Led by the visionary songwriter, virtuoso guitarist, and captivating frontman Ben Haberland, accompanied by lifelong comrades Rob Lanterman (of Shrugdealer and Hidden Home Records) on guitar, Josh Inman (known for his roles in Jupiter Boys, Big Oil, and Shred City Records) on drums, and Matt Ernest on bass, Brooklyn's Onesie has spent the past six years meticulously carving out a niche all their own within the musical realm. Drawing inspiration from the concise craftsmanship of 1970s power pop, the socially astute lyricism and infectious hooks of 1980s indie and Britpop, and the unapologetic intensity of 1990s DIY punk hardcore, this eclectic ensemble is now poised to unveil their third album of timeless, irresistibly catchy anthems. Onesie's sonic alchemy transforms our shared anxieties into a sonic experience that invites you to dance, wield an air guitar, burst into laughter, and shed a tear – often within the same verse. In a musical landscape plagued by sameness, Onesie stands as a genre-defying beacon of substance, a band that creates with the enduring power of artistry and authenticity.
How did the band form and what does the band name mean?
I found myself at a crossroads in my mid 30s after years of being a lieutenant in various bands- meaning I was always a main songwriter and arranger but often shared the front person role or was just the lead guitarist. I had a vision and really wanted to focus on creating a body of work of my own songs, so I started building my demos back catalog and eventually assembled a group of friends to jam. It's still as uncomplicated as that today, just friends bringing their own unique talents to this weirdo power pop songs I make in my room. The band name came from the folder I made for the first song of the project, Pillow Sail. I wrote "One" and that seemed too indistinct so I made it "Onesie" just to make it more visible on my desktop. Pretty silly origin for a silly band name!
Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?
I've been playing in bands and been involved with making and releasing records since I was 17. I started touring at 19. Some of my previous projects were The Disenchanted, Celebrity Roast, The Isles, Sport Of Kings, Boomerang Son, and Gurus. My parents got me into the usual boomer melange of Beatles and Stones but I was kind of a late bloomer with my own collection. My first tape was Pump by Aerosomith- the coinciding Making of Pump doc totally fascinated me. A couple years on, I was on to Smashing Pumpkins and Rush and spent a few years playing along with the big rock albums of the early 90s in my bedroom. A few years later I discovered the world of DIY punk hardcore and that kind of self sufficient community approach really changed my life. I started recording on a 4 track at home, playing in bands, and traveling to shows.
First concert that you ever went to?
First big national band was Rush and Primus at Nassau Coliseum- I remember being crushed by the devastating volume and I really appreciated the level of devotion of their fans- I was getting deep into the catalog myself. Locally I think it was Vision Of Disorder at The Right Track Inn on Long Island - still love them by the way. The hardcore scene on LI in the mid 90s was crazy, often there were a thousand people showing up to see local bands.
What's your writing process like?
I tend to demo songs pretty thoroughly as far as guitar/bass/drums/keys. Lyrics and vocal melodies come last. I keep a notes file on my phone with little phrases that enter my airspace, then I'll try to pull out ideas that match the vibe of the music and expand from there. It's very fun- like solving a puzzle. I'll mix them as I go along and listen on headphones walking around the city and see if what I thought was a hook at 2AM actually has any lasting power. I'll build up about 20 of those, which at this point usually takes about a year, then send them out to the band and say ok which are the ones that seem promising enough to work on together.
What other artists or songs inspire your music?
Big Star is of course a huge touchstone for any guitar pop band. "Back Of A Car" has that perfect marriage of a snaking, catchy guitar line that blends perfectly with the vocal melody. The drums are very organic- you're gliding along or getting punched in the gut depending on what the vocal is doing. Thin Lizzy I love for their guitarmonies and kind of attitude-laden, talky vocals that jump out when Phil reaches for a note. Malkmus I love for the way he treats genre and language like a playground- hopefully whatever genre you're messing with, it still sounds like you, and he is just the master of being fearless like that especially in his solo work. Having grown up on 80s hits, I chose "Destination Unknown" because its sort of like a lost Cars classic- there's just dozens of hooks in there, but there's also a droning kraut rock one note-ness to it that allows the vocal to be very playful. "Apartment Song" + "Divorce Song" are master classes in simple arrangements and lyrical storytelling. I can often get immersed in details or keeping myself entertained with too many dynamics. On this record I really tried to write some songs that focus on a cohesive single theme, character, or place (see "Morning Warren", "Rat Island", or "Let Me Guess").
What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be it's own thing?
We go for that classic balance- it should certainly be recognizable as the recorded song but it's going to come out differently depending on x amount of factors that day so just be loose and in the moment with your bandmates. Maybe because we have a DIY punk background we play loud and move things along at a brisk pace and so the slower, more delicate songs tend to not get picked for a live set.
Has the band toured?
Personally I've done many US and EURO tours but Onesie has really only done the northeast USA so far. It's always great to leave town. Brooklyn has so many venues it can feel like you're on tour when you play Manhattan or Queens. One time, at the end of a long weekender, we played in the center of a giant football stadium size dome in small town PA. There were a handful of suburban punks there, milling about this cool little skate park while this crazy storm raged outside. Surreal! We def plan on touring as much as we can for a part time band.
What's up next for the band?
We're all very excited about this record and will be pushing it for a few months. We'll prob do another video. Show wise we'll continue with our usual pace of playing the northeast and hopefully be getting out to some new regions for us. Keep and eye out and thanks for listening!