Each of T-Rextasy’s songs is a world within itself, a tightly composed story centered on a person, real or imaginary. Each also has a clearly-distilled significance, a message or lesson that the listener can take away; in this way, the band’s latest, self-titled EP can be seen as a collection of short stories, or fables with human subjects. Formed in 2013, the group went on unofficial hiatus for the past scholastic year as its members scattered across the world. Now, T-Rextasy has reassembled in its native New York, writing, recording, and playing its signature punk- and ska-inspired rock at shows that are better and tighter than ever before. I had a chance to chat with T-Rextasy’s five members about their music, the importance of dancing, and “playing up the dinosaur angle.”
RC: So how did T-Rextasy form?
Lyris Faron [vocals]: I went to Buck’s Rock Summer Camp the summer before senior year, which is this place that Speedy Ortiz and Palehound and all these really cool bands have come out of. I performed a lot and thought to myself, “I love doing this so much, how has this taken me so long?” I saw Lena and Ebun perform in another band and recruited them.
Annie Fidoten [bass]: I kept low-key dropping hints that I wanted to be a part of it. Vera was not so low-key.
RC: You were all born and raised in New York — do you think that influences your music?
Faron: Because we live in New York, we have the opportunities to perform and network with other bands. Once you’ve made the music, it definitely helps to be here.
Lena Abraham [guitar]: I think it’s important to be part of a scene in that way, but I think we get our musical influences from older stuff, from people who we don’t know [personally].
Fidoten: For us, I think it’s more about a lack of a scene, or wanting to be part of a scene that’s really small. There just aren’t that many predominantly-female bands around.
RC: Are any of you in other college bands, and do they influence the way you play for T-Rextasy?
Fidoten: Almost all of us are part of other bands, though I think for all of us T-Rextasy is very different from the rest of the music we’re involved in [at our respective colleges]. But I was definitely inspired in college by the T-Rextasy sound.
Vera Kahn [guitar]: The music scene at my school [Grinnell] consists of an Arctic Monkeys cover band, a pop-punk band, and a heavy-metal-rap-reggae-fusion band. So I’m hoping to change that next year.
Faron: It can be really hard to find people to play with where it feels just right. It’s a different thing to be friends with someone and flow with them creatively. And I feel like we’re really on the same page here [in T-Rextasy].
RC: Is the stuff you’re writing this year different from what you were writing last year?
Kahn: Not really. We do this storytelling thing where we pick a person — like “Ms. Dolores” is about a lunch lady — and then make a story around them that has some empowering message or life lesson at the end.
Fidoten: I would say we’re getting a little funkier — less afraid to break away from a pop song structure.
RC: Do you categorize yourselves as punk music?
Faron: I definitely wanted to do that and I’m really inspired by punk, but it kinda just… didn’t happen.
Kahn: [to Faron] I feel like with the lyrical focus of your writing it’s not prudent to have a punk sound. The words you write are so interesting, I wouldn’t want to cover them up with noise.
RC: What’s the best and worst show you’ve ever played?
Ebun Nazon-Power [drums]: I think our worst show was at the Bushwick Basement Convention. We messed up one of our songs.
Fidoten: Our biggest show was definitely opening for Frankie Cosmos. But I think our best show was Grrrlfest at Silent Barn.
Nazon-Power: It makes such a difference if the audience is into it. There was a lot of love in the air at Grrrlfest.
Fidoten: I think our bigger shows are actually much harder. It’s so good to be connected to bands like that, but there’s also so much more to prove.
RC: How do you balance intellectualizing music versus feeling it?
Kahn: I came into T-Rextasy wanting to do ska, and that definitely came from a mindset of, “if I’m going to go see a band and it doesn’t make me want to dance, what’s the point of going to see them?” I think all of our songs are fun to jump to or have a funky breakdown, and I think that’s really important if you’re doing live shows.
Faron: I used to be really about the cerebral aspect, but then we started T-Rextasy and realized “wait, it’s about dancing too.” Not sure which is more important, but danceability is definitely up there.
Fidoten: Generally I feel like songs shouldn’t exceed three minutes, and if they hit that mark they’re fun to dance to.
Faron: Guy bands always make their songs too long.
Kahn: I don’t think that’s fair. There are just more guy bands, so I think proportionally there are going to be more guy bands paying longer songs.
Fidoten: It’s nice to watch people having fun, but I don’t think people want to see bands just endlessly indulging themselves on stage.
RC: What’s in the future for T-Rextasy?
Faron: We’re recording an album, doing a music video for “Yellow Jacket Boy,” and playing lots of shows.
Kahn: We were also thinking we might do a “dino demo,” just record some dinosaur-themed songs. I feel like we don’t play up the dinosaur angle enough.
Faron: We’re trying to milk the dinosaur thing. We definitely don’t have enough songs about them.
RC: If you could bring one album and one book to a desert island, what would they be?
Faron: My book would be [Legs McNeil‘s] Please Kill Me — everyone should read it — it’s the unauthorized oral history of punk, from the Velvets to Nirvana. And my album would be the Breeders’ Last Splash.
Kahn: I feel like this isn’t a politically correct answer, but my album would be [Paul Simon’s] Graceland, cause there's so much going on there. Maybe that makes me an asshole. And then… maybe Grapes of Wrath? I love that book. But ew, I don’t want people to know my taste.
Fidoten: The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest. And then book-wise maybe Anna Karenina, just cause I keep starting and stopping it, and on an island I’d definitely finish it.
Nazon-Power: I would bring Fela Kuti’s Johnny Just Drop. And then as a book, Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac.
More of T-Rextasy’s music can be found on their Bandcamp. You can catch them live on July 1 at Silent Barn, July 4 at ABC No Rio, July 18 at The Platinum Pony (MA), or July 22 at Shea Stadium.