(photo: Sammy Lynn)
Reisender (RIGH-sender)’s infectious new single “Generation 1099” rings just a little too true for much of the creative community in the Bay Area. “Do or die, do or die every night / Generation 1099 / Caught in the endless struggle / We’re living for the hustle.” Endemic housing insecurity complements a near disappearance of the kinds of long-term stable employment many of our parents’ generation considered standard. “We’re babies of the recession,” frontman Paul Conroy tells me by phone. “We all want to do be doing (our creative) thing as much as we can, but in a lot of ways it’s a necessity just to be able to earn enough and pay the rent…We are all doing some kind of contract work,” thus the pile-up of 1099 tax forms — the hallmark of the contractor.
Conroy is no stranger to The Hustle and working hard. He works two jobs — at a tech start-up during the week and teaching first-grade level German language at the German School of San Francisco on the weekends. Raised in the North Bay town of Novato, Conroy first came to music through the church. Drums, guitar, and keys all fell into his lap before he settled on the mandolin. It’s an interesting instrument to hoist to the front of an indie band (though not entirely unprecedented: see Arcade Fire and Jack White), lending an organic texture to an otherwise almost garage feel of Reseinder’s older work.
“Generation 1099” was co-written and created with producers Rob Marshall and Nic Gracia of the Canvas Group. Perhaps due to this, this track has a polish and shine that 2016’s New Year EP did not. The mandolin is either heavily effected — there is a distinct plucking on the way out of the bridge — or replaced by synths. Yet it retains Conroy’s distinct melodic phrasing and pop impulses; a seriously replay-worthy track.
And it’s an anthem — a clapback at those who think of millennials as lazy. “I find that most people I know have some sort of side hustle,” Conroy says before adding the insight passed to him from Marshall and Gracia: “’Nothing that’s worth doing is easy to do.’ So anything that’s worthwhile doing is going to take a lot of work it’s going to be really hard, you’re going to feel the pain before you accomplish anything. (It’s all about) cultivation; the daily effort that you make. Economically, it is broken down into becoming kind of a very entrepreneurial model where if you really want to be successful in this day and age, you kind of have to think in this way. Every single day is a new challenge and a new piece of work.”
On Sunday, October 15, Reisender is co-headlining a newer space in Berkeley: Cornerstone. This new mid-size venue and restaurant/bar opened earlier this year in what was once Thalassa Pool Hall near downtown. It has living ancestors — the Troubadour in LA after which, Conroy tells me, it is fashioned, and the Independent in SF, with which it shares many similarities such as tiered space and a back wall bar. Early shows included legacy / legendary acts (Jefferson Starship, Offspring, George Clinton), and Conroy says the venue is poising itself to be an home for world-class music in the East Bay, a new vanguard.
The venue itself is a new landmark of Generation 1099: Part venue, part restaurant, part craft beer garden, part occasional game room (when shows aren’t happening), the place is an entrepreneurial adventure in action. Conroy again: “I think our generation will be defined by our entrepreneurial spirit because we’re kind of in the situation where we have to be…It’s exciting but also a little bit frightening because we think about the future and we want to make sure that we can provide a great future for our kids and our community and for people to be able to have a place to live and to not be drowning in debt…It’s definitely a very pivotal moment.”