We’re happy to bring you the premiere of the new single from New York indie-poppers Kangaroo. ‘T-Shirt‘, is released just in time for what we call ‘t-shirt weather,’ but first, we have to tell you that Kangaroo is actually breaking up. The trio will be going their separate ways this summer but are leaving on a high note with the two song single titled ‘Kanga2oo.’
‘T-Shirt‘ is a bouncy, peppy feel-good summer track, with a big power pop chorus. It’s a love song of sorts, as main man Gabe Smoller professes his undying love for that trusty slip-on garment without buttons: the t-shirt. It’s an anthem for those who shun the 9-5 and its prisoner uniform of a suit and tie.
Musically think the Mountain Goats or the Weakerthans – sharp, hooky pop with a cerebral wit, even though lyrically, ‘T-Shirt‘ is quite simple. But we all know sometimes simple is brilliant. As Leslie Feist once said: “…pop music is all about memorability and simplicity and positive messages and a little dash of joy.”
I’ve got a feeling Leslie is going to love ‘T-Shirt!”
Gabe Smoller – vox/guitars/percussion
Scott Sugarman – bass/vox/tremolo guitar
Hannah Nichols – drums
We chatted with Gabe about Kangaroo and the single.
Kangaroo started as an outlet for a batch of songs you had written, what was the influence behind these tracks? What were you listening to at the time?
When I was writing what became the first Kangaroo songs, I was trying very hard to be concise and unchallenging. Predictable song structures, not a lot of surprises, not a lot of wasted space, not a lot of guitar pedals. I wanted the music to be as immediate and transparent as possible. Lyrically, too. I’d been taking everything so seriously for so long in other bands, and it felt extremely liberating to take a step back and say fuck it, if it feels good to sing, I don’t care if it’s nonsense. I was listening to a lot of “There Is Nothing Wrong with Love” by Built to Spill and some of the old Elephant 6 bands and thinking about how they were all able to just nail that balancing act of pop-accessibility and scrappy DIY presentation.
Not much has changed with the new stuff. “T-Shirt” is pretty no frills and direct. I’m a notoriously sloppy dresser and I get self-conscious really quickly when I need to wear grown-up clothes at weddings or whatever. The song is about treating a t-shirt like a security blanket and getting defensive and whiney about it when asked to put on something more appropriate. It’s childish and silly and 2 minutes long, so pretty par for the course for Kangaroo.
This is a premiere from a new Kangaroo single, but the band is actually calling it quits soon. How long has the decision been made to break-up the band and why go out releasing new music?
We decided that it was time for us to move on early this year. It’s sad because we’re really good friends, and the built-in weekly hangout is a hard thing to leave behind, but there’s no drama and we still love each other and wholly support each other’s non-Kangaroo musical projects. We all took tequila shots at Pizzafest last night. Everything is chill.
One of the things that’s cool about the new songs is that the writing and arranging happened very collaboratively. The new things that I was bringing to the band at the end were becoming increasingly skeletal, so there was a ton of room for suggestion and revision. It’s a wonderful way to work. It feels to me like every band member gets more invested in the songs that are generated democratically, and for that reason, I think these songs represent our best work. Ending on a high note felt important to all of us, so when we had the “how do we break up” conversation it was pretty unanimous that we needed to record our two favorite songs.
What are the band members up to after Kangaroo?
Hannah plays drums and sings in the punk duo True Dreams. I’ve said it before, but they’ll low-key steal the show on most bills. They have this really unique presence stemming from their uniforms and spontaneous patty-cake percussion breaks and visceral screaming. They have a new record finished and I have no doubts that it will be great. She’s also recently joined up with a new band called Space Bitch, who are playing their first show at Punk Island in a couple of weekends.
Scott is hard at work on his debut solo EP as Scott Kodi. He’s one of the best songwriters around so I’m sure whatever he delivers will be excellent. We’ve been playing together on some acoustic bills and his songs are just staggering. It’s awesome trading demos with him. Every time he sends me something new, I get that little feeling of panic that I’m not working hard enough. He also fronts and plays guitar in Glass Tactics, who have a new EP coming out in the fall that they actually recorded with me. The songs are catchy as fuck and technically impressive, and it was an absolute privilege to help them record that material.
I’m committing all my creative energy toward my solo-recording-project-turned-band Monster Furniture. It’s mostly existed in the past as a way to record and release music that doesn’t gel with whatever bands I’m in at any given time. I used to play a lot of solo shows as Monster Furniture, but the last MF album I put out can’t really be performed without a band, and I really wanted more people to hear those songs. So there’s a full band now that includes members of Cup and Khorikos (plus Scott, who’s as valuable a lead guitarist as he has been a bassist). We have a few summer dates on the calendar, plus I have some stripped down and solo shows as well. It’s important to me that Monster Furniture stays nimble enough that I can do both the full band thing and the solo artist thing since that will let me work at the constant pace I like to keep. I have a new Monster Furniture album finished called “Ithaca” that I’m trying to figure out what to do with. I suspect it’ll be out in some fashion before the end of 2019.
Buy the digital track HERE!
Kangaroo farewell show w/ The Sharp Shadows/Waiver Wire/Gorgeous
Fri 8 PM
Brooklyn, New York