Dive Bar Wisdom with Laura Stevenson
“We played to a small smattering of people at Vera in Groningen – a city in the far north of The Netherlands. About forty or so folks showed up on a Saturday night. We didn’t have any expectations of how the show would go, having never been to that part of the world before and being the only band on the bill. We didn’t feel too bad at the small turnout either, having been told by Peter Weening, the venue’s director for the past few decades, that when Nirvana played the same venue in 1990 just before Nevermind came out, and when U2 played there in 1980 just before Boy was released, there were roughly the same amount of people there”
The above quote by singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson is about a show she released last year as a live album for charity. It's her most recent release, but she's busy at work on new stuff. Meanwhile, she and former Bomb the Music Industry! bandmate Jeff Rosenstock are heading out on tour this summer.
For this edition of 'Dive Bar Wisdom' we caught up with Laura Stevenson to talk about future plans and some of her favorite places in NYC...
BV: You’ve gone from playing as a member of Bomb the Music Industry! to leading a solo career that has varied from quiet singer/songwriter material to louder punk-ish songs. How have your musical influences changed over time?
Laura: They haven't really changed that much over time. I grew up listening to a lot of folk and got into punk when I was like 13/14, so it's always been a mix of the two with also some other types of classic rock and tons of the inescapable pop from the 90s. I only really started listening to The Cars and Big Star in the past few years and those were pretty big influences on the last record I made so I'm still discovering things.
Are you working on anything new?
Yep! Writing every day! I'm excited about it.
Were your grandparents (or a grandparent-like figure in your life) music fans or even musicians? Did any of the music they liked or played influence your own musical taste or style of music?
Both my grandparents were career musicians on my mom's side. My grandma introduced me to a lot of old southern spirituals and traditional songs, as well as a lot of standards from the 30s and 40s, and my grandpa played like, 6 hours of Bach a day to keep him sharp... the combination of all of that music around me definitely impacted my writing for sure.
What is some worldly advice that a grandparent or grandparent-like figure gave you that’s stuck with you? How has that influenced how you think about life or music?
Hmmm... I don't know if I was given specific advice per-say. An older guy at the guitar store the other day told me that I should buy a guitar that looks cool. I didn't take his advice and bought an SG rip-off that looks terrible but plays great, we'll see what happens to me!
What is your favorite place to see or play live music in NYC? Why?
Definitely Bowery Ballroom to play. It was such a huge deal the first time I played there just because I was going to shows there when I was a kid and it just seemed like, an unreachable and impossible goal and such a milestone. I'd probably say Bowery for a place to see a show too. It sounds and feels so good in there. Also, I went to a few show at the Forest Hills Stadium and that place is also great.
What is your favorite Brooklyn dive bar and why?
I moved upstate a while ago so I'm a little out of step with what is still open - when I lived there I loved going to Luckydog. There are dogs there which is fun for obvious reasons and they had cheap Genny cream ales and a nice back patio area... no free snacks though, for those I would go to The Levee which was cool - individually wrapped Twizzlers and cheese balls (not individually wrapped). It's a little something for everybody in terms of snacks.
Luckydog, pictured above, is located at 303 Bedford Ave, between South 2nd St & 1st, in Williamsburg.