Words – Kurt McVey

There’s something endearing about The Danbees, a four-piece rock outfit created in 2013 at Ithaca College in Upstate New York. Forged in a one hundred year-old house in the South Hill area of the charming but often dreary college town, the original line-up faced its first falling out as two founding members, staring down their post-graduate futures, were unwilling to take the brave and happily deluded plunge in moving to New York (Brooklyn: let’s be real) to pursue the band as a career. The two remaining members, Mark Slotoroff, the principal songwriter and vocalist and Wade McManus, the band’s former bassist turned drummer, enlisted the talents of Slotoroff’s longtime friend Shane Matthews for lead guitar and the multi-instrumentalist turned bassist Sam Enright, who put his education at the Berklee College of Music on hiatus to become an official member of the band.


Slotoroff, with boyish good looks, a residual college-mop, and a sort of naïve savant like approach to his craft, writes songs that fall into what he happily calls “grunge pop.” The songs, which clock in at breezy punk rock times which rarely go over the 3:30 mark, are created with the a sort of disposable nonchalance, while somehow maintaining moments of real radio-friendly pop hooks that never pander to the college girls and mid-transformational hipster chicks that nevertheless flock to their shows. Playing mid-lineup to a packed crowd at The Studio at Webster Hall last month, the four-piece, which had only rehearsed twice with the most current line-up, filled the space with colorful, fast-paced, catchy jams that seemed to unfold thematically in real time. Songs about leaving a college love behind, embarking on a new chapter in life, living in the frightful, non-gentrified areas of Brooklyn because you’re broke as shit, taking embarrassing jobs at Bubba Gump Shrimp (the seafood tourist trap in Times Square) to make ends meet while pursuing your dream, or being too destitute to swing for that late-night drunken cab-ride home with a your potential dream-girl and hoping to God that she’s cool with the subway.


These kinds of songs are written all the time by producers in there forties for pop artists in their thirties looking to incite the fanaticism of that oh so ravenous “tween-college female demographic” and as expected, they usually feel about as real as the crab in the Bubba Gump seafood salad. However, when The Danbees (who average about 21 years of age collectively) crank these tunes out with their hungry and unpretentious earnestness, it comes off as both nostalgic and decidedly farmers market fresh.


Last week The Danbees opened for Badfish, the seasoned Sublime cover band back at The Haunt, a college rock bar near their alma mater. Their fans came out in droves. “It was awesome to be back in Ithaca, playing a show for the first time since graduating and having the opportunity to open for Badfish, who have a great following,” says the humble Slotoroff, despite his band being the clear draw for the night. With The Danbees, unlike Badfish for instance, who run solely and unabashedly on the fumes of nostalgia, you can have your cake and eat it too. “Popular music doesn’t have to suck,” offers Slotoroff which a sort of sage-like childish aplomb. “If the song is good, then it’ll happen.”


The Danbees are driven, no doubt, almost as much as they’re looking to have a good time. Refreshingly, it’s hard not to notice that these, “four dudes in a band” as they put it, are unpolluted by what the larger Brooklyn consciousness thinks is cool (they’re too young to have participated in the hipster zeitgeist of the early-aughts) and because of this healthy lack of self-awareness, might be the coolest young rock band in Brooklyn.


The Danbees play Fontanas on November 22nd and the Rock Shop December 5th. Check out their latest video “Subway” below.



Check out more on The Danbees HERE.


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