Described as “New York City’s gonzo anti-folk punk rock radical leftist hootenanny”, OUT OF SYSTEM TRANSFER combine elements of traditional folk protest music, New York anti-folk, and punk rock to create their high-energy, engaging, and thoughtful sound. Prior to Covid, they toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe with plans to return to the road after if conditions allow, and today we’re honored to partner up with them to give you the first listen of their new album “Just Be Loud”, an adventurous and ridiculously fun offering that compiles the horror, helplessness, and despair of living in today’s America, but also the joy of resistance, the beauty of performance, and the need for caring communities. With influences ranging from anarcho punk, old-timey showtunes, bluegrass, Black Sabbath, and more, the sonic landscape of the album is just as dynamic as its subject matter. Listen to the full thing and scroll down to read our brief interview below.
There’s something refreshingly raw in the urgency of folk punk. And Brooklyn, NY band Out of System Transfer excel at understanding while testing the rules of the genre. With sonic references to AJJ, The Mountain Goats, and Days N Daze, the band has created a raucous collection of songs with their new record Just Be Loud. If the title alone isn’t enough to convince you to listen, the blown-out acoustic strums, dancing basslines, and playful trombone will whisk you away into a world of basement shows and earnest folks. A world that feels far away from us now.
While there’s certainly a fair share of comforting nihilism in the lyrics, Out of System Transfer are fighting to make a positive difference in this modern era. The band recalls, “Just Be Loud is 12 songs about the horror, helplessness, and despair of living in today’s America but also the joy of resistance, the beauty of performance, and the need for caring communities.” They’re a band that truly gets to the heart of matters, all the while providing earwormy melodies and upbeat, scrappy, and delightful music. And remember – play it loud!
OUT OF SYSTEM TRANSFER are: Jesse Sternberg, Guitar; Danielle Kolker, Banjolele; Jon Good, Trombone; and Jesse Jacobsen, Bass Guitar.
You talk about balancing hopelessness and joy in your work. How did that balancing act seep into the songs on Just Be Loud?
Wth this record we really wanted to both capture the despair that so many people have been feeling and also look to art and activism as two major sources of hope.
I’ll give you two examples.The song “House of the Deaf” is based on the last days of the painter Francisco Goya. At the time he was in failing mental and physical health, had buried several children, had abandoned all hope of making his mark as a painter and of democracy for Spain, and was living in total isolation, making paintings on the wall he thought no one would ever see.. On the other hand, after his death, those paintings became the most famous and beloved of his career and now hang at the Prado in Madrid. So to me the song is about the despair we were feeling last year, pouring your heart into art with no audience, and the hope that it will find one someday, even if we’re already dead by then.
The other example is the song “Year Without a Summer,” which came out of the Black LIves Matter protests of last year. I felt like, in addition to the horrific police abuses that inspired the movement of course, a big part of the energy behind the movement was the hopelessness everyone had been feeling after months of lockdown with so little help and support. I think for many people the movement became a place to find new hope and purpose and to be a part of something larger again.
Did you make this record live? The interplay between trombone, guitar, and bass feels so natural.
Guitar, bass, banjolele, most vocals, and most of the trombone parts were recorded live and without a click track, and then we added just a few overdubs. We are a live band and it’s important to us to get the live feel on our recordings. There’s a specific sound of a room full of musicians playing together that’s greater than the sum of its parts, and I think this is the best we’ve captured that sound so far, thanks to some great engineering from Dan Shatsky and Sarah Egress.
What is the folk punk scene like in Brooklyn?
Brooklyn doesn’t really have much of a folk-punk scene, specifically, to speak of. There’s the antifolk scene, and there’s the queer/political side of the punk scene, and we have kind of a foot in each one. There’s a few other similar acts like Brook Pridemore, Cruel Children, but not a lot of what people think of as “folk punk” in the rest of the country. For us, that’s just as well, because we prefer playing diverse bills to diverse audiences, and we thrive on the mixed genre shows. I would say an ideal bill for us would be a straight folk act, a straight punk act, and us bridging the gap between the two..
What’s next for Out of System Transfer? Where can listeners find you in the next couple of months?
We’re touring the Northeast and Midwest immediately after the album release in September, and have a homecoming/album release show in Brooklyn October 1st. We’re hoping to tour the South in November and the rest of the country and Canada in the spring, but of course that all depends on Covid stuff. We were planning another European tour before COVID and wanted to go back to Mexico as well, so looking forward to that in the next couple years as things continue to open up.