Work Drugs Is a Philly Chillwave Duo That Loves Miami, Quinces, and Bat Mitzvahs
Remember your cousin's Quinces? Aside from the choreographed salsa rueda, what was the entertainment like?
Chances are if your prima turned 15 in Miami, it was a Yellow Pages DJ-for-hire that mixed a blend booty bass, merengue, and a few slow jams after sprinkling The Very Best of Kenny G over dinner.
But if your cousin celebrated her 15th b-day in Philadelphia, mami y papi probably hired their daughter's favorite chillwave band, Work Drugs.
According to Work Drugs' website, Thomas Crystal and Benjamin Louisiana make up Philly's premier Quinceañera party band. (They're also huge on the Bat Mitzvah circuit.) And we found out about the duo a few weeks ago when Crystal and Louisiana released Tropic of Cancer, an eight-song EP featuring the track "Rad Racer."
For reasons unknown at the time, "Rad Racer" was tagged "Miami" on Bandcamp. Naturally, we wanted to find out why a Philly-based chillwave group was tagging its shit with our city's name. After tracking the band down, Tom was nice enough to settle the score about that, their band name origin, and whether or not Kurt Cobain would appreciate chillwave.
Crossfade: Tom, you're a member of Philly's premier Bat Mitzvah and Quinceañera party band; ever think about relocating to Miami, and tackling that market down here?
Thomas Crystal: I really think we would thrive in the Quinceañera market down there, but might suffer a bit in our Bat Mitzvah bookings. We prefer the northeast since there seems to be a nice mix of both.
Why is "Rad Racer" tagged "Miami" on your Band Camp site?
Well, the video for Rad Racer was shot in Miami while we took a day off from the boat on a recent trip down to the Lesser Antilles. No malice was intended! Ben also lives in the Miami area a few months of the year, so to not credit Miami just wouldn't be kosher.
Would it piss you off if Miami bands started tagging their shit "Philly"?
No, we would have no problem! Both are great cities, but who wouldn't want to be associated with an amazing music city like Philadelphia?
Talk to me a little bit about the record you just put out, Tropic of Cancer. How long did it take to put together? Was it recorded at the "abandoned pier" you live in?
Well, we started working on the songs that eventually made it onto the Tropic of Cancer EP last fall from our abandoned pier on the banks of the Delaware. It was a pretty natural process that resulted in at least three or four albums worth of material. We decided to stick with an EP and keep the rest of the songs in the bait box until the waters warmed up a bit. Luckily, it seems like things are starting to warm up these days in Philadelphia, so we might be inspired to put a few more tunes out.
What are the chances of Work Drugs playing Miami sometime this year?
Depends on which way the wind is blowing. Might end up down there, or might just stay in port and write a few more songs. Gas prices are bit expensive to not rely on the wind and the sails.
Sunset Junction by Work Drugs
You've mentioned in other interviews that you met Ben in Mrs. McDonald's kindergarten class, but didn't form the "musical friendship" until y'all went to sailing class together. Do you think Mrs. McDonald's classroom was less conducive of an environment than sailing class in terms of creative expression?
Totally. Mrs. McDonald was a strict disciplinarian. Assigned seats, limited crayon color choices, 30-minute recess ... It was prison!
Every interview I've read asks if your band name is an Eastbound & Down reference, this one is no different. Did you rip a line from Season 1 as your band name?
Never heard of the show. Sounds pretty great, though.
Have you ever gone to a school dance on ecstasy?
I wish. I think it's a bit too late for that, unfortunately.
Do you think Kenny Powers would enjoy your music?
Not sure who this Kenny Powers is. But I bet he would if he just gave us a chance.
Do you think society is too uptight about recreational drug use?
I think people are coming around. Hopefully we help them out a bit.
Y'all mention coke a lot. What does an eightball go for in Philly?
That's a secret of the sea. Guess you'll have to come up to Philly and find out for yourself.
Did you have any special plans on Record Store Day earlier this month. Or do you feel that the Internet killed the local music shop, and just brush it off as a novelty holiday for people that can't seem to let go of their childhood?
We took a special detour on our way back from tour and stopped off in Omaha for Record Store Day. Gotta support the local music scene no matter what port you are passing through.
Speaking of not letting go, Kurt Cobain died 17-years ago this month. Do you think KC would enjoy the chillwave movement if he were still alive?
He's probably rolling in his grave right now. Then again, if he were still alive, he probably wouldn't be anymore relevant than insert-early-90s-grunge-rock-alt-rock-band these days.
Get the Music Newsletter