NYC-based band brings new structure to music groups

By: Suzanne Stuller, Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of Pow Pow Family band.

Red lipstick, glitter and dresses are all a part of the attire for Pow Pow Family Band’s lead singer Miles Robbins. His theatrical nature comes as no surprise when the very essence of showmanship runs in his blood — he is the son of actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Despite his childhood exposure to the art of acting, it was music that caught Robbins’ attention, and after spending years writing songs since the age of 11 he eventually founded what came to be known as Pow Pow Family Band.

Pow Pow Family Band is a psychedelic pop band who ties its roots to New York City, despite its members all being brought up in various other cities like Boston and Chicago, and other countries like Brazil and Korea. Their music and name is influenced by the band LCD Soundsystem’s song “Pow Pow,” helping to form a synth pop sound the group is now known for.

The band is also known for its unique sense of membership. Rather than having a small group of regulars, Pow Pow members are, in theory, unlimited.

“We call it the ‘Family Band’ because we are a constantly changing band with sometimes 10 people on stage, two people on stage, and it kind of constantly changes,” Robbins said. “What’s fun about it for us is that it’s completely different.”

This specific tour will consist of four people, including a bass guitarist, drum player, trumpet player and a musician playing synthesizers.

In addition to acting as the lead singer and guitarist, Robbins writes the lyrics and connects with his members to grab a better sense of their lives and feelings.

“They normally come to me during periods of really profound depression or happiness,” Robbins said. “It has to be a really significant moment, and then I lock myself up in my room for a while and write. It comes from a little bit of everywhere but I kind of have always felt that the process of writing is something that can’t be forced.”

Zack Segel, who is currently serving as the Pow Pow drummer, shared how the band attempts to balance work and fun. He explained that what makes the music great is not just putting in the work and practice, but also remembering to let loose every once in a while.

“Though we take the music seriously, we try not to take ourselves too seriously,” Segel said. “We’re focused on stage, but we’re not up there just brooding for the sake of brooding. That’s not fun for us; it’s not fun for the audience.”

Pow Pow Family Band’s first album, “All Right,” debuted in early February, with its collection of songs setting the tone for what the band has to offer to the pop scene. “All Right” looks to address hardships in a new light, using warm tones to enlighten its listeners.

“This album has mostly been a reflection on loss being a positive influence on someone’s life,” Robbins said. “We grow with each loss and everything we lose teaches us something and gives us a new perspective on life. Nothing really goes away, they just change.”

Robbins expressed that his goal is to continue to make his band unique.

“I was raised on folk music so I was raised to think that you play some chords and tell a story and that’s a song,” Robbins said. “But then I also loved LCD Soundsystem a lot. I took these structures and stories and then we were interested in trying to find ways to make them more musically exciting and more adventurous in terms of the production and landscape. What happens often is that we have a very psychedelic, surreal and ambient landscape. We have horns, and robot children, and all sorts of friends helping to make these stories a little more exciting.”

The band’s main motto for its song writing, performances, and overall career is to “live in the moment and not look too far ahead.”

“I think it’s always best to focus on the present and what kind of feelings I’m having now, Robins said. “I have feelings of wanting to go into the world right now.”

For now, Pow Pow Family Band is looking to continue to entertain their audiences while increasing the size of their turnouts. Their goal is to stay on a path of continued growth.

“First and foremost, we just want people to listen to the album and come to our shows,” Segel said. “I just hope that we will have gotten a couple orders of magnitude bigger by then.”

The band performed at The Crown in Baltimore on Feb. 21. Their next show will be Feb. 26, at The Saint in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

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