Posts Tagged issue 22

What It’s Like to Grow up in a Rock Group, according to LVL UP’s Nick Corbo

What It’s Like to Grow up in a Rock Group, according to LVL UP’s Nick Corbo Illustration by Aubrey Nolan

This article appears in AdHoc Issue 22. Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. If you happen to live outside of New York, you may order a copy as well.

Nick Corbo apologizes that he’s the only member of LVL UP on the phone. “We typically try to get at least two people on, because everybody’s opinions want to be heard,” Corbo says. “So I can’t speak for everybody, but I can at least speak for myself.”

When we chat, Corbo is just coming off a few weeks of relative solitude, describing it as “an opportunity to get back to normal” after tour. But his reluctance to speak on behalf of bandmates Mike Caridi, Dave Benton, and Greg Rutkin is testament to their close bond, as musical co-conspirators and friends.

Thanks in part to the fact that Corbo, Caridi, and Benton all write and sing in equal amount, LVL UP is much more than the sum of its parts. There is no de-facto frontman or leader calling the shots. They’re a team.

LVL UP formed at SUNY Purchase and dropped their 2011 debut, Space Brothers, on Double Double Whammy, the label that Caridi and Benton launched their sophomore year. That album was originally intended to be a split cassette between the band—then featuring Caridi, Benton, and former drummer Ben Smith—and Corbo’s solo material, but instead they released it as one band. Rutkin would join the group slightly later, for LVL UP’s first show.

Though there may be a lot of cooks in the kitchen, LVL UP’s music—especially their 2016 LP, Return to Love, on Sub Pop—highlights the members’ common ground. Heavy, distorted guitars and reverb-soaked vocals reign supreme on Return to Love, with occasional nods to ‘90s lo-fi rock heroes like Built to Spill and Guided by Voices. But whether it’s Corbo’s slow-burning grunge-mumbler “Naked in the River With the Creator,” Caridi’s bruised-yet-buoyant “Pain,” or Benton’s Neutral Milk Hotel-adjacent Biblical meditation “Hidden Driver,” it still all sounds like LVL UP.

Gearing up to reunite with the band for a short fall tour, Corbo spoke to AdHoc about what happens when a rock band grows up—and what happens when you grow up in a rock band.

LVL UP plays Baby’s All Right in Brooklyn on October 6, with Yowler and Slight, and October 7, with Long Beard and Yucky Duster.

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Phil Elverum Made The Cover Art For AdHoc Issue 22

Phil Elverum Made The Cover Art For AdHoc Issue 22

AdHoc Issue 22 is here! Download a PDF of the zine at this link, and look out for physical copies both at our shows and at record stores, bookstores, coffee shops, and community centers throughout the city. If you happen to live outside of New York, you may order a copy as well.
 
In our latest issue, responding to a reader’s question, Priests vocalist Katie Alice Greer brings up “the difference between reality-you and dream-you,” and suggests that in order to realize your potential, it’s important to parse those separate identities. Navigating that separation can be tough for artists, as the other musicians featured in these pages—Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos and LVL UP’s Nick Corbo—have found out. Both write personal music for bands with cult followings, and have noticed that the more they tour and record, the more those identities—as human and as musician—start to merge. Corbo says that his collaboration with his bandmates is “entwined with my life and who I am.” Kline wonders, “Am I my job?” Yet the social aspect of music—from collaborating to engaging with fans—has helped both artists navigate that distinction. As Kline puts it, “Frankie Cosmos is so much bigger than me and who I am.” Sometimes figuring out who you are who you are requires letting others in.
 
AdHoc Issue 22's contributors: 
 
Phil Elverum has produced two decades worth of records as The Microphones and Mount Eerie that span a wide spectrum, from studio heavy atmospheric landscaping to simple, raw songs. He made the cover for this issue.
 
Aubrey Nolan is a Queens-based illustrator, cartoonist, and host of a monthly reading series for cartoonists, Panels to the People. She made the illustrations for this issue.