Feature: High School Band Why Not is No Question
After being sent an incredibly enthusiastic email, I find myself sitting down with genre-refusing teen band, Why Not. The band is following up their 2018 album Spring Cleaning with EP, EP, out today, February 15th. Drummer Josh MacGregor has promised me that this is their “most captivating, interesting, and professional release so far.” So at the very least, Why Not is confident. Opening track “Ready 4 the World” backs that up on title alone, the band telling me that it’s the only song on Spotify titled “Ready 4 the World” using the number instead of the word.
Why Not thinks of themselves as a new step beyond punk and emo and math rock. And they aren’t wrong. EP layers autotune over a cacophony of guitar and fits a ten minute track into a four song release. Why Not, as a whole, are unique in their audacity. Singer, Henry Breen is articulate and soft spoken when I speak with him about the album. Which is a rare skill for a high schooler to possess. And it bleeds through EP. He sings about maturity, growth, and self-awareness over layered tracks. On “Thud. Dead.” he repeatedly slurs “I’m turning into ashes” as the track drifts away with a train chug. But there are no sad songs on EP. Even the feelings of being lost in your own mind and unable to properly convey yourself are undermined with energy. Why Not are cautious not to delve into the despair and self-pity of the three pieces of yore. They’re young, but just old enough to know they should care. Guitarist Isaac Dell tells me “we love our buds” while Josh chimes in “we’re wholesome people.” Part of what differentiates EP is its lack of edge. It’s not trying to be anything it isn’t, it’s refreshingly earnest. Why Not doesn’t posture themselves as the cool kids in school, and that’s what makes them so endearing. EP thinks self-righteous head nods are passe and encourages audiences to dance instead. This release is sonic; you can feel the band’s excitement of coming into their own. When asked about “Why Not” versus “Why Not?” they eagerly tell me that it’s a statement. Sans question mark is “exciting.” Isaac perks up and tells me that it’s also aesthetically better while handing me a handful of band stickers. But question mark aside, EP does stand on its own.
Sitting with the band we discuss Spongebob, Ariana Grande, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, and it becomes clear why they vie for positivity. They know their truth and they’re optimistic about it. Why Not isn’t emo, they’re not pop punk, they don’t swear in front of me. The peace and joy they find in expressing their more negative feelings is a punk mentality all its own. EP is the product of people who don’t want you to associate their music with sadness. Which may be naive, but it’s what differentiates EP from the rest. This EP is made for themselves, and if it resonates with others, then Why Not is happy. Their idealism seems young. But their desire to grow as people is wiser. Why Not is three teens making music because they love doing it and because they care for each other. And the world is definitely ready for that.