Signing Story: Downtown Boys


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For self-described “bilingual political dance-punk partiers” Downtown Boys, corporate conformity was never an issue when signing with Don Giovanni Records. The band’s creative mission remains solid––now it’s just a matter of expanding and nurturing that message through knowledgeable industry resources––i.e., other “struggling” musicians.

For Downtown Boys, the task of building successful connections with such little business experience forced them to rely heavily on cooperation among aspiring artists battling similar obstacles. Things run smoother with a mutual sense of understanding and acceptance.

“We all need to work together––find ways to understand what we need before what we want,” explains lead vocalist Victoria Ruiz. For example: “What royalties should we get? How much do things really cost? What are the guarantees when performing with a bigger act?”

“We all need to know this stuff,” guitarist Joey L. DeFrancesco agrees, “and work together as a collective labor pool to be able to inform ourselves. Put in the hard work, and respect the other people putting in the hard work.”

“Some materialistic resources are required for success.”

So during their initial partnership with Sister Polygon Records, Downtown strung a web of reliable friendships with other up-and-coming rockers,  including Pinkwash and Priest. That push and motivation inspired their debut 7” that caught the attention of Don Giovanni co-founder, Joseph Steinhardt. Recently, Downtown Boys performed alongside those very same bands at the label’s annual three-night showcase in Brooklyn.

As an independent record label powered by New Brunswick, NJ’s underground punk scene, Don Giovanni “supports an array of artistic outlets and speaks on culture [in a way] that opens and touches people’s minds,” Ruiz says. So it’s not all about the money and popularity, but some materialistic resources are required in order for growth and success. Denying that sometimes sobering mentality “is not sustainable––it’s not punk, it’s not anti-corporate. It’s just not feasible.”

“There’s always this nefarious undercurrent pressuring you to perform, look, and sound a certain way,” DeFrancesco continues. But working with Don Giovanni now allows the band to “continue what we want to be doing, just at a bigger level.”

Expect Downtown Boys’ debut album to be released this spring.

–Danica Bellini