Words by Adam Pollock
Jason Brody has been up all night. As lead singer, guitar player and songwriter for the East Village quartet that bears his name this might be expected. After all, isn’t the guilt free ability to hang out all night ingesting various non-drowsy formula substances and trying to talk the skinny jeans off the pretty things who think your band is ‘soo much cooler than The Decemberists’ the reason young men start bands in the first place? Of course it is. Today, however, Jason’s band The Death of Jason Brody is aptly named.
As Brody navigates the tiny kitchen of his way East 14th Street tenement in an attempt to scrape together ingredients that might constitute a breakfast, memories of his sleepless night flood his head, and at no point do they involve throwing a TV out a window. Rather, he’s rerunning the lines and lines of copy that he’s been poring over for twelve hours straight. Brody is halfway through copyediting a new catalog for a major New York museum and he has to finish it before a messenger comes to pick it up that afternoon. All he can think about is getting it done before he collapses, alone, – alright we’ll give him this – Keith Richards like, on his small bed. Pretty rock and roll right? Moonlighting at a straight job is nothing new for the thousands of guitar/bass/drum slingers who dream of that little slice of heaven that involves sleeping ‘till sound check and partying with Shannon Sossamon at the Chateau Marmont. But very few wanna be Wayne Coynes think that they can slink form bar to bar without picking up the tab once in a while.
As always, the reality of the situation takes on new meaning in the most expensive and competitive borough in the land. In Portland, Oregon, in order to live the life of a rock star and still pay your $500 rent you get a part time job at the local coffee shop. In Dubai on the Hudson it takes a bit more scratch to cover rent, suitably distressed wardrobe and cocktails at The Box, especially if you have a masters from the New School and aspire to more than jerking java.
So a new class of musician has emerged who is equally successful on stage and off. Brody has been working in various literature related circles since his days at Columbia and then The New School ended. He has proofread books for Penguin Publishing, has assisted famed critic and auteur Neil Strauss, and has transcribed a book on the Insane Clown Posse. (During which he made motherfucker a default correction choice because the word was used so often.)
Like a lot of us who embrace our multiple personalities – in no other town is the slash, as in model slash actor, musician slash writer slash fit model, more in use than 212 – Brody sometimes has to remind himself what roll he’s playing. Walking into an editorial meeting bottle of Jack Daniels in hand just wouldn’t do, neither would getting on stage at The Annex with a pencil behind his ear and his ‘editing pajamas’ on. When you have seven different email accounts it’s imperative that you send from the right one, the publisher of The Paris Review probably wont respond to drnknhorny even if you have the missing Hemingway letters.
This weekend Jason and band mates, Cary, Geoff and Jeff, dragged their guitars down to Union Square to play for the people and hand out free CD singles promoting their upcoming show at Pianos. Everything was going fine until a rather intimidating trio of Parks Department security issued them a ticket for playing through an amplified device. Never mind that the device in question was a battery operated Marshall five inches high and that they were making less noise than your average mime troop. Luckily Bloomberg’s finest didn’t detect the wafting fumes of Jim Beam coming from the boys Pepsis, but the incident did cause a bit of a crowd to gather, and a few people made stabs at ‘smash the police state’ like comments. Public intoxication and a noise violation, now we’re talking!
And so it goes. The next week will see Jason rehearsing, recording new material, playing a show, fielding requests for press and following up on a potential west coast tour in the fall, along with proofreading, editing and fact checking the numerous assignments that show up throughout the day. This schedule doesn’t leave much time for more typical rock star like behavior but in this town maybe fighting for your chance to get up on stage is the new definition of rock ‘n’ roll.