Wet Leather


Matt Bernstein and Jason Katzenstein of the self-described “anxiety pop” band share their picks for comics and cartoons, plus their go-to birthday spot


Golden Years

MATT:  My favorite thing about this place is that it’s become a go-to for our friends when I’m working here — a lot of friends from college, friends from other bands from New York… our friends from CaravelaUV Rays. It’s kind of a running joke that the first 10 seats at the bar will be our people. It makes working weekends a lot more appealing if I know that all my friends are going to show up anyway. I don’t have to worry about missing out. 

JASON: We go ‘Matt, play this song! Matt! Matt! Play this song!’

MATT:  If our musician friends come in, I’ll play their music to torture them. That’s a fun privilege that I abuse when I’m working here.

We tend to gravitate towards [more divey] bars in general. That’s a lot of where we’ve played and spent time, and where I tend to feel more comfortable. This is a great place because you have that casual, unpretentious atmosphere, but you can get a really excellent cocktail.

JASON: I actually have one complaint about Golden Years, which is that Matt has never screened The Mask.

MATT:  It’s been requested multiple times, and now I have no excuse. 

JASON: I think the people would be very excited if that played at Golden Years.

221 N 4th St,  (718) 302-5100, facebook.com/goldenyearsbk

The Cobra Club

MATT:  I used to work there. That place has been in the family for a very long time. I met Barry there. We all selected that moment — when Barry came in and played with us for the first time, it really felt like we had a band. It all happened at Cobra Club. Our first show was at Cobra Club. And that’s where the band meetings happen — when Barry’s working. During the slow hours, we drop in on him and drink coffee and talk. 

6 Wyckoff Ave, (917) 719-1138, cobraclubbk.com

Vinyl Fantasy

JASON: Vinyl Fantasy is a comic shop and record shop. Ilana and Joe co-own the place, and Ilana also is a dog walker, so there are constantly cute dogs in there.

They have an event where cartoonists come in, and there’s a big projector and they read work they’re working on, which is really cool. And there’s beer.

MATT:  Jason’s done it.

JASON: I’ve done that reading. [It’s] called Panels to the People. The cartoonist community in Brooklyn, we’re all working from home all the time. It’s nice to get everybody together, and a lot of people recognize each other based on their work but have never met, but we follow each other on Instagram. Suddenly everybody’s doing readings and hanging out. 

When Vinyl moved in, it was that place and Molasses Books. Those places made me fall in love with the neighborhood — a book store, comic book store, record shop within walking distance. 

194 Knickerbocker Ave, facebook.com/vinylfantasybk

BK Jani

JASON: The best burger I’ve had in my entire life.

MATT:  I’ll second that. We both had our birthdays there multiple years running there. The owner, Sibte, had one of Jason’s drawings behind the counter. 


MATT: All you need to know is it’s the best burger you’ll ever have… and the fries.

276 Knickerbocker Ave, (347) 460-5110, facebook.com/bkjaninyc


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Feature image: Ben Curry

[This interview has been edited and condensed.]

Check out our full interview with Wet Leather here.

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