Brett and Nick of the no-longer-active band talk BK’s best statues, the diner selling food with that good bad taste, and the bar where rap, Hall & Oates and ‘Seinfeld’ intersect
Note: This conversation took place waaaay back in our first round of interviews. We were hoping to time the release to align with a show or new song to promote, but sadly we sat on it too long, and the band Teen Commandments no longer exactly exists.
SO, the bad news: You won’t be able enjoy a TC show in the future (which is a shame, because they were VERY FUN).
BUT, the good news: You can still enjoy Teen Commandments’ music, which we very much love and very much recommend.
NICK LAGRASTA: Where we rehearse is like five minutes around the corner from here, and we share that rehearsal space with a couple of guys that work over here and are also in the music scene and met them through coming here…. This guy Will Thompson and Connor. They have a band called Elliot & the Ghost. [Editor’s note: To date this interview even more, Elliot & the Ghost has *also* since gone out of band business, and Will and Connor are now in Yella Belly, one of our absolute fave BK groups.]
We were moving from Greenpoint looking for a space for a long time. I heard these guys had an opening. We’ve already came here a bunch just because it’s kind of like in the middle of where we all live, so it’s a win-win.
BRETT MOSES: It reminds me of how some of the places that used to be in Williamsburg felt. It feels a little more…
BRETT: Free and Wild West kind-of feeling… an anything-goes-here kinda place. Some of our weirdest nights at some point stop by here.
817 Metropolitan Ave, (718) 387-5178, reclamationbar.com
BRETT: I have some places by color that thought you might want to hear about. So I picked Le Garage, which is an amazing, kind of French-y brunch spot in Bushwick because it’s the yellowest place. It’s a beautiful place bathed in this kind of golden-rod color, and you just start your day there [with] a cup of coffee.
157 Suydam St, (347) 295-1700, legaragebrooklyn.com
CARTHAGE MUST BE DESTROYED
BRETT: And then I picked Carthage Must Be Destroyed, which is another brunch spot. All pink, it’s the pinkest spot I can think of, and, like, they only play George Michael there. And like there always seems to be a waitress with like a baby, so that you have a feeling like Groundhog’s Daywhen you’re there… It’s weird. Like you’re returning to the same day that’s one person’s dream, and you’re like, this person must be a megalomaniac.
222 Bogart St, (917) 488-1844, carthagemustbedestroyed.com
NICK: I’ve got Rough Trade. It’s kind of reminds me of like Empire Records. You know, if it was a real place, but it also had the addition of an amazing music venue. And that’s certainly one of our favorite places to play. And if we’re not playing there, then it’s also a great place to like, go have coffee and go record shopping. And sometimes they do like rotating pop-ups of like electronic music gear. There’s also like a neato bookstore there. So it’s always like a fun place to go kind of wander around and like, play a new weird synthesizer or, you know, see what’s popular.
Another music venue that we play a bunch at and like to go to as well when we’re not playing as Baby’s All Right.
64 N 9th St, (718) 388-4111, roughtrade.com
NICK: La Superior is a place we’ve been frequenting for a long time. It’s an authentic Mexican street taco restaurant on Barry and South 2nd and Brett, Van [Hughes] and I have been going there together.
BRETT: Van’s our third. La Superior, by the way, has a diploma or like, some kind of framed thing.
NICK: It’s like a plaque.
BRETT: From Mexico. It’s like, this is the real street food.
NICK: The ambassador to Mexico presented them with like an honorary plaque, like ‘I declare on this day that these tacos are legit.’ They have a really good taco there that’s never on the menu. It’s like a garlic shrimp taco. It’s fantastic.
295 Berry St, (718) 388-5988, lasuperiornyc.com
BRETT: On that note, another place that we share a love for is Cafe Mogador. It’s like a Mediterranean spot, very classy. We’ve had many, many branches there with halloumi eggs. So good.
NICK: These days it’s been more like order a bagel on delivery for my mornings. Mogador is still a place that I probably go to the most for brunch. They do really good Moroccan-style eggs benedict, eggs with halloumi cheese, roasted tomato. But these days I’ve been staying in bed in the morning. I’m a little lazy.
BRETT: The doctor told you not to have brunch anymore.
NICK: Yeah he said my bagel levels were low. I need delivery three days a week.
133 Wythe Ave, (718) 486-9222, cafemogador.com
NICK: Another place that I wish was a music venue but it’s only a bar is The Commodore. That’s a favorite place. They always have really great dance music playing there. So it’s like you can always count on a chicken sandwich and dancing to Whitney Houston. And it’s pretty great.
BRETT: We ended the night there once at like 4 am. I’m a little more like, nervous and rule abiding than Nick, and it was 4 am and everybody was leaving. And Nick was like, “We’re gonna have another drink here. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine.” And I was like, “No, dude, everybody’s leaving. We gotta go.” He was like, “No, we’re cool.” And we went up to the bar. He was like, “Hey, like, we just need one more drink.” And she was like, “We’re closing,” and he’s like, “Well, I got rupees.”
NICK: Yeah, I offered to pay in like imaginary Zelda money. She was like, “Oh, that’s fine. That sounds great. Free shots.”
366 Metropolitan Ave, (718) 218-7632
Call Box lounge
BRETT: I also have The Call box, which is like the dirtiest, worst, best place. It’s like just the most… the least put together, least thought-out dance bar in the world. Like, we went there one time and there was a DJ eating McDonald’s and DJing at the same time. She was going between Hall & Oates and gangster rap and she had a button that played like a gunshot. She’d be like, Hall & Oates! And she’d be like pew-pew ow-ow and then it’d be like gangster rap.
NICK: While Seinfeld is like playing on the television.
BRETT: The weird thing is that everybody there was acting as if this was their scene and they know that this is what happens. Another thing where I’m like, I don’t know anything about the world. At all. It’s a counter-culture. Because because not too long ago, I was at Home Sweet Home and they had the DJ doing the same kind of thing. It was like gangster rap and Hall & Oates. So I don’t know. I kinda liked it the second time I heard it.
NICK: The Call Box also has that like very large Captain Morgan sculpture out front. It always scares me.
BRETT:Any sculptures like that I’m a big fan of.
148 Kingsland Ave, (718) 384-0179, thecallboxlounge.com
BRETT: I was going to recommend the Taco Bell on McGuinness and…
NICK: We used to go there a bunch because it was by our old studio.
BRETT: Incredible tacos, incredible quesadillas.
NICK: It’s like La Superior and that are both number one but on different planes. Sometimes that Taco Bell is better than anything… better than a Danny Meyer restaurant.
BRETT: My old band that Nick played in as well, we won $1,000 worth of Taco Bell bucks. And we ended up giving most of them away to veterans. We tried to eat Taco Bell as much as possible because we were very poor at the time and you can only eat Taco Bell three times in a row and then you can’t eat it anymore ever again… for many years.
208 McGuinness Blvd, (718) 383-6666, tacobell.com
BRETT: Lastly, Tina’s Place. Diner right by me. You can go get a full breakfast for like five or six dollars. And it, like, has not changed since the ‘70s. The prices are the same, the wood paneling is the same. Tina’s there. The regulars have been there decades and decades. Highly recommend it. It’s an institution. It’s got that good, bad taste. Like everything is so good now, you know. Food is so good everywhere, it’s incredible. [Tina’s] a version of good that’s endangered. You go there and you’re like, oh yeah, this used to be good. And it’s still good. And nobody knows that anymore, you know?
They have a poster in the back. It’s so weird because everything there is very vintage. And then there’s this poster that has a picture of a penguin sitting on an avocado–like that’s the egg. it looks like it was drawn in Microsoft Paint. It just says avocados, comma, they are here, period. Like, who on… somebody designed this. And someone bought it. And it’s at Tina’s.
1002 Flushing Ave, (718) 497-6890
+ SCULPTURES, STORES & MORE
BRETT: I wanted to point out the sculpture on the pier on North 6th on the waterfront in Williamsburg. They’ve got like a metal sculpture out there on the end of the pier. Nick and I used to like on, you know, late nights, party nights, we’d end the night by going out on the pier to the sculpture, and you can climb up and they’ve got this, like, wire mesh net. And people don’t know that you can. It’s right in front of your eyes, but nobody knows you can go up there.
You climb up there and people will be below you, and you’ll be up there, you know, drinking from a fifth of whiskey or some of that and watching the Manhattan skyline. [To Nick] We gotta go back back there. Have you been back there much?
NICK: They’ve started to crack down on that from when you moved out… The condo management has started to crack down because high school kids, they ride those big bikes in Williamsburg….
BRETT: What’s up with those big bikes, man?
NICK: Doing those wheelies. When school gets out, it’s like Williamsburg turns into like this Mad Max wasteland of high school kids…
BRETT: Also at the City Fresh Market, the grocery store near me, they’ve got a big statue of a donkey inexplicably. And I thought that was something that’s maybe worth recommending…
BRETT: I wanted to shout out the stores on Knickerbocker avenue that sell, like, Catholic Stuff. I think I’m like always amazed that could be like a whole business model. They’ve got stores that are just like pictures of the pope and stuff. I’m not Catholic, but…
Photo: Ben Curry
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]