Recently, I had the great pleasure of interviewing drummer Judy Kaplan, one of the space-age flower children that make up the groovy psych-rock outfit Needle Points. The Philadelphia-based band released their sophomore LP, Feel Young, last summer, and are currently supporting the album on their Yin Yang Eyes Tour, which hits the Mammal Gallery this Wednesday. The record was produced by Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog, who provided his wide-eared expertise to help the group craft an anthemic, vibey wonderland of melodic inversions and extensions of youthful love. The album itself feels like sailing across a sea of green with a multiplex of bioluminescent creatures guiding listeners to islands of tropical rhythms and exotic harmonic fruits.
First off, what was it like working with Scott McMicken of Dr. Dog on your newest LP?
Working with Scott was the best! He’s the sweetest Doctor out there, and he will make you take your songs to the next level. He’s a special man, and you should all try to meet him… and his dog Mavis.
What was the writing process and pre-production like when starting off the project, and when did you first see it all finally coming together? What did that feel like?
We had ideas for all of the songs before we went into the studio, but the whole thing was a bit of a rush. We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, and we only had a week in the studio, so we basically would pick a song and play it as many times as necessary for it to turn into something. Scott would jump in where he saw fit and help with the arrangements. None of us were sure what the songs even sounded like until we got into the studio, but we were really pleased with the results! So, the feelings went from insecure to flyin’ high.
How is the Yin Yang Eyes Tour going?
It’s going well! The drives are about to get really long though, so that is going to be trying. We have been meeting a lot of great people and seeing some awesome bands!
Who is with you for this stint? Can you tell us a little about each of you?
Colly [Holloway] is the singer, Brian [Langan] plays bass, Ali and Justin play guitar, Dani [Kinoshita] and [I] play drums, and our friend Andy Holmes is opening for us solo and playing keys and tambo with us. Ali and Justin have been with the band for about a year, and Andy is just on this tour. Five of us are Leos and two of us aren’t. Can you guess who isn’t? Brian loves the water, but he isn’t a water sign! Colly and Dani are moving to LA, and Judy is writing these words… Dani is next to him. She just said “Hi. It’s me… Dani.” We’re tons of fun…
Where are you the most excited to play and share your music?
Austin is going to be a rad show! I don’t think any of us have ever been to New Orleans, so we’re really excited to get there, even though the drives are so long that I don’t think we’ll really have time to hang out in either of those places. We have a bed in the back of our van now though… that kinda rules.
Are you exclusively playing songs off of Feel Young or can fans expect some tunes from your first album Bom Tugangu?
We’re going Feel & Bom for this tour, plus [the] Cripple Street [7″]. Classic Needle Points cuts, as Brian would say.
What are some of your goals when touring? I feel that many casual listeners are often unaware of what bands are hoping to accomplish and have very little knowledge of the work that goes into booking a tour. Alternatively, it can also be helpful to other aspiring bands to learn from each others’ experiences.
We want to sell our records and shirts! This is our last tour for the foreseeable future so we really want to get rid of the items we have! We gotta get them out into the world! Plus, we need the money for gas, you know? Trailers are luxurious, but they’re a drain on them pockets. We also obviously want to meet cool people, make connections for the future, give hugs, do body shots, and party! We actually put a whole lot of work and money into this tour, so lets hope it pays off! So far, so good.
It’s difficult to break through the noise and come up for air sometimes. How have you been able to support and get Needle Points noticed in an oversaturated digital market?
We have been fortunate enough to be seen and make friends with some people that matter. Our biggest day of record sales was the day Scott posted about Feel Young on the Dr. Dog Instagram account. Know what I’m saying? Plus we’ve learned a lot about being in a band over the past four years. We’ve made a TON of connections and we try to be smart about where we put our time and money. At first, it seems like a good idea to split your payout between band members and walk away with beer money, but then you realize that money is better spent reinvested into the band. We’ve done that since like our second show, and it was one of our better decisions. So, get connected and get smart.
It’s amazing that your band makes your own clothes and custom merchandise! Is there anything new you have for this tour?
We actually just sold out of our tiger baseball tees! Colly designed them, but we actually had a local Philadelphia printer (shoutout to Soft Hand Screen Printing) print them up and they came out so great! I guess that’s why they’re gone. Right now we’re working with our band-printed Feel Young freaky cobra tees that Dani designed. They’re rad! Get them while they’re hot.
What can fans expect next?
Well, since Colly and Dani are moving to Los Angeles next month, we are kinda gonna be disappearing for a while. BUT, for now you can check in with us on our record label’s podcast called NeedLove Radio. [I’ll be] posting new episodes every day, one for every city we hit on this Yin Yang Eyes Tour. You can get to know us and our antics and hear recordings of our sets and those of the bands we’re playing with. You can hear us ordering food, flirting, almost puking, playing arcade games, singing karaoke, and other really important stuff. There are nine episodes up thus far so go subscribe to NeedLove Radio on your podcast platform!
I’m also recording all of our sets from this tour and thinking about doing some sort of live compilation if they come out alright. No promises, but I’d like to. Other than that, expect new projects and more from the NP crew down the pike! Love everyone! Thanks!
You can catch Needle Points this Wed., June 14 at Mammal Gallery. Supporting them will be locals Pinkest, Lunar Vacation, and Zoo House. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $7. 18+ to enter.