Buffalo has been playing their unique brand of stripped down rock for the better part of two years. We met up with the duo at Java’s coffee to talk about playing in other cities, playing as a two piece, and their favorite venues.
How long have you two been playing together?
Clayton: 2007 I think.
Phil: We have played with bands together before, but as far as Buffalo Sex Change is concerned I believe it was 2013.
I see your name everywhere on flyers you guys seem to play out often.
Phil: We have been playing a lot of shows. We are playing some more shows in Buffalo try to branch out a bit don’t want to get old and played out in Rochester.
Do you normally play out in other cities?
Phil: Just a little bit, we play Buffalo and Brooklyn mostly. We have friends in Brooklyn since we lived there for a couple of years. It is a lot of fun to see everyone. When you live down there and play it is kind of a grind but when you go back after not being there for a while it is more energetic and fun. Your friends will actually come out because they haven’t seen you in a while.
Clayton: I feel like when bands come from out of town they bring more energy and the shows are a bit more aggressive. You don’t know anyone so you put more into the show.
Where did the name Buffalo Sex Change come from?
Phil: It was a joke I had with another friend of mine. We were trying to figure out a band name people would remember and that we found funny. Some people may think its provocative but for us it is just funny.
Clayton: We had a bunch of different names. That’s the one that always stuck and we remembered.
Is it easier or harder to play as a two piece than with a larger band?
Phil: I think playing without a bass player is probably the most difficult part. Once you get used to that then it is ok. I mean it is just a different style than playing in a larger band. When you can’t weave multiple guitars together or a bass for a song you have to take a different approach to playing so that is a challenge.
Clayton: I think in a way it can be easier because you don’t have to worry about someone else messing up or playing the wrong note. It is just the two of us playing off each other. Unless something major happens we can always figure it out.
Phil: there is an element of danger when playing in a two piece because if something happens to one player it is going to be pretty big. I think it is exciting in that way. It is fun and we have to perform really well or it will all fall apart.
Your set up is pretty simple yet your band puts out a lot of sound.
Phil: I think we just worked at it because I am not down turning my guitar or alternating much. I think it is more just focusing on how each of us plays our part. We don’t have a lot of options; you just have to find a way to get the right sound out of just the two of us.
Clayton: Just adding vocals and background vocals make a huge difference in a song where they might not of in another band. Nothing gets drowned out everything just adds to the sound.
Phil: We can’t do much. We have to keep in mind that each thing we do has to be very special. I was never attracted to a lot of people in a band. There seems to be too much drama or too much going on that overshadows the music.
Clayton: I think when a band gets too big everyone is one stage trying to be noticed and show off. With Buffalo Sex Change I am not trying to show off my drum skills and Phil isn’t trying to show off his guitar skills. It is just us on stage trying to make good music.
How do you guys come up with songs?
Phil: I would say it is kind of different every time. As far as writing goes sometimes it is about lyrics or an idea sometimes it is about a riff or a beat. We try to vary how we write our songs. For the record we did I was in New York I wrote a bunch of demos and sent them to Clayton who lived in Rochester. When we started playing together we started writing together and coming up with ideas together.
Clayton: A lot of the songs are not that long so it is just fun to write the songs and figure them out. It is not like we are working on a song for months and months before we can play it. We get it done in a couple practices and are able to play them.
Are you guys working on an album?
Phil: No we aren’t thinking of doing a full length album, we are thinking about doing an EP soon. Right now we are working on a compilation record for a fundraiser. We recorded a song for that and we are working with some other people like Boggs.
Clayton: Boggs is on tour right now and we were asking him to contribute so he sent us the tracks to a song and he wanted us to play behind his vocals. That was a cool idea we got to put our own spin on one of his songs.
Are you looking to go on tour this summer?
Phil: We are looking into doing a tour in the summer but we don’t have anything booked yet. We have a few shows in February and a couple in March and April so we just are kind of going along now.
Clayton: We are thinking about keeping it small, a 5 day thing with some north east band.
It must be a lot easier to travel around with just two band members.
Phil: it is. When we were in Brooklyn we were able to downsize all of our gear so we could travel on subways because we didn’t want to pay for parking or gas. I have a Corolla so it is not like we could even fit another person in the car.
Do you have a favorite venue to play?
Phil: We have played in Bug Jar a lot. We played some other places like Smugtown and some house shows. I don’t know if we have a favorite, different places have different things.
Clayton: I like house shows. House parties are more fun and you get closer to the audience. I think since we have been in Rochester we have yet to book our own show. We are always invited to play. So it is not like we have a lot of choice in where we play. We just play the shows we end up on.