…and they write some songs. Not really, but this may give you an idea of what the musical journey will be when you take a listen to The Really Cooks from Philadelphia, PA. Defined as ‘food rock’, the group covers a full range of topics while incorporating recipes, comedy, and psychedelic sounds akin to King Crimson. Intrigued? You should be! If you’re not…are you breathing?
After being introduced to the band I eagerly sent along some questions to them. They were answered by Josh Neubauer (AKA Josh Band), who plays piano and performs lead vocals for the band. Other members include Pete DiLorenzo (AKA Pete Band) on guitar and lead vocals, Alon Hafri (AKA King Alon) on bass and backup vocals, and Lem Pidlaoan (AKA Dr. Lemonade) on drums and chicken drumsticks!
Quoted from their site:
“What do you get when you combine four scoops of super-wacky musicians, a dash of royalty, two cartoon chefs, and a slice of lemon? The Really Cooks!
“The Really Cooks may be the only ‘food rock’ band in Philly. Wait, they definitely are,” jokes Brian Wilensky of City Paper. The band creates an alternate world in which music and food are more than platonic friends – they are lifelong lovers.
Don’t let the band members’ half-human, half-cartoon identities fool you; The Really Cooks are 100% awesome. They combine late period British ’60s pop with a quirky American showtune aesthetic to craft catchy, palate-pleasing pop tunes. The harmonic element of their music is reminiscent of Queen and the Beach Boys, while their psychedelic sensibility channels that of The Zombies.
Sink your teeth into their 2011 debut album, Dr. Lemonade Stand. This eleven-course meal breaks harmonic molds and bends genres while regaling stories of evil villains, beautiful bugs, and oceanic adventures. The album’s stylistic charm and wit will have you craving a second helping.” (http://www.thereallycooks.com)
And away we go!
Farah Joan Fard: What are your musical backgrounds?
The Really Cooks: We all have different musical backgrounds, but they complement each other really well.
Pete, Alon, and I all went to the same high school, where Pete and I were choir boys, and I was pretty immersed in musical theatre. Pete was in the pit orchestra on guitar, but we both did rock and roll on the side. We took music theory in high school and got obsessed with musical arrangement. We had a band called The Josh and Pete Band, in which we pretended to be British and wrote lousy songs (but the harmonies were still good!). We studied everything from Mozart to Elvis in school. Pete and I went to Emerson and studied Film and Sound. We continued composing for the Josh and Pete Band through college, but we didn’t really call it a band.
Alon played in the pit orchestra and jazz band during high school, and afterward continued studying music in college at Wesleyan University, where he studied bass and oboe.
When we got back to Philly from college we all decided to get a real band going. Throw in Dr. Lemonade, a drum virtuoso who has taught professionally, and we got ourselves “The Really Cooks”! We were known as the Josh and Pete Band from 2009 up until 2011, when we recorded the album and wanted a fresh new look!
FJF: What created this musical form/genre (can I call it that? It’s pretty unique!) for you?
TRC: Food rock, we call it. It’s basically palate-cleansing music. Imagine having a 10 course meal at a fancy restaurant and everything tastes good, but in different styles and various zests and flavors. Your dessert and your appetizers will be very different from your main course, but will satisfy different parts of your hunger. That is pretty much what we try to do with our musical stylings — constantly changing but all fitting closely together into one large meal of an album! We basically wanted to create a style of music that fit the attention span of our generation, influenced by 90’s TV with lots of wacky 10 second commercials. We sought out to change the style of our music, while also making it structured and fit into a package. Even before we were the Really Cooks, we always had a “food” undertone in our themes… we had food-related characters and the planned names of our albums included Dr. Lemonade Stand (our current album) and Extroverted Olive Oil.
FJF: I can definitely hear the influences you list on your site in your music. But I have to ask…are you fans of Flight of the Conchords? The ‘American showtune aesthetic’ mentioned reminds me of them, but with a consistent style.
TRC: Actually, I have only ever seen one episode of Flight of the Concords but people have told us that the early Josh and Pete Band is very similar. Two goofy guys innocently playing funny music to a crowd of people who want nothing to do with them.
FJF: And your band name is really taken from that scene in Back to the Future? Or fans of Chuck Berry?
TRC: Essentially, the band name came about in early 2011 while we were on our way to the studio. We had been trying to change the name of our band for a few years (since 2009, when we graduated college) but never could find one that fit. I was thinking of the Back to the Future scene and I seriously said to Pete, “We just have to figure out a name that ‘really cooks’!” Instantly we both agreed that that was the perfect name for the band. We brought the idea to Alon and Lem, and they loved it! Especially because Alon loves to cook soup.
FJF: How did the song Mr. Carlisle come about?
TRC: The song “Mr. Carlisle” is about one of our best friends Darwin Carlisle (and yes you probably had a class with him, and he probably, like the song says, talked a lot!). One day Pete and I decided to write songs for three of our college friends, Darwin, Stephen Ruberto, and Paul O’Neill. Darwin’s was the catchiest of the bunch, so I developed it and created it as a poppy Simon and Garfunkel-y, song. It’s essentially his personality characteristics as we see them: Class-Talking, Whisky-Drinking, Book-Reading, Dancy. The second verse is about Charles Darwin… I just put that in there so that people would ask, “Are they talking about Charles Darwin?!”
FJF: Do I dare ask the influence of the Mr Badman?
TRC: We tend to write a lot of songs about characters. I wrote the lyrics to Mr. Badman as just this guy who hates being good, but doesn’t really do anything that bad. He’s just more badass than a jerk. It wasn’t really based on anything in particular… maybe a part of him was a reflection on a darker side of myself… but I guess that would be looking way too far into it. Pete then took the lyrics I wrote and three different songs he was working on and fused it all into one.
FJF: I really like that you have recipes on your site as well, sticking with your theme. You have really developed the character of your band. What was that process like?’
TRC: When we decided on the name “The Really Cooks” we decided to get all food-crazy. We needed to create a niche that no other band was really delving into, and that’s when we came up with the idea for being chefs on stage, posting recipes, and a brand new food blog with us in-character reviewing local food establishments (set to begin later this month). We have always been a semi-cartoon band. Now we are a semi-cartoon, food oriented, 60’s-influenced rock and roll band! I would say that’s at least kind of original.
FJF: For sure! If you had to pick an artist or band to collaborate with on an album (from any time)?
TRC: Here is a list of the artists and bands we’d like to collaborate with on our next album:
The Beets (from Doug)
Steve from Blues Clues
That Map from Dora the Explorer who sings the ‘Map Song’
Frank Snotra (The Guy who is green and sings, also see Elvis Parsley)
Steve Martin (on banjo)
and Emeril Lagasse
FJF: Yes, I think the Map needs to branch out a little! But back to the ‘musical’ theme, have you considered writing a musical?
TRC: Actually, since 2007 Pete and I have been developing and writing a rock opera called O’Captain. It’s 21 songs running about 85 minutes long. The story is about a lonely angry sea captain who is mad at the world, so he sails away to escape it. During his journey he is hit by a huge storm and marooned on an Island. On the Island he loses his mind and travels to the other side where he finds a small town named “Slimy Time Village”. In Slimy Time Village he meets the oddest characters he has ever seen, Cecil P. Jones, the rudest man in all the land; Lily Kwickandezee, the town floozy; and Marty Hendrix, the seedy cowboy. He finds himself dappling in insanity until he thinks he is going to lose everything and leave the world. He has a quick flash of self-importance and realizes he is meant to and can be happy with himself and who he is. Blah, blah, blah happy ending. It’s pretty much our own spin on Alice in Wonderland mixed with The Who’s ‘Tommy’. Anyway, if any one wants to produce it let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org. If not you’ll have to wait about 5 years, cause we need money to pay the full orchestra and 30-person choir of men.
FJF: Anything else you would like to add for now?
TRC: We are excited to be on this journey through wackiness, wonderment, music, and food. People say that Food, Music, and Sex are the three basic things people need for survival. Well… we can guarantee at least two! (At least!)
Look for The Really Cooks in the City Paper Food Section (full page article) on Jan 19th.
Playing Legendary Dobbs on Jan 26th!
Playing World Cafe Live on Feb 15th! (Both in Philly)
Planning an East Coast Tour for late April early May.