Photo Credit: Matthew Nedbalsky
For more than five years, Lost Boy? has been quietly and steadily playing and recording his infectious brand of fast, lo-fi, punk-infused bedroom pop around New York City and offering it for free online. As the music output of 26-year-old Suffolk County, N.Y., native Davey Jones, Lost Boy? tends to reinvigorate the definition of “indie” by letting the music do the work. Currently, Jones has no set label, no publicist and no booking agent. In fact, at this point, he doesn’t even really have a permanent place of residence (he’s working on it). No matter; he’s certainly begun to carve out a small following. With over 300 songs already recorded, Jones is finally started to get some recognition, playing regular shows with up-and-coming pop troupe Twin Sister and recently having his song “Fast, Burn” featured on Pitchfork’s forkcast. Here, he talks about his approach to music, the lo-fi scene in New York City, Neil Young and what the future holds for Lost Boy?.
How long have you been playing music?
About 10 years, maybe longer. I taught myself to play guitar as a kid. I had this Martin short-scale guitar that was my grandfather’s. I just picked it up and started playing it.
You have a revolving door of musicians you play and record with, correct?
Yeah, I usually try and keep it fresh. Keep the sounds fresh and constantly get inspired by the people I am playing with. It’s mostly made up of people I grew up with and friends. We all have different bands that we play in, and when one band breaks up, we come in and out. I grew up in Suffolk County, the West Islip/Babylon area, and used to play with people out there. In fact, Dan Deacon grew up there, too, and I used to play shows with him in my old band, Nightjar. Right now, though, I live in the city and am crashing wherever I can until I can save enough to get my own place.
It seems that the indie-music scene in New York City tends to be mythologized by music journalist to be more of a tight-knit group of musicians and bands. What’s has been your experience?
I think it’s more fragmented. I’ve been playing in New York for a while, and sometimes it seems almost trendy, but I just try to do what I do and keep playing. I don’t really care what bands I play with, I just like playing, you know? I think I definitely have a set of friends and bands that I play with more frequently now that I like to play shows, but I try to keep it fresh too and play with new bands. Everyone should just want to play. There definitely is a music community. I don’t think of it so much as a scene, though, because one second things are hot and the next it doesn’t even matter.
There seems to be a strong focus on keeping your independence in how you record and release your music. For example, you offer free downloads of music on your blog; is that intentional?
Yeah, I try to keep it free for now. I don’t even care if I get paid. It would be nice, but it’s not my priority.
One big advocate of your music is Twin Sister, which has a publicist and is currently on tour. Do you foresee keeping it completely independent, or is that the direction you would like to move toward?
I try to keep it independent, but I wouldn’t mind moving in that direction. A friend of mine has a booking agent, and it would be nice to have one. I don’t want to go searching for one, though. I would rather have someone just come to me and say, “Hey, we like your stuff and want to put it out there.” That is where it’s at right now. I’m just going to keep playing New York until it hopefully gets to a point where I can get paid out of state, and then we’ll go on tour.
The way you go about recording your music and putting it out reminds me a lot of the way Jay Reatard began. What motivates you to go about putting your music out this way?
I think Neil Young actually inspired me to do that. He just has so many records that are so amazing and each of them is varied in what it sounds like and in its stories. I always like to just record all the time, anyway, but Neil Young really sparked that interest to record all the time because you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you’ll get some really great stuff and sometimes you can work off the bad stuff.
There is also a kind of “no bullshit” approach to Neil Young too. You are always sure that no label or person is dictating what he’s putting out.
Right, he’s always free and has never cared what a label thought. He put out that Shocking Pinks record and Trans Am. I mean you listen to Trans Am now and it sounds like a record that should come out now, but back then his record label thought it sucked. They were wrong, though. Trans Am is totally cool. Neil Young is spacing out, man! [Laughs.]
When you record, is it all just in your room and in studio basements, or have you ever recorded in a full-on, professional recording studio?
I never recorded in a professional studio but a lot of my stuff has been recorded in my friend Brian’s kitchen. He got this nice reel-to-reel 8-track on a quarter-inch tape, and I recorded three songs on that, but that is about as close as I have ever come to recording with a “big sound.”
Is that an intentional aversion or do foresee yourself someday recording an album in a less lo-fi setting?
No, it’s mainly just me working with I got and what I can afford. I bought a little 8-track, learned how to use it and that’s it. It really became this magical little machine for me that has worked out well. I would definitely love to record in a bigger studio to see how it would come out, though. I would want to keep it to that reel-to-reel warm sound, but a bigger studio would definitely be cool.
If you could write your future, in five years, where would you like to be with Lost Boy? and what will you have like to do in that time?
Maybe we’ll be playing Madison Square Garden. [Laughs.] No, I am just kidding. That would be awesome but, no, maybe we’ll be opening for some bands or something. I don’t know. I think I am just going to keep recording and doing what I do. I try not to think too hard about the future because you don’t want to psyche yourself out.
No magazine covers or guest features with Conan O’Brien on guitar?
That would be cool, but I guess we’ll have to see. [Laughs.]