Hank & Cupcakes Go Naked!
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Hank & Cupcakes Go Naked!

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Back in October of last year, a friend announced that she was seeking people for a music video, for which she was the Creative Director, who were willing to get naked on camera. I responded, having no idea what it was about, because the friend who announced it was and is one of the few people that I fully trust creatively and otherwise. I also responded because as I am getting older, I figured I wanted to start participating in things that would show off my body, as I’ve come to the conclusion that these are probably my last good years.

To my disappointment, my friend later clarified that nudity was not actually part of it. She said that she put it out in the ad because she wanted people without inhibitions. The tribal-themed costume was basically pieces of cloth and tape barely covering the body, and you really had to be comfortable with having someone’s feet on your chest or maybe an ass in a thong made out of cloth right in front of your face shaking. One could say there were a lot of people, and we were very close together (literally) dancing and posing. It was a music video for the band Hank & Cupcakes.

She described the band in her email, and even put quotes of reviews from well-known publications, mentioning that they were featured as “fresh new artists” by MTV. I did not really pay much attention to that part, because I was just excited to do a music video with my friend involved. I knew nothing about them and did not even Google a picture.

This is very typical of me, having accidentally become friends with well-known artists because I thought maybe they were the waiter at the restaurant, or the bouncer, when they turned out to be the main act. I am just out of the loop in general.

I am, however, a music freak! I’m an obsessive type about music. I have done insane things in my life to find that record (even traveled secretly on a mission to find particular music or artists), in every genre, country, era, and style. I have even become more open-minded about music that I did not appreciate before.

Despite becoming more open-minded with age, these last few years have been difficult, especially with bands coming out of Brooklyn. Somehow everyone in Brooklyn has a band and has a following…and most are all right or not that great (or maybe they have that one good song). A few are also arrogant, and I have heard the phrase (I shall keep this hipster musician that was in a famous band anonymous) “You don’t know who I am?”

In fact, I’ve become increasingly fanatic of the more experimental and absurd music of the last few years, as well as the DIY and lo-fi movement (especially what’s coming out of L.A.).

The bigger bands seem to have been many years of passive indie rock alternative (I feel like iTunes sometimes doesn’t even know the genre) of non-threatening bands with names like Bare Hoof, Beer Bells, Elf Ear, Indian Cat, and whatever people think might be cute or clever. Much of it sounds the same to me. I have to listen to many songs from particular bands to be able to distinguish a style and get into it, and usually only one or two songs catch my attention. Still, I am not denying that there are some amazing artists and bands both commercially and non- that have come out in the last few years.

Rock’n’Roll has been a genre I have missed the most, as it seems to have disappeared…or at least so has the definition of what it once was.

During the last several years I eventually gave up on the comeback of good old-fashioned Rock, especially when the new wave became sappy sentimental acoustic music, or the attempts of people bringing back quirky old fads such as the banjo or the damn ukulele.

During the video shoot (unfortunately the video was not released, due to copyright issues, but there are photos available), after meeting everyone, I met Ariel “Hank” and Sagit “Cupcakes,” not understanding immediately that they were the band and there were no other members.

 Both were extremely exotic, good looking, and charming people from Israel. She was dressed in what I swear I thought was the same dress from Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” video, with a heavy touch of Cyndi Lauper’s style. He wore white tight jeans and a white jean jacket with slicked-back hair.

Much to my surprise, I discovered that they were married, which when Ariel laughed, and said, “You didn’t know that?” I felt terrible, because it was then that I gave away the fact that I knew nothing about them. Before I could even apologize for not knowing who they were, they laughed and sweetly said it did not matter. The married part was also not obvious to me right away because they were so professional, and each spoke separately, giving full attention to everybody involved in the shoot.

After make up, hair, and putting on tape and pieces of orange cloth to cover up our private parts, by the time the shoot started, I had also discovered that this duo was not only a pair of sweet, sexy, married people collaborating in music…they were also intelligent! During the breaks, Ariel explained to me that they chose the stage names Hank & Cupcakes from an American literary reference to the writer Charles Bukowski. At this point I had no idea what to expect from them in regards to music. I figured that if I didn’t like it, it would not matter, because I was already becoming a fan without the necessity of sound. How often can you say that?

Naked album art by Erin Kornfeld & Erica Leone

The song for the shoot was “Sweet Potion,” which I immediately loved. It was extremely hard on the beat, and very much of a dance club track. She played the drums, while singing in a style that reminded me a lot of Sheila E. (the highest compliment you will ever get out of me), while he played the bass guitar next to her, looking very concentrated.

Music videos can be one of the most tedious things to do because you may spend 20 hours, or sometimes days, doing the same song, and the same dance moves, over and over again – and you must keep up the same energy for the entire time. This one was so much fun that everybody participated in a mass love email fest when it was over. It was a long day, but we all agreed that everyone in it was great and we all had a blast.

When Hank & Cupcakes announced on Facebook their up-and-coming concert after the shoot (which I ended up not attending due to illness), I decided to share it on my Facebook wall. I suddenly found out I had many friends that were fanatics of the band. People I did not even think would be into that type of music.

The months passed, but I kept in touch with Sagit “Cupcakes.” They had been on an enormous tour for something around forty days or more non-stop, and were finally back in what Cupcakes described as “home,” being Brooklyn.

She invited me to see their show at Brooklyn Bowl on April 1st, and still, I will admit that I was not totally familiar with their music (I had spent the previous months in Europe and the UK being brainwashed into techno).

I enjoy doing things alone but I can’t remember ever going to a concert alone. Regardless, I decided to go out of curiosity. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from them on stage, from the audience, or from the feeling of being at a concert alone.

My first observation was how incredibly eclectic the audience was. Not only was the venue (which is large) packed, the people ranged in age, there was an equal amount of men and women, of all types of styles, such as glam rock, preppy, gay, straight, and people of all ethnicities. This was not only a new experience for me in regards to an audience for a band, but I also did not know there was so much diversity in Brooklyn, or a band that could bring all of that diversity together. I noticed that most of these people were dancing; yet another thing you don’t see as frequently any more.

Hank and Cupcakes on stage is something better to be seen than described…but I will try. I can say that after only a few minutes I was in such a trance, being so fixated on them, I actually forgot that I was alone.

Cupcakes was born to be a performer. Even after coming back from a long tour without almost any rest (I am sure), you would have thought this was her first night of the tour. Both Hank and Cupcakes have such a stage presence that it’s hard to believe that that there are only two people up on stage. Cupcakes has a little bit of the attitude of Patti Smith with the sexuality of Blondie back in the punk days.

She managed somehow to play the drums, sing, and dance (even on top of the drums) without skipping a beat, keeping her tight tiny colorful dress from showing her panties, without even needing any time in between for a break. She has the charisma and natural understanding of how to work an audience, without having to talk in between, make jokes, or explain too much. The music and performance speaks for itself.

Hank was more of the straight man on the other side of the stage, equally as sexy as she was, shirtless, showing off his muscular stomach, wearing only a pair of white jeans. He does not move as much, but does have a way of playing the bass guitar with the intensity and body language that is reminiscent of the era of punk and masculinity. The two seem to have a connection that is enviable of any marriage or musical duo. They were completely in synch on stage, which could be the result of telepathy, or maybe having worked together for so long.

She also danced around him like a siren, trying to get his attention away from the guitar, but what made it sexual was that you never actually saw them get it on, it was flirtation. This made me raise many questions about how they are as a team, in their marriage and as collaborators. More importantly, I wondered, what are they like behind closed doors? Is this type of partnership possible in real life? Hank and Cupcakes seem to answer that question with a screaming “Yes!”

Also, if anything of what Wikipedia says about them is true, they just might win an award for most interesting people in the world. I have known a few people that have said that the information on them on Wiki was not completely accurate. Thus, I plan on an interview soon with them, to clear up all rumors and answer my many questions.

Yep, I became a fan of their music.

I just heard their new album, “Naked,” now available on iTunes. I was super pleased to discover that their music is awesome both in concert and on the album, which is not true for many bands. The only difference is that I do hear a bit more of the electronica influence in the album versus the show, which interprets the song as more straight-up rock.

I truly enjoy it when I find a band that I can’t really categorize into one simple genre. I would say that it’s a mix of Rock’n’Roll, Alternative, Techno, and Glam Rock.

One of my favorite tracks on the album is “Fly,” a bit different than the rest of the album. It has a nostalgic melody that reminds me ever so slightly of the Cocteau Twins, and even reminded me for some reason of the 90s band Poe, except with more instrument and techno in the mix. In fact, one of the reasons I like Hank and Cupcakes so much is that they do remind me a bit of the better days of Rock Alternative of the 90s with a 2013 update.

My other favorite track, “Liquid Mercury,” is another testament to H & C’s ability with melody, which feels yet again nostalgic, despite never having heard it before. It’s definitely meant to be danced to at a club. Among other favorite tracks is “Hit,” in which it is just fabulous how Cupcakes uses her voice almost like an instrument. Beyond their ability with rhythm and melody, the lyrics vary in subject, at times poetic, at times hilarious, but the general message of many of the songs is positive and uplifting.

Over all, the album “Naked” is not meant just to be listened to, but to be danced to. You don’t even have to be at a club, with friends, or at one of their concerts, either. This is the type of album with which you might find yourself at home doing the dishes, or making your bed, not being able to stop shaking your ass or singing along. Yes, this is the album to get a hair dryer in front of a mirror and sing into it like a microphone, pretending to be a rock star.

Hank & Cupcakes online:

 

Don’t miss Hank & Cupcakes LIVE on tour this Summer

Win tickets to see them live here: http://superglued.com/hankandcupcakes

Tour dates:

7/12 Westport CT @ Levitt Pavilion
7/18 Philadelphia, PA @ Club House Concert

7/19 Pittston PA @ The Rattler

7/20 Buffalo, NY @ DBGB’s

7/21 Cleveland OH @ Taste of Tremont Food Festival

7/22 – Canton OH @ Buzzbin

7/23 – Toledo OH @ Ottawa Tavern

7/26 – Chicago, IL @ Jefferson Park Festival

7/27 – St Joseph, MI @ Czars

7/28 – Madison WI @ The Frequency

7/29 – Dekalb IL @ The House Cafe

7/30 – Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry

7/31 Des Moines IA @ Vaudeville

8/1 – St Louis, MO @ Plush

8/2 – Kansas City MO @ Record Bar

8/3 – Evansville, IN @ Ri Ra Irish Pub –

8/4 – Lexington, KY – Cosmic Charlie’s

8/6 – Athens, GA @ The Georgia Theater

8/7 – Knoxville, TN @ The Bowery

8/8 – Nashville TN @ 12th & Porter,

8/9 – Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm & Brews

8/10 – Atlanta GA @ IMR Music Fest

8/11 – Sandy Springs, GA @ Moderna

8/13 – Jacksonville FL @ Jack Rabbits

8/14 – Gainsville FL @ The High Dive

8/15 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub

8/16 – Miami, FL @ Bardot

8/17 – Tampa, FL @ Orpheum

8/18 – Sarasota, FL @ Shamrock Pub

8/21 – New Orleans, LA @ Howlin’ Wolf Den

8/22 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Chelsea’s Cafe

8/23 – San Antonio TX @ 502

8/24 – Austin, TX @ The Parish

8/25 – Dallas, TX @ Bryan Street Tavern

8/27 – Little Rock AR @ Juanita’s

8/28 – Jacksonville AL @ Brothers Bar

8/29 – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern

8/30 – Charleston, SC @ Tin Roof

8/31 – Charlotte, NC @ The Saloon

9/1 – Wilmington NC @ Jugglin Gypsy

9/2 – Greensboro NC @ Flatiron

9/4 – Raleigh, NC @ The Pour House

9/5 – Durham, NC @ Pinhook

9/6 – Norfolk, VA @ Jewish Mother

9/7 – Washington, DC @ Madam’s Organ

9/8 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery

9/10 – New Haven, CT @ Cafe Nine

9/12 – Verona, NY @ Turning Stone Casino

9/13 – Utica, NY @ Utica Music & Arts Festival

9/14 – Rochester, NY @ The Bug Jar

9/18 – Brooklyn, NY @ Cameo Art Gallery

9/19 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s

9/20 – Scranton, PA @ The Bog

9/21 – Harrisburg PA @ HMAC

 

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Written by Amarantha Da Cruz

If I had only known then who I was now.
Let's get weird.
https://soundcloud.com/malena-amaranta
IG: malenanyc
Twitter: @welltakeitslow

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