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LISTEN UP: BROOKLYN-BASED NAPOLEON RELEASES “SUCCESS”

Napoleon is an upcoming Brooklyn-based band with three of its four members originally hailing from Detroit, MI. Band members include Julian [bass/vox], Julien [guitar/vox], Jared [guitar], and Harrison [drums]. Even though most members are from Detroit, they actually met in NYC. They now live in a spot in Bushwick, where they “drive the neighbors nuts and play cards.”

They just released their first album, Success on July 25th [a premonition perhaps?] After catching their recent show at Shea Stadium, PLAYGROUND DETROIT was able to catch Julian & Julien for an interview at Kave before their show at Muchmore’s on Saturday night.

PD: How long have you been living in NYC? What brings you here?

Julian: I moved to New York about six years ago after studying classical and jazz music at Interlochen. I was trying to convince myself that I wanted to play in an orchestra and had a brief two year stay at Manhattan School of Music:  I got to New York and realized I listened to the Stones a lot, and liked it, a lot. Beethoven is great and all but ‘love in vain’ well… I’ll take boots over wigs.

Julien: I moved from all over Michigan growing up and then before moving to New York I moved out to the West coast for awhile, but I’m a East coast person. I’ve been here around two years.

PD: Do you miss Detroit? What do you miss about it?

Julien: Oh yeah, let Detroit know that we miss home. I miss Detroit… I miss the music in Detroit…

Nobody does it like Detroit.”

PD: What do you like about NYC?

Julien: So many people! You can meet a lot of new faces here.

PD: What are some of the main differences you see between Detroit and NYC?

Julien: Musically, there’s this noise thing happening in Detroit.  You have to know the right people to know what’s going on. The Brooklyn music scene is friendly, but in Detroit there is real camaraderie. Everyone helps each other make things happen. In NYC, you are pushing your way through all these other people; there is this competitive weird business angle to it. You are always meeting a lot of cool people and everybody is doing stuff. NYC has no specific scene, it’s all over the place. The nice thing about Detroit is there are a few things happening on any given night, and you know everyone is going to be there…

Everyday New York kicks your ass.”

Julian: The atmosphere in Detroit is, well I recognize the poverty there- you can see it, friends drive their shitty cars, [nobody drives here! That’s a big difference…] But at the same time, these people are also buying houses for nothing. [In NYC] there is just so many people here, you are pushed together on the subways and stuff. NYC is great though. You’re constantly going out and being on top of things, every single day it forces you to have this energy. Things are slower in Detroit, it can be frustrating.

Julien, left. Julian, right.

All photos courtesy of Samantha Banks

PD: Has Napoleon played shows in Detroit yet?

Julian: No shows in Detroit yet. We are waiting for that homecoming party. We’re just waiting to fund a tour to go out there. We would love to play a out there. I’m more nervous to play Detroit than Brooklyn you know…

PD: Who are some of your influences?

Julian: So many influences… The Satin Peaches, Sting, The Walkmen…  It’s kind of all over the place. It depends, I need my Iggy just like I need my Beethoven.

Julien: The drummer, Harrison, he’s into jazz. I’m from the School of Hard Knocks…mostly Glam stuff, Post-punk, 80’s New Wave, Iggy…

PD: Tell us about your debut album that was just released in July, entitled Success.

Julian: It was recorded in upstate New York under the hand of producer Kevin McMahon [Titus Andronicus, Swans, Real Estate, The Walkmen]. He was able to capture our abilities as a live band and we recorded it in a little more than three days time.

PD: How did you get involved working with him?

Julian: I was really into The Walkman before they got big. He pretty much built The Walkman studio, and then fell into owning the equipment from the studio, and moved upstate. I really wanted to do this album with him, so I found Kevin online through link after link, and called him up when I moved here. I was kind of ambitious, I guess. I took a bus upstate while he was working on Titus Andronicus and he showed me what they were doing.

Julien: Yeah, we were lucky to get in with him when we did. He’s hitting a huge stride now in his career. He was such a huge mentor; it was a really valuable experience for us.

PD: What’s next for Napoelon?

Julian: We are working another another album for the fall. We’ll be playing during CMJ in October and then heading to SXSW. Our next show is at The Flat on August 28th.

Check out the music video from the first single of the album, “Sarafan.”

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