If the Britanys were to pick a dive bar to drink at after one of their performances, they’d probably head to a place that offers one of those “shot and a beer” specials. Then, with some cheap brew and well whiskey in them, they might stumble over to a friend’s gallery opening, where a few more drinks might be consumed and a bevy of embarrassing Polaroids might be taken — all culminating with a drag of a cigarette under the glow of some neon signage as they meander home. It’s a hypothetical scene a lot of young New Yorkers know well, and the Britanys are on a mission to embody that sense of cocky, swaggering, juvenile wistfulness in their music.
Having met as roommates in college, Lucas Long, Steele Kratt, and Gabe Schulman formed the Britanys after a few impromptu jam sessions quickly resulted in an initial show at Lit Lounge in the East Village. “We threw together as much material as we could in a couple days and haven’t stopped playing since,” says Kratt, who describes their sound as an extension of that of the early-Aughts rock bands they grew up listening to. In fact, their infatuation with bands like the Libertines, the Strokes, the Kinks, and the Zombies, among others, led them to choose a “the” name of their own. “ ‘Brittany’ was the most popular girl’s name in 1994, the year we were all born, so we went with that,” Kratt says. “When Lucas purchased the domain, though, he spelled it with one T, so we’ve used that spelling ever since.”
Last year the Britanys dropped It’s Alright, a three-song EP/maxi-single that introduced much of the blogosphere to their poppy lo-fi sound. They went on to release a few more tracks in 2015, including a video for the infectious “Want to Be,” but pulled everything from their SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages without warning over the summer, leaving many to wonder: Was this the end of the Britanys?
“When we started the band we didn’t have a direct idea of what our music would sound like, which is kind of a blessing and a curse,” says Long. “All of the previous content we had online was material we had put up without much thought. Over time we felt like we didn’t relate to those songs or those sounds anymore.” So, a few months ago, the band added another guitarist, Jake Williams, and released two new singles, “It’s What It Is” and “City Boys,” both of which were representative of their fuller, more refined sound. “We tried out a lot of things before getting to where we are now,” Long says. “We felt our new material called for more guitar parts, and since adding [Williams] we’ve found our sound.”
While still not a huge departure from their lo-fi roots, the new songs marry the band’s pop sensibilities with a sense of calculated urgency that pushes the sonics from the ubiquitous nostalgia rock to something unique and iconic in its own sense. “Our inspirations definitely play a big role in our music, but we draw more from the feeling or the atmosphere a song creates than its chord progressions,” says Schulman. “The more we write, the more we feel we are establishing our own voice. We tend to write about things going on in our lives that are unique to us, but that people can relate to or feel nostalgic about.” “City Boys” certainly confirms that observation, as it paints an authentic picture of a band awash in the New York scene: attending art exhibitions, playing gallery openings, and supporting the same community that has fostered them from the beginning.
“All of our friends are in some way affiliated with the arts, and a lot of our social lives revolve around that scene,” Schulman says. “Being a musician, you’re always looking for a community to be involved with. That definitely influences our music and our attitude, because we are inspired by our friends and contemporaries.”
But despite their knack for socializing and bouncing around bars in Bushwick, the Britanys are finding themselves with less time for play and even less time for hangovers. They’re already knee-deep in new recordings and planning dates for festivals like SXSW and the Great Escape next year, so expect to see more of these Brooklyn babes moving forward. Long sums it up: “We’re mostly just hoping to build momentum going into 2016.” With a strong finish set for 2015, it sounds like the Britanys won’t have a problem reaching that particular goal.
The Britanys play In Transit Records’ 12” release show at Baby’s All Right on November 10. For ticket information, click here.