Have you ever had thoughts about how cool it would be to get together with a couple of people you meet at a party, jam out, and somehow create a band? I do (very often, in fact), but for most normal humans like myself, it doesn’t quite happen that way. But, that’s exactly how it worked out for Seattle’s Boyfriends, and thank goodness it did.
This self-proclaimed “Seattle’s newest pop sensation” band was formed by vocalist Michael McKinney (Mikey), guitarist Sergio Mirazo (Sergii), dummer Ian Dugas (Dugi), and bassist Shawn Randles (Shawny). Having been playing together for just over a year, Boyfriends has already gone on a national tour and has played alongside fellow bands like Mommy Long Legs, Nail Polish, Tacocat, Wild Powwers, and more. With their otherworldly garb and ’70s-punk-meets-’80s-pop tunes, Boyfriends is not a band that you’ll forget (and you obviously won’t want to, duh). I got a chance to sit down with Shawn and Ian at Cherry Street Coffee where we chatted about aesthetics, playing shows with their pals, and playing at this year’s upcoming Macefield Music Festival.
AJ: Hey Boyfriends, how’s it going?
Shawn: Doin’ good.
AJ: So, as “Seattle’s newest pop sensation,” how did Boyfriends come to be?
Shawn: Well, it kinda started at a dance party. I didn’t really know Michael that well—I met him through our mutual girlfriends who are in another band together. So yeah, we just went to a dance party at Michael’s house and Sergii was there and we kind of danced around his apartment, and listened to records, and decided to be in a band that night. I think a couple of weeks later I met Ian at Rhein House—we talked about sailing and being in a band—
Ian: Right. That was my birthday.
Shawn: Right, that was your birthday. And so, it kind of revolves around birthday parties. I think it was Michael’s birthday, too, when I met him.
Ian: Wow. And that was even more than a year before we actually got in the same space together and started playing.
Shawn: So then Sergio, Michael, and I started kind of jamming with a drum machine app on our iPhone, and wrote little riffs and stuff, and then Ian just messaged us randomly on Facebook and was like—
Ian: —I’m interested in playing in your band!
Shawn: Yeah! And we were like, “hired!” And we played our first show two weeks later. And our first show was around the block party [Capitol Hill Block Party] sometime last year.
AJ: Okay, so you kind of answered this, but I had heard a rumor about how your band’s name came to be, but I was wondering if you could explain it to us yourself?
Shawn: You know, it’s a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke. It’s about the fact that certain members of our band are partners with another well-known Seattle band—and you can probably piece that together on your own.
AJ: Ah, I figured! Thanks for settling that rumor. So let’s talk music! You currently have one EP out called I Thought We Had Plans and its damn good. Can you tell me more about the process of making it?
Shawn: *Sees a bee land on his tuna sandwich* Well, I guess my tuna sandwich is that bee’s now…that doesn’t really have anything to do with music.
AJ: That could be metaphorical, maybe?
Shawn: Yeah. We recorded our first batch of songs with Ian LaSage and we didn’t really know what we were gonna do with it. And our friend, Ruben, wanted to put out some stuff, and we chose those three songs just kind of as a—
Ian: —just kind of a way to get ourselves out there.
Shawn: We were just waiting to see where we wanted to go and what was going to happen. We did a nationwide tour and when we got home, we recorded our new album with Erik Blood.
Ian: Yeah, and we’re just sitting on that now. It’s amazing. We’re in that hurry-up-and-wait moment.
AJ: Cool, so you mentioned that you’re done recording your newest album with the help of Erik Blood, who is also a fellow Seattle musician. Can you give us a little bit of information on the new album?
Shawn: There are 13 songs. There is actually a re-recording of our song, “Groovy” from our first EP, with some added instrumentation and electronic noise from Erik Blood. We’re going to try to make a music video for that one.
Ian: He’s our eno.
Shawn: Yeah, he’s our eno, he’s just the best. He’s just got a good ear. There are a lot of songs that we re-recorded that we’ve been playing since we started, and there’s another half that we haven’t played that much. They’re a little more adventurous. There are a few nods to some classic rock ‘n’ roll musicians like Jonathan Richman and stuff.
Ian: Definitely. We’re coming in to our own, though. Before I was a part of the band, there were certain songs that had already been written and it was just me contributing to these songs whereas for this album, I’m excited that mostly everything is something that we created as a cohesive unit.
AJ: Okay, sweet, well we’ll definitely be looking forward to that! So, because your last release was called, I Thought We Had Plans, if Boyfriends had plans on any given day that didn’t include playing music, what would you all individually be doing?
Ian: Oh, Jesus. Well, certain members, myself included, would probably go play Frisbee somewhere.
Shawn: Michael would probably be painting his nails.
Ian: I would go take our van, Snowflake, and get like four separate leche frio macchiatos just because I could.
Shawn: Probably move some lumber.
Ian: Yeah, yeah, yeah totally.
Shawn: I’d probably walk around and play some Pokémon Go.
Ian: Vacuum stuff…
Shawn: Probably have a dance party…
Ian: We’re good at that.
AJ: It seems like you folks are very much integrated into the local Seattle music scene and you’re pretty good pals with other Seattle staple bands. Who are some of your favorite local bands that you draw inspiration from, love seeing live, etc.?
Shawn: Nail Polish, for sure. They’re our good friends. Mommy Long Legs also. We did a tour with them and we love them very, very much.
Ian: For non-active bands, A-Frames are a big one for me, personally. Or even The Spits. There’s a lot of talent to draw from as far as a fan pool based here in Seattle. And you can always find something new, which is really cool.
AJ: Let’s talk aesthetic for a moment. From what I’ve noticed, your sound and your aesthetic are pretty damn coherent. If you could describe it in 5 words, what would they be?
Shawn: Future Sex Moon Punk
Ian: Salmon Skin Industrial—wait for it—Banana Boat
Shawn: Budget Millennial Health Goth
Ian: There ya go, thank you! Yes!
AJ: Wow, and that was on the spot, too. Very impressed. What was the last show you went to?
Shawn: I don’t know, I can’t remember anymore. I mean, the last one that I was very excited to attend was the Jonathan Richman show with the A-Frames and The Spits at Chop Suey.
Ian: There ya go. Around that time, I saw Peter Gabriel—that was pretty cool.
Shawn: I just saw Third Eye Blind at Bumbershoot—that was so good. Steven Jenkins is so hot.
AJ: You folks recently played at CHBP, right? And you had a Bluebird ice cream flavor named after you, too. By the way, I had it, and it was great. How was that whole experience?
Shawn: Wow, thank you! It felt really at home because we played at Cha Cha and we’ve played there several times before, and all of our buds were there, so it was fun. It was a big festival sh*t show, but it was really fun.
AJ: And Cha Cha was packed for all three days, which was incredible.
Shawn: Throughout the weekend, it was definitely the best stage to go to at block party.
Ian: They’ve always had a good lineup.
Shawn: I think Bread & Butter headlined for the night we played, and we’re playing with them again soon. On October 7, we’re opening with them for Shannon & The Clams.
AJ: You folks will be playing at this year’s Macefield Music Festival! What are you most stoked about?
Shawn: I’m just excited to play at The Tractor—I’ve never gotten to play at that stage and, it’s always been the coolest venue in Ballard, for sure. And, I don’t know, I’m just looking forward to hanging out with our friends more like Mommy Long Legs and Nail Polish. We’re all playing on the same day together so it will be just a good hang out. We’ll probably just hang out in the greenroom and paint our nails.
Ian: I’ll probably cut some wood.
AJ: What kind of wood, though?
Ian: Alaskan Yellow Cedar.
Ian: Yeah, we would work on our branding, creating a lot of content.
AJ: Alright, I’ve got one more for ya. If you could say give one piece of advice to our KXSU readers and listeners, what would it be?
Shawn: Be careful with your sandwiches outdoors, bees are very attracted to them.
Ian: Start a band.
Shawn: Play music…just do it…just dugas.
Ian: For a place that’s supposed to be a music mecca, we need to keep it up, really. We need to invite more and more people to actively participate, whether that’s being a spectator or playing—we need both. Yeah, community building.
Shawn: And bees.
Ian: Non-killer bees.
You heard it—be aware of sandwich-loving, non-killer bees, and start a band. Catch Boyfriends at Macefield Music Festival on Saturday, October 1 at the Tractor Tavern at 7 p.m.
Keep up with Boyfriends: FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | SOUNDCLOUD
APRIL JINGCO | Lover of sandwiches, meh about bees | KXSU Digital Media Director