It’s about that time! September is almost a wrap and that means College Day is upon us (Saturday, September 29). This year’s lineup is all about duos, and the CP team caught up with percussionist Jesse Cohen of one of our two College Day bands, Tanlines to learn more about the band’s sound, inspirations and Jesse’s connection with Philly sports.
How did you guys get started and come up with your sound?
Eric (singer/guitarist) had a studio that I used to visit all the time, and one day we started writing music together. We really didn’t have a plan, so we just started doing anything that we could. We did that for a while, put out some singles and started playing live, and that’s when it started becoming the real thing. We transformed from a production duo into a band. And when we wrote this album (Mixed Emotions), we wrote it as a band instead of trying to show off production wise and filled it with songs that people will hopefully remember an connect with. Where we are now is a result of a very natural and organic 3-4 years of growing.
What’s it like being a duo as opposed to a larger band?
We’re both pretty opinionated and I think if there were any more opinions we’d never get anything done. We have distinct personalities and it’s a big part of how we operate. I think we’d be ok with filling Tanlines out more for playing live, but not having more decision makers in the room. The benefit of being small is definitely flexibility. We can get on a plane and play a show the next day.
How does your audience take to it just being two dudes on a stage?
Being electronic, people are ok with two people performing when it sounds like 10. If we ever get more organic, we’ll have to have more on stage, but now we ride the line and it works well in my opinion. And a lot of that is because of Eric’s singing. A lot of what’s compelling about our performances is that they’re still, ultimately, a guy with a guitar, singing a song. A lot of people like that.
Who do you look towards for inspiration?
Historically, growing up, the Beastie Boys were one of the most influential groups. They were the first group I knew that combined many types of music into their own. As a teenager, that was a real mind expanding thing to see a group that was like, ‘Wait are they rap or punk or instrumental?’ I learned that people are complicated and you can be more than one thing at a time. A lot of people are and that’s what we try to be. We just want to make good music. Similarly, my brother was a big influence growing up. He was a Dead Head, but also a fan of Ozzy Osbourne and Pubic Enemy, and I realize now that that’s a pretty cool way to be.
If you had to pick one Tanlines song that 100% represents you, which would it be?
I would say “Brothers,” the first song on the album. You always want to have the first song be the song that encapsulates what you’re trying to do as a band in general. That song has the elements of who we are, but ultimately it’s just a simple kind of sad song that grooves, and that’s the kind of thing we do. We want to make music that has elements of electronic, but you can also play it on an acoustic guitar.
So do you see yourselves ever doing an acoustic covers album of your songs?
We actually have recorded acoustic versions of a lot of our songs, and there’s this one guys on Youtube who does a great version of “Brothers” on acoustic guitar. But I wouldn’t have much to do, since Eric sings and does guitar and I can do neither.
If you could listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I don’t have an answer, but if I had to pick an album, it’d be London Calling.
You’re coming into Philly at the start of football season. You must have heard stories about how hardcore we are about our sports. Who do you think has the best chance of winning it all this year—Phillies, Eagles, Sixers or Flyers?
Well, my mother is from the Philly area and my grandfather is a lifelong Philly sports fan, so I am familiar. The team that I like the most is the Sixers. I just think they’re a cool team. But if any Philly team does well, I’m happy for my grandfather because he’s been waiting for years for a team to do well.
Campus Philly does College Day each year to introduce students to everything they can do in Philly during their college years. Why do you think it’s important for students to know their surroundings while they’re in school?
I think it’s important when you’re in college to feel connected to the city that you’re living in. It’s easy to think of yourself as a temporary transplant in whatever city you live in while you’re in college, but you’ll be there for four years, and that is plenty of time to be a part of a community. You should learn the city, meet people, and get involved and vote in local elections.
What are you looking forward to most about playing College Day in front of the Philadelphia college audience?
I like playing in the afternoon. I expect that it will be an audience of people who may not know our music, and while that can be more challenging, it’s always interesting to me to see what people respond to.
And now for the most important question of them all–what’s your favorite color?
Don’t miss Tanlines when they play College Day on Saturday, September 29 and be on the lookout for a new video coming soon! Want to meet the band? E-mail email@example.com to learn how!