The members of the Brooklyn jangle-pop quartet share their go-to spots for band business, ALBINO bar frogs and Canadian tuxedo acquisition (and, as a bonus, share a big breakfast sandwich hack)
LIV PRICE: When me and Aida first moved into the neighborhood, it was lone of the first bars that we went to. Every Tuesday night, they have a jazz band playing here in the front, so we would frequent it in the early months that we were here and then ever since it’s kind of been a staple, and you kind of got more into the Freddy’s crowd….
AIDA MEKONNEN: A guy I was seeing at the time recommended it… We ended up moving [to this neighborhood] ‘cause Steve got a place around here and… I don’t know if we actually signed our lease here, but I had some papers to hand off to our real estate person. So there’s that memory, but the big sort of thing is that it was recommended by a musician and the Tuesday shows are amazing…
So, I feel like we came here a few months after we moved. We came here after the first July 4th we spent here, Olivia got hit by a firecracker in the street.
LIV: We spent the last New Year’s here. We spent Halloween here and Jack had an amazing costume. Jack was the zoo.
JACK MCLOUGHLIN: The whole entire zoo. Every animal I could find. I had a flamingo hat, a rhinoceros shirt. I feel like every night sort of ends here in this area. And the frog…
[We talked about the two albino frogs in the tank here off the record, but on the record…]
JACK: On the record, the frog is…
AIDA: It feels illegal, but it’s not.
JACK: It feels illegal, yeah. My favorite part about the bar, though. Well, there are two favorite parts… three favorite parts. The first part is the frog. The second part is the little TV that’s playing the cat drinking the milk on loop… at the corner of the bar over there.
[There’s so much here… it’s sensory overload!]
JACK: And then these TVs remind me of my apartment when I lived in Providence, because I would collect TVs and connect them all. I had like 20 TVs in my living room.
STEVE VANELLI: He had a problem.
JACK: It was not a problem… You know, one man’s trash, another man’s treasure. We’d put up optical illusions… I watched all of Black Mirror on there. On all 20 TVs.
STEVE: That’ll mess you up.
JACK: So anyways…
[Glasses crash in background]
STEVE: I love the sound of crashing glass here at Freddy’s. Nah, you know, Freddy’s is just a package deal. Obviously the atmosphere is great. Like you said, enough things to look at on the wall—I discover 20 new things every time I walk in here. Great food, it’s affordable and it’s like right in between our places… It’s the perfect meeting spot.
[But back to the frog…]
LIV: On the record, there are two albino frogs that they have in a little aquarium in the back of the bar. Yeah, he’s staring at us right now and smiling. The thing about them they look petrified and they don’t really move, so you can’t really tell if they’re real or not. But they are. They are real. And they might eat each other. I don’t know.
627 5th Ave, (718) 768-0131, freddysbar.com
L TRAIN VINTAGE
LIV: Again, it’s kinda in the area. The studio that we’ve always recorded at [Degraw Sound] is like a street over from it. It’s a pretty humongous store and it’s the only affordable vintage store I’ve been to in New York, which isn’t saying much because I’m not a connoisseur… But I got a leather jacket there for like $30. And for the music video for “Christian” that’s where we directed everyone and that’s where I got a lot of my attire.
[Prom vibe, right?]
LIV: Yeah, it was ‘80s prom-themed.
STEVE: I forget what exactly I picked up from there for the video, but I do remember walking in at least twice looking for stuff. I did get the jacket that you’ll find in our photoshoot—the cover photo of our Spotify page—for a very affordable price.
LIV: It’s very real, where it’s like stuff from the decade, but they don’t up-charge it so much. It’s all like within the span of 20 bucks and it’s stuff that you could get at Urban Outfitters for like 80.
STEVE: We had a denim party a year ago and I got a long-sleeved shirt and jorts.
JACK: And denim underwear, right?
STEVE: It takes the Canadian tuxedo, like, one step further.
AIDA: Yeah, love it. Not this past New Year’s but the New Year’s before. I feel like that is also where we sourced our New Year’s lewks. The fur jacket. It is iconic.
Various locations, ltrainvintagenyc.com
AIDA: So I will say The Sackett is a place for all of us to meet that is a central location between South Slope, which is where Olivia, myself (Aida) and Steve live, and Jack in Fort Greene.
So The Sackett is in Gowanus.
[To Jack] Cheers, Jack. High Life. The champagne of beers.
The Sackett is about two or three blocks away from our rehearsal space. And it is where we meet to discuss business.
STEVE: Sonofa… that’s what I was gonna say. Freddy’s is kind of the hang-out spot. Just kick back, relax, for the most part. The Sackett, we’ll go there to talk business just because of its location to the practice place, the studio and all of us. I will say I do like their Old Fashioned there. That is a top-notch Old Fashioned.
LIV: Also my friend used to work there and he would give me free drinks, but then he got fired. I don’t know why he got fired. I think it was unrelated to me and Aida, but he was very generous. Also they have really good soft pretzels that are probably frozen, but…
JACK: They’ve got games. They’ve got your classic games. What’s the one with the bulldozer?
STEVE: Bob the Builder?
JACK: Alright, not Bob the Builder.
JACK: Yahtzee does not have bulldozers. It’s the one where it’s the electronic bulldozer and then… whatever. They got the bulldozer game. I used to play it as kid and then I saw it on the shelf there. And I didn’t play it, but it’s there. They have games and that’s what’s important.
[Because it’s all business when you’re there.]
JACK: All business. I took my girlfriend there a couple weeks ago and it was all business.
661 Sackett St, (718) 622-0437, thesackett.com
BROOKLYN FARMACY AND SODA FOUNTAIN
STEVE: The first time I went there, I was with some friends who were visiting from out of town and we were all in the mood for ice cream. So our first thought was Ample Hills—we’re going. That’s hands-down. But my friend only wanted soft-serve and so she was googling… We got there, and we realized they actually don’t have any soft serve. But we got a little lunch. The sandwich was great. And then whatever sundae thing we got was amazing too. And then I went there with my girlfriend a couple weeks later, and now I realize I want to go back there pretty soon.
[What’s the vibe?]
LIV: It’s like ‘50s-style decor but in a non-pretentious way. Like, it’s not Johnny Rockets, but it’s like they haven’t updated in a while, but intentionally. It’s not curated. It’s basically unrelated to the band and what we do together, but I took my sister when she was visiting over the summer and we got this, like, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, potato chip sundae that was rated by Food Network. And I’ve also had their grilled cheese and tomato soup and it’s really good. It’s just a homey feel to it.
AIDA: I went there once while I was in college. It was great. It was a hazy summer day. And yeah, I wouldn’t change a thing about that experience. Can I recall it? Not really. But I know I liked it.
513 Henry St, (718) 522-6260, brooklynfarmacyandsodafountain.com
LIV: Again, not band related, but we’ve all been there separately. When I work from home, that’s where I work. They have really good vegan options. Also, apparently they have a lot of community-type events in the evening that I’ve never gone to, but I imagine they are fun.
AIDA: And I go there to get coffee in the morning on my way to work.
LIV: Everyone that works there is like, super nice and earthy.
AIDA: Yeah. And a really good like, breakfast situation—breakfast sandwiches, wraps. They also sell art. They’re very community-oriented, and everyone’s super nice.
LIV: By the register they have kind of a community craft corner, so there’ll be like local coffee beans there and somebody makes these recycled composition books. There’s cards, mugs, soaps. They have it all.
AIDA: I recently got a free breakfast sandwich there because they made one and didn’t know who it was for.
LIV: Me too! So, that’s like a hack.
AIDA: That happened.
Feature image: Brent Schroeter
[This interview has been edited and condensed.]