RENTBOY: "CHERRY" MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERE + INTERVIEW
Drumroll, revelation, dream guitar: Philly band Rentboy is back with a brand new vision and new singles! Check out their video for “Cherry” below, straight out of the plastic elastic color pop factory. Keep an eye out for their re-release of their 2017 EP which will be out on the 18th!
LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING. WHO IS RENTBOY - APART FROM THE DEFUNCT PROSTITUTION WEBSITE (THANKS TO WHICH WE CAN TRULY, GLORIOUSLY SAY RENTBOY WAS WANTED BY THE FBI)? HOW DID YOU GUYS MEET AND WHEN DID YOU START PLAYING?
DANNY: We all met in college at Skidmore. Sam and I were good friends from day one. I actually started hanging out with Bobby when a mutual friend saw that we were both lonely musicians and thought we should meet up and try working together.
BOBBY: The first conversation I had with Sam involved Dick Dale. The first time Danny and I made music, I was going through a radically tidy phase in my little cubicle of a room and I remember he needed a cigarette very badly when he walked out of the building. Very little has changed since.
SAM: Yea, we’re just three pals who share a house in Philly and own a chia pet that none of us take care of.
SOME OF YOUR SONGS INVOKE SOME SERIOUS NOSTALGIA, BUT MUSIC IN GENERAL MAKES MEMORIES SO MUCH MORE POWERFUL. EARLIEST MEMORY OF MUSIC? FIRST TIME YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH A SONG?
B: I remember dancing naked, spastically to the Dixie Chicks’ “White Trash Wedding” when I was six years old. I also remember listening to the song “Brass In Pocket” by the Pretenders and practicing my duck face when I was four. I was very ahead of the trend.
D: A lot of my earliest memories of music are of my family listening to stuff in the car—stuff my mom and dad would play. My extended family is sort of spread out all over New York and Florida so we would be in the car a lot driving wherever. I remember listening to “She Loves You” by The Beatles and being completely in awe at that vocal harmony on the last ‘yeah’ in the chorus and thinking it was just the most beautiful and amazing thing. Also my dad and my great grandmother playing danzones on the piano, that’s what made me want to start playing in the first place.
S: I remember walking to the park with my mom every morning and singing hakuna matata. I was also super hype about the batman theme song when I was little.
EVERYTHING YOU GUYS CRAFT IS LIKE A SOUP OF DIFFERENT INFLUENCES CRASHING TOGETHER: THE FRICKIN 80S, A BIT OF CYNICISM, A BIT OF ANXIETY, SHOEGAZE, MTV, MELANCHOLY, DAVID BOWIE’S ‘HEROES’ ERA, ART SCHOOL, BOREDOM AND HAPPINESS. I THINK WE COULD DRAW SOME SIMILARITIES BETWEEN NOW AND THE 80S. AN EXPLOSION OF COLOR, SOUND AND FORM, NEW MEDIA, A CREATIVE AND CULTURAL BOOM. BUT FROM INSTAGRAM TO YOUTUBE AND MODERN ARTISTS, WHAT INSPIRES YOU FROM OUR CURRENT DECADE?
S: I’m inspired by this decade’s nostalgia for all the previous decades.
D: So there’s this Youtube artist Bill Wurtz who had a viral hit with his video “the history of the world I guess” about a year ago. But if you go back on his Youtube page there are hundreds of extremely short videos going back to 2014—like he was making at least one of these a day for a long time. You can literally watch him progress as an artist through his youtube page. It’s inspiring to see someone’s dedication and discipline manifest itself like that. And he has a great sense of humor, which comes through in his music and his video style—super fast paced and disjointed. It’s like hysterical nervous laughter.
B: This summer we watched a lot of The Proposal, a warp-speed version of The Bachelor, where one contestant judges contestants of the opposing gender from behind a modern-version of a plastic screen. Each contestant answers three questions, including one in which they answer wearing only their finest swimwear. At the end, the main contestant reveals themselves and proposes on the spot. Apparently, it was “the most talked about show in America” which is very exciting. It feels good to be a part of something.
GETTING MORE INTO THE LAST RECORD L, IT WAS QUITE HIGH STRUNG AND MADE IN A TIME OF ANXIETY. WHAT HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN?
S: I think part of the reason L came out so high strung is because we were all really high strung at the time. We recorded it all in two days and that felt kind of manic. Now we’re taking our time with stuff and really honing in on what we’re trying to accomplish. We have built our own little studio in the house we share, and it’s nice to be able to work on our own time. I think the result will be something a lot less stress-inducing and more dancey.
D: It feels like a lot has changed. That was only a year ago, but it feels like an eternity. I think we’ve really come to terms with certain things since then. I think L was us starting to double back on ourselves and saying out loud, “I love early Madonna, why don’t we play more like Madonna.” At the time we were kind of fed up with trying to be a rock band, and wanted to make pop music but didn’t completely realize that yet, so since then we’ve had some time to pursue that more actively and intentionally. We started going dancing a lot more, which has become increasingly important to what we do. This space called Lacquer just opened up around the corner from our house, in fact the same warehouse that we practice in. They have club-type parties with some seriously cool DJs that we go to frequently, that’s been really fun. I think everybody should go dancing more often. It’s a great way to interact with music and it feels really good once you get through the initial barrier of “everybody can see me wiggling around and actin a fool” which is a healthy thing to confront and get past.
B: On a more personal level, being in a relationship and finding a group of queer friends while going to therapy at the Mazzoni center has definitely changed my relationship to music by allowing me to lean into my queerness. I have unpacked a lot of shame and guilt around my sexuality, and the music, art and clothing that I find myself drawn towards have changed significantly as a result. I am currently fixated gleefully on sugary, physical and less traditionally masculine music than I had ever allowed myself to enjoy previously. Dancing has become increasingly important to me as I’ve gotten more comfortable with myself.
FOR YOUR NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR “CHERRY” - A FROOT VIDEO WHERE EVERYTHING IS SQUEEZED OUT OF ITS SKIN WHILE YOU’RE SINGING ABOUT FEELIN WEIRD IN YOUR OWN SKIN. HOW WAS “CHERRY” CREATED?
B: We filmed the video over the course of eight hours at a warehouse studio in Port Richmond with some of our friends who do video and visual art. What surprised me most was how much my arm hurt by the end of the day from continually squeezing so much fruit. I can’t speak to Danny or Sam’s feelings towards the video, but relying on Grindr for sex has, I’ve come to see, pretty radically affected the way I view bodies. Ditto for amateur porn. Everything has become a poorly-taken picture of a torso or an atomized body part. I see a lot of this in the video’s collision of separated body parts, drag and the really grotesque fruit contrasted against the soft, pastel aesthetic of the set.
D: I think that it came together so intuitively that it makes it ripe for interpretation. Each of us has our own idea about the video at this point.
S: I think it’s ultimately about being insecure in your body. We all have dysmorphia to varying degrees—and that’s something a lot of people can relate to—but it’s never easy to talk about. There are such unrealistic expectations of beauty, and I think Cherry is an FU to hierarchical beauty standards.
IN A PAST INTERVIEW, YOU TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC: LITERALLY KEEPING YOU ALIVE, A PROMISE THAT THERE’S “SOMETHING MORE OUT THERE, SOMETHING LARGER THAT YOU CAN BE A PART OF.” WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’D SAY TO YOUR YOUNGER SELVES TURNING TO COMFORT FOR MUSIC?
D: Don’t hate on show tunes, Rogers and Hammerstein and Irving Berlin could write the shit out of a song.
B: You have terrible taste. Don’t fuck him. Don’t wear that.
S: Punk is dead.
WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT NEXT FROM RENTBOY??
D: We’re putting together a couple of tours right now! We were hoping to have it together for this release, but definitely check back soon for an announcement!
S: More of the same, but different.
B: In our new home we have a very tacky organ in the living room. Sam almost died carrying it down the stairs at the church we picked it up from. I am glad he did not die. I am also glad that we have an organ. It has become my main instrument. At my corporate food-service job I drink enormous amounts of coffee and stand under the piped music like a happy plant under an afternoon sun. I used to really hate the music they play there, but now I find it very soothing. We are writing tremendously plastic, melodic pop songs with factory-like efficiency. I cannot wait for you all to hear them some day. Love, Bobby. <3 <3 <3