In the video above, Banana Phonetic performs “Wherever You Go.” Also watch “It Was a Drag.” Photo by Rachel Richmond
Before there was the band Banana Phonetic, there was the band BILF. Yes, the “B” stood for “band.”
Keyboardist, guitarist, and vocalist Akhil Bhatt (COM’09) and drummer Andy Bickerton (CAS’09, SMG’09) began playing together on Saturdays during junior year in Bhatt’s dorm room at the “HoJo,” also known as 575 Commonwealth Ave. “If you lived in the Hojo then, you probably hate us for waking you up every weekend,” says Bhatt. “We’d like to formally apologize now.”
After BILF broke up, Bhatt and Bickerton connected with several other musicians and eventually consolidated into what they describe as a “serious band” — Banana Phonetic. The band’s current lineup includes bassist Sam Doty and lead guitarist Tom Mangan.
“Our goal is collaboration,” says Bhatt. “In most bands, one or two people are the principal songwriters. They write songs and bring them to the band, and everyone learns their parts. But we try to write each song together. It’s definitely more time-consuming and stressful than traditional songwriting, but it pays off in terms of being tight and creative.”
The methodology appears to be working. Since coming together a year and a half ago, Banana Phonetic has written more than 23 songs and played to crowds at Harper’s Ferry, the Middle East, and impromptu basement shows that Bhatt likens to “sweaty dance parties.”
Perhaps because Banana Phonetic is influenced by acts ranging from Built to Spill to Prince to Pink Floyd, it’s hard to assign a genre to the band’s music. Bhatt prefers it that way. “I’m not a huge fan of the genre game,” he says. “Banana Phonetic is what happens when four close friends spend every waking moment collaborating.”
Banana Phonetic will be releasing its debut EP, The Western End, and playing at Church, 69 Kilmarnock St., Boston, Mass., on Friday, April 30.
Get a free copy of the EP with an advance ticket purchase. The Western End is available as a CD, digital download, or a limited-edition colored vinyl.
Watch more BU Today Sessions.