I am beyond thrilled to share this interview with my friend and fellow Brookyn scenester (can I say that about myself?), Tom Lescovich. I first met him through a music venue in Brooklyn—where we both worked and frequented—and earlier this year we teamed up on a series of shows/parties during SXSW. The “Cindy Cane Haunted House” event showcased a lot of really sick emerging talent, from New York and beyond, and he is bringing back the series this weekend.
More than just an event person, Tom fronts a band and is (I’ve never said this before publically) one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met in my life. So, there, I said it. Everyone, meet Tom.
What exactly is Cindy Cane? Is it a person? An idea? A personification of something?
Cindy is my attempt at building some sort of a production house. It’s not just a band. Right now it is because it’s so very new to the world – but hopefully, it is an outlet to exercise my ambitions. I want to make multimedia art. I want to make films. I want to make soundtracks. I want to make a million bands inside of one band. I want to shift shapes and sound. Hopefully, Cindy is the creature that allows me to do that.
How long has it been around/how did it get its start?
The idea of Cindy has been around for a while. It started out as my karaoke moniker five years ago – which was given to me from a friend at the Vegas Lounge in NE Minneapolis circa 2015. I toured with Sloppy Jane and Stuyedeyed for five weeks each, pretty much back to back in early 2018. When I got back from the second of those two tours I went on a crazy creative bender and wrote four records in a week. The first Cindy show was in Nashville on September 17, 2018 … so just a little over a year ago. I played some slow sad songs from one of those four records called All My Ex’s Live in Bushwick across the country on a 1938 Gretsch REX Playboy. I think it was fifteen shows on the tour then I came back to Brooklyn and started playing solo shows. I played almost once a week in Brooklyn with as many different bands as I could from October 31 to December 28.
In December I curated a lineup of absolute all-star’s to bring the record NEW YORK STRANGERS to life. Shane O’Malley Firek of The Ferdy Mayne on bass, Evan Eubanks of The Jackettes on the kit, and David Van Witt of HNRY FLWR on guitar. We’ve recently added Sharif Mekawy of Looms on the synths. I am so fortunate to have the support of these incredible musicians. They not only get it, but they are super hard-working and total pro’s. They have really elevated the experience. We introduced the band in February with a four-week residency at Baby’s All Right (Brookyn).
What is your goal with your project (s)? What would success look like?
The goal of this project is to use Cindy as a creative writing course. I want to use different exercises for different assignments. I want to push my limits. With NEW YORK STRANGERS I challenged myself to use different instruments. I never really recorded using drum machines or synths before so I decided to soundtrack the story of a vampire living in NYC using those instruments.
I would really like to be able to play as many instruments as possible so that I could create relentlessly. I think that the goal with Cindy is to really push me to learn – expand – execute.
Success to me would be accomplishing those things and hopefully inspiring others along the way to push themselves to their full potential.
Let’s talk about the Haunted House this weekend. How many of these now have you done?
This weekend will be the sixth and seventh haunted house shows. We did three days in Austin during SXSW earlier this year and then May 10th and 11th in Brooklyn. SXSW Haunted House was fucking insane. We had two stages. Eighty-six bands played in three days haha. So many great bands that are doing great things right now. We had eighteen bands play in Brooklyn. It was super special—a lot of friends [played] that weekend. This one is the most scaled back of them all with only nine bands in two days. We started the summer with two nights back-to-back on the roof of Our Wicked Lady and we are going to end the summer with two nights back to back on the roof of Our Wicked Lady.
Are all of the bands spooky or devilish lol? Why haunted house?
Not all of the bands at SXSW were necessarily spooky but I definitely tried to establish an aesthetic. I aimed for as many of the post-punky dreamy gazey gothy showcasing artists as I could. Not all of the bands at the first haunted house in Brooklyn were necessarily spooky either. This weekend is a little bit more focused on that. Friday night is a bit more gothy vibes and Saturday is a little bit more noise-rock vibes. Cindy plays back-to-back both nights Grateful Dead style.
Haunted House is just the vibe for the current state of Cindy. We’re showcasing the NEW YORK STRANGERS record at the moment. The vibe will change. The sound will change. It will come back to spooky – many times, I am sure. I want to build different genres in Cindy’s universe that allows for different stories to exist and I feel that the Haunted House helps dial in the focus on the “horror” genre.
Ok so what are the bands you’re most looking forward to seeing?
I have seen all of the local bands play before and I asked them to play because I enjoy watching them perform. I believe in them. There are no bands on the bill this weekend that I booked just because they are “buzzing.” I am really excited to see the touring bands. Slaughterhouse from LA has been playing some really cool shows out there and New Primals are friends from Minnesota and I am SO excited to see them. Sam is one of the best musicians I have ever seen. Ever. If I were a gambling person I would put my money on them.
Any new bands that you’ve discovered lately (with Haunted House or otherwise) that we should know about?
I have connected with so many bands through the Haunted House alone this year it’s absolutely insane. So many freakin sweeties out there. It’s pretty easy to use social media and track down the list of bands that have played the past haunted houses, and they are all good. Too many to list. David Boring from Hong Kong ruled big time. Numb.er from LA, as well. Blood from Austin is my favorite band that I discovered this year. There were two bands that I tried to connect with but missed on which were Drahla and Pottery. I think they’re pretty cool.
What’s next for you and your projects?
NEW YORK STRANGERS will be the first record to officially come out under Cindy Cane. We are pretty much done with the tracking. We’re in the team-building phase right now. I truly believe this record has something special about it. I want to do it right, but I need $ome help. I would like the record to come out early 2020 and take that product door to door.
2019 was all about being relentless. I wanted Cindy’s rookie season to be non-stop. We have the haunted house this weekend and then we play Rough Trade on Halloween with Evolfo, Ghost Funk Orchestra, and VAMANOS. After that we are going to chill out for a little bit. I am heading to Los Angeles for the winter. CC has been super fortunate to have had the year we have in New York. I want to go shake it up over there for a little bit. I need to spread the message and not just through the internet. I need to sit a winter out for once.