Bar Road-Test: The Gutter
Brooklyn's Own Japanther Laces Up at New Bar-Meets-Bowling-Alley
So, where better to toast that success than at a place made for entertainment: the local bowling alley? The Gutter is Brooklyn’s newest bowling alley, brought to you by the same people as Barcade and located within spitting distance of the bright lights of Williamsburg. We challenged Japanther to a game and got their views on gimmick bars, neighborhood cycles and 25-foot waves. In their own words:
What are your first impressions of the place?
IV: Bowling is definitely about style. These are gorgeous score machines, this is a stylish place, everything has been considered. It’s very kitsch. It’s definitely got the air of a themed bar, and follows the necessity for America to build themed bars. It’s because of people like us who are from the video game generation.
MR: Yeah and we grew up on gimmicky places, like Chuck E. Cheese pizza. We need to be entertained.
When did you last go bowling?
IV: I haven’t been bowling since I was 8, so I’m super excited.
MR: I used to go to Carlfield Lanes – it was free for high school students.
[Matt gets a strike on the first shot. Ian seems to be having trouble finding the right ball…]
IV: Sorry [it’s] all about color for me. Matt’s good, I’ve got to take some inspiration from Homer Simpson to get back in.
How was Japanther in 3D?
IV: It was something much more inclusive, much more realized and had much more money put into it than anything we had done before. It meant we could realize our ideas and pay our friends really well. I love making music and playing shows -- that is a high that you can’t get away from. But, as a creative person, you always want to do more – something that means something to my peer group. I think just playing concerts over and over again and getting wasted isn’t saying anything to your peer-groups. So, we try to work with Native Americans from New York State, English people, men, women, boys and girls.
MR: Yeah, we had teenagers there, kids… we wanted a show for everyone rather than just cool people who knew where the bar was. We talked about food, rituals. People were forced to think outside their normal realm of how they accept music and art.
Would you say that you were artists before musicians or vice versa?
IV: We were just art students. When we finished college there were no jobs so we both thought, ‘What should we do?’ We both wanted to travel, so we thought, ‘Let’s book some shows.’ At that point we weren’t a band so we had to write some songs. We designed a logo before we had any music.
So you formed the aesthetic before, then fit the music and everything else into that?
IV: Yeah, and that’s now something that’s coming into fruition – where we are like, ‘Whoa, it makes sense.’ That’s our style. I also have this idea (I don’t know if this is the exact figure), but humans use only 17% of their potential brainpower at any given time. Hopefully maybe we can try to elevate ours to around 20%.
How does bowling factor in to that?
IV: It definitely brings it down.
Watch the hate mail from the serious bowlers come rushing in. In fact, do you reckon we would find any here?
IV: I’m not sure. I think they would prefer the ones where it’s a long strip with loads of lanes and the alleys are in a pit. A more classic style. I’d hang out here though. I reckon this place is going to clear up.
What do you think of the bar though?
IV: It’s got a good beer selection certainly. But, they need to sell pizza and food. They always have a snack bar at bowling alleys.
MR: ...and the jerkies are 3.50!
How do you feel about all the urban development happening in Williamsburg right now?
IV: I love it. Look into the history of New York City – this was the most lively shipping area in New York until it completely died and it was filled with breweries. Then it’s a Polish neighborhood and they do heavy manufacturing of steel and rock, so they're building Manhattan and putting in those nice marble floors for everyone, and eventually marble will leak out of this neighborhood like the breweries. Meanwhile up pops a bowling alley, and roller-skating place, then the neighborhood becomes a ‘this’.
Ian: What it is now. It’s incredibly exciting and the loop will never stop.
MR: ...until a tidal wave will come and knock down the bowling and bars and condos, then it starts again.
IV: Well, yeah, we should all be prepared for Alpa anyways.
It’s a volcano that’s going to erupt on the other side of the ocean that will cover the entire East Coast with a wall of water that is 25 meters high.
If the wave doesn’t come what do you reckon this place could have, to make it better?
MR: I think the place should be more gimmicky – they need to put one of those bobbing lamps over there.
IV: So you want animatronics lamps that say “good shot”?
MR: Yeah. I think they should push that, make it a hang out place. Bring some arcade games in here, pool, and make it actually fun.
IV: I could see them having punk shows in here too…
MR: Make it like that place in Dazed and Confused – the rec center. That was cool. Everyone wants that. More gimmicks. Dancing lights, animatronics.
IV: I think you’ve had too much beer – you’re demanding talking lamps.