All photos by Gustavo Ponce
Bands With Pans is a series in which we shop for meal ingredients with a Brooklyn-based band or artist on a $20 budget. Next we tag along for the cooking, chatting and—duh—eating. This installment, we bug emo pioneers The Dismemberment Plan, who today release Uncanney Valley, their first new album in over a decade.
Park Slope Food Coop is actually not pronounced “COOP” even though that’s how their sign reads. On a sunny weekday afternoon, the store front buzzes. Members in orange vests collecting carts, walking groceries home for patrons—smiling like they mean it. When The Dismemberment Plan’s frontman Travis Morrison and bassist Eric Axelson arrive, they smile sincerely, too.
Coop member Travis leads us up a narrow staircase to get cleared for entry. He explains his wife, Katherine, turned him on to the fabulous ways of PSFC. He, like all the other PSFC members dutifully completes his mandatory 2 hours 45 minutes volunteer service in the space every four weeks.
He calls the member service desk attendee gig one of the better options.
Eventually, we’re off. Travis has a mental map of the shop’s innards and directs Eric, tonight’s chef, around it like a decorated ship captain.
The dinner menu? Linguini with cream sauce, veggies and a side of sautéed greens. And wine. Lots and lots of wine.
A friend gifted Travis and Katherine a wine club membership for their relatively recent wedding. By the time of our dinner date, the Morrison house holds six-ish bottles of various whites. “So everyone can have their own bottle, I guess,” Travis laughs. (We did.)
The line to check out is long, but littered with a jovial sense of community. People chat in line. Like, people Travis doesn’t seem to know from before. It’s foreign but awesome and urges time along.
We arrive at the cash register to greet a totally green cashier. “It’s my first day at cash register,” he explains. He thinks the challenge is silly.
As the total climbs—pasta, grated parmesan, garlic, zucchini, heavy whipping cream, onions, lemons, basil, red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, carrots, asparagus, collards—Travis yanks a lettuce head from the pile. Salad was a hopeful element to the final plate, but… “I need this anyway. It’s not for dinner, promise.” He holds up his hand in a fake boyscout honor way.
The total: $23.36.
Guitarist Jason Caddell and drummer Joe Easley are already at Travis’s apartment—napping. “They’re in from DC,” Travis announces before presumably jostling them awake. Groggy still, they hang around the living room as Eric takes command of Travis’s enormous, beautiful kitchen.
Eric chops garlic in a methodic, fluid way. After selecting a fine knife from the kitchen’s impressive blade bouquet, he arranges a fistful of cloves on a board. He sprinkles a little kosher salt then cuts and cuts and cuts, dragging stray cloves back to the center in between minces. It seeps with garlic juice goodness.
Meanwhile, pasta boils and folks help chopping the other vegetables.
I silently watch Travis retrieve the lettuce he “needed anyway.” He rinses it and I know he definitely planned this whole time to use it in the meal. But he’s the dude who wrote “What Do You Want Me To Say?” so I can’t call him out and he knows that. Funny, speaking of membership.
Travis whisks up a simple vinaigrette to match his sneak salad. He and Eric, pals since their teenage years, reminisce on helping their own and each other’s dads with meal prep. Back “then,” they reassure me, society was less afraid of liquids that separated. “Now with natural peanut butter, everyone freaks out,” Travis says. It’s true. It’s terrifying.
Most of the band retires across Travis and Katherine’s cushy furniture while funk music plays. Travis keeps an eagle eye on everyone’s wine glass and the chardonnay, pinot grigio and other fancy stuff flowin’.
I ask Eric how D-Plan used to eat on the road in the ‘90s. He laughs and explains there will be no repetition of that this go around. After all, the quartet cut and filed their teeth nearly two decades ago. Road life oughta be a lot cozier now supporting Uncanney Valley, right? “Ha! Sure,” Eric concedes. They talk about being “grown-ups” now at least a few times.
Eric arranges bodacious, bountiful plates for the band, Katherine, my brave photographer and myself. Veggies galore!
The garlic tincture in the creamy noodles and greens is enormously potent and stupid delicious. Greens themselves add a nice balance of bitter to the savory pasta dish. And in that—the linguini and vegetables exist in almost equal parts, making for an almost perfectly Technicolor dream of a meal. But it’s the addition of Travis’s secret, against-the-rules tomato salad that pushes it to the damn perfection line.
Despite our wine saturation, all maintain composure. Polished discussion covers the usual topics—the upcoming D-Plan album, American wars, The Holy Land Experience. Whathaveyou. Somehow two hours pass and the troop rallies to score some gelato.
My brave photographer and I beg to help clean up the Gettysburg of a kitchen. Travis and Katherine refuse, sweetly, modestly pointing out their dishwasher. Ah, yes. Grown-up life.