Maybe it’s old news, but some still remember Noisey’s praise for the city’s punk scene.
However, members of The Lawsuits said they don’t want much to do with it. Even though the Bucks County, Pa., natives are more indie rock than punk, they know Philly’s got a reputation. They’d rather be a national band.
The Lawsuits, made up of Brian Strouse and Temple grads Vanessa Winters, Brendan Cunningham and Josh Friedman, were given a shout-out in Spin and Rolling Stone in September after the release of the band’s then latest single, “Dreaming #26.”
The group recorded a Daytrotter session during that time, too.
Here, they talk about a 2008 tour with memories of near-kidnappings and breakdowns – and not the musical kind.
Good thing the band made it out in time for its show at Underground Arts on April 3 to promote its album “Cool, Cool, Cool,” released in September.
THE TEMPLE NEWS: How did The Lawsuits get started?
Vanessa Winters: [Strouse] and I have been friends since elementary school, so I would go up and visit him at Kutztown [University]. It was once or twice a year that we played, it was very infrequent for a long time. Once we graduated [college], we decided this is what we want to do.
Josh Friedman: We’ve been playing in Philly for a long time. [Strouse and Winters] started together, and I didn’t come in until later in the picture.
Brian Strouse: [Friedman] came in right at the time where we wanted to take things seriously. The three of us probably played 50 shows on weekend nights to nobody at the M-Room or at The Fire. Those are really tough moments to swallow.
JF: No one knew about us for a while.
TTN: What’s the story behind your name?
BS: See, I don’t know. I just want to change the story.
TTN: If you could, what would you change the story to?
BS: That it has a really great connotation, and people are drawn to it – we just stumbled upon it. But that’s not what happened. When we were just playing once or twice a year, we were originally called The Mondays. There was a band already called The Mondays, and from that, lawsuits came up. So we ran with that.
TTN: I’ve read that your style can be described as indie rock, roots and even a “schizophrenic mix of modern Americana.” How would you describe yourselves?
VW: I liked that one — schizophrenic modern Americana.
JF: We were blues and Americana for a long time, but all of us come from different musical backgrounds; all of us listen to different things. [Winters] was into choirs.
VW: That’s why our album is kind of all over the place – we like to have all different kinds of genres, because we all listen to different music. It’s hard to pigeonhole our style.
TTN: When recording an album, how do you decide which genres to use?
JF: I think it’s just kind of something that happens. I mean, there were a lot more songs on “Cool Cool Cool” than what made it to the album. We just had to decide what sounds best.
BS: But we didn’t discriminate based on genre.
JF: We just like to make stuff that sounds good.
TTN: Is playing outside of Philly something you want to do more often?
BS: Losing the local band title and becoming national is the goal. We want to do the exact same thing we’ve done in Philly, but in other markets. We got two rules in this band: we play for exposure and/or money. We can deal without the money if the exposure is there.
TTN: What has been your craziest moment as a band?
JF: I’d say the craziest moment for me was on our first tour [in 2008]. [We played] to nobody for two weeks. We went down south, and we had borrowed this 1987 Winnebago.
VW: That [tour] was like a vacation and we really got to know each other.
BS: We had experienced the van breaking down and we were kind of stranded. We were in the middle of nowhere. Bluefield, W.Va. If you ever get to go there, I suggest you don’t.
JF: There was this one spot that I think we were all looking forward to, but we didn’t actually know what we were getting into. We were supposed to be playing an arcade.
BS: And we could sleep there, so we were thinking, “This is going to be f—— awesome.”
JF: So we pull up, and it’s in the middle of nowhere on some road in a field.
VW: There was nothing else around.
JF: It was a converted old gas station. So we pull up and there’s a chain link fence around a pseudo-skate park.
VW: The guy says, “Pull in over here.” So we pull in, and the guy closes and locks the gate after us. I was thinking this guy was going to murder us. Somebody went in and saw all of these dirty couches and crappy TVs and car seats. They wanted us to sleep there?
BS: And flies. It wasn’t actually an arcade. There weren’t arcade games, they were old Sega console games hooked up to old TVs. So we all went back in the van.
JF: We were like, “Let’s just leave, but how do we get out?”
VW: The guy locked us in.
JF: We asked where we could get something to eat and got out of there.
VW: Then it starts downpouring, and we went the wrong way so we had to turn around. We went up this narrow driveway and got stuck.
BS: The van broke down. It was one of the strangest situations I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Brianna Spause can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.