he found through a Craigslist post, taking what began as a solo project into full-fledged band territory.

These four guys are serious about their future as a band, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. And yes, the Craigslist story is true. After posting to the site, Whitelaw met Stephen Kerr, the band’s drummer, and guitarist Sam Hatch.

“It was a sketchy way to try to find them,” Whitelaw says, “but it worked out.” Adam Har-zvi, who knows Stephen through the University of Massachusetts Amherst music program, joined as bassist just about a month ago.

As you could probably guess, Kerr and Har-Zvi (a junior and sophomore, respectively) are both music majors at UMass. What you might not have guessed is that they have both focused their studies on the double bass (often known as the upright bass).  Hatch, on the other hand, is a junior and political science major and Whitelaw, who plays guitar and sings/yells as the band’s front man, is a senior studying English.

So what does the band sound like? “Indie, surf, jazz,” Whitelaw explained; “a lot of things.”

He’s got it right – “Castle Song,” from the band’s first release “The Collection,” melds sun-kissed surf guitar chords with a catchy hook, while “Beware of the Wolves” picks a walking bassline straight out of the jazz idiom and takes it for a long walk on the beach.

“A lot of the bands around here are doing the math rock thing and a lot are doing the funk thing,” said Kerr.

“I think it’s cool that we’re doing something, not crazy different, but it’s not sort of the Western Massachusetts average band,” Hatch added.

In addition to the Strokes and Born Ruffians, some of Whitelaw’s influences are less immediately apparent in his music – namely the up-and-coming rappers Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.

“I think rhythmically I focus a lot on how they f*ck around with flows and do things like that,” he explained. “When I’m trying to form a melody or a rhythm with my voice I’ll try to incorporate how a rapper would flow, and I think Kendrick and Schoolboy do that pretty effectively.”

As of now, the band’s first two releases are written and recorded entirely by Whitelaw. The first, “The Collection,” is a narrowed down selection of 40 or so songs that he had initially released to Bandcamp.

“I was just playing with the idea of a ‘Greatest Hits’ for a band that no one had heard of,” Whitelaw explained, “so it was kind of funny to me.” He said that the next album, “Satan’s Hands,” should be out around July.

As far as lyrics go, Whitelaw likes to keep things coherent. “I feel like sometimes bands have too weird of lyrics that people can’t actually relate to and it’s just weird,” he said. “I want kids to be able to hear [my songs] and be like, ‘Oh, I had a girl f*ck with me once and it was sh***y.’”

This sentiment ties in neatly with the meaning behind the band’s name. “I figured most songs that people make are going to be about women so why not just name the band Sexy Girls?” Whitelaw said.

For now, the band doesn’t mind playing tunes written solely by Whitelaw. “Alex writes music that, if I turn on my iPod, it’s something I would scroll to,” said Kerr, “so it’s really fun to play.” Their lack of songwriting cred won’t last forever, however – Whitelaw plans to incorporate the whole band in the creation of Sexy Girls’ third release.

On stage, the band keeps it simple. No crazy, overbearing stage presence. Nicely dressed, but not overstated – although Har-zvi’s funky ‘90s-wallpaper button down shirt deserves a mention. To them, it’s most important to play the best they can and let the music speak for itself.

“We’re trying to be something that people want to listen to,” Kerr explained, “[and not just come to see] because it’s a show.”

Off stage, they’re all for having a good time. “Just guys being guys,” Har-zvi said.

For instance, “the thing we tend to do after every show is have a dance-off,” Whitelaw said. Conversations in the band’s post-show interview veers everywhere from music (“I wanted to be … as big as Mumford and Sons, but as good as Imagine Dragons” – Whitelaw) to food (“Maybe vegans don’t like pizza” ­– Whitelaw, again) to their plea for to book more house shows (“We get along well with strangers … We listen. We’re empathetic” – Kerr.)

For the future, the band hopes to make a living playing music that they love, but for now, the goal is to “just keep playing shows,” Hatch said.

“I want to promote a lot at all the colleges in the area,” Whitelaw added. “I feel like this is a good system.”

“The Collection” is available for free at sexygirls.bandcamp.com and Sexy Girls can be seen next at 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence on April 24.

Jake Reed can be reached at [email protected]

 

 

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