No one can entertain Ladylike quite like the members of Ladylike. Rob Kroehler, Ryan Casey, Ethan Hillis, Alex Tighe and Austin Owen have been a band for three years and forged a brotherhood through hard work, pop music and dirty jokes.
“Rob and I have been playing together for a decade,” Casey said. “That’s actually true.”
“Austin and I share a meth dealer, so we met at the meth house,” said Tighe without missing a beat.
Between sips of Lhasa, a Tibetan lager, the band members joked around in their cozy practice space in Tempe, trying to one-up each other.
For instance, the band members are fans of a dirty made-up word game that involves synonyms, rhyming and clues. The rules are a bit hard to explain, and the game makes little to no sense, but it is extremely addictive and a great way to pass the time.
Dry humor fueled the band as they patiently waited to practice, but unfortunately their drummer, Hillis, slept soundly through it all despite a multitude of phone calls and messages. Normally, the band practices twice a week when Hillis isn’t fulfilling his role as the band’s cat.
The converted practice space they use has padded walls, plenty of gear and even a fireplace hidden among the instruments. They are eager to practice and are dedicated to their craft under their sarcastic wit.
This showed in their colorful self-titled debut album released in April. Ladylike, funded by a Kickstarter project that raised more than the band’s intended goal, was recorded at Blacklodge Recording in Eudora, Kansas, but Kroehler admits it was a bit of a gamble for them and their engineer.
While Kroehler toured with the energetic band fun. several years ago, he became friends with their live engineer, Nick Day, whom is currently the touring with Manchester Orchestra.
Ladylike was just starting out and didn’t have plans to record a new album, but Day offered to work with them without having heard very much of the band. When Ladylike finally came around to the idea of recording, Kroehler reached out to him.
Day was working in Kansas and though no one in Ladylike had been to the studio, and half the band had never even met Day, they all took off to the Sunflower State and spent 10 days recording in the middle of nowhere.
“We decided we wanted to record a record, not record a record while we were still caught up in our daily lives,” Kroehler said.
Sequestered in the Midwest, they created their 11-track album and returned home to pound the pavement.
“It’s [an] anomalous situation in Phoenix,” said Kroehler. “The West Coast is very thriving and you can blow up in the East Coast because you’re a stone’s throw from huge markets. Phoenix is a place that most bands don’t really come through.”
Simply booking tours outside of Arizona are costly, but Ladylike manages to play shows in California as much possible
The sprawling nature of the Phoenix metro area can be disheartening for show turn outs, but Casey said there are certain perks that come with being from Phoenix rather than Los Angeles.
“Young kids are thirsty for something interesting [in Phoenix], almost like a small town,” Casey said. “They really suck up anything new, which is kind of neat.”
Casey admits the band doesn’t exactly fit into any niche in the local music scene, but it does play a unique role.
“I think there’s a need for a band that doesn’t play to one specific audience, and I feel like we might fill that need,” Casey said.
The open and honest band also knows what it’s like to play in the scene with other bands. While on the surface Ladylike seem like a bunch of fun loving dudes, they are pretty upfront when it comes to musical rivalries.
Owen raised issues they have had in the past with yoga-enthusiasts and fellow local band Yellow Minute, and he didn’t mind calling them out by name.
“We would like Yellow Minute if they weren’t such assholes,” Owen said. “I hope we never have to share another greenroom with them again. Thank god it’s not a yellow hour.”
Ouch, so much for fitting in.
Day 1: Los Dias De La Crescent w/Black Carl, Dry River Yacht Club, Mergence, What Laura Says, Ladylike, Roar, Source Victoria, Factories, Future Loves Past, DJ Seduce, Crescent Ballroom, August 17, 7 p.m., $8 to $20