Party Hat
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Party Hat

Band Alternative Rock

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"Tufts' energetic rock band, Party Hat"

Following a recent performance at Cambridge music club T.T. The Bear’s Place, the Daily’s Matt DiGirolamo sat down with sophomore Ben Anshutz of Tufts band Party Hat to talk about influences, piano rock and fake mustaches.

Matthew DiGirolamo: Tell us a little about Party Hat; how it started and what type of music you play?

Ben Anshutz: The drummer (junior Alex Berdoff) and the guitar player (junior Aaron Wishnick) went to high school together and then both came to Tufts and wanted to keep making music. So, they started making flyers and telling friends. Then they got this singer their freshman year ... They were together as an entity, and then they were looking for a keyboard player about two years ago when I was still in high school. When I got to Tufts I found a flyer by chance; come to think of it, it wasn’t a flyer so much as a torn-off piece of paper that said “keyboardist wanted” with a phone number stuck to the wall. I can say that this is the best thing that I have done at Tufts. It’s really a lot of fun. I guess as far as the type of music we play, we’d be loosely defined as alternative rock. Think of lasers coming from every musical orifice, more like stadium rock. We are just goofy and silly people in general. At our show [at T.T. The Bear’s Place on 1/27], we [gave] away free fake mustaches if you signed up for our mailing list. We even wore them at one point during our show.

MD: If you could compare your music to another band, who would it be?

BA: There is no one band that we are taken off of, but there are doses of Incubus, Maroon 5 and Head Automatica. It’s music for the head and the hips. There’s lots going on, so it’s fun for us to play. For people who are into music, the style is really danceable.

MD: What type of musical influences does the band have?

BA: Before I was in the band, there was almost a metal influence. I brought more of a pop-sensibility to the group, just because I play a lot of jazz and old pop like Billy Joel and Elton John. Having keys in the band moved it away from metal naturally.

MD: You used to do solo stuff right?

BA: Still do!

MD: Is that still active?

BA: Yeah, I play a little bit of guitar too and so I play around campus or in Boston depending [on] if it’s keys and vocals or just an acoustic guitar thing. I am a singer-songwriter myself too, and I am also in two other bands. So I am still writing a lot of music, mostly in the Ben Folds style since that is a big influence on me.


MD: As a keyboardist, what do you think of someone like Andrew McMahon (of Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate) who has become a huge success through playing piano and rocking out on that during shows?

BA: I definitely think it’s a genre that is not explored enough. It’s always good when an artist takes piano out of the world of jazz or synthesis-wizard stuff. Making rock music more piano-centric has not been tapped enough, and it is fun to play. That is where my heart truly lies — in music — and more of what I listen to often.

MD: Where does the name “Party Hat” come from?

BA: We were at first going to be Interrobang, but then we found out that another band in the Boston area had that, so it was a bummer. Aaron [Wishnick, a junior and the band’s guitarist] came into practice like two days after we found out the name was taken and he said “Alright guys, how about Party Hat?” There was no big discussion or “it-came-to-me-in-a-dream” moment.

MD: Are you guys planning to do any recording?

BA: We have not officially released an EP of material that we are waiting on. We are in the midst of tidying up a few songs so we can release an album by the end of the year.

MD: Are you planning on staying with Party Hat for a while?

BA: Aaron and I were talking about this the other day actually. There are good environments to make music in, and bad environments to make music in, depending on the creative element of the people and who has control or who is fighting for it. Party Hat is the ideal situation; we hang out outside of practice and we are on the same page when it comes to writing and performing songs. Everyone in the band is making himself hard to be replaced since everyone seems to be in their element in the band. I cannot describe how great it feels to write music with these guys. It’s super-rewarding.

MD: If someone offered you a record contract tomorrow, would you take it?

BA: Definitely, but I don’t think we’d drop out of school. We’d need to have a discussion and decide if maybe we’d want to take a semester off.

Party Hat will perform at Tufts’ own Hotung Café on Feb. 27. For more information about the band, visit myspace.com/partyhatband. - The Tufts Daily


Discography

Party Hat- The EP. Several tracks off the EP have received radio play on WMFO 91.5 Boston.

Photos

Bio

Forming at Tufts University, all members bring a variety of musical backgrounds to the bubbling musical crock-pot that is Party Hat. Aaron Wishnick and Alex Berdoff, playing together in high-school, began building the spontaneous chemistry that is the foundation for the band's sound. Upon arriving at Tufts, the two friends teamed up with vocal gladiator Casey Fein. Playing with various stand-in musicians the group finally picked up keyboardist Ben Anshutz. Finally, rounding out the line-up with bassist Alex Nisetich, Party Hat hit it's groove hard and hasn't showed signs of slowing down.