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PHOTOGRAPHED BY GUY AROCH
What comes first, the music or the fashion?
The Young Lords, New York’s new smokin’ band has been regaled by the
fashion flock over the past year and been receiving buzz for their trendy
Saturday night parties. But is it all just skinny jeans and fop top hair that is
getting them noticed? Hardly. The band’s raw vocals with a tinge of
Southern Rock has been getting the boys lots of hype at SXSW and CMJ
as well as the opportunity to open for UK band, The Fratellis. But getting
to know the boys a bit better, music has been in their blood long before
the PBR was.
Growing up in Austin, Texas a city well known for it’s artistic side (the unofficial
town slogan is ‘Keep Austin Weird’) brothers Blair and Reed van Nort’s parents
encouraged them to check out new music. As lead singer Blair explains, “I was a
weird kid, I collected old jazz records. My mom would buy them for me at the
used record shop. Of course there was always a country element to what we
were listening to growing up in Texas too. Then one day she gave me The Clash
and Bruce Springsteen and it really opened my eyes to what else was out there.”
Reed grew up more of a punk kid but soon began listening to the country tracks
his brother was digging and they decided to start their own band. Having a band
in Austin is as unconventional as Sbarro in a strip mall but these boys knew they
had something and kept on going with it.
Blair met bassist Max Kamins when he came to New York City for school.
Max is a born and bred New Yorker. He demurely explains that he too grew
up surrounded by music because his father was a DJ. What he leaves out is
that his father Mark Kamins, is a DJ hall of famer who helped Madonna
out with her first tracks and produced The Beastie Boys first single for
Def Jam. Although he admits that the house music genre has never been
inspiring for him, the fact that music has always been in his life has certainly
helped. When the boys met out on the town the brothers explained to Max
how they were starting a band. Max was working on his own band and they
decided to meld their ideas and hit the ground running. Guitarist Adam
Gerard came into the mix when Blair met him at The New School and the
newest addition to the band is Grant Anderson on drums, an old Austin
friend who decided to move to New York.
With the lineup well in place they were ready to rock. Unfortunately the
industry was a bit slow on the uptake. “We had two or three people say they
would help us out on tracks and everything just fell through,” laments Blair.
They finally got some tracks laid down and things started happening.
Living in New York has certainly helped them acquire buzz. Blair agrees that,
“In some ways the fashion crew in NYC have more of an eye of what’s cool
than the music industry. Fashion editors hear us perform and then call us up.”
He continues, “the music magazines aren’t going to review us because we
aren’t on a big label so we started our own.” How is that going for them?
They opened for The Fratellis at Irving Plaza to a sold out show. “That was
an amazing night for us. It was funny we were not nervous at all. I guess
playing in your basement for so many years gears you up to be ready for the
big time,” joked Reed. The Young Lords also host a hugely popular dance
party at Home Sweet Home every Saturday night that has been voted one of the
best in the city. Next up for the boys between touring is a Tuesday night gig
at Webster Hall Studios where they will forgo the weekly dance tunes for a
real rock and roll throw down.
Giving even more love to the fashion flock, the boys all agreed the rowdiest party
they played was for a Danish fashion magazine at Santos Party House. Blair tells
us that, “it was such fun because fashion kids love to get wasted and rock out.
Sometimes we perform and everyone just stands around. Some people
who are really into music are so focused on the band, sound and vocals they
forget to have fun. That is definitely not the case with the fashion crowd.”
Music nerds take note.
- CATOR SPARKS