“We’ve played gigs at a pizza place, an alternative church, a Mexican restaurant, a log cabin, skate parks, you name it,” laughs Bryan Maher, lead vocalist and guitar player with Black Suit Youth. The group has come out of Long Island and built themselves into a fast-rising touring and recording outfit.
JoiningBryanin the band is Chris Brooks on lead guitar,BryanContreras on drums, and Eddie Christian on bass. “This is actually lineup version 8.1,” Bryan relates. “We got lucky; we were all kind of looking for each other and it just seemed to happen. That’s howLong Islandworks. Everyone is in a band and we all play in different incarnations with each other until the right version emerges. It’s worked for all of the big names that came out of here and it’s working for us well now.”
Together they’ve hit venues large and small, covering most of the states east of theMississippi, fromChicagotoBostontoVirginia Beach, with many small towns in between. They describe what they do as high-energy rock and roll. “The energy of The Stooges, the tightness of Bad Religion, the attitude of The Dead Boys, with the attention to production of Def Leppard,” Bryan states. “And the work ethic of Fugazi. Sprinkle a little Stones, AFI, Guns N’ Roses, Jimmy Eat World, and Gaslight Anthem into the mix.”
Although the band as a whole contributes to the songwriting process,Bryanusually provides the main impetus. “It varies from record to record,” he explains. “For this album that we’re working on right now, I wrote 52 songs on my iPad with GarageBand. Some of the ideas in those songs came from organic jams. Then the band sifted through them and zeroed in on which were the best and would make a complete and consistent album. ‘Dropout’ is our most recognized song, along with ‘Rebel’ and ‘Five One Six.’ ‘Hot Summers In Hi-Fi’ and ‘Damaged’ are pretty popular as well. Everyone has personal favorites; mine is either ‘Rebel’ or a new song called ‘Shelly.’”
Chris is especially excited about the band’s new single, “Another Night In The Tombs,” which they recently put out. “Not to sound like I’m just giving us a cheap plug here, but it’s got a very different feeling than any of the previous Black Suit Youth stuff,” he says. “It’s somewhere between what we have done and where we are going. But it always gets a good reaction from the crowd and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play!”
Eddie is partial to the aforementioned “Hot Summers In Hi-Fi.” “We played a show back in March and there was such a raw energy and emotion emanating from the crowd while we played ‘Hot Summers In Hi-Fi’ that it instantly became one of my favorite songs to play live,” he recalls. “I really like all of the songs off the upcoming record that we’ve recorded so far, and out of those ‘Another Night In The Tombs’ is fun to play and always gets a great reception.”
As far as the name of the group, no, it doesn’t come from any spiffy attire the band sports on stage. “We used to be called The New York Dynamite, but that sounded more like a women’s soccer team than a band,” chuckles Bryan. “We had to fix that. At the time we were working on a song called ‘A Black Suit For My Youth.’ The song didn’t make the cut, but the title stuck, so we condensed it and went with it. Which is good because our next choices were ‘Get Mendoza’ and ‘Mosquito Overdrive.’”
The genesis of the band actually came at a party where some of the group members were unknowingly guests of people they all knew. “Our previous drummer Justin and I had some mutual friends,” remembers Chris. “I showed up to a house party at Justin’s house and I don’t think I said more than ‘hi’ to him. I didn’t know he played the drums or that he was in a band looking for a guitar player. Two or three days later I answered an ad on a ‘musicians wanted’ website and it was Bryan Maher. He may have also been at the party but I don’t remember talking to him either. But when I showed up to meet them in person I recognized Justin because he was wearing the same shirt. The first thing I said to him was, ‘Wasn’t I drinking at your house the other night?’ That’s how I initially got involved with the band.”
As far as future plans, Black Suit Youth plan to keep pushing forward and see where it leads them. “To take it as far as it can go,”Bryansays. “We have no illusions about the state of the business, so it’s on our own shoulders to do whatever we can on our own to spread the word and make fans. We’ve nearly completed our next album, so we are excited to get it released and tour on it.”
You can find out more information about the band at facebook.com/blacksuityouth, and check out the new single at blacksuityouth.bandcamp.com .