Toluca Lake and overtheweather recently released a seamless and riveting split EP playfully titled ‘Food Fight’. Overtheweather is a Pittsburg-native group self-described as a “Chex-mix bag of punk, emo, alternative and yinzercore”, whereas Toluca Lake is an emo trio brought up in the college basement scene of Lowell, MA. They are currently based in and around Boston.
Toluca Lake consists of Mike Jannino (they/them, guitar, vocals, producer), Cullen Ryan (he/him, percussion), and Matt Cohen (he/him, bass, backing vocals, producer), and overtheweather is made up of of Julian Mascilli (vocals, guitar, producer/recording engineer), Dixon Frank (vocals, percussion), Christian Price (bass, backing vocals) and Ryan McMahon (guitar).
Food Fight is full of reminiscence and complexity, with a side of scrumptious angst. The EP tackles life’s uncertainties within a 12-minute musical cafeteria. The 4-song collection is tied together with several common threads. Toluca Lakes says they have been “Co-writing and food fighting four songs together for a blend of our taste” while overtheweather cheers “food fight, the food songs to fight food with food!”. So, let’s see how they play with these flavors…and chords!
Overtheweather starts off the EP strong with “hammed burger :(“.It hits the ground running with its energetic marchy snares and a drum part that has as much magnetism as that of Travis Barkers’. “hammed burger :(“ is a high-wattage jam that begs the question, “Where the hell should I go, where should I exist?”
“A place to laugh, a place to cry
A place to rest, a place to hide
A physical version of my mind
The antithesis of what I left behind”
The second half of the song gradually transforms, peppering in a hint of math-rock with the Midwest emo vibes.
The riveting energy and tone of the next song, “big fat donut” has a warm familiarity that reminds us of Jack’s Mannequin, and a rhythmic complexity rivals that of American Football’s. But the second track on this EP is a punch-you-in-the-gut sort of reflective that only overtheweather can bring to the table.
“Crossing threads is something I can’t seem to stop myself from doing”
How do we undo the crossed wires that continue being woven alongside our life’s path? “big fat donut” tackles matters of the heart. How do we truly come back to something when everything around us is constantly changing? Or is the source of our pain longing for that familiarity in the first place?
“I could never hate the one who showed me everything
Like how I’m thankful for the sun despite the burns that it can bring”
The protagonist becomes increasingly distraught in the second half of the song, but then we taste something very different. The outro shifts gears by placings the instruments in the forefront, and a savory-shouty group chant in the background, setting up the table for Toluca Lake.
The penultimate song, “stew” begins with a compelling ⅝ that feels deceptively like a 6/8 on first blush. The light distortion and polyphonic countermelodies in the right-panned guitar are lip-smacking.
“I just wanna feel young again
And have a few more reasons
I’ve been around enough to know that I
Wanna see what I can do
If I could just be more like you”
Half way through the jam a more intense punk beat chimes in.
“Already 24 with full intentions
Of getting out of here
Why does it feel like I will have to leave my friends?
I miss not working and now I’m burning all my time away”
This tune chills out as it grooves til the end, again offering up its satisfying complimentary counter melodies. The b section gives us one last line of anguish before closing in ⅝.
“This isn’t growing up
This is getting old
It’s not another lesson
I’m just starting to feel cold”
The final tune, “Stay” combines chuggy bass and ethereal distorted guitar while lamenting over life as a middle-class worker and common punk! Shitty jobs, dropping out, and spending all his money. But he is hell-bent on practicing more honesty. By the time the bridge hits, the protagonist has finally found a place to stay, but it seems not all is resolved. A post-punk guitar solo devolves into despair for just for a moment, before it all condenses down and phases out..
Together, these two bands have combined to create something tasty and sassy, retrospective and forthright. Dare I say, a crunchable collective cafeteria?!! This seamlessly blended EP is absolutely delectable. Check it out, and please, start a food fight by sharing these tunes on social media!
How did this project come about, and how did your two bands meet?
Toluca Lake: During quarantine I got really into just trying to find actual good bands on Twitter as part of my touring ideation, and I don’t remember if it was when they followed us or when I stumbled upon one of their friends band that I learned about them, but I listened to OTW and thought they sounded so good so I followed them there. A while later we tweeted out into the ether a while back about how cool it would be to have a split EP where both bands co-wrote all of the songs, and OTW reached out and I said yes pretty much immediately. It was like they knew I wanted them to answer that call, haha.
OTW: Julian and Ryan had discovered Toluca Lake not long after “Walker” came out, but we collectively fell in love a couple years ago when they shared them with the band and everyone heard their release “How You Like To Waste Your Day” Around that time, we were working with a different band on a split. When that fell thru, we still had it in our bones that we wanted to work with another band.
What inspired the food theme?
OTW: overtheweather has a song name discord channel of funny words and phrases from our day-to-day lives. Too many food names, too many songs to make.
I read on social media that all the songs on this EP are partially co-written. Can you tell me a little bit more about this collective process?
Toluca Lake: Yeah! So when we were trying to define what “co-write a whole split” meant, OTW showed us a song they had written that was just waiting for a project, and we decided for every song we would at least feature a vocalist from the other band, and in three of the songs we actually wrote our own lyrics for the feature. OTW also graciously let me sing a verse they had written to keep the spirit of the split, which was awesome. For us, we wrote out the instrumentals, came up with a concept, wrote some lyrics, and gave OTW their own verse/prechorus to play around with and it turned out amazing.
OTW: We wanted to incorporate a collective co-writing process to help the split flow and try something new. Dixon and Julian from otw were featured lyrically on their respective TL tracks and Mike was featured on both of otw’s songs. Both composed the music individually and collaborated together on the split lyrics and features.
Your album art is trippy-I especially like the ice-cream-hair dude. Who created the EP cover?
Toluca Lake: OTW came to us with the concept and some rough ideas for what the album art style could look like. We thought our friend Brian Mulligan (moniker_lewinski on Instagram) would be a pretty great fit for the style and he killed it.
(OTW) This line from “big fat donut” is so poignant, what is the inspiration behind it?
I could never hate the one who showed me everything
Like how I’m thankful for the sun despite the burns that it can bring
Toluca Lake: When OTW showed us the instrumental to big fat donut, they gave me complete free reign to pick a spot in the song to write to, and the spot I come in on was the spot that gave me chills. I ended up writing about growing emotionally while in an abusive and toxic situation, and being thankful for the lessons someone who hurt me pretty bad taught me about myself, because it helped me be a much better person and learn how to establish boundaries while showing me what it looks like when someone toxic doesn’t change. When I was singing ad-lib on a loop, the sun line just came out, and totally fit that idea — sunny days make life happen but if you’re not careful you’ll end up burned.
(Toluca Lake) “stew” is such a beautifully heartrending song with the sense of deep longing. Do you think it is a universal desire for those who have entered adulthood to redo key moments of our youth?
Toluca Lake: First off, thanks for the kind words. Stew is totally self-reflection in its entirety, feeling like I wasted some of my best years because I was poor and couldn’t do the things I wanted to do, and wanting nothing more than to have a chance at reliving those moments from when I was younger (with everything in front of me, and all that) without having to fight poverty and depression every step of the way. It’s also a rallying cry to make a promise to myself to actually live that life I deserved to have when I was younger.
(Toluca Lake) Final question. Why is the burger hammed :(?
About Toluca Lake
Toluca Lake is an emo trio brought up in the college basement scene of Lowell, MA and currently based in and around Boston. Toluca Lake consists of Mike Jannino (they/them, guitar, vocals, producer), Cullen Ryan (he/him, percussion), and Matt Cohen (he/him, bass, backing vocals, producer). On the local circuit since 2015’s freshman record, “Walker”, Toluca Lake has crafted a sound that twists and turns in new evolutions with each new release, bringing out a softer side in 2018’s “Breath in Passing” and a triumphant, accessible side in 2020’s “How You Like to Waste Your Day”.
Through their local New England emo community and an evolving taste in music, Toluca Lake has always tried to push the boundaries of what they are capable of and challenge their audience’s perception of what their music could be – the latest split with Pittsburgh’s own overtheweather, Food Fight (2022) is a prime example. Above all else, Toluca Lake wishes to be heard and to help, and are pushing their music as far as it can go.
overtheweather is an alternative, emo, post-punk band born and raised in Pittsburgh PA. The band consists of Julian Mascilli (vocals, guitar, producer/recording engineer), Dixon Frank (vocals, percussion), Christian Price (bass, backing vocals) and Ryan McMahon (guitar).
Following their first self-produced release “party socks” in 2021, overtheweather hit the local music scene ambitious to make a name for themselves opening up for national acts. During that time, the band continued to write new music and refine their sound.
The band is currently releasing a self-produced split (2022) and recording a full length album to follow. overtheweather aims to share their music and explore the music world outside of Pittsburgh in the near future