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The best kept secret in music


"Past / Current Press includes..."

Rolling Stone - APR 8 /

NY Times - March 27 /

LA Times - March17 / - April feature

Spin - Editors Pick - March 2005 /

Nylon - March 2005 /

CMJ - April 2005 /

New York Newsday - January 2005

Amplifier - May 2005 /

Filter ‘Getting to Know’ - February 2005 /

Harp - March 2005 /

Magnet - April 2005

NY Times Magazine - June 2005, fashion feature - Various


Joy Zipper (2000) - Mercuy UK
American Whip (2004 / 2005) - Dangerbird for the US


Feeling a bit camera shy


“A music writer said we’re like a candy apple with a razor blade inside, which I think is a really great way to put it,” says Joy Zipper’s Tabitha Tindale. Vinny Cafiso, the other half of Joy Zipper (and Tabitha’s other half in real life), admits that he “doesn’t like to give away too much” and says he and Tabitha are indeed “flowering it up a bit to hide the darkness underneath.”
There is an exquisite sweetness to the Joy Zipper sound. The tone of American Whip, the duo’s second album (due Feb. 22 on Dangerbird Records), is set by “Christmas Song,” which boasts a dreamy chorus – “I love you more than a thousand Christmases/ I want you more than any gift I can think of” – that sticks like Juicy Fruit. The Alpha Centauri keyboard effects, super-groovy organ line and that one Summer Of Love guitar progression give way to ecstatic stacked harmonies recalling The Beach Boys and The Beatles, two of Tabitha and Vince’s favorite antecedents.
Perhaps equally important to Joy Zipper’s sonic character, however, are bands like My Bloody Valentine, Stereolab, The Breeders and The Velvet Underground. And there’s this line, which is likely to keep “Christmas Song” off the lips of most carolers: “I feel you now ‘cause I’m deep in madness.”
The chorus to “Baby You Should Know” – “That’s what I see when I see in your eyes” – sounds like it could have been written by Burt Bacharach, but what about the part that goes, “Baby you should know this time/ That every thought you have is mine?” Tabitha insists it’s a love song. Why, then, does the specter of mind control, or, at the very least, garden-variety manipulation, seem to be hovering just over her shoulder?
The candy apple also glistens with violins, viola, cello, fluegelhorn and glockenspiel, but take care you don’t cut your tongue on the intimations of psychosis, “this terrible thing coming over me,” the “never ending search for a suitable enemy,” loading the gun and getting the rope, becoming invisible … mannequins.
Asked what the hell these songs are about, Tabitha rattles off some possibilities: “Life and death and fear.” When pressed, she says: “Vinny lost his father when he was five, and his mother died a few years ago. He’s kind of alone, and alone with his thoughts a lot of the time.”
Not that all of Joy Zipper’s stream-of-consciousness abstractions are necessarily cause for concern. One of the best moments in American Whip is the sing-songy refrain from “Out Of The Sun,” but the lyrics – “Then it came to me/ From another place/ And I buried it/ I buried it” – feel ominous. Still, Tabitha laughs when she explains: “It was Easter, and Vinny gave me this little Easter basket, which is so out of character for him. But he colored this egg and put it in the basket. For some reason, I said, ‘Let’s go outside and bury this egg’ – not for any real purpose, just because it’s fun to do weird things like that. Then, that afternoon, we were working on a song and we needed some words, so I just put down, ‘And I buried it.’” Not really that sinister after all.
The dichotomy driving Joy Zipper’s artistic modus operandi is reflected by Tabitha and Vinny themselves. Yes, he’s dark-haired and she’s blond. He’s introverted and she’s outgoing. He’s been playing music as long as he can remember; she started when she met him. But there’s a deeper, downright symbiotic, temperamental dynamic at the heart of Joy Zipper that gives it its hypnotic power.
Vinny thinks back to the time in his life just before Tabitha appeared: “I was living in Long Island, where I’m from. Every night, these guys I was in a band with, we’d sit in the parking lot and get stoned. But when I met Tabitha, she wanted to go into the city; she wanted to travel; she wanted to do all this stuff. I really needed that because my friends were potheads and they didn’t want to do anything. I was depressed. I kept thinking, God, what am I doing? Tab had so much life in her. At that point, I was ready for someone with that kind of spirit to come along. So when I met her, right away, I was, like, whoa, this is great. We had an instantaneous connection.”
They met at a Battle Of The Bands contest in Franklin Square, Long Island, on the Hempstead Turnpike. “The place was called Hot Rocks,” Tabitha says. “Isn’t that perfect?” “This was right after high school,” she continues. “I was living in the city. I’d come back to Long Island to see some friends and they said I had to see this band. They were amazing. Vinny was playing guitar. There was something about him. Right when I saw him, I said, ‘Hmm.’ And then … you know … I stalked him.”
Vinny recollects: “I got a call from a guy I was in the band with saying there was this girl who wanted to come down to rehearsal. I figured she liked the lead singer. I didn’t want to think anything of it. But when she came down, she spent a lot of time talking to me, and I knew.”
At first, Tabitha was just the band’s biggest booster and Vinny’s de