Bushwick band Best Behavior is already catching attention and touring nationally — even though it only formed in January. A self-described “60s garage rock, surf punk” band, the four guys are preparing for the release of their debut LP, Good Luck Bad Karma, which drops today via Money Fire Records. As is required of any self-respecting garage-rock band, a celebration of the release will ensue at Union Pool on Saturday night. They’ll perform with Haybaby, The Rizzos, and Surf Rock Is Dead, which released a new single today.
Alex Gruenburg, founder of Best Behavior, is eager for the release party as it’s the culmination of a personal, yearlong project. He wrote all of the songs in Good Luck Bad Karma in the month following a bad breakup and a scarring experience with an astrologist last summer (yeah, we were curious too). Best Behavior formed shortly after Gruenburg recorded the album — he played and sang every harmonious note of it himself. To Gruenburg, the “culmination of the record” is “Bad Habit,” which Diffuser listed as a contender for top song of this summer. We spoke with the frontman over the phone to learn about the new album, the chemistry with newbie band members and the current girl situation. Has or hasn’t he been on his best behavior?
Last summer I went through a breakup with a girlfriend. It ended up in a Montel Williams-style breakup. You organize all of your pieces and that kind of went out the window. I was complaining about it on social media — which is what you do, I guess — and an astrologer reached out to me. She said, “Oh, I’ll do a free reading of your chart.” And she got back to me and was like, “It’s way worse than I thought. We need to meet up.” When we met up she said, “You have horrible karma and you need to fix it. You need to stop playing music. Your love life is going to be ruined if you don’t fix it. You need to bunker down and deal with that.”
It was kind of intense and I felt like, Well, what can I do? I realized I can still do whatever I want and screw the stars. So all of that was in the pressure cooker and I was writing like crazy. I wrote 17 songs in a month and that’s what became Best Behavior. I wasn’t writing to start a band, I was writing just because. Once I had those demos that I recorded myself they got around to John Meredith who runs Money Fire Records. I ended up recording the album and the band started playing around January. I found a bunch of buddies of mine [to play]. It was funny because [Jon Mann] came to our shows in the beginning, then when the opportunity came to play I called him up. He learned how to play all of our material in a couple of hours and just showed up and was like, “I’m in the band.”
The whole album is a snapshot into this one period of my life. I’ve learned that you really need to be genuine in your writing for people to feel genuine about it. It’s about that point where you find yourself, and the trials and tribulations that come with that. Dating new people, meeting new people. Whatever happens to you, fuck it. Do what you want. It doesn’t matter.
I describe it as ’60s garage rock, surf punk. As a teenager I listened to a lot of punk rock, which was more aggressive and then I made my way to ’60s Beatles stuff. One of the catalysts to Best Behavior is when I heard Ty Segall’s “Girlfriend” track, which I had never heard before. I was like, Oh man, this track is awesome. I totally want to be doing garage rock. And then seeing the Black Lips play at House of Bands – that kind of ’60s tone with the upbeat stuff is what I’m really into. There’s a big focus on harmony and I think that it’s the harmonies that take [the record] to the next level.
I think that it has. There is the punky garage rock resurgence that’s happening right now, which is awesome. We’re playing with The Rizzos, which is a lot of cool garage rock. Haybaby we’re playing with as well, which isn’t as much garage rock or surfy but just good music. I think it definitely has applied to our sound.
We’re releasing the album and then we’re going to hit the road and take it to the people. I think the best way to introduce people to your music is to sweat and bleed in front of them and show them what you’re about. Hopefully we’ll make another [album].
I think it definitely has. There’s no doubt that being in a band, it’s just one of those things. It’s all about balance, especially because we’ve been playing a lot. It can be hard at times to manage that. We’re going to hit the road so that’s going to be the new girlfriend.
“Good Luck Bad Karma” drops today. Best Behavior’s record release party is at Union Pool on Saturday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m.; free.