Have you ever heard of power-pop? I’d be the first to admit, I was wholly in the dark as far as what the hell differentiated power-pop from pop-rock or indie-pop, but upon some additional digging and extended exposure to one such bastion of power-pop, EZTV, I felt my understanding of the subgenre increase exponentially.
Hailing from Brooklyn, it might be easy to assume EZTV’s sound would be similar to the glut of other bands that seem to materialize from Williamsburg, Bushwick, and the like, but EZTV managed to carve out a sound wholly unique to themselves, which ended up being the aforementioned “power pop.” Conceived out of a defeatist Spiritualized tour audition, Ezra Tenenbaum, Michael Stasiak, and Shane O’Connell realized they were far better suited to play together than to support someone else’s act, as Ezra puts it – I don’t think we really ever expected to get the Spiritualized gig. That was definitely more of a goof, or a “Why not try this thing,” situation. But it turned out to be a lot easier, and [made] more sense to hang out in the practice space together, and to try out some tunes. That energy was more apparent than our enthusiasm for playing Spiritualized songs [laughs] every night.
So in their “failure” (if you even want to call it that), EZTV was born, a convergence of Tenenbaum’s confessional lyrics meeting the production and musicality of Stasiak and O’Connell, per Ezra – Well I was just kind of writing songs on my own, not even with the intention of playing live – and I was friends with the bassists, Shane, and without him even being a part, he just suggested I get together with Michael. – thus culminating into the subversive power-pop of the trio’s first LP, Calling Out in summer 2015.
In past interviews, Tenenbaum had described Calling Out as a “breakup album,” so when I asked how they would describe their upcoming LP release, High In Place, both Ezra and Michael laughed, as Ezra made the delineation of High In Place as “kind of the break up, get back together album, I guess,” as Michael added “We’re really into slow evolutions here at EZTV, “ between laughs.
The band released their first single for High In Place, “High Flying Faith,” and on first listen, you might recognize a voice bleeding through the group vocals. EZTV hooked up with none other than Jenny Lewis to out together the track; a collaboration was built upon pure happenstance.
“I feel like maybe someone told her about Calling Out, like maybe a couple months after it was released, and then she just showed up at this show we played in New Jersey in December. And then we were, like, you know… none of us is like looking for Jenny Lewis in New Jersey, so like I was just psyched that there – I kind of looked out while we were playing – and there was this like woman dancing, you know? And I was like “Wow, that doesn’t happen to much during EZTV shows,” so I was talking to her afterwards, and she was talking to me about this how much she song “The Light,” and I was like, I kind of looked at her, and I was like “What is your name?” and she was like “Jenny.” and I was like “Jenny Lewwwwis?” says Michael, “So we just kind of became buds. She became buds with the band after that. And then we were kind of just like, well Ezra had the idea of having her sing on “High Flying Space” and we were like, “Well, let’s just ask,” like “Why the hell not?” And then she surprised us again, because we weren’t expecting her to show up to the studio and all of a sudden, there’s a knock on the window and then she just like scared the crap out of us and was like “Hey, I’m here. I’m ready.”
Ultimately, Lewis wasn’t the only non-band collaborator on the record, as the band enlisted the likes of John Andrews from Quilt, Captured Tracks label mate Chris Cohen, Martin Courtney, and Nic Hessler on a number of tracks. EZTV is making a tour stop in Nashville this Thursday night at The End, and they’re pumped to play in town, or as Ezra said – We’ve never been to Nashville, so we have a lot of enthusiasm to hit up a lot of places that we’ve never been before. – and Michael added – I really wish we had another day or so. Like, I love like Nikki Lane and that kind of like country scene. Anything that is that kind of things, I’m excited to just be in the city where that happens.
EZTV are playing at The End on Thursday, 8/18. Show at 9. $8 DOS.