The Shondes, a Brooklyn-based indie-punk band, is made up of violinist Elijah Oberman, bassist Louisa Rachel Solomon, guitarist Ian Brannigan and drummer Temim Fruchter. Fruchter spoke with The Hatchet about her band’s political views, their Yiddish name and growing up around the D.C. music scene.
Speak briefly about your band’s political views.
We’re all sort of political individuals, so our band doesn’t necessarily push any one political line. Three of us work with a group called Jews Against the Occupation here in New York. But we’re also here in queer communities and in other communities – activist communities – doing work for justice in whatever ways we can. Our life stories, our experiences of the world, are sort of informed by those issues about justice.
You met the other members while protesting at the Republican National Convention in 2004. Do you think there is a higher expectation of your work among critics and fans because of the band’s politics?
Yeah, I think we met in part through activism, and while obviously we’re a band and not a political organization, each individual in the band brings a lot of passion for justice and activism. And that kind of work is a part of all of our lives so it’s definitely reflected in our music. It also provides an opportunity for fans and for critics and for press to engage with us about those issues, which I think for us are some of the most exciting parts about being activists that play music.
You tend to get a lot of critical comparison to the Portland-based ’90s indie band Sleater-Kinney. What is that like for you?
I think it’s great. I love Sleater-Kinney and I’m flattered to be compared to them. But at the same time I also hope that The Shondes can carve out our own name and sort of be in a musical context with bands like Sleater-Kinney and plenty of other bands and genres and types of music we draw from. I also hope that we can continue to become our own thing.
Do you think your politics or sound makes you different from other indie-punk bands in New York?
I hope it’s both. I think our sound is something we’re constantly working and building on. We’re trying to build on a number of different genres and a number of pieces of our own personal musical histories. But it’s also super important for us to be talking about stuff we care about – and that’s not always grounded in indie music, but it definitely sometimes is. We want to keep company with bands that are pushing the boundaries on both genre and politics.
Talk about the name of the band.
“Shondes” is a Yiddish word that means “disgrace” or “outrage,” and for us that just describes the experience of maybe one of our grandparents. So it’s kind of a humorous, loving tribute to Yiddish and to the family, but also a reclaiming of a term that has often been called of people who first speak out in a way that’s unpopular about justice and whose identities aren’t necessarily widely accepted in the communities they come from.
Talk about playing in D.C. Is it a political space music-wise?
We’re really excited to kick off our tour in D.C. I’m originally from Silver Spring, Md., and went to school at the University of Maryland and I’m really excited to start out in the area. I came into a political identity around bands like Fugazi and local riot grrrl bands (a feminist punk movement started in the nineties) and bands that were making the kinds of music that said something. And as I learned more about that in my adult life I’m really proud to come from there (near Washington) and I’m psyched that we’re playing there.
-Interview conducted and condensed by Amanda Pacitti.