MILKSHAKES & BIGGIE
By Gili Malinsky
A fireman, a teacher, a guidance counselor and a clown walk into a bar … then proceed to play Doo-Wop and Weezer-inspired tunes for an audience of bouncing along Staten Islanders. Such was the scene at Williamsburg’s Rough Trade one Sunday night in December. The band was Les Vinyl, its firefighter drummer Pat Given, its teacher bassist Carlo, its guidance counselor guitarist Jenny Pecora and its clown, a comedian by trade, frontman and guitarist Casey Jost. Jost is known mostly for his work on truTV's Impractical Jokers and his improv on the UCB stage. He’s been dabbling in music since high school and despite not planning to leave comedy to tour and make records (in fact, no one in Les Vinyl is leaving his or her day job), he plans to make fun, wordplay-heavy tunes for as long as he possibly can. Les Vinyl released their latest EP, MILKSHAKE, on Bandcamp on January 1st, available across platforms this Friday. Jost sat down with us recently to discuss Biggie, artistic collaboration and bath time with his older brother (SNL’s Colin Jost).
So you practice comedy by day (and by night), and music sort of slips in whenever it can. What do you love about making both?
I think it’s the collaboration thing. Like, whether it’s a writers’ room or a practice studio for a band, it’s the same feeling that I’m chasing, which is having those moments where you’re looking around laughing or smiling about an idea … The moment where you’re coming up with something. You’re like, here’s an idea for a song or here’s an idea for a bit or a joke and people in the room are like, oh, you can build upon it … That’s my high for sure.
What are your first memories of music?
The first band that always comes to mind is Weezer. They were such a big influence as I was a kid ... I think my brother would play [their] album … [When we were younger,] I remember my mom would always play this tape that was a complication called Splish Splash. It had, like, Bobby Darin, the Beach Boys … She would play it when my brother and I would be taking a bath. That kind of stuff left an imprint because it’s so pure … But then as far as wordplay goes, I’ve always been a really big hip hop fan. That was my own personal music - '90s between A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, Nas. That stuff was my favorite and I think just went into everything, the mix of those three things.
All three definitely made it into MILKSHAKE. Weezer’s clearly an influence but songs like “I’m On” and “I’m a Genius” are totally fun '50s. And the album cover’s very beautiful, colorful '90s. Why call it MILKSHAKE?
Well, two of the songs have the word milkshake in the lyrics - completely by chance. But we also felt like a milkshake encapsulated the '50s and '60s vibes of this album. I also think the '50s was the birth of our modern culture and has slipped into every era. The '80s loved the '50s and '90s grunge loved '50s vintage.
So what’s the goal for the band?
I just wanna do it forever.
Right. But, of course, you’re not leaving comedy anytime soon. Perfect life balance?
I would consider myself a comedian first … I like [being] on camera. A professional, 2017 goal is to sell a TV show where I’m on camera and then still probably have enough time to do the other things.
Final thoughts? Anything you’d like to add?
I think it’s important to know that I have no idea what I’m doing. Every step of the way, I’m confidently unaware of what’s happening …