Indie

Indie Mixtape 20: 2nd Grade Has Stayed In A Genuinely Haunted House

Featuring members of bands like Free Cake For Every Creature, Remember Sports, and Friendship, 2nd Grade is the latest exciting export to come out of Philadelphia. Led by Peter Gill, the new album from the band, Hit To Hit, is centered around one’s identity — specifically the ways that a person can be an amalgam of many different unique personalities. It’s a heavy topic to handle, but the music is significantly lighter. Hit To Heat features 24 tracks that span the spectrum from peppy power pop to more reserved and introspective.

To celebrate the new album, Gill sat down to talk Joni Mitchell, Jackie Brown, and the virtue of monochrome fashion in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Smart power pop mess.

It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?

Cult classic band from the ‘20s that wrote great pop songs and inspired a new wave of teenage power poppers. Criminally overlooked, remembered for their brief cameo in Austin Powers 4!

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

Portland, Maine.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Alex Chilton of Big Star, Panther Burns, Box Tops etc. He truly had the voice, and he never stopped looking for new ways to use it. Also he was a connoisseur of high & low musical forms, which I admire.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

Peking duck at Quanjude in Beijing when I was a student there.

What album do you know every word to?

Blue by Joni Mitchell.

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

I’ve seen Jonathan Richman a few times and it’s always been transcendent.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Monochrome. It’s dramatic and establishes a mood, yet requires very little effort to put together.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

@phillypublicpools on Instagram. Idyllic shots of swimming pools all over Philly, they only post during the summer.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

“Stop Ou Encore” by Plastic Bertrand. We first heard it on AM radio in Montreal and it quickly became a staple. It’s developed into a tour game where one person will say “stop… ou… encore” and everyone else responds with the high-pitched “encore” like in the song. A great way to kill eight or ten hours in the van.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

What to do with lots of turnips

What album makes for the perfect gift?

Love Is Overtaking Me by Arthur Russell.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?

Genuinely haunted mansion in New Orleans.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I have no tattoos, but one time I saw one of a cartoon shark wearing swim trunks and holding a surfboard, and next to that it said “SPRING BREAK ‘94” in big aqua letters. The person who had it was probably around 23, I can’t stop thinking about it.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

If I’m listening to the radio, it’s WPRB (Princeton college radio) or WRTI (Philly classical & jazz public radio) and in either case there’s no way I’m touching that dial!

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

That’s a toughie, there’s a lot of good people doing nice things out there. But I will say — folks who give random touring bands a place to crash are angels from heaven.

What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Stop playing video games and spend that time learning how to do something useful!

What’s the last show you went to?

I think the last show I went to that I wasn’t playing was Alex G, Tomberlin, and Corey Flood in Philly.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

Jackie Brown.

What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?

Penne alla vodka and caesar salad.

Hit To Hit is out May 29 on Double Double Whammy. Pre-order it here. While we have you, don’t forget to sign up for the Indie Mixtape newsletter below for music recommendations delivered directly to your inbox every week.

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