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Ponytail Interview

Written by Nicholas Venaglia   
Monday, 27 October 2008 08:16
Nicholas Venaglia interviews the Baltimore based group before their show @Bottom of the Hill a couple weeks back.
Ponytail are a 4 piece rock and roll band from Baltimore Maryland. I sat down with them on October 8th before their set at Bottom of Hill opening for the band High Places.

Molly Siegel Vocals
Dustin Wong Guitar
Jeremy Hyman Drums
Ken Seeno Guitar

So how'd you guys meet?

DW: At school.

Which school?

DW: Maryland Institute College of Art.

What were you studying?

KS: Somebody wanna?

JH: We were all studying different stuff. I was studying painting, these three were studying in pretty much different degrees like conceptual art or video art or sculpture.

So it's kind of like an experimental school?

JH: Yeah. And I was actually basically studying the same thing.

KS: Yeah. But we were in this class that kind of looks at music for like parallels in art and basically one of the main assignments of the class is to be put in a band and to make music for like a fake... not a fake, a real party called Parapalooza at the end of the semester.

So whether you have a background in music or not?

DW: Yeah.

KS: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean there's no musical...

KS: Maybe better if you have a background in art, I think that's like the idea of the class, it's like how can you come in from art and...

JH: Looking at these people like Mike Kelley or somebody who you know, like collaborates with Sonic Youth may potentially... or just you know. Or just watching movies.

KS: Or watching The Who and learning and studying what they did. We watched a lot of documentaries and movies, and you're suppose to practice with your band and the teacher kind of like put people together based on first impressions like a grunge band or something like a Lilith Fair band..

KS: Or you're like the leftovers, which is what I felt. [laughs] DW: Yeah we were leftovers

KS: We were like the first couple people that got picked out and the last couple people picked out. It started with us and ended with us.

So then you performed at the party?

KS: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, we did.

And was any of that material released?

JH: Most of it's on our first album.

Oh, is it?

JH: Well, yeah, it was only a 15 minute set.

KS: We wrote a song the first time we played together, and that's on the first record.


KS: Yeah, I mean we pretty much just like started giving out our music.

So is Ponytail your job? Or do you guys have other avenues of income?

MS: We all have "sort of" jobs. I work at a children's museum.

DW: I work for my mom [laughter]

KS: I work for an artist, in editing.

JH: I just quit my job in an ice cream shop.


JH: Yeah.

Cool. I work in a frozen yogurt store.

JH: Oh nice, nice. Cool.

It's pretty fun, I mean...

JH: I liked it. I didn't like... I hated making milkshakes. Do you have to?

No, it's just straight up frozen yogurt and toppings.

MS: Oh, huh. Like.. Soft serve?


MS: What kind of flavors of yogurt?

Just original which is like the yogurt flavored, blueberry and chocolate.

MS: That's it.

JH: Tasty?

Yeah, its very refreshing.

DW: Jeremy used to work at a ice cream shop, right?

JH: Yeah, that's how this whole thing started. [laughter]

So any plans to move out of Baltimore or are you guys settled?

MS: Not right now.

KS: No plans.

JH: No plans.

MS: Thoughts...

Thoughts? Where are you guys considering?

MS: I have no plans. We're just kind of taking it every day by day.

DW: Every time I visit the Bay Area I'm like "why am I not here?".

Really? That's awesome. I'm glad you guys like it.

KS: We like it here a lot.

MS: It's a'ight. [laughter] JH: I thought Iowa was pretty cool actually.

KS: I just like to go to LA. I like this LA thing.

DW: Yeah I like it.

MS: It's actually perfect weather.

KS: Portland is nice.

JH: I mean there's a lot of places that we've played that are really nice to visit but I can't really, I mean, I just wouldn't want to live in most of these places though.

MS: I think right now we're pretty settled sort of by convenience thing. It's like, it just works right now to be there.

Well I guess in this day and age bands don't have to move to a metropolitan area to survive.

MS: We're so close to New York, which helps a lot. I mean we'll play a show in Baltimore but we're in New York almost half the time at this point.

KS: Yeah, we're in New York a lot, seems like.

MS: So it's there. I guess if we lived there maybe it would be easier in a way but it would also probably be more stressful in a way.

KS: More demand. Even storage.

MS: Yeah, but you can sublet. And make money. But it's just a stressful city too.

KS: You just have to think about the reasons you call a place home, you know? it may not be the view, you know?

So, do you guys have any albums that really made an impact on your life growing up?

KS: Good question.

MS: that's a good one.

JH: Let's see. Hello Rockview by Less Than Jake, Master of Puppets by Metallica, and then in high school, an At The Drive In record, Relationship of Command. And then after that I feel like I still listen to all that music constantly. Those were three that I had when I was a kid that got me pumped.

KS: I think the first thing that I heard that I felt this weird personal connection to was Oasis, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, I remember hearing that record when I was pretty young, on the fourth of July, and I just like felt it. I also think that was one of the first cds I ever bought. Then a lot of classic rock. I got like really into Jimi Hendrix and stuff.

Was that introduced from your parents?

KS: Yeah. My dad was really into that stuff. Grateful Dead, Beatles, and you know, that stuff. But defiantly Oasis.

MS: I have a few, like Weezer, self titled.

DW: Weezer?

That's a good one.

MS: And then, and then Flaming Lips, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. And then Pixies stuff probably. I feel like the Flaming Lips, that made me realize that I liked weird music, you know what I mean?

It opened the doors to like...

MS: Yeah, it was like, this is weird, but I like it. You know? And that was pretty big.

DW: And I think, well my dad had the Frank Zappa: Greatest Hits, and that was a huge impact on me when I was in 6th grade. And, The Ventures: Greatest Hits.

KS: I remember The Birds were so big for me. Definitely The Birds. Sorry to interrupt.

DW: Yeah. I mean those two were definitely huge. I remember I was getting into punk rock and then I got the Never Mind the Bullocks by the Sex Pistols. I didn't get it at first at all. I was like this is punk? But then I got it. Also, Offspring.

KS: The Clash? London Calling? Bob Dylan?

JH: I didn't listen to London Calling until like this tour, or no, last tour. It's awesome though.

JH: Bob Dylan.

MS: Oh, The Smiths, too.

KS: Yeah, they're cool. [laugh]

You guys went to art school. What visual artist do you guys like?

DW: I really like Rodney Graham's work. He really like, references a lot of popular music and rock music but in this very poetic kind of way with video and photographs and stuff. Christian Marclay does too.

KS: Thomas Ruff MS: I also am a pretty big Rodney Graham fan.

JH: Is this ever gonna go anywhere?

DW: There's so much

KS: This interview is going to be two lists, a list of albums and artists.

MS: That's pretty cool. I think that's cool.

So what do you guys listen to these days? Anything special in the van?

DW: I really love this Mickey Hart album called Diga, It's all percussion. It's really beautiful. I mean, I love that kind of like obsessive quality. I mean I'm like that with guitar but with him, it's drums. I feel like a connection with that I guess, an obsession.

JH: There's a Lucinda Williams album I was listening to today that I was going to buy but they didn't have it.they like, it was at Amoeba, we were there today. You know how they have those listening stations? And I listened to half the record, and it was awesome. And I went over and they didn't have it. bummer.

KS: I've been really into this album by Brian Eno's brother, Roger Eno. called Voices. It's a little bit cheesy. It's kind of like the Twin Peaks soundtrack, kind of. It's the closest thing I can think of. But I really like it. It's like piano.

DW: Piano.

KS: I've been listening to a lot of piano like Debussy. It's like really slow piano pieces that are really reverbed and modulated.

JH: Rage Against the Machine.

MS: It's kind of lame but I was going to say a lot of Rilo Kiley. I don't know.

That's not lame. So on the road do you guys listen to your own thing on your headphones or together through the stereo?

DW: Sometimes.

KS: Both.

JH: For this tour its been like the stereo's faded to the front, and it's really isolated, and then the two back people listen to their own stuff.

MS: It works. Listening to music in the car as a whole gets pretty old quick.

KS: We did it for a long time.

MS: Well maybe not quick, but it got old.

KS: Sometimes you get on tour and it's all music all the time, you know, you listen to music all day and then you play music at night and then you listen to the bands pla.. I've been reading a little bit more recently, and it's been passing the time like a lot more efficiently for me at this point.

JH: Audiobooks too, we've done audiobooks together.

KS: We listened to the Phil Lesh autobiography read by him, five and a half hours long long.

KS: It was beautiful. The end was kind of really sad.

MS: Yeah, it's pretty depressing.

KS: But it was an amazing story. Actually Rob from High Places(www.myspace.com/hellohighplaces) recommended that to us when we were staying at his place over the summer. And here we are! In San Francisco, man!

MS: I feel like I also listen to a lot of High Places, like I'll listen to their record like twice in the car sometimes and then still hear them at night, and still be into it.

KS: That happened when we were on the Battles tour. We listened to Battles like everyday, twice.

MS: I feel like what I listen to at home though is so different from what I listen to on my ipod on tour. Like all I want to listen to on my ipod is really angsty music for some reason, it's just like, getting stuck in the car, like I just need to get it out. But when I'm at home I listen to anything.

JH: "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger... [laughter]

MS: Wait, what?

JH: You know that song? Here I am, on the road again...

MS: Oh, yeah.

JH: Anyway.

MS: And also another artist that I really like is Nam June Paik.

DW: I mean there's so much.

MS: When people ask me that all I think about is all of my peers.

KS: Sometimes it's like saying an artist's name is like saying The Beatles or something, compared to like some other awesome artist you've never heard of.

MS: Mickey I think is my favorite contemporary artist.

Who's Mickey?

DW: Mickey(http://www.yyyyyyy.info/~mguidetti/), he made our music video for our song Beg Waves.

MS: He's here.

DW: He just has an incredible mind.

MS: Really incredible person

DH: Such an awesome artist, just down to earth and brilliant person

KS: We went to his studio earlier and it's just awesome. He showed us some stuff

MS: Yeah it was really incredible.

KS: I was really like really into the new stuff. It was sweet.



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