The third-best band
Isn’t it comforting to know Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin?
It’s ironic that the name Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin came to Philip Dickey while he was at a shopping mall. He and his friends were in two bands that no one liked, so they “merged bands and became an uber-crappy band with a crappy band name,” Dickey wisecracked.
SSLYBY released its first full-length album, Broom, in 2005, and by controlling modes of production via the Internet, the band achieved notoriety and success without label support. The band handmade jewel cases out of quilts and sent fans cassettes of new music, a.k.a. “Tape Club,” via its self-run Web site. “I think we always want to have our hands in things, you know, do things ourselves,” Dickey said.
However, the 23-year-old musician told SN&R last week that the band is in negotiations with a prominent indie label. “Whatever happens after this will probably just be, like, shrink wrap,” he joked.
It seems the tenets of Marxism are forcing the band to re-evaluate its labor value. “I’m kind of homeless right now,” Dickey said of his proletarian struggle. “If we could be middle-class, which I don’t really see happening, that’d be awesome.”
Dickey spends most of his time on Weller Street in Springfield, Mo., at the home of bandmate Will Knauer. SSLYBY is a bit obsessed with the street and admits that the Springfield neighborhood is influencing its songs. “We always joke that we’re the third-best band on Weller Street,” Dickey said. “And people ask about it all the time, but we don’t really have a good answer. There’s a really crappy band … and then there’s a girl who’s really good. Yesterday, I was reading in this newspaper about how Elvis Presley’s guitarist recently moved back to Springfield. So, Elvis Presley’s guitarist is our neighbor now!”
The band’s new drummer even lives down the block. “We heard this kid playing drums on our street,” Dickey said. “He’s in high school, and he’s 18 years old, and his parents are going to let him go on tour with us. Everyone we talk to is like, ‘You cannot corrupt Jake.’ … That’s, like, goal No. 1 on this tour. More important than selling records or impressing anyone is not corrupting Jake.”
Though Dickey played drums on Broom, he originally started out on guitar. He also plays the piano and wrote seven of the album’s tracks. The band’s newer songs are “a little more groovy,” he said. “If we can do a Motown thing, then we’ll do it.
“It’s really frustrating to John Robert [Cardwell]. He sings most of the songs, but he plays guitar and he really wants to use distortion. We get in fights onstage sometimes about whether we should use distortion or not,” Dickey admitted.
SSLYBY’s catchy hooks and adroit compositions have been likened to Elliott Smith, Neil Young and even Weezer, but SSLYBY has no chosen method. “'Anne Elephant’ was total impulse: John got drunk and did that thing and doesn’t even remember how he did it,” Dickey recalled. “And then you have a song like ‘Pangea,’ where every single note is totally planned out and reworked.”
The Broom sessions lasted nine months. “There’s no good reason why it should have taken so long. I mean, it’s only 30 minutes,” Dickey joked.
He wrote the album for a girl, Gwyneth, who got in a bad accident. She was his audience while recording. “She doesn’t care about indie music, so it kind of helped me distance myself from just trying to make something cool,” he said. The album’s earnest, three-minute tracks mostly are about heartbreak. “It’s almost kind of too sweet and kind of dorky. We sound like wimps sometimes.
“We live on a nice street. Our parents have nice jobs. You can’t really fake the angst thing or, like, sound angry and stuff,” he conceded.