NEW YORK CITY — Every musical act that comes out of New York City must eventually pledge an allegiance to a particular borough or neighborhood in the city, even if members of the group have scattered origins.
For Run-D.M.C it was Hollis, Queens. For The Strokes it’s the Lower East Side. Vampire Weekend calls Morningside Heights its home and the Wu Tang Clan will forever be a Staten Island group.
For indie band Cymbals Eat Guitars, it gets a little confusing.
Front man Joseph D’Agostino, 26, has his roots in New Jersey, but lives in Eltingville, Staten Island. Two other band members also come from New Jersey and one lives in Boston. Together, Cymbals Eat Guitars rehearse and hangout in Brooklyn, where D’Agostino says sky-high rents means Williamsburg and Bushwick are off limits for now.
“We are kind of like refugees,” said D’Agostino, while sitting in Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg.
As part of their tour to promote the recent release of their third album, "LOSE," Cymbals Eat Guitars will play this Friday at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg. In advance of the gig, D'Agostino spoke to DNAinfo about the band's favorite haunts around town, self-identifying as a Jersey band and what the group sacrificed in order to turn a profit on their last tour.
You get claimed as a Staten Island band or a New Jersey band or some are under the impression you are based in Brooklyn. Why so much confusion?
I think all the confusion arose at CMJ [Music Festival] in 2009 when we were coming up and we were hot. We were just part of that whole Brooklyn scene that was happening at that point. The eyes of the world were on Brooklyn. The Antlers and the Suckers and us and whoever else, we kind of got lumped in there and we were like "Oh no. Joe lives in Staten Island." It’s a better angle because no bands live in Staten Island, but we are actually a New Jersey band.
If you go out in Staten Island, where do you go?
Since I was a kid I loved Denino’s Pizza. That is my No. 1 pizza joint in New York not because it’s the best, but because I have been going there since I was 5 years old. It’s blue collar, paper plates. I don’t really go out around Staten Island. I will go out around here [Williamsburg] where all my friends live.
Where do you hang out with the band after you rehearse?
We rehearse in a private studio in East Williamsburg and go to the Bushwick Country Club after. We go play Buck Hunter and we are really good at it. We are very competitive. That is usually our thing or we will just hop the Williamsburg Bridge and go to Pianos [on the Lower East Side] because a lot of our friends work there.
What other New York City bands do you hang out with?
All our friends we have met on tour like Hooray for Earth, but they just broke up. Bear in Heaven; they live in Williamsburg. We are going to a show at Glasslands to see Zambri play one last show there.
What is your take on the shutting of Glasslands and Death By Audio?
Glasslands was a major hangout for us. Someone that you know is always playing there. That was a big one. It will hurt for that to go. It just makes me feel old. Everyone is starting to feel the same way. Whatever scene there was is just disappearing.
Where does Cymbals Eat Guitars like playing around the city?
I love playing Bowery Ballroom [on the Lower East Side]. It is the greatest every time. The stage is just great, it always sounds good, the staff knows what they are doing. I like the Knitting Factory. There is a nice big stage at Baby's All Right, which is cool. Everyone is playing there now.
The other week on the Cymbals Eat Guitars Twitter account there was a mention that you guys made money on tour. What was all that about?
We used to take out a big van, a front of house [sound engineer], a merch person and a manager. A lot of people would have to get paid before we got paid. We figured it was probably best to forgo a sound guy and use the house sound guy and pay yourself at the end of the tour. We book all our hotels on Priceline. We save money where we can, drive ourselves and try and play a show every day.
It definitely changes the dynamic when you are tour because there is no buffer. It is just your relationships with the three other people in the van — nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.