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Saturday, July 7, 2012

You Won't

Photo by David Randall English

When I first walked into the Mercury Lounge to record and watch You Won't (Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri) perform some of their songs, the place was empty and the stage was currently not in use. As the minutes ticked by, fans started to trickle in. I made my way to the front of the stage to mark my spot. After awhile, You Won't started to prepare for their set (plugging up the guitar, putting the drums together, doing soundcheck, etc.). As soon as they were ready, they began playing their first song "Bombshell". I was fast at work recording and enjoying the song. I was not aware what was going on around me. As soon as they completed their first song, the audiences started clapping, whistling, and cheering for the band. I was startled and turned around and notice that the floor was crammed with fans. Wow! You go, You Won't!

If I had to say what type of music You Won't makes, I would say that they sound like a spunky The Shins on steroids (magnificent!). The band is not afraid to mix a little bit of this here and a little bit of that there. When listening to the music on their album Skeptic Goodbye, you will hear a plethora of instruments, like the guitar, mandolin, keys, harmonica, percussion, and something like a spaceship abducting a human on "Old Idea". Their song "Dance Moves" reminds me of the music by The Beach Boys, but a little more rugged and dirty (genius!). Be aware before listening to "Who Knew" because the lyrics will get stuck in your head (If I was a hundred and three / I would share all my boring stories with you / but you caught me too soon / Darling, what can I do?). I can't wait to see where You Won't will be in the next five years.

"Sixteen" performed at The Mercury Lounge on June 29, 2012:

An Interview with You Won't (questions answered by Josh)

Can you give me a brief history of how you guys came together as a group?
Raky and I met doing theater in high school. We lived in different places for years afterwards but kept our collaborative spirit alive with a series of film projects and songs emailed back and forth. We didn't actually start playing music together until about 3 years ago, and we didn't start You Won't until early 2011.

How did you come up with the group’s name?
The name is taken from a one-off avant-garde existential dadaist performance I did with my friends Billy and Ian for our high school's band night.

How long have you been together as a group?
About 15 months.

Can you describe how you came up with the song “Who Knew”?
I had just started messing around with the mandolin and really wanted to write a song on it. I played the only four chords I knew how to play and warbled randomly until a melody emerged. Et puis Voila!

Photo by David Randall English

Is your family musically inclined?
I am the only musician in my entire extended family. Raky's sister Mali is a very talented singer and songwriter and a ferocious performer with the Boston-based band Jaggery.

What motivates you to write a song?
Whoa that's a big one. Some desire to make sense of the world I guess. An attempt to create order and meaning where it does not exist? This is getting awfully academic. Telling it like it is, but making it more fun?

How long have you been playing your instruments?
I started playing guitar in 5th grade, but I never really played or sang my own songs in front of anyone until a few years ago. Raky has been playing the drums since he was 14 or so. We have footage of him rocking a red plastic guitar around age 3.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see us...on a highway...with a GPS...stopping at the Citgo station because we've convinced ourselves it's more ethical than Shell...i am buying a Magnum double chocolate caramel ice cream bar...filling my water bottle in the sink and ignoring the thoughts of gasoline leeching into the water supply...

Photo by David Randall English
If you could perform with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Jim Carrey.

Can you describe how it feels to perform live?
Well it depends a lot on context. When the sound is good and the crowd is receptive, it can feel pretty effortless and fun and cathartic. When you can't hear yourself and the 12 people in the bar are poking at their phones, it's kind of like an obstacle course you have to push yourself through.

Do you have a particular routine before performing live?
Well increasingly I try to take a fair amount of time to warm up my voice. I like to find a quiet space before we hit the stage, because then for the rest of the night there will be no quiet and no space.

What does the album cover on Skeptic Goodbye represent?
I would say the battered mime represents the way the songs on the record feel, if I had to envision them as a living, breathing, walking (limping) being.

How do you guys put your heads together when practicing or coming up with a song?
Generally I write the song by myself and send Raky a demo recording with just voice and guitar. He might make a few suggestions about the structure or the lyrics, and then we arrange the thing together. We have kind of a shorthand for everything.
Photo by David Randall English
- Skeptic Goodbye (2011)

Upcoming Shows:
- August 10, 2012: Johnny Brenda's @ 8p (Philadelphia, PA)
- August 11, 2012: World Cafe Live at the Queen @ 7p (Wilmington, DE)

For more photos by David Randall English, visit RandallEnglish.com

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