Nikki Introduces Phoebe to Molly Rhythm

Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

I know I’m my own planet now. Autonomy is great. But way back when, when Episode IV was just hitting theaters.. I was born on Earth, in New Jersey. I spent my first couple of years of grade school in Ewing, just outside the Garden State’s scumble1 capital, Trenton. And since then it’s been one of the spots I always return to, no matter how far away I may stray. These days I’m usually there to work with underground punk, emo rapper Wade Wilson, with whom I am polishing off the finishing touches on his next solo release “Wasted (White Girl).”

It was through a Wade Wilson show at Joe’s Mill Hill Saloon several years ago that I met Nikki Nalbone of the versatile, hard rocking, Trenton/Philadelphia band Molly Rhythm. I met her before she went on that night and was dazzled by the cyberpunk aesthetic she was rocking. From the neck down, she was mostly clad as a NJ punk rock badass, but for her face tonight, she’d affected a total “Pris” look taken out of the original Bladerunner movie, with eye shadow stretching temple to temple.

We talked for a minute, complimenting each other’s sparkling punk adornments. Soon though, she took the stage with her bandmates in the crowded Mill Hill Basement. They exploded with an unstoppable mathematical metal sound flavored with a three piece horn section that shook the building. It was as if System of a Down had hi-jacked the Giant Country Horns and then plugged directly into hard frantic screeching funk. But instead of Serj Tankian at the helm we got two dulcet damsels crooning, with more authentic punk rock swagger than any of the grafted-from-Harajuku style that Ms. Gwen Stefani ever managed.

I got to chat with Nikki again after her set that night and have been friends with her since. Though I mostly talk to her via the facespace, I make sure to stop into Championship Bar & Music Club to see her, when I’m back in Nu Jerz.

This August I met her at Trenton Roasters to show her my new comic book and discuss what projects we were both working on currently. One thing led to another and we decided to meet for an interview that I could pitch to Hope for Urban Vacancy. A few afternoons later we met up again, this time in the “Music Club” 1/3 of Champs to talk Molly Rhythm, Nikki and Trenton in general.

PlanetPhoebe: For the first two years I knew you, (with me usually in some other corner of the country,) I always saw you online as Nikki Nailbomb, which is humorously close to your real last name and also reflective of how explosive your energy can be. At some point more recently it got changed. Was that just a facebook persona, or is that an actual stage name you use? Like your emcee name for when you do your rap solo act?

Nikki // Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

Nikki: So I’m kind of at war with that right now. I used to think that it was just ‘that’s my name now’ but now I’m not really sure. Facebook made me change my name during an event we had last year called “Art All Night.” Which is an event that we have in Trenton every year, but I guess somebody had ratted me out to Facebook that it wasn’t really my real name. And now they will not let me change it back. Someone made up that name for me, because it sounds like my last name, and I usually go by Nikki. I don’t like to go by Nichole.

PlanetPhoebe: Which is how you’re listed on FB now..

Nikki: Yeah, cause that’s my legal name, what it says on my ID, and since it was Art All Night which is an annual event I performed at a bunch of times.. and all my friends are doing different things involved with it, doing music & working on bikes. I needed to get a hold of them, so I said fuck it. I got the messenger under that name so I could get in touch with them. And now I can’t change it to anything else.

PlanetPhoebe: So rather than Nikki Nailbomb you identify more as Nikki?

Nikki: Yes, but I do do a solo acoustic act, and I do a lot of other things. It’s coming to a point that I don’t know what my stage name should be right now.. I don’t know.

PlanetPhoebe: Okay, that kind of brings me to my next question. I got introduced to your sound as a co-front woman the first time we met, which was at a Molly Rhythm performance at Wade Wilson’s Born Day Show. But I know you’re involved in a lot more projects than just that. What other musical outfits are you currently active with?

Nikki: So I am in this band called Moron Girls with the bassist from Molly Rhythm – Lori, and my friend Caleb. Caleb and I worked for a really long time on this project called Karma Bat that predates Molly Rhythm. Then Karma Bat split into two bands: Molly Rhythm & Idiot Boy. Then Idiot Boy lost a guitarist and a drummer so Caleb and I kept playing our songs acoustic and Lori came out when we were playing, tap dancing, so she’s our drummer on shoes.

PlanetPhoebe: By tap dancing?

Nikki: Yeah, it’s great, so it just kinda ran from there. We have some funny things that are coming up, but we still have to record our songs and get merch and some other things. We’ll be performing September 8th at Mill Hill, with a bunch of really rad bands. I’m in another project called Rat Torture. We used to be “Bah Scumbug,” but when that band broke up me and the guitarist kept going. I play bass and that’s like thrash, power, grindy, long-song, fast and kind of Black Metal with some melodies and angry, angry screaming.

PlanetPhoebe: Did any of the songs carry over from the one project to the other there?

Nikki: Yes, but they’re not exactly the same and the drums and vocals are different. The groves are a little different. It’s just kind of the same riffs that were going on. We’re a new band, but we were still a new band before, and it’s just so hard to get off the ground, to get recorded, to get funding.

PlanetPhoebe: To get people in the same room.

Nikki: Yeah that’s terrible, that is absolutely fucking awful. But that project is super fun, I think we have a show September 16th or something like that at Mill Hill. I am playing guitar in my favorite band from ten years ago, Crack Filler, but we are on sort of a hiatus at the moment. Our drummer who is also the drummer from Molly Rhythm. He had a little accident at work and he can’t play drums for a couple months.

PlanetPhoebe: So both bands are on hiatus?

Nikki: Well, Molly Rhythm has a fill in for right now. We should be going to Canada in October to go on a little mini tour with some ska bands and our BFFs up there.

PlanetPhoebe: Awesome.

Nikki: But yeah so I do that, and then I play horns too. I jam with my friends. I play violin, jamming with friends. I have some other things on the back burner. A cello and flute project.

PlanetPhoebe: You play cello?

Nikki: Yeah I do. I’m not great. I’m actually better at violin now. But it just keeps our brains going. I jam with my grandpa, he plays accordion. I’ve been playing mandolin. Yeah just trying to keep busy, I write solo stuff. Like I write beats here or there.

PlanetPhoebe: You produce Hip Hop beats?!? I want to hear that.

Nikki: I’ll have to dig that up.

PlanetPhoebe: You are in an inordinate amount of bands and jam groups. It’s impressive. So, where can we find the music of these various acts online, either for free or for a fee?

Nikki: Free: MollyRhythm.com, two free albums. MoronGirls.bandcamp.com, all free albums too. There’s two Moron Girls songs from our current line up, an album of Idiot Boy stuff and an album of Karma Bat stuff. So if you wanna know how it all began that’s kind of like a musical resume right there. And the other stuff’s not up yet, except Crack Filler, but I’m not on these recordings, but it’s on RaymondStrife.bandcamp.com. It’s solo hip hop stuff and Crack Filler albums on there, it’s like hip hop/punk.

PlanetPhoebe: Alright, thank you. Next up.. The other association I’ve had in my mind the whole time is that you run, with the help of numerous friends, Champ’s Bar & Music Club. I don’t know if I misunderstood or not, but I also kind of got the idea you owned it too. If so how did you get, if not how did you get into managing an iconic Trenton area bar at such a young age?

Nikki: Well. So I’m thirty. I don’t own it. I’ve been managing the bar part of this establishment for maybe like five years, four years. I manage it with my boyfriend Drew, and he manages everything and the liquor store. It was just such a sinking ship – and it’s still a sinking ship, but it was such a sinking ship that they were just throwing the keys to anybody and I happened to catch ‘em.

PlanetPhoebe: So they weren’t making money, whoever does own it, and they were like who wants to have this failing business, kind of?

Nikki: I think they were like “who wants to help?” And we were like “we want to help, we have an incentive to help.” You know we’re heavily involved in the music scene and we just want to keep that going. And want to keep art going and we want to use this facility to spawn good things. Cause a bar can be a really terrible thing, alcohol can be a horrible thing. But like everybody gets along here, and there are certain words that we don’t use here. So we’re trying to be the safest space a bar could be, it’s not that easy but it’s getting better all the time.

PlanetPhoebe: So have you turned it all around at all, as far as profit?

Nikki: Yes, for sure, but there is so much that went wrong before we got here so I don’t know if it’s impossible to correct.. but we’re trucking. We’re trucking up the mountain with our shit, so I don’t know what the future looks like but we’re doing okay so far. It’s a lot less stressful than it used to be and we have a team that really gives a fuck.

PlanetPhoebe: This place is like a centerpiece for the scene in a lot of ways and every one who’s involves seems to really care about it.

Nikki: There’s a lot of weird scene politics between genres which is why I join so many bands in so many genres. Champ’s is like more metal and Mill Hill is like more punk. Hip Hop is at both, but different crews. It’d be nice to get everybody all together eventually.

PlanetPhoebe: Okay, this is sort of a follow up question on how you manage Champ’s. Last week when we saw each other you mentioned that you wanted to re-brand the place as a gay bar. I don’t know if that’s just an inclination to keep homophobic and transphobic people away from your spot, or an actual desire to only have LGBT clientele. One of the things I wondered upon thinking about both those possibilities is this: Is there already a 24/7 gay bar in the region you’d be taking the business away from if you did?

Nikki: I don’t think so. There used to be a Trenton gay bar, but I don’t think it still exists. There are different bars that now do gay nights. The Social I think either Friday or Saturday. And we’ll do drag shows here.. We have some of the same people that do drag shows at Mill Hill. I think everyone should be all inclusive and stop being such a fucking asshole.

PlanetPhoebe: So you’re more about squashing homophobia than having an all queer space.

Nikki: Definitely a little of both. But I definitely like squashing homophobia, and just kicking them out and having them not around. That would be great.

PlanetPhoebe: Do you have that kind of policy, if you’re homophobic then you’re done?

Nikki: I have to take people outside to talk to them, or people get shamed but yeah some people need a talking to every once in a while.

PlanetPhoebe: So you do two nights a month, a drag show night and a burlesque show that are queer oriented?

Nikki: Yes. They start every third Thursday in August, they’re the City Garden Punk Cabaret, and they are awesome they do a lot of fun stuff. They are Sideshow-y. There’s sparks and there’s magic.

PlanetPhoebe: Yes. I heard about some woman who saws her own metal dress with a power saw.

Nikki: Yes. That’s Penny! And she stands on a mock segment of the “Trenton Makes” bridge that Wills welded for her.

PlanetPhoebe: Oh wow. Awesome! It sounds like you guys have a lot of great things going on.

Nikki: Thank you.

We kept talking for a while, shooting the shit about the Trenton music scene, taking our more casual convo over to the bar where people were trickling in. I mentioned that I used to play shows at Mill Hill a lot between Y2k and 9/11, people giggled.

Being manager, Nikki was able to comp me a few glasses of orange juice, (cause I don’t drink alcohol till the sun goes down.) The next afternoon Nikki was kind enough to come across town to pick me up, but Trenton is only 3 square miles, so it wasn’t that brutal of a ride. We rendezvoused once more on the performance side of the bar which goes unused in the afternoons. I found out this time Champ’s has pineapple juice on tap as well! So I was drinking complimentary . OJ & Pineapple drinks. The next person to show up was Jeff, who plays saxophone. He & Nikki kept me company and we joked around till everyone but Zack and Erinn had arrived. (Erinn was not expected to make it that night.) Nikki introduced me to everyone else and I broke out my voice recorder once more. Before I dive into the conversation I’m gonna list the Molly Rhythm roster for you folks on the other side of this computer screen:

Nikki – Vox

Elissa – Vox

Lori – Bass

Jon – Guitar

Jeff – Tenor Sax

Erinn – Trombone

Zack – Drummer

PlanetPhoebe: Nice to formally meet everybody. I’ve hung out with Lori a few times, but mostly have hardly socialized with the rest of you guys. Now I’ve known Jeff for about a half hour, but still.. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I actually show people your music all over the U.S. of A. My inner hipster remains compelled to put people up on underground talent I’ve been lucky enough to meet or see or hear, which is how I wound up writing for Hope. Okay, so every time I see something posted about Molly Rhythm touring it seems like you just got back from or are just about to play somewhere in Canada. I’ve never been there, to me it sounds too cold, but maybe with global warming I’ll make it up there one of these days. How did you guys get your first opportunity up there?

Elissa // Photo Credit: Heather Rosenfeldt

Elissa: Pouzza Fest. Griffin, our manager, is friends with the guys from Lost Love who help to book it. They are this awesome band from up there who does a ton to help bands, touring or non. And they throw this festival, it’s like 3 days, they’re up to like 10 venues now…

PlanetPhoebe: So it’s like that South by Southwest sort of thing, a festival distributed through all local venues?

Jeff & Erinn // Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

Jeff: It’s a bit more consolidated, recently. Less spread out.

PlanetPhoebe: And is that the Ska Fest I saw you guys on?

Nikki: We did a Detroit Ska Fest and we took a three day tour in Canada aside from Pouzza Fest that was all ska band, and we are going on tour again in October. I think we are going on a mostly ska tour. We’ll get the details tonight I think, after practice.

PlanetPhoebe: Awesome. What kinds of noticeable differences did you/do you experience with Canadian culture?

Elissa: Ambulance rides.

(everybody cracks up again)

PlanetPhoebe: What??

Elissa: Last time we were at this fest I climbed this scaffolding.. and we were on stage and I climbed it and I fell on my face. I had to have eight stitches. Lori rode with me to the hospital.. But since I’m not a Canadian citizen they charged up front.

PlanetPhoebe: So you like get in the ambulance and they’re like “Cash or Credit?”!?

Elissa: Well no, when you get to the hospital, but yeah, and the best part about it was I got a bill in the mail and I thought I took care of it, but when I read it they were like “We owe you money, you paid too much..” I was like that’s amazing, you don’t take advantage of sick and injured people? That’s incredible.

Jon // Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

Jon: It was nuts cause at the same time.. one of the other bands we were playing with, and will be playing with again, in Canada.. he stopped this girl from being raped and he punched the dude, broke his hand. They went to the hospital cause they’re Canadian citizens.. and they just .. it was almost a party upon leaving. They were drinking in the hospital.. The guy that needed the surgery on his hand was like, “I just need a fucking cigarette.” Once his hand was stitched up they just fucking ran out and were like “see ya!”

PlanetPhoebe: Oh wow, does he get a medal for punching a would-be rapist?

Jon: I mean I’d like to give him one.

Jeff: He gets free health-care.

PlanetPhoebe: Switching gears, but same theme..What noticeable cultural differences do you see between the cities of Trenton & Philadelphia?

(Zack walks in as Lori answers and quietly takes a seat in our circle of chairs.)

Lori // Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

Lori: I think they’re really different. I think they get compared a lot, but Philadelphia is a really big city and Trenton is either like a small city or a big town. So the dynamics are just different. There’s so many differences in the politics of it and the economics of it and how they’re arranged – how things are structured. People kinda compare them a lot, but for me it’s hard to compare because they are really different. Even like the arts, it is easier in Trenton to do murals exactly how you want to do them, whereas in Philadelphia they have a very organized mural program, where a bunch of people are all working on a certain person’s mural.2

PlanetPhoebe: So like in Philly there might be committees or approval processes deciding on the content of your mural?

Jon: There’s a lot of historical murals in Philly. Not saying that none in Trenton have history themes, but most murals in Philly have some sort of historical significance. In Trenton they’re more likely to be artistic. I also think in Philly it’s a lot harder to get people to come out to shows. The interest in Trenton seems like there’s more people actually interested in attending the shows. They care about the music. In Philly it’s pretty stiff. We have been doing better, but out of all the places we have played, Philly has always been the hardest, in my opinion.

PlanetPhoebe: Word. (turning my attention to Zack) Hey hi, are you Zack? Hi, I’m Phoebe.

Zack // Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

Zack: Yeah. Hi, nice to meet you.

PlanetPhoebe: Cool, thanks for coming and hopping in. We were just talking about, since it is a band based out of both Philly & Trenton what cultural differences between those two cities do you see if any?

Zack: Uhhh.. oh.. is it my turn?

PlanetPhoebe: I’m bringing you up to speed on where we’re at.

Jeff: Not to put you on the spot, but uh.. you’re on the spot.

Zack: Well, I think New Jersey is better for Punk or Rock. I think Philly is great if you’re Hip Hop or Jazz, like “Indie Rock” whatever that is. So you wind up playing spots like “Johnny Brenda’s” or “Ortlieb’s” or “Fire” if you’re doing rock. I don’t know I’ve never had a whole lot of luck playing in Philly, in 15 years of doing this.

Jon: Yeah I never have had an easy time in Philly.

Zack: It’s the cover charges. No one wants to pay ten dollars and gamble on whether a band’s gonna be good or not.

Jon: Yeah I was in shock at how many people were coming to our shows in Trenton. Coming from like “Under Your Bed” & “Zumi’s” in comparison, to get people out in Philly it was like pulling teeth. Like making favors, “Like I owe you one would you come to my show please? Pleeeease, we just need to fill the room.” And it’s tough, like a lot of my friends these days that I invite are like “Well we’ve seen you before. Thanks anyway.. it’s cool.” And I’m like “What? You’re an asshole!”

Zack: That blows.

Jon: It does.

Elissa: I think it’s a lot harder in Philly absolutely. I like the priorities in Trenton. I think a lot of artists & musicians move to Philly and then they get lost. Like everyone’s competing so hard and you get lost in the ego of it. And that’s why I love in Trenton the way everyone supports each other, like ‘what’s going on?’ ‘oh there’s an art show, let’s go’. In Philadelphia there’s a bunch of “Me, me, me.. no no me!!”

Zack: Yeah you guys have a great community here. I hate to use the word ‘scene’ but you guys have built a great thing here. In Philadelphia it’s a lot more dispersed.

PlanetPhoebe: In Trenton it’s like the rockstars are more just “your friends.” But okay, moving forward. I’ve watched some performances of your shows and waited for the horns to come in on songs that they totally don’t come in on. Are there some songs you as a group are just resolved to not incorporate horns onto or have I maybe just seen moments when new artists were immersing into the band still?

Jon: The gig is up dude. Somebody noticed.

Jeff: There’s are a couple songs that the horn section don’t do. It’s the older songs. There wasn’t incorporation of the horns when we came in, to some songs. There was some catch up to write to a bunch of songs. And there was also a struggle to do something different from song to song.

Jon: The horns have been doing a wonderful job of playing catch up. They were definitely thrown into it. Everyone who’s played horns in our band? They’ve had their instrument handed to them like “Here’s your instrument, you’re playing this now.”

PlanetPhoebe: Like “Welcome to the band, here’s a clarinet.”

Jon: Exactly and even if you’ve never played it before that’s your instrument now, doesn’t matter. But they’ve done a great job. Like the horns now, get together to practice together more than the band does, as a whole. They run the set multiple times. And they wow us all. Like every-time we hear the horn part on it’s own we’re like “that is so important” and we can’t imagine the songs being played without it anymore. But there are some songs, they’re basic in the sense of chord progression – but it’s busy already. It’s busy already so maybe it’s not as important to get horns or it’s difficult to write horns to.

Nikki: Also we lost Andrew. So all that wiggly-wee..all that slashy guitar? All that southern solo stuff? We don’t have that anymore. We don’t play with him anymore – we’re still buddies, but he moved basically to New Orleans. So they were making up for a lot of that loss too.

Jeff: And we’re excited about the new material and writing our parts from the bottom up.

PlanetPhoebe: Not adding on the breakfast nook later, but building the house all in one go.

Jeff: Essentially.

PlanetPhoebe: So is there a chance that any of the one’s I’ve seen, with no horns yet, might get them later still?

Jon: Yes.

Jeff: Jon is nodding his head ‘yes’, but it’s not a priority to add on to those songs. Not over what we’re writing for the new album.

Jon: The songs are always evolving.

Jeff: Truthfully, yeah, we barely play the songs the way they were recorded anymore.

PlanetPhoebe: Alright. Okay, from my convo with Nikki yesterday I picked up on Zack being a new or temporary addition to the unit. So Zack specifically directed to you, had you played with any of the other folks before being recruited into Molly Rhythm?

(I managed to put Zack on the spot again, this time as he was pulling a beer out of his backpack)

Zack: Uhmmm …yesssssss.

(everyone laughs as he cracks the beer)

PlanetPhoebe: Who did you play with, and in what bands?

Zack: Uhhh yes. I played with Jon & Elissa, in “Under Your Bed” probably 12 years ago. And then I met Nikki through that, she did backing vocals on a song. Then when that band split up me and Jon played in a band called “The Zumis” with his cousin Andrew, who played guitar in Molly Rhythm. So when they first started I recorded a few demos with them.

PlanetPhoebe: So you already knew some of the parts then.

Zack: Oh and I was involved in the recording. I mixed and recorded all the demos for Molly Rhythm from the start.

Jon: Yeah. He did all of our demos. So he knows all of our recordings. And could probably play every part in every song except for the vocals.

Zack: I’ve probably listened to the songs more times than you guys just from mixing. So I am very well familiar.

PlanetPhoebe: I was just wondering if it was a quick learning curve. With the tour coming up if you had to cram the learning all in but it sounds like you were already well versed.

Zack: I’m pretty familiar. But I will woodshed it a bit. We have a month before we go to Montreal so I’ll practice more than I usually do. Which means I’ll practice.

PlanetPhoebe: Cool. Well, I gotta throw something like this in because amongst your band several of you hail from the town where he (allegedly) works. Okay so, there’s a single set of footprints meandering down the beach at the Jersey Shore. Is Jesus Henrietta Christ carrying Chris Christie, or is even Jesus banned from the beach?

(Everybody laughs again)

Jeff: Fuck him.

Lori: Fuck Jesus?

Nikki: Fuck Jesus!

PlanetPhoebe: Fuck Jesus?

Jeff: What I meant was fuck Christie.

PlanetPhoebe: Word.

Jon: Does Christie consider himself above Jesus, is that basically the question there?

Lori: I think Jesus couldn’t even get into the country at this point. He’s banned.

Nikki: He died in a hospital we bombed. You’ll never know how many Jesus-es we killed.

PlanetPhoebe: Damn. Too real.

Lori: Well, I guess you asked..

PlanetPhoebe: Alright, so your album, “It Is What It Isn’t” came out in 2013, “The Devil Never Comes” just a year later. I’ve seen you all collectively saying that you’re working on the next album. Is any of it written? Is any of it recorded?

Jon: Thank you for asking that question.

PlanetPhoebe: It’s what we need to know.

Jon: We have seven? Is it seven songs that we have? We’ve been talking about how we’re gonna do this album every time someone asks us about it. It keeps getting longer. It’s definitely anticipated. We have at least seven songs. We’ve had a lot of…

Elissa: We’re patching holes in the boat.

Jon: Yes. That’s a good way to put it, patching the holes in the boat. We lost a guitar player, we lost a trumpet we added a new trombone. We’re trying to catch up, we’re trying to keep up with it and in the process have been writing the whole time. And we’ve been touring, like I just got a DUI expunged.

PlanetPhoebe: Like they won’t let you into Canada with a DUI?

Jon: No gotta get that expunged. We.. yeah to answer direct…? We have seven songs and we’re trying to move forward as soon as possible.

PlanetPhoebe: But they’re not recorded?

Jon: They’re demoed.

PlanetPhoebe: Oh cool. Do you perform any of them live yet?

Jon: Yes, three of them.

PlanetPhoebe: So the audience has heard them already.

Nikki: Yes and you can hear them tonight if you come over to listen to practice.

PlanetPhoebe: Wow that’d be cool. Yeah, I’d love to. I think I just need to get some food in me, first.

We conclude the interview with me offering the band a blank space to promote any cause they like and Lori asserts that Molly Rhythm is a huge proponent of everyone forming a band: No matter your age or relative level of talent, music is cathartic and everyone both can and should be doing it. I can agree to that but I was hungry, so I dashed out to grab a hoagie then right back to the living space Nikki & Drew live in nearby, which also serves as a rehearsal space.

It’s not a huge room, so Lori sits on Nikki’s bed to play bass. Jeff is barefoot, which may or may not directly lead to him kicking a beer over way into their opening song “Prelude.” Since Erinn isn’t here tonight, Nikki plays her missing trombone parts on a trumpet on the intro tune. By the time the beer is soaked up into a couple bar rags they’re diving right into “This Is Fracking Ridiculous.” Afterwards, momentary banter lasts maybe 45 seconds. You can feel how much fun and camaraderie these folks share as a group. But the joking evaporates in an instant and they hop into “Waltz a Salsa.” This one has a five second pause in the middle that jukes you out a bit, then full speed ahead into the second half of the composition, which I mistook for a different song. With Nikki singing along with/juxtaposed against Elissa’s singing on these last two songs, it’s only Jeff doing any horns at all, but already you can hear how much thicker and more slickly co-ordinated into the sonic fabric the horn sections are gonna be on the next record.

My reassurance of this comes on the very next song when Jeff’s sax playing gets an airy sax solo on “Octopus Trap.” I get my audience-of-one privilege to the max when they pause to let me run and grab a beer outta the fridge. “Hunt” is next. Driving, hard and upbeat it’s another great ride. I notice Jeff fall back as they run through this. I soon confirm that the horn parts haven’t been written for that one yet. Even fresher than that they spend a few minutes noodling around with a yet unnamed tune that it seems they came up with last week.

They go over a few parts of this newer one several times, the rhythm section of Zack & Lori talks to Jon on how they might all play certain changes – as they do that Nikki grabs the trumpet again and pairs off with Jeff to play with ideas on what the horns could be doing. They are literally double tasking in cohesive little groups; at once both separated into compartments but building as a whole. The third time around I can already hear the composition tightening up. They discuss doing the chorus as a ‘wall of farts and burps’.

A conversation about what good fartists they’d have to be to pull that off leads to a debate about putting instruments in butts, on through to a concern from Jeff about splinters. “Wear a condom!” I suggest. “Safe sax,” Nikki points out. She rethinks, and adds “Hey, great sticker right?” I agree. A minute later we all agree that a recorder is actually probably the best option if you had to stick an instrument up your ass.

Somehow this meanders around to Zack pointing out that both he and I are Xennials, a pocket generation that overlaps Generation X & the Millenials because we were born in 1977. It’s something I’m gonna have to Google later, but aren’t we getting a little off the topic of the new Molly Rhythm stuff?

Yeah. So…

Sixth time, from the top. Nikki and Elissa are already trying out melodies on the mic now. I almost didn’t notice Elissa has been scribbling away with pencil and paper the entire time too. It sounds pretty solid till we get to the ‘jungle swing’ part that’s been getting talked and mapped out the last half hour.

But Lori’s getting the bassline nailed down now on that portion. Jon shows her on his guitar the chords he thinks drop in the beat best, she switches to that and he resumes jamming over that. The next two minutes is some pretty fucking sick jam space for a punk metal ska band. And I’m a Phish obsessive. Plus, llama taboot, they got it all recorded! This whole practice is being recorded for future reference.

I think the finish of this song may have just got composed. I got lucky as fuck to be there for the genesis of that one. I don’t even know what it will be called by the time it gets to the record, though based on their track record, I’d expect it to be a witty little pun/double entendre. If this article was your first introduction to Molly Rhythm please get your ass over to MollyRhythm.com or check them out on YouTube.3

Once again it’s been a blast to get to interview (and this time partake in the jam!) of a crazy talented underground group. Thanks for tuning in to PlanetPhoebe. Till next time. Adios my nachos.


1. That’s a portmanteau I invented for “scummy/humble.”

2. Lori did not segue to talk of murals out of nowhere, I had to edit down certain discussions. As it is this article is still over 6000 words!! Lori works as an artist and does murals, so this is a point of interest to her.

3. Molly Rhythm – “Elephant Graveyard” GTG Records – A BlankTV World Premiere!  -a good starting point 

Interview By: Phoebe A. Xavier

Photo Credits: Heather Rosenfeldt

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