You may know a lot about this year’s Yardfest artist Jessie J, but do you know a lot about the band that’s opening for her, Black Tie Affair? Flyby got an exclusive interview with Jamasb J. Sayadi ’17 (guitar), Pranav Krishnan ’16 (guitar), Maximillian G. Seiss ’17 (bass and guitar), Jacob H. Seidman ’16 (drums), and Vibav H. Mouli ’16 (vocals), the members of Black Tie Affair.
Flyby: So how did Black Tie Affair get together?
Pranav: I knew each of these guys individually, and I wanted to be in a band, so it made sense, because they’re all really good.
Jamasb: Yeah, we just jammed together individually before jamming as a whole.
Flyby: So how would you characterize your music?
Pranav: Think “middle school rock.”
Vibav: It’s like 2000’s rock
Max: And it’s kind of poppish and rockish.
Flyby: [nonsequitur] Are you guys even friends, or...?
Vibav: Well, now most of us are friends!
Jake: We usually eat together and hang out before gigs, so by default, we became good friends.
Pranav: Basically we were forced into our friendships.
Jamasb: It’s like an arranged marriage.
Max: By Pranav and Vibav.
Flyby: So who's who in this group? What are the different personalities?
Vibav: Pranav is the one who never takes his shirt off. Everyone wants him to take his shirt off, but he doesn’t.
Max: Jamasb is the cynic. He will just play no matter what.
Pranav: Jake loves the jamming. Vibav loves the jamming. We all love jamming. But Max is a perfectionist. He’s the guy who never wants to play two songs by the same artist.
Vibav: Pranav has an interesting background. He’s played at every Yardfest he’s been here, each time with a different band.
Flyby: What kind of musical experience do you guys have?
Pranav: Vibav was on American Idol.
Vibav: I’ve been singing since I was three.
Flyby: Can you sing for us right now?
Pranav: Jake can sing.
Jake: I am capable of singing, yes.
Vibav: A cool fun fact is that everyone here can play some instrument other than the one they’re playing for the band...except for me.
Max: Yeah, you’ll leave for a bathroom break in the middle of rehearsal and you come back and everyone’s playing a different instrument, actually playing with real competence.
Flyby: What's the best part of being in this band?
Vibav: The dudes.
Pranav: Also it’s just fun to play music all the time.
Max: It’s fun playing songs that everyone knows. We mostly play covers. We do songs like Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy, Everybody Talks by Neon Trees, This Love by Maroon 5, Move Along by the All-American Rejects, Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet. Stuff like that.
Jamasb: Another cool thing is that rehearsal doesn’t feel like rehearsal. We have to get stuff done, but we’re also having a good time and doing what we want to do. Just jamming and playing music.
Flyby: What's the hardest part of being in this band?
Jake: Moving things. We have to move speakers, amps, drums, stuff like that.
Pranav: Also scheduling is tough. Finding a time to play together is really hard.
Vibav: Yeah, finding time for rehearsal is the hardest thing about this band. We rehearse in the SOCH Penthouse Studio, which is convenient because four of us are in the Quad. Except for Jake. But we make Jake come all the way here.
Jake: With my drumset.
Flyby: Where do you see this band going in the future?
Jamasb: Probably keep playing shows, keep having fun. We just want to drink a lot of orange juice.
Flyby: Is that an inside joke I don’t understand?
Max: Well, it’s not an outside joke.
Vibav: Anyway, we have three juniors and two sophomores, and we’re hoping that if all goes well and the stars align, we can keep playing through next year. For next semester we are lined up to play another two to three shows at least.
Flyby: Any gigs coming up?
Pranav: We’re definitely playing for the Quad Formal. Actually, all the formals.
Max: We also play for a lot of independent social organizations.
Vibav: We’re also part of Project B. It’s a thing that Rakesh Khurana is doing where he’s creating more spaces, so there are more parties that are more open to everyone. We’re a part of that, and that should be coming up in the next couple of weeks.
Flyby: How did you guys get so legit? Legit enough to play at Yardfest?
Vibav: Part of it is that we started off strong this semester. We didn’t really begin until the end of last semester, when we played a gig at Kirkland Formal. It was great.
Jake: Then this semester we started off with a couple gigs in February, and the word spread among people.
Max: Sometimes if we know someone, they can set us up. That’s how we got our first gigs. We literally came up to people and asked them, “Can we play for free?” And now people are reaching out to us, with money!
Jamasb: We didn’t charge at all for our first several gigs. Even now we don’t really play for the money. We charge very little.
Pranav: Everyone just loves to play music, and playing music with people has an extra level of fun, and being able to do that for a crowd of people is just the best.
Max: Playing at Kirkland Formal was really important for us. The week before the formal, we practiced a lot. We needed 14-15 solid songs, so we really needed to practice.
Pranav: If we weren’t pressured, this could’ve easily fallen apart. Preparing for and playing at Kirkland Formal really crystallized the band. After that it was pretty straightforward. Once we play for someone, the word spreads.
Vibav: We are, hopefully, pretty good, and people have a good time, and we’re also affordable and fun people to be around, so it makes sense.
Flyby: Do you guys have any catchphrases?
Pranav: Yes. Many. Such as…
Vibav: Let’s get weird.
Max: We eat kale.
Jake: We drink a lot of orange juice.
Jamasb: Do it for Tito.
Pranav: Woogity woogity.
Flyby: How excited are you for Yardfest?
Vibav: It’s absolutely exciting, and we’re really looking forward to it. It’s not like you get to do this all the time—except if you’re Pranav.
Max: We’re all super honored and privileged, and Pranav is just here.
Jamasb: The moral of the story is that Pranav has surrounded himself with very talented people.
Flyby: How did you come up with the name, Black Tie Affair?
Jake: There are many legends surrounding the origin of this name
Max: I had a fever dream one night and I saw Jamasb in this fever dream. It was an image of a golden egg, and then Jamasb just sprung forth with wings on his back. He was an angel, basically. Vibav was playing the trumpet for some reason. There was nothing on Jamasb except for a black tie. He was formless, half-egg and half-angel. That’s how we got “Black Tie Affair.”
Flyby: Really now.
Pranav: Okay, no.
Vibav: We were just throwing names at each other and we wanted something that sounded cool and sounded classy.
Jake: I mean, doesn’t Black Tie Affair sound classy?
Max: We’re a rock band, but we’re a classy rock band.