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Ma Jolie: Vibrating Your Butt.

July 18, 2014

MaJolieSummer2014Online01Text by Derrick Krom. Images by Jessica Flynn.

It’s not very often you come across a burly, no-nonsense punk band citing Disney tunes as a major influence on its sound. But when it comes to Philadelphia punk trio Ma Jolie, influences can stem from anywhere.

On a crisp and sunny spring evening, the members of Ma Jolie – vocalist and guitarist Mike Stoloski, bassist Frank Abruzzo and drummer Jeff Meyers – sit outside a South Philadelphia coffee shop and reflect back on how they achieved their unique blend of raw and melodic punk.

“I would say how we got here is sort of just by trial and error,” Stoloski says. “When we started, we would just write and whatever came out came out. I listen to Disney music in my car so I love melody. But then I also grew up listening to Snapcase. So, I have those two polar opposite vibes contributing to what I do.”

“Our influences are just so different from each other,” Meyers adds. “We can definitely agree on certain things but for the most part, how we interpret each other’s writing is so different. But it works because we sort of challenge each other.”

Stoloski and Meyers grew up together and were involved in the same local music scene. After playing together as half of indie pop outfit Frost Watson, the duo made the decision to form a band harking back to their heavier roots, while continuing to keep a strong sense of melody.

With the addition of Abruzzo and guitarist Mark Roscoe – who left the band in February – Ma Jolie released their debut album, Compared to Giants, in 2012 while their latest full-length, Polars, was released at the end of last year on local independent label Lame-O Records.

“We became a band with Polars,” Abruzzo says. “From Compared to Giants to Polars, and even with the new stuff we’ve been writing, there has definitely been some growing. I’m really psyched about what we’ve been writing. I can honestly say Ma Jolie is the kind of band I’ve wanted to be in since high school.”

They have played in cramped kitchens and musty basements and opened for The Menzingers at the Bowery Ballroom.

“We definitely are a different band live than we are on record, and I think that’s a great thing,” says Meyers. “Bands that sound exactly like their record, that’s a certain thing and that’s nice. But I don’t think we’re one of those bands.”

“You put our record on and Frank can’t vibrate your butt the way he does live,” says Stoloski with a laugh. “I love playing a basement or a kitchen where you can just show up, turn up and move the air. It’s just so much fun. If there are 10 people standing in a kitchen that have never heard my band before and I can play to them, it’s exciting.”

With the departure of Roscoe earlier in the year, Ma Jolie has had to face a number of new challenges in relation to writing and performing as a three-piece. But rather than letting the loss negatively affect its music, the band has continued to evolve and focus on pushing the boundaries of the genre.

“It’s a new challenge as far as writing is concerned,” says Stoloski. “Mark played a lot more leads and that’s gone now. I’m not that kind of guitarist. I’m more of a songwriter, so the way we’re writing songs and the way we’ll be singing over those songs is changing. It’s been a completely different outlook on songwriting for me in that aspect.”

“More than anything, this band is fun,” says Meyers. “We don’t have a goal like, ‘We’re gonna be this huge band.’ As long as people like what we’re doing and we like what we’re doing, then we’re going to keep doing it. Simple as that.”

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