Skip to content

Ex Friends For Life.

March 24, 2014

ExFriendsOnline01Text by Brittany Thomas. Images by Darragh Dandurand.

When a history teacher, a woodworker, an illustrator and a music therapist combine creative musical forces, you find a project that’s been carefully carved from multiple, colorful backgrounds. That’s the makeup of Ex Friends, known best for their pop-based punk songs that are aggressively captivating and totally “gritty Philadelphia,” with a layer of scariness over them.

Joel Tannenbaum and JP Flexner got to talking about starting a band while at Riot Fest in 2011. Flexner was filling in on drums for the band Weston and Tannenbaum was playing his first show in 13 years with his band, Plow United. They decided to combine Tannenbaum’s songwriting with Flexner’s drumming and design skills, promptly forming Ex Friends with bass player Audrey Crash and guitarist Jayme Guokas. Two years and two 7-inch records later, the band has no plans of slowing down.

They’ve opened for Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg with Andrew W.K., Doc Hopper and The Dead Milkmen. Noisey recently endorsed their latest music video for “Dirty Ben Franklin,” a song that showcases the band’s local roots.

Tannenbaum finds lyrical inspiration in The Kinks’ Ray Davies for his approach at writing about politics through people and their stories.

“It’s about all of the things that are messed up about the city but also beautiful,” Tannenbaum says. “In terms of the lyrics of that song, I guess that the idea is that, before anyone built a European-style city here, there were people who were here before and were all kind of displaced by that process. And the city itself is violent and dirty, as you know if you live here. Whenever I’m walking around this city, as I’ve been doing for most of my adult life, I feel like the ghosts of whatever were here before kind of are present and are a part of that violence and disconnect.”

Crash is a classically trained musician and longtime Philly punk music figure who performed with bands like Myles of Destruction and the all-female three piece Firepussy. She and Guokas, formerly of Men in Fur and still active with Glitter, in combination with Flexner’s professional punk-pop art designs and Tannenbaum’s years of fronting Plow United, have acquired quite a following here.

“I don’t think we have a particular fan base,” says Flexner. “I think we’re four people with a combined 120 years experience on this earth who have made contacts who are friends with us who will come hang out with us on a Saturday night.”

“And then there are the people we’ve never met before and they’re there because something in the words or the music or the art spoke to them and connected with them and then they usually become friends,” adds Tannenbaum. “That’s usually what happens. I guess if you were to ask me what I think punk music is all about, I guess it would be that.”

This past November, Ex Friends released their first full-length, Rules For Making Up Words, put out on Less Than Jake drummer Vinnie Fiorello’s label, Paper + Plastic. They’re working on a third EP, to be released by Arik Victor and Creep Records, who also put out the previous two 7-inches.

“I think we all have that mentality that we’re just going to keep playing music until we die,” says Flexner. “These are four lifers you’re dealing with.”

One Comment
  1. March 27, 2014 5:24 am

    Reblogged this on The Portfolio of Brittany Nicole Thomas.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: