months later, there’s a neat square envelope with a wax
seal. The seven-song disc within is stamped with the same
scrawled logo as before, but the music is remarkably different—raw,
intense, full of promise, devoid of pretense. The first
track, “Monkeyfunk,” is a swirl of heavy drums, snarling
male vocals, piano and electric guitar; the next, “Bad
Wizard in a Sweatsuit” has an organic, glam-rock swagger.
Tempos rush and recede, songs take unexpected left exits
into riff-rock territory, endings blur into noise collage.
It’s dimebag and cheap bourbon rock; T-Rex and Sebadoh
and Zeppelin and the Jesus and Mary Chain locked inside
the same padded room.
is how the Hudson-based quartet known as Luxury Flats
were introduced to the world, through these two impressive
demo discs and a handful of live shows that came recommended
with superlative-heavy buzz. They quickly found a wave
of support in both their hometown and Albany: Valentine’s
owner Howard Glassman has called them “the best band in
the area right now, bar none.” (Multi-instrumentalist
Damara Stolfo says, “We owe a lot of what we’ve become
to Howard. From the first time we played, he’s always
Mikey Corcoran is wiry and tall. He looks like a young
Tom Petty with a three-day-old beard. When he walks, he
just kind of leans his body in his chosen direction. His
shirt is usually buttoned below the solar plexus.
2001, Corcoran and his longtime friend and drummer Joe
Terry were playing together in a Philadelphia band called
Terminal Crash. They were beginning to make a name for
themselves in the competitive Philly rock scene when Corcoran
nearly made literal use of his band’s name.
were doing the band, recording this record,” says Corcoran,
in a stoner’s low, measured tone, much the opposite of
his raw-throated singing voice. “I just went off the deep
end, taking drugs and stuff, to the point where it was
just like, no turning back . . . ”
were on your own, dude,” Terry interjects.
was really trying to go all the way,” Corcoran continues.
“I was out of my fuckin’ mind. I obviously wasn’t myself.”
love this dude to death, he’s like a brother to me,” says
Terry. “But there’s that time when people are either gonna
make it or they’re not. There’s nothing you can do for
’em. I can’t hold this dude down and say ‘You’re not gonna
fuckin’ do this!’”
tried that in Philly, like physically.” Corcoran chuckles
at the bittersweet memory.
I tried and it didn’t work, so I just kinda got pissed.
I kind of did write him off, but I was still like, ‘What’s
gonna happen with this dude?’”
adds, “He had basically given up Mikey for dead.”
began to change when Corcoran went into rehab. “My intention
was just to get on something like methadone and go back
out and start raging again, get a job and be a responsible
whatever.” But the former Hare Krishna devotee had an
epiphany. “I had these crazy dreams—these intense, Krishna
vision-type dreams. Granted, I was also coming down off
of lots of heavy stuff. But it made me just swing completely
back in the other direction.”
friend of Corcoran’s offered him a place to stay near
Hudson (“a shed in the backyard,” says the waifish Stolfo;
“it was a nice shed,” he counters), where he immersed
himself in the Krishna lifestyle: “Shaved head, the garb.
That was it. No music.” Soon after, he shipped off for
a six-month stay in India. But his new style didn’t last
for long, thanks in part to doughy comic actor Jack Black.
the plane back from India, I was watching—I won’t say
the movie . . . School of—I can’t. But there was
a montage in the middle. I’m sitting there in a fuckin’
dress on the plane, and I’m watchin’ this montage where
they show all the greats—the Who is in there, Jimi, the
Ramones—and it was like a shot just rushed over me. I
knew that I was in the wrong place and I had to find some
middle road. It’s so lame, but it was just powerful. It
basically made me see that I loved playing music, not
just rock music. It makes me feel really comfortable.”
Corcoran is comfortable playing croquet in the backyard
of the band’s compound, Spook Rock, a spacious 18th- century
Dutch Colonial in the town of Greenport, just east of
Hudson. All four band members live here—Corcoran, Stolfo,
Terry, and bassist Joe Vanavan (Joe V., they call him,
always)—as does Terry’s girlfriend, Nicky Karas, who also
had a hand in designing the packages for the band’s two
demo CDs. This is their universe, where they eat, sleep,
record, swim, play lawn games.
around noon on an early July Sunday, the sky teasing the
possibility of clear-and-sunny. The band members are sitting
on the patio, sharing a joint, discussing what to do with
the wheat in the field behind the house. One of three
resident cats circles and figure-eights the tangle of
legs beneath the picnic table. Sensing the need to entertain,
Terry runs to gather up an old, yellow, Sony cassette
Walkman. He plugs the antique into a pair of small computer
speakers and plays an Erykah Badu tape.
barely knew these guys when they moved in,” says Stolfo.
Despite being the junior member by several years, she
is essentially their manager, handling their booking,
business and correspondence. She’s the only lifelong upstate
New York resident among them. Luxury Flats are her first
band. “Mikey was like, ‘I’m gonna start a rock band. You
wanna play the piano?’” She and Corcoran began playing,
writing, and cohabitating immediately.
having been out of touch for a few years, Terry called
Corcoran “out of the blue,” and found out about the new
project. He began making weekend trips up from Philadelphia
to work on music.
who had been playing music with Terry since high school
and was familiar with Corcoran from around town, was impressed.
“Joe [Terry] would come back to Philly with these tapes,
and we would hang out and record in my basement. He played
me these tapes, and I was like ‘Holy shit! Mikey, back
on the horse!’”
one horse and onto another horse,” quips Corcoran.
the get-out-of-the-city bug, Vanavan, who has played music
with Terry since the two were teenagers, soon relocated.
“I was at a transitional point in my life. I needed a
total change. When I helped Joe move up here, I was like,
‘Where do I sign?’ I just took that leap into the unknown.”
in their cohabitation, conflicting work schedules placed
a premium on rehearsal and recording time. “It was like
camp when [Vanavan] first got up here,” recalls Corcoran.
“We would have these charts, like cooking charts, and
everyone had a day, and you had to get down there and
cook this fucking meal . . . ”
clarifies, “so everyone was in the practice spot by [a
was very tense. We felt this urgency.”
urgency carried over into the sounds heard on their demos,
recorded mostly live here at Spook Rock. As heard on the
demos, the Flats have two distinct personalities: an electric
rock band, and its acoustic freak-folk doppelgänger. This
versatility is both a strength and a weakness—Stolfo’s
Yamaha CP70 piano can be a beast to both transport and
tune; Terry’s muscular drumming (he plays kick on almost
every beat of every measure) borders on overpowering;
and the band’s tendency to swap instruments during acoustic
sets can be a sound engineer’s bane. (In the acoustic
setting, Terry plays banjo and guitar, and takes a significant
portion of the lead vocals, while Corcoran bangs away
on percussion, Vanavan ping-pongs between bass and lap-steel
guitar, and Stolfo plays harmonium.) As one listener remarked
following the Flats’ set at a recent outdoor show in Hudson,
“They need their own sound guy.”
band’s shapeshifting makes them a hard one to define,
but as Corcoran puts it, “We’re a rock band, I guess,
but I don’t think about it that way. It encompasses all
this other garbage that people throw into it. There are
some songs that aren’t meant to be loud. You can’t sing
the same loud as you can softly.”
finishes the thought. “Nobody wants to always be in a
station. It’s fun to play guitar; it’s fun to hear different
sounds. I guess it is like a whole different band.”
trying to find the balance,” says Vanavan.
place that balance can be achieved is in the studio. The
Flats plan to record through the month of August, and
hope to emerge with a full-length album early this fall,
which will likely be self-released—although there is some
debate over whether or not they will make their own packaging
this time out.
don’t think we’re gonna do that again,” Stolfo states
time it’s gonna be different!” Corcoran offers enthusiastically.
“Nicky has this idea. We’re gonna make it simple.”
can still have a model and get it made somewhere. We can
pay the local print shop to do it.”
pipes up, “I want to have the recording, then worry about
the packaging.” A good point, indeed.
only been a year,” says Corcoran, “but we feel like we
could be putting out three or four recordings a year.
We have tons of stuff. But we don’t have a label or anything
you’re doing everything yourselves,” adds Terry, “what
do you do with it? It’s kind of overwhelming.”
Stolfo thinks it’s that DIY esthetic that makes them what
they are. “I think it’s important for us, at the beginning
of this band’s life, to do it all on our own,” she says,
“because then we know we’re not half-assing it, and we
really are sincere about being together and making this
our life for now.”
Flats will perform tonight (Thursday, Aug. 3) at Stray
Bar (521 Warren St., Hudson), and on Aug. 11 at Valentine’s
(17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) as part of the Hawaiian
Rawkfest. For more information on the band, visit www.theluxuryflats.com.