8 MORE YEARS: Washed Up Emo co-founders celebrate 8 years of Emo Night NYC
To call what longtime friends Tom Mullen and Brian Pacris have created simply “a DJ night” would be to cheapen it; over its 8 years running, the duo’s monthly emo night, Do You Know Who You Are, has evolved into so much more. Through its website, WashedUpEmo.com, formed in 2007, and a podcast of the same name that Mullen launched months after their first night, the co-founders of Emo Night NYC have established themselves as the quintessential appreciators of a genre that refuses to be forgotten.
This month, Emo Night NYC will ring in its 8th anniversary, this time bringing the party back to Brooklyn at The Loft at Elsewhere on February 19. Joining Mullen and Pacris will be none other than Norman Brannon (Texas Is The Reason); fitting, as Brannon was actually one of the first guest DJs the pair ever invited out back in 2011.
“I think the thing I love about the night is that even from the name down, there’s a sense of playfulness and fun,” Brannon explains... “Emo is so often maligned for not having a sense of humor, but in order to go to a night like this, you really have to leave your pretentiousness at the door.”
Co-founder Tom Mullen remembers what DJing their emo night was like back in 2011; his website, WashedUpEmo.com, had launched in 2007 as a place to remember those forgotten bands of the late 90s that he loved so much. No one was talking about American Football or calling anything an “emo revival” yet.
“I remember Brian spilling beer on my computer while DJing. My brand new computer just shut off immediately. Instantly I thought, while screaming, I hadn’t edited or backed up my first ever interview with Mike Kinsella on there at the time,” explains Mullen.
“I absolutely panicked, but luckily I was able to recover the file after a crazy call to a friend at the Apple Store at the time and that episode with Mike really helped launch the podcast in such a bigger way."
Since, the Washed Up Emo community ––including their monthly emo night, ongoing blog coverage, and the 145 episodes and counting of the podcast–– has brought together people from all walks of life in totally different ways. As an essential resource on the genre, Washed Up Emo has provided a consistent and passionate platform for developing bands that are as inspired by the music as Mullen and Pacris are.
And as a monthly event, Emo Night NYC has created a safe and inclusive space for fans of the genre to connect, like the married couple that initially met one another at the night. “It was amazing to be able to introduce two of our friends over a love of music, eventually leading to me officiating their wedding ceremony a few years later,” said Pacris.
Tom and Brian have learned a lot from the loyal fans of Emo Night NYC; the first time they ever even realized anything close to a “revival” was happening was when fans would request songs from bands like The Menzingers or Joyce Manor.
“I remember the first time we put some of those bands on, we saw an immediate reaction,” Tom says. “I realized we had to really dive into those requests more and more to find out what was happening. Always listen to the kids and never be too cool to not understand what’s happening out there.”
Believe it or not, the fans have even helped to remind Tom and Brian of some bands from yesterday that they may have forgotten! This collective experience they share with the bands, including guest DJs from bands like Saves the Day, Braid, Modern Baseball, Midtown, Say Anything, Thursday, Armor for Sleep, and label events with Jade Tree, Topshelf bring this full circle. “Before the boom of DJ nights, we were doing official band and label after parties with just an email or a text to stop by. It felt more natural than something planned with tickets and marketing around it.” Armed with letting the music do the talking, and the fans being there is the kind of thing that can only happen in a community dedicated to helping everyone learn and enjoy something together.
If the co-founders of Emo Night NYC had to pick any song that represented their 8+ years collectively advocating for a genre that was essentially forgotten by most, they’d go with “Never Meant” by American Football –– no question. And could there be a better representative for the genre, and what makes people like Tom Mullen and Brian Pacris feel so motivated to keep spreading the word about it, than American Football? Much like the genre itself, the band had its own major renaissance after reuniting in 2014 and will release their third full-length later this spring, inspiring fans both old and new school along the way.
“Every single fan of the genre, no matter their age, they all know “Never Meant.” And it’s a bridge,” Mullen says. “To see a band like that get recognition and respect today is a huge part of why we continue to do this, year after year.”
He adds: “We call it the “Stairway to Heaven” of emo night. Just like back at a school dance, you have to play it at some point and bow to the altar of In Kinsella We Trust.”