Five minutes with…Holy Ghost!
Lifelong New Yorkers Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel sound off on getting mugged as kids, the best pickup spots in the city and Gray’s Papaya’s closing
Wed Apr 2 2014
Photograph: Harry McNally
The dumbest thing I ever saw at a show was…
Nick Millhiser: This happened last weekend in New Orleans. Some ding-dong dressed as the “twerk police." He kept coming up to the booth and dancing while constantly pointing to his outfit and explaining, "It’s okay! I'm the twerk police!" Alex and I came very close to punching him.
Alex Frankel: One time we were playing in NYC and I jumped into the crowd during the last song. Unbeknownst to me, I ended up in the vicinity of a girl who had taken her shirt off. When I realized this girl was uncomfortably close to me, I looked up at the balcony to my girlfriend and shook my head to reassure her that my proximity to the nudity was not intentional, that I didn't mean to end up so close to this nude girl. My girlfriend was not pleased. I watched her storm out of the venue as I finished singing the song, and after the show she broke up with me. That was pretty dumb, on her part!
The bar with the best jukebox is…
Nick Millhiser: The Levee, because it's a real jukebox with a limited and awesome selection, rather than a computer with an Internet connection.
Alex Frankel: Milady's in Soho was great. They closed last month, but they had a great jukebox full of classics that they never updated. The way it should be…
The NYC neighborhood that's changed the most is…
Nick Millhiser: All of it? I have some friends who send their kids to school in Bushwick, and I wonder if it's even as dangerous as the Upper West Side was when we were kids. Do kids get mugged anymore? I would venture to guess that we were mugged biweekly between the ages of 12 and 17.
Alex Frankel: Bushwick is different than it was in 2002, that's for sure. I remember being legit shook when I would go to Nick’s house out there. Granted, I had good reason to be scared: Nick was mugged at gunpoint and pistol-whipped!
The coolest record store in town is…
Nick Millhiser: I like Academy Records because they seem pretty intent on moving stuff quickly, and they get new stuff in constantly so you can regularly find great stuff there for reasonable money. A1 is better for dance stuff, but it's expensive—kind of dangerous, actually. It’s very easy to spend LOTS of money there. My best score there was Evans Pyramid's "No I Won’t" 45.
Alex Frankel: I still love A1 Records in the East Village. It's actually the first place I go if I'm out of ideas for songs. Jeremy, one of the main dudes there, will pick out stuff he knows I'll be into and somehow I'll end blowing five times as much money as I wanted to spend. But I'm better for it and so is our music. It would be really, really sad if that place ever disappeared.
The thing I least like about how NYC has changed is…
Nick Millhiser: R.I.P. Gray's Papaya and the "recession special." What the fuck, NYC? Also, kids should get mugged. It's a right of passage that builds character and teaches you the importance of not keeping all your money in one place.
Alex Frankel: I could live without the tourists on those public Citi Bikes. Just saying.
My favorite NYC venue is…
Nick Millhiser: Very hard to pick. Having grown up going to see shows at Bowery Ballroom, Webster Hall and Irving Plaza, I love those—though I haven’t been to the latter in quite some time. Bowery is a cool old building and kind of the perfect size, small enough that it’s hard to make it sound terrible but just big enough to have a balcony, which I like. Ditto for Music Hall of Williamsburg, which is basically a carbon copy of Bowery but they can cram more people in because the room has more exits, I guess. So, yeah, for playing I like Music Hall, but for nostalgia's sake I'll say Bowery. The best shows I've seen there: LCD Soundsystem a few times, and the Roots the night they got their gold plaque for Things Fall Apart. Remember when bands that sold half a million records played 500-person capacity rooms? Wild.
The best show in NYC I ever saw was…
Nick Millhiser: The first three that come to mind were all at the Garden. Jay Z, Fade to Black because it was just epic; the Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty tour because Q-Tip came out for "Get It Together" and it was sick; and LCD Soundsystem because it’s pretty surreal to watch your friends play at the Garden. Complete with a Yes cover, a drum solo and a 45-minute disco freak-out no less! It was a pretty great way to go out.
Alex Frankel: LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden for their last show. I'm biased because they are friends and labelmates, but the middle section where they did 45:33 (the long disco freak-out) was truly mind-blowing. Their drummer, Pat Mahoney, deserves some kind of trophy for that show.
The best pickup spot in NYC is…
Nick Millhiser: Shit, I’m basically married, but from what I recall NYC is a pretty great place to be single. The tourism board doesn’t advertise this, but at last call in most bars all the girls line up on one side of room and all the boys line up on the other, and everyone just picks someone else—kinda like a grown-up Sadie Hawkins dance for bad decisions.
Alex Frankel: Honestly, I haven't the slightest idea. The Internet?
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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)