One of New York’s bubbling new bands doesn’t seem particularly interested in bands. That’s the sentiment that seems to be expressed by the members of LAUNDRY DAY, a quintet whose musical idols are genre-skirting, lane-jumping artists with one foot in music and another in—well—everything else.
“We were such big fans of Tyler and Brockhampton and saw what they were doing. From the very beginning, we wanted to start something really big and something where we cared about every part of it,” says singer Sawyer Nunes. “It was never like, ‘Let’s just play a little show and see what happens.’ From the first day it was, ‘Let’s design the website and T-shirts.’ We had a vision in mind from day one.”
We were such big fans of Tyler [The Creator] and Brockhampton and saw what they were doing. from the very beginning, we wanted to start something really big where we cared about every part of it.
Of all the New York neighborhoods, Hell’s Kitchen isn’t one that’s renowned for churning out prolific creatives. But, the area mostly known for its proximity to Times Square happens to be the birthplace of this young, distinctly modern band beginning to build a buzz akin to some of the city’s indie exports of the last 15 years. LAUNDRY DAY’s members—Nunes, Etai Abramovich, Jude Lipkin, Henry Weingartner, and Henry Pearl—are all rising seniors at the Beacon School who together paint a promising picture of the evolving nature of bands today.
“We never were looking for a bass player or looking for a drummer. We just all came together because we were best friends and we learned how to produce together, then it was like, picking up instruments was kind of an afterthought,” Nunes explains.
The group’s first full-length release, Trumpet Boy, came out in March 2018, followed by an EP and another album that same year. In March 2019, the group released HOMESICK, their most accomplished record to date, a kaleidoscopic LP that shows both the depths of their influences and their free-spirited chemistry. The single “Harvard” is equally elegant and distorted, with soaring, triumphant melodies washed in fuzz. “CHA” begins with a bassy, proto-Pharrell groove, before morphing into something more woozy and industrial.
At times, the songs don’t entirely coalesce into a sum greater than their disparate parts, like on “Red Roses” or “Camp,” but it’s engaging to listen to a group that never seems to be phoning it in. When they’re writing, the band members don't concern themselves with sticking to the instruments that they play live, opting instead for an open, unrestrained process.
“That changes how the song sounds live, too, because I’m playing a lot of bass parts that Sawyer wrote, and Etai is playing a lot of parts that Henry might have programed originally, so it’s similar to how the song changes live,” Pearl explains.
A steady stream of live shows are a hallmark of any New York band on the rise, and LAUNDRY DAY is no exception, even as their success has allowed them to tour nationally already (Weingartner lets out a good-natured scoff when asked if they’ve ever played The Bitter End, a staid, staple location for adolescent NY acts). One thing that sets LAUNDRY DAY apart from some of its peers is that the group took their time preparing a live show that was wholly their own, and according to Lipkin, they’ve never had to play a cover to fill out a set. Their first shows came after they had completed the recording of Trumpet Boy.
There are so many other people [In NYC] who are doing things that inspire you. If we were in a small town, there wouldn’t be as many kids who are passionate about art and who we want to work with.
While it’s easy to picture such creative kids finding one another wherever they happened to grow up, the members of LAUNDRY DAY are acutely aware of how fortunate they are living in New York City, and the influence it has had on the band.
“The thing about being independent in New York is as soon as you’re old enough for your parents to let you take the train by yourself, you can go to shows, you can go meet people,” says Abramovich. “There are so many other people here who are doing the same thing or things that inspire you. If we were in a small town, there just wouldn’t be as many kids who are passionate about art and who we want to work with and are inspired by.”
They also express gratitude to their school, which is where Nunes and Lipkin began making music together. Lipkin explained that initially it was the pair working, with a big group spectating, but that after they finished their first track Weingartner and Abramovich said they wanted to work on the next, and Pearl followed soon after that.
LAUNDRY DAY’s prolific output is in part fueled by teenage joy and exuberance, but also by a maturity and awareness of the temporal nature of their candid, narrative-centric tunes. They know that, as time passes, their relationship to a song or album will change, and they want to put out music while the emotions and events that led to it are still fresh.
“That’s why it’s been hard for us to imagine sitting on a project, because as teenagers—as people—changing so much it’s hard to feel like something will evoke as much emotion in us as it did when we were making it,” says Lipkin. “And HOMESICK in a few months won’t be the same, because those problems, the trials and tribulations feel different.”
Even as they’ve been building notoriety, the band has worked hard to maintain the authenticity and DIY ethos that is so integral to who they are. Before we meet for the interview, they’re doing a photo shoot to promote their upcoming All My Friends tour with their friend and photographer Camilla Ffrench.
it’s been hard for us to imagine sitting on a project, because as teenagers changing so much, it’s hard to feel like something will evoke as much emotion as it did when we were making it.
And in the starriest of surroundings, LAUNDRY DAY can’t help but recreate the bedroom vibe that’s birthed so much of their music. Towards the end of recording HOMESICK, the quintet headed to Los Angeles to finish the album at Rick Rubin’s fabled Shangri-La studio. There, they completed four songs—“Messy Eyes,” “I Feel Good,” “Friends,” and the album opener “10 SPEED.”
“We kind of had two setups going at the same time. We had the engineer in the big room, but then in a smaller room, we had our computer hooked up in a homier, smaller space,” Nunes recalls, before Pearl explains that the “smaller room” just so happened to be Bob Dylan’s former tour bus.
During their time at Shangri-La, the guys were in the orbit of two of their idols, albeit with different results. BROCKHAMPTON’s Romil Hemnani became a friend, mentor and collaborator, helping with the drums on “I Feel Good” and supervising the recording of a few other songs. He’s still close with the group, and Lipkin said they talk and exchange music regularly.
“He felt like a sixth member a lot of the time,” says Nunes.
Their encounter—or near encounter—with Tyler, the Creator, went decidedly differently, though the conspiratorial laugh the bandmates share before deciding to tell the story shows their healthy sense of perspective about one of the more absurd moments in their burgeoning career thus far.
“We were at the Chapel [the smaller Shangri-La studio] in April, and Tyler was in the main room finishing IGOR. The Chapel has this big door, it’s basically the wall, that can come up. We were working with it open, so you could see the property,” says Weingartner. “Tyler comes down and he’s probably 100 feet away from us. We were making such a bad song that we were embarrassed he was going to hear it.”
“We didn’t say anything to him, because we knew that if we were like, ‘Tyler, what’s up?’ He would come in and be like, ‘What are you guys working on?’ And then we would play that and it was so bad,” adds Lipkin.
But if LAUNDRY DAY continues to rise and succeed at this rate, they’ll probably have another shot at impressing Tyler in the not too distant future.
LAUNDRY DAY is heading out on tour in August. More info/tickets here.