A trip up to the second floor at Jose Pistolas and I found myself face to face with the band members of You Do You, almost hidden behind mountains of hot sauce and tacos at a sprawling table set against the back wall. They had invited me out to chat before that evening’s performance, and now an empty chair awaited me at the center of the group, an air of ominous expectancy surrounding it like the forbidden seat at King Arthur’s Round Table.
The silence was broken by science – the standard “how bout that weather” greeting supplanted by “how bout that lunar eclipse?” And as with all science chats, eventually the conversation got around to dinosaurs.
I see dinosaurs all over everything – your website, your Facebook page – what’s with that?
Alex “Bugman” Baranowski (Bass, vocals): I said we should make a concept album so we can take ourselves a little more seriously. So I said what is the name of our band gonna be? We all started kicking around ideas and I said we should be the Funky Dinos. I have a fascination with dinos. My ideas don’t usually stick, but it stuck.
Drew Parker (Lead Guitar, vocals): That’s because when you play bass, you look like a dinosaur.
Drew held his hands up before him in visual explanation, air guitar fingers shredding the space before him with the tight grip of velociraptor claws.
Katie Feeney (Lead Vocals): If we release as the Funky Dinos, I don’t even know everyone’s favorite dinosaur. We had to do the dino quiz, which funky dino are you?
Crills Wilson (Keys, vocals): It’s really difficult for me, because I didn’t want to choose a favorite dinosaur. I want them all.
Photo of You Do You by Brian Hunt of Ethimofoto.
How did you guys get started out? How did you all meet?
Katie: We started out like 2012, Drew and I started kicking some songs around together. We were in my friend Kelly’s band, and then she moved to Nashville. So we were kinda like let’s do our own thing. We were already friends with [Crills and Alex], we had a drummer Tony, who was our friend, who moved to Brooklyn. Aaron was a Craigslist find, which was awesome, because he fits in perfectly. The creepy Craigslist strikes again. That’s really how it happened.
Alex: We tried out three really creepy dudes on Craigslist.
Katie: We hired the second creepy dude. Alex: We didn’t get killed in the process. You guys were writing stuff and not doing anything with it. So we started jamming.
Katie: We had a whole basement full of instruments, and we would have people over, and we would record weird things.
Alex: We all lived in Pennsport, so why wouldn’t we all get together and play music?
Where did you get the name for your band?
Katie: We’ve definitely been on a funkier track now, but at the onset of it, my whole point was that I had been in a lot of bands where people would tell me exactly what to do – you will sing these notes at this time – and everything was just a little too tight. And I was like I don’t want to do that, I just want to collect people that I trust. You do your thing, and I’ll write songs, and you play what you want on top of it, and I’ll probably think it’s good. There’s very few rules. At the time, ‘you do you’ is something I would say constantly, in context. When people would ask me my opinion, I would be like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know your life, you do you.’
Can you each tell me a bit about yourselves?
Crills: I was playing in my own band right about the time that You Do You started playing together. I was going to school at that time, and You Do You started looking really good, so I stayed on that.
Alex: Tell her you’re studying music therapy.
Crills: Oh yeah, I’m studying music therapy.
Alex: I played with Crills in a wedding band. We’d been playing music for years and years together. And I was in his original band at the start. So we go way back playing music together. And living together. We’ve just been together for a long time. Drew and Feeney were writing music. I thought it was cool. We decided to jam and now we’re in a band. I work in HVAC and I do enjoy it. Although I have to play music on the side all the time. I have a music degree from Drexel University. I love dinosaurs. Ya know all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park weren’t in the Jurassic period? They kind’ve failed there.
Katie: We want everyone to know that. We’ve had this conversation nine times. We never resolve it. I’m Katie Feeney. I’m a Gemini. I have two cats.
To balance each other out.
Katie: It’s true. One of them’s nice and one of them’s not. I work at Rock to the Future. I’m from Eerie, PA. This has been coming up a lot lately, but I went to 12 years of Catholic school. Drew and I are an item, a hot ticket.
Drew: I grew up in Rome, Georgia.
Do you want to give your astrological sign as well?
Drew: Oh yeah, I’m an Aries, which makes me stubborn. I’ve been playing musical instruments since I was a kid, when I was 13 or 14 I got a guitar and I’ve pretty much been obsessively glued to it since, probably annoying everyone around me. This is really the first band I’ve been in that’s a great band. I like dinosaurs a lot. I’m a scientist. I’m a research scientist at UPenn. I don’t do dinosaur science unfortunately. I do human science. Brains.
Aaron Boczkowski (drums): I’ve been playing drums since fourth grade. I’ve been in bands pretty consistently since 1994, in high school. I also work at Penn. I’m married. I have a daughter. I’m the elder statesman of the band. I do like to cook. I’ve entered and come in second place many times in the Fishtown chili cook off. But I’ve never won.
Alex: You should hear him play drums after he loses the chili cook off.
Aaron: I want that trophy. Even though you have to give it back the next year. It’s like the Stanley Cup.
Photo of You Do You by Brian Hunt of Ethimofoto.
Science and random trivia. Everyone will learn a lot from your interview.
Alex: I hope they learn something about themselves.
Katie: They will, if they look deep inside.
Aside from dinosaurs and brains, what are some of your musical influences?
Alex: The Talking heads, The Brothers Johnson, Chaka Khan, and Todd Rundgren.
Katie: Ike and Tina Turner, Gloria Estefan, I’ve been listening to a lot of Marvin Gaye, old 60s soul stuff.
Drew: The Ventures, Hall & Oates, John Scofield. Really far and wide. I like a lot of stuff. Old country music.
Aaron: I’m like Drew, I like a lot of stuff. As far as drummers, I like Terreon Gully, jazzy, kinda funky stuff.
Crills: Thank you guys all for leaving Michael Mcdonald for me. But also Horace Silver on the jazz end.
Katie: We pretty much drown ourselves in music.
Alex: If it’s good, then we like it.
Can you tell me about your debut EP?
Alex: We cut it twice, which is the funny thing. We wanted to get all the songs down with our first drummer. We were trying to do our first basement recording, but it was serious, dingy basement recording. Since we got a new drummer, we used our friend’s studio, Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philly, and it was cool because instead of doing it piece by piece, we cut it live. We overdubbed background vocals, some lead vocals, and guitar solos. The EP consists of a lot of older stuff that Katie and Drew were doing. We’re very proud of our first release, but we’re excited for the next one, because we feel like we’ve honed in on something as a band.
If you guys were in the audience watching yourselves, how would you describe your performance?
Alex: We’re super tight, but we’re also fun and hilarious.
Katie: We’re usually pretty snazzy.
Alex: We usually look like The Beach Boys or a mix between Parliament and funeral directors.
Katie, you’ve played Art for the Cash Poor before. What were your impressions of it?
Katie: Super fun, I had a great time, there was beer, there was really cool art. I bought some prints last year. It’s a bright fun place. Really good food. I didn’t even ask [the band]. I was like I know you’re available, we’re playing this show.
What are you looking forward to most about playing again this year?
Katie: I’m looking forward to another beautiful day of music and art and day-drinking in sunny Philadelphia.
You Do You will be playing Art for the Cash Poor 15 on Saturday, June 14, 3 pm at Crane Arts