Born in New York, the two Mayors of Super Awesome Town are wiry, pale-skinned and quirky with cut jaws. Their clothes are loose and roomy. Deep pockets, wrinkles, folds. Speaking of which, Ben Folds Five comes to mind: The Mayors’ tunes and lyrics punch out with quick wit — striking evidence of two minds that work overtime.
In the background, an ’80s remix album plays, everything from Genesis to Spandau Ballet. We play name that tune, and lead vocalist/keyboardist Jack Curley wins.
With a scruffy red beard and the lightest shade of blue eyes, he’s also into musical theater and acting. He has written music since he was a kid.
“I thought that the high school poetry I’d written was the most important stuff that had ever been written in the history of mankind,” Curley says.
Don Peteroy (lead guitar, backing vocals, electric toothpick, answering machine) still speaks with a New York accent, a hidden toughness that hits the end of each sentence. With dark eyes and hair, he wears black-rimmed glasses and an ancient plaid shirt. The fox is his totem animal. He chews nicotine gum.
With 20 years of guitar experience, Peteroy also plays with the local Experimental band Sonic Farnicle.
Back in 1994, the Mayors met at a Rocky Horror Picture Show in Nyack, N.Y. Peteroy was drunk. Disguised in a Santa Claus suit, Curley cussed him out.
The next week, Peteroy returned, planning on fighting Santa.
“I couldn’t find him,” Peteroy says, laughing, “cause he didn’t have the costume on.”
Curley explains, “We started talking and he didn’t realize I was the Santa Claus guy. I found out he was a big R.E.M. fan.”
After seeing R.E.M. together at Madison Square Garden, they formed a trio, Ryan Flynn, and played around New York.
“We went through 30 members probably,” Peteroy says. “It just always ends up being the two of us.”
In 2000, a misunderstanding occurred, something involving Peteroy’s wedding. They were pissed. Then silence. They didn’t speak for six years.
Missing their shared vision, Curley tracked down Peteroy, who was playing guitar and bass in a web of Cincinnati bands ranging from Pop to Punk. In spring of 2008, Curley moved here and they formed the duo Mayors of Super Awesome Town, recording their first demo.
Live, the Mayors’ new sound is as upbeat and ironic as the band Cake.
Picture fuzzy dice hanging from a rear view mirror.
“I always wanted to do the cynical/goofy kind of stuff,” Peteroy admits. “I feel like this is really true to who I am. … In the Clinton era, you had all these bands that were heavier than what we’re doing, but they had some goofy, funny, happy stuff, and once Bush took office everybody got depressed and ‘I hate my dad’ got popular. I hope that with the change in administration people will get happier. You can already see it with bands like hellogoodbye and Vampire Weekend.”
“We take our music very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously,” Curley adds. “The lyrics aren’t as happy and quirky as everybody thinks. It’s just that the music makes them sound that way. We’re rebelling against Punk, so we’re the real punks. We’re pretty much anti-Emo. Think happy, you’ll be happy.”
For now, Curley’s iPod handles the rhythm section, but the Mayors are shooting for a full band.
“Once we originally found the sequencers and drum machines we were using, we thought that was the greatest thing in the world,” Curley says. “We were gonna be the next They Might be Giants, and at some point (TMBG) got past it being just the two of them. … We’ve gotten to the point where we want to be something more than that, too. I’m fairly easy to get along with, as long as everybody does what I say.”
Peteroy adds, “We’ve been at this since September, and we haven’t beaten each other up.”
Focusing on YouTube and Internet distribution, Curley puts it simply: “We want to make good music, make people laugh, smile, dance and have a good time. That’s all I’ve ever wanted in my life, to make people smile. And I feel like this is the best way to do it now.”
On the duo’s live show, Peteroy says, “We want to make it more of a show rather than just two guys playing music … more antics and gimmicks.”
“More interactive,” Curley says with a grin. “Unexpected.”
MAYORS OF SUPER AWESOME TOWN (myspace.com/mayorsofsuperawesometown) play Northside Tavern on Feb. 18.