The 75s make an extra-fancy splash with its debut record

Feb 20, 2008 at 4:00 am
Logically, the 75s shouldn't even exist. Singer/guitarist Laurel Mydock had played bass in a few bands, but had never sung lead before forming the 75s with drummer Scott Lasser — a garage-rock veteran with a secret (well, not anymore) wish to bash out sweet songs like those crafted by the indie-pop bands he used to see in San Francisco. And Morgan Nusbaum was a skilled enough bassist to actually intimidate the other two at first.

After posting a couple of raw but inspired demo tracks on MySpace, the trio stumbled onto the local scene last summer and made an immediate impression. Here was a band as rocking as the early-era Ramones, but with a heavy dose of '90s-era, K Records-style, melodic indie pop. Outside of Bunnygrunt (and to a lesser extent, That's My Daughter), you just don't hear this sound very often from St. Louis bands.

Now, barely six months after their initial show, the 75s are about to self-release Extra Fancy, their debut CD. It's a solid, no-nonsense reflection of their live experience — and if newer songs like "I Wanna Kill Your Boyfriend" are any indication, it's a mere warm-up to bigger and better things.

Mike Appelstein: Are you all from here originally?

Laurel Mydock: I'm from Kansas City. I came up here to play soccer at Lindenwood. They don't give actual athletic scholarships, but if your grades are good enough, they'll say, "Come play soccer with us!" But then when I quit soccer and started playing in a band, because that was cMoooler, they couldn't take my scholarship away. I was the soccer player out there with the blue hair, and it was just not working out. I decided to go the band route instead of the athletic route.

Scott Lasser: I'm originally from Detroit, but I ended up graduating from high school in San Francisco. I moved to St. Louis right after I got out of the Navy. I tried to get as close to Detroit as possible, and this was where I found a job.

Morgan Nusbaum: I'm born and raised here. North county!

What bands were you in previously?

LM: When I was in high school, I played with some guys. We played our high school auditorium to about five people.

Talent show?

LM: Well, at least it wasn't a talent show. But when I came up here on a whim, I decided I wanted to learn how to play bass, and so I started taking lessons. My bass teacher said, "Hey, I know a band looking for a bass player," and that was ResistAll. That kind of ended after a year and a half, as bands do. I just did school for awhile. I was actually playing for Cullen McGrane, the bass player for the Honkeys, for about four years, but we never got anything together. He tried to organize a garage band, and that's actually where I met Scott. He was supposed to be the drummer of that band [the Downcasts].

Had you written songs for ResistAll?

LM: No, not really. I guess it's been coming for about fifteen years. When I was in high school, I basically sat in my room and tried to play Metallica CDs. When you're a girl, it's hard to figure out how to sing that kind of music and play. It wasn't until Scott started introducing me to indie stuff that I thought, "Oh, I see how I can use my voice."

SL: Laurel thought that everyone in a band had to play pretty, be very technical and have a great, soaring voice. I basically gave her a Tiger Trap CD...

LM: He's the girly-pop influence.

SL: All those K Records bands played in San Francisco, so I got to see Beat Happening, Tiger Trap and Cub.

LM: I never listened to garage rock or indie pop before being in the Downcasts. So basically, in the last two years, I've been introduced to both [genres] and totally taken to them.

How did Morgan join?

SL: We had an ad up for about two months on MySpace.

Morgan Nusbaum: You asked to be my friend.

LM: We were scared to ask Morgan because she was supposed to be a kickass bass player.

MN: I guess you guys just caught me at the right time. My boyfriend at the time and I had a band together, Fighting Failure. I was getting frustrated with it, thinking we were never going to play out or have band practice. We had a guitar player — he and Josh were both members of Galaxy Rock Meets William, which was the band I had in high school.

The 75s decided to record pretty quickly.

LM: We had enough songs.

SL: It seems like the next logical step once you start playing out. People were asking us after the first show when we were recording.

LM: So we sold a bass and went into the studio. The album art's going to be over-the-top girly. We're making everything really pink.

You keep using that word: "girly."

SL: In a good way.

LM: Well, we're girls. Embrace the girlyness. It's fun being a girl in a band. It's not the most common thing. I work in a chemistry lab where I have to wear a white coat and crappy clothes every day. It's fun to be girly for once.

Tell me about "The Lost One." It sounds a lot different from the rest of the album, like an early Sleater-Kinney song.

MN: That was my attempt at writing a girly song.

LM: The cool thing about bringing her song in, is that it's a completely different feel.

SL: We ended up sounding a little grittier after Morgan came in. The stuff we were practicing was pretty clean.

MN: When I first came in, I was just playing root notes, because I wasn't sure what else they wanted me to do.

LM: That's the last thing we wanted to do. When I was in ResistAll, I didn't know anything about music; the other guys would say, "Hey, do a Latin feel" or something. And I felt awkward I didn't know the genre.

SL: Laurel and I have both been in bands where we've had no say with what goes on. That's the one thing we wanted: democracy. Because there's probably nothing worse than being in a band where you truly don't care and not having a say. You just get burned out sooner.

You were definitely chatty and comfortable at the CBGB show last summer.

LM: I think that just comes out of awkwardness. You can ask any of my labmates. I work with a lot of Thai people and they kept calling me this one name. It took me a week to get the meaning out of them, but basically it's someone who says everything that comes to their mind.

MN: No inner monologue.

LM: That's what my advisor said. And I feel really bad. You know, at the end of the set I'm supposed to say my thank-yous, and I'm genuinely appreciative of the clubs we're playing, but it just never comes out right. And I just feel all horrible. Like the other day, we were playing with Chicos Maciunas. And they had their name written at the back of the wall at the Way Out, and I said (looking behind shoulder) "Chico Mazz-yoo-ness..." Then, "I'm not good with the Mexican" was the next thing that came out of my mouth.

SL: She's half-Mexican.

LM: After we screwed up their names, they started calling us the 69s.

Which brings me to the obvious question. Name?

SL: OK, that's my fault. It was supposed to be in honor of the Ramones. It was supposed to be the beginning. I thought the Ramones got together in 1975. But a quick trip to Wikipedia told me that they actually got together in 1974. So I figured that maybe 1975 was the year of their first album, but no, it came out in 1976. So we split the difference.

LM: Morgan calls it the Ramones' most creative year. The other great thing is that in the RFT's This Just In column, we're first. Because we're a number.