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Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Washington Heights freak-poppers Hollands are a cheery mix of folk, punk, and free-noise. Both frontman John-Paul Norpoth and violinist Jannina Barefield have laid down some sessions on various Akron/Family records (and certainly share their vibrant spirit and dizzy textures), but Hollands’ sound is more mellow–think Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips, with folk that’s torn between ’90s “anti-” and ’00s “freak-.” Their second self-released EP this year, Mother, leads with the joyous burst “Air Conditioned Heart.” The track is made from a little bit of Grizzy Bear’s “While You Wait For The Others,” and a whole lot of breezy melodies and whimsical cuteness. In the song’s lyrics, Norpoth treats Kansas as a great, mythical escape from the bustle of New York–and certainly somewhere better than where he was at for much of the Mother sessions: spending a summer stuck in his childhood town of Stony Brook, New York.
What is this song about?
“Air Conditioned Heart” is about summer vacation. I was living back at my family home in Stony Brook– “Story Book,” where I was born and raised. Well, actually I was born in the ugliest hospital on Earth, Stony Brook Hospital. One day they should launch that thing to Mars, or back to Mars. I was stuck at home, licking my wounds perhaps, broke, trying to avoid NYC rent for the summer. Mom was nagging me to move back to the big city and go work construction for my brother. Dad, a professor, was going through the process of a job interview, negotiation with University at Kansas, Lawrence. We didn’t know at that point whether he was going to be commuting to Kansas, and the evolving dynamic of my family was wearing thin. I don’t remember much about how I wrote the song other than I wanted the lyrics evoking strong and colorful imagery. I wrote it on a baby grand piano, at home, laptop on top, headphones and mics everywhere.
Have you ever been to Kansas?
I’ve never been to Kansas, but at that point it felt like a new day–one with the same escape/trappings I was looking for at home. Comfort, calm, financial freedom. New York City has a way of beating everyone up in different ways. “Air Conditioned” is the way I felt, static or contained, cold. But still with this “Heart” beating me up inside.
What are “old fashioned sex dreams”?
The old-fashioned sex dreams are the first sexual encounters I had, when I was 10 or 11. I had my first about Madonna, “Vogue” -era. Then she went Erotica later on.
What’s your most memorable New York show?
Mercury Lounge last year, one of the first shows with this new band. We made $67. That’s just swell. I’m sure more people make that amount going to the toilet in this town but that Sunday night was incredible. No rehearsals. It was a mess and a triumph.
What’s the your favorite place to eat in New York?
Jannina and I definitely think the best place to eat in NYC is our apartment here in Washington Heights. Ms. Barefield is the best soul-jew-chef in New York. I’m the only man who gets his chicken-fried gefilte-fish with BBQ sauce. She is a legendary cook! We love Covo too, Naples-style pizza, hidden underneath Riverside at 130th street. They let you keep your dog with you outside. Dino BBQ too at 127th street and Carmines at 96th street. We’re fat, we know where to eat in this town.