Suzanna Heldring


Kevin Hoopes


Northside Festival kicks off in two weeks. To get in the spirit, Bushwick Daily sat down with some of the local artists involved. In this case, we caught up with indie-pop band Wet Leather.

We met last week at a setting comfortable and familiar to almost everyone in the neighborhood, The Three Diamond Door. More specifically, the elevated booth in the back which perfectly fit one reporter, one photographer, and four musicians. Happily situated with beers and burritos, we got to chatting about everything from the band’s early days, to their debut record release, to the upcoming show at Our Wicked Lady for Northside Festival.

The guys (minus their drummer) all met years ago at their alma mater, Wesleyan University. However, it wasn’t until two years after the youngest members of the band—Dema Paxton-Fofang and Jason Katzenstein— graduated, that they all reunited in New York City to form the “goofy supergroup” presently known as Wet Leather.

Matt Bernstein, the lead singer and guitarist, and long-time Cobra Club bartender, recalls how he met their drummer,Barry Marino, through working there. When Barry joined the band, they “became much more serious very quickly” about their music says Dema.   

In addition to two of the band members living in our fair neighborhood, Wet Leather also rehearse at Danbro Studios, a practice space in East Williamsburg shared by many other local artists and musicians. The group feels at home in many other favorite Bushwick venues.

They played their first shows ever in the back room at Cobra Club, which they still consider their “home court.” They played their self-proclaimed “worst show ever” at The Paper Box. And not to mention all the shows at Shea Stadium, whose fate is still uncertain. As Dema describes it, “there’s this whole community of bands that we play with that is very Bushwick-centric.” So many of those involved in the local music scene live and work so closely it seems it becomes quite the intertwined network.  

Wet Leather’s debut album, “The Feeling Is Mutual,” dropped in November of last year. It is worth noting that at the time of recording, they had a fifth member who had to leave the band to move back to L.A. Now, they play as a foursome.

When asked about their influences and how they describe their personal sound, the group’s initial and mutual reaction was the “britpop” genre. But as Dema elaborated, “we go in mindless, finding out what sounds good and what rhythms are working. Its only afterwards that you can think about how what you were listening to that week impacted your decision-making.”

That or “anxiety pop”, the band half-joked.

So what’s next for these guys? Well, besides being stoked for their first year at Northside Festival, they reflect on how the release of “The Feeling Is Mutual” initiated a “kind of 2.0 phase.” They got straight back into song-writing and recording, motivated (with the help of a new manager) to “level up.” They have an east coast tour coming up in July and August, then back to music writing in Bushwick! And the inevitable beers at Cobra Club.

Image courtesy of Our Wicked Lady

Catch Northside Festival newcomers Wet Leather on June 9 on the rooftop of Our Wicked Lady. And browse all the other awesome bands playing that weekend here.