Brooklyn punk band Aye Nako is on the road now in support of their new record, Silver Haze, which came out earlier this month on Don Giovanni records. In honor of the new release, we spoke with the record’s two main songwriters/vocalists, Jade Payne and Mars Dixon, about what it’s like to go out tour with a band that prides itself on writing “sad punk songs about being queer, trans and black.”
What are your pre-tour rituals?
Mars: We come to Columbus, Ohio, a few days before tour and just practice every day for a few hours in Sheena, the drummer’s, basement.
Jade: There’s a place called Club 20 that we like to go to that’s literally a block away from Sheena’s house. It’s a tiny little gay bar tavern thing and they have karaoke there and the drinks are really cheap. I like to go to arcades, too, if there’s time. There’s a really cool arcade right around the corner from here, too.
Mars: Jade does yoga.
Jade: Yeah! And that’s something that’s really important to me because I tour a lot even outside of Aye Nako. I’m a sound engineer, so it seems like my life is becoming this thing where I’m always on the road. Yoga has been a good way for me to just make sure I don’t feel like shit all the time when I’m stuck in the car for hours every single day. I got a jump rope that I bring everywhere with me now. I jump rope at gas stations.
Who usually controls the stereo and what do you listen to?
Jade: Whoever’s driving or whoever’s in the passenger seat. We really like listening to podcasts. We just listened to S-Town.
Mars: We listen to a lot of Song Exploder. 2 Dope Queens.
Jade: One time I was driving and Mars put [a true crime podcast] on and it was a true story about how someone found a severed head. I asked Mars to turn it off because it was kind of freaking me out.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve stayed on tour?
Mars: There was one time we didn’t even get to stay over. This was maybe eight years ago or something in a different band. It was in Tucson, Arizona, and we got kicked out of the house that we were supposed to be staying at by our contact’s roommate. The contact wasn’t even at the house. There was just the three of us and we were on the couch, on the floor, getting ready to go to sleep and the roommate comes over with all these people and they’re setting up for this party. There’s a PA coming in and we’re just tucked in our sleeping bags.
After, like, ten minutes we’re just like, ‘What the fuck? What the fuck? What the fuck?’ The roommate is eventually like, ‘Can y’all just kind of like make more of a party atmosphere over here?’ He didn’t directly say, ‘Get the fuck out,’ but that’s basically what he meant.’
Jade: Last year we played in Gainesville, Florida, and we ended up staying with our friend Shug, who lives on a farm in kind of a swamp. He works on a CSA farm, but it’s very remote. So we were basically staying in this little shack in the woods. It was fun and exciting, but I remember parking the van and everybody getting their sleeping bags and walking blindly through the woods and walking into spider webs constantly.
I don’t mean to paint it in a bad way, because it was really cool, but when we got there there were natural cockroaches in the shack. Meaning like, shit is supposed to be there because we’re in the woods. It wasn’t a reflection of anything, but that was kind of wild to get used to — cockroaches of the forest crawling around this little house.
There was only enough room for Joe and Mars to sleep in a bed together. Sheena slept in this little sliver of a loft. I got to be on the floor with all the roaches. I was just like, ‘You know, we’re just here. What’s done is done. What’s gonna happen to me? I’m not gonna die.’
On that note, who smells the worst by end of tour?
Jade: Good question! I feel like we’re all just so used to each other nobody ever stands out to me. I dunno, I feel like you and I [Mars] shower more than anyone else…
(Photos courtesy of Aye Nako)