Bridge and Tunnel East/West

Bridge and Tunnel East/West
This is some serious shit. East/West is hard-hitting DIY punk the recalls the halcyon days of the legendary Deep Elm Records, capturing a moment in time when emo was a legitimate punk subculture and not just a clothing section in a department store. The influence of bands like Small Brown Bike and Planes Mistaken For Stars is all over songs like "Call to the Comptroller’s Office” and "Town Hall Gathering,” while the more abstract aggression of "Dear Sir:” and "Grace For These Wayward Heroes” recalls Fugazi’s earliest recordings. Comprised of current and former members of Latterman, Slingshot Dakota and Fellow Project, Bridge and Tunnel’s throwback sound is far from an obvious culmination of their members’ past work. Rather, it sounds like a totally new sonic beast. The band’s only previous release, a self-titled seven-inch that was actually their first demo, only hinted at the development shown by their debut full-length and it seems reasonable to hope that the band will continue to forge an original identity as they continue to tour and record.

With all of you having played in really different-sounding bands, is the sound of Bridge and Tunnel something you talked about before writing or just what evolved from the four of you starting to play and write together?
Guitarist and vocalist Jeff Cunningham: It just came together. We didn’t get together with any particular intention, sound-wise, or any intention to tour or record or anything. The first seven-inch we did was just our demo. All those songs were recorded before we ever played a show. It just came together that way. When we play together, that’s what came out.

Given that the only other thing you guys have released besides this full-length was your demo, did you feel like there was a lot of pressure to cement the band’s identity with this record?
Not really. I put a lot of pressure on us because we had put a lot of effort into writing for several months, and we had made a lot of sacrifices for the band. A band’s first full-length is not something you can take back. The history of most bands is pretty short, unless you’re KISS. The lifespan of a punk band is short, and you only get a few shots to do something you’re really happy with. That was the only pressure I put on myself: making a record that was cohesive and more than just a collection of songs. You can never take back your first full-length.

When I think of a place like Brooklyn, I so rarely think of a DIY, throwback emo punk band like you guys. What sort of an audience or following do you have there?
There’s still absolutely a DIY punk community in New York City. There are also a lot of other kinds of communities. We play in all different kinds of spaces and venues, and often times we’ll know 75 percent of the people in the room by name. When our friends come through on tour, there’s always a good space to play.

Does the high cost of living make it more difficult to maintain a DIY punk community?
It doesn’t make it more difficult to maintain a community but it does make it difficult to maintain a band because we have to work so much between tours, and how difficult it is to take time off from work. I think people have a lot less time beyond music to organize and be a part of something besides their job, because people I know have to work 60 hours a week just to afford rent and groceries. We just toured for two months and sublet our rooms.

Which is tough. I don’t want a stranger sleeping in my room.
It’s the choice that we make to base the band out of New York and still travel.

What would you consider the touchstones for the band, or the bands you’re hoping to draw influences from?
It’s difficult to say. I’m just trying to emulate something that I think will make everyone in the band happy, and components of things that will make each of us excited, as opposed to, "Here’s something I really like.” We all have such different tastes that it’s hard to write something we’re all going to like or appreciate. Even riding in the van, picking music is hard. So we just try to write stuff everyone in the band will be excited about in their own way.

With the record finally out, what is your perception of people’s reaction to it so far?
Going to a town that we’ve never been to and we’ve never played in, and seeing people singing along to a song on the full-length, and having that sort of reaction, even if the room only has 20 people and five people are singing along, that’s huge for me, and a wonderful feeling I’ve never had. (No Idea)