Corey Flood is the name of a Philly–based dark rock band, but it's also the name of a side character in the 1989 John Cusack film Say Anything—she's a teenage girl who writes sad songs about her ex–boyfriend on her acoustic guitar. Although her sound couldn't be more different than that of the band Corey Flood's 2018 EP, Wish You Hadn't, there's something to be said for the sheer emotion that both of their works inspire. Corey Flood's sound—with deep, churning bass, rippling guitars, and eerie vocals floating on top—dredges something up in the listener, something felt deep in your stomach.
The group is composed of Ivy Gray–Klein on bass and vocals, Em Boltz on guitar and vocals, and Juliette Rando on drums. Besides their work in the band, Gray–Klein and Rando both work at Penn, Gray–Klein at the Weitzman School of Design's graduate architecture department and Rando as a research assistant and taking classes for her Master's in Public Health.
Ahead of their Philly show opening for (Sandy) Alex G at Union Transfer, I spoke with the group about how they all started playing together, what it means to them to have a creative outlet outside of their work, and why Juliette Rando is trying to get Planet Fitness to let her host a festival at one of their gyms.
34th Street Magazine: How did you guys originally form the band?
Ivy Gray–Klein: Well, Juliette and I went to college together, and then we moved to Philly and we were in a Ween cover band for one night only, and then we decided to keep playing together, and through that Em joined, and we became Corey Flood.
Juliette Rando: Yeah, I actually met Em at a show. I was like a really big fan of Em’s band, It’s Cool, and I was at their show like a week before Ivy and my first show, and I mentioned that we didn’t have a guitarist 'cause the person that had been playing with us was out of town or something, and they just offered to fill in like a week before. Pretty amazing of them. And yeah they just stayed in the band.
Street: So you guys were only a Ween cover band for one day?
Ivy: One night only. Yeah it was like a Valentine’s Day cover show, benefit show. So we just did three songs, but we practiced for three months, we took it very seriously.
Street: What college did you guys go to together?
Ivy: Well I went to Bryn Mawr, and Juliette went to Haverford, but we were in Haverford FUCS, which is like the concert booking thing, so I was always at Haverford hanging out with Juliette doing show stuff.
Street: So, how long have each of you performed music?
Em: I mean I started playing piano and violin in elementary school. But being in bands, I think I was in my first band when I was fourteen. I’ve been in like ten different bands. So, it’s been a journey.
Juliette: Yeah, this is the first band I’ve ever been in, but I’ve been playing drums since I was eleven.
Ivy: This is the second band I’ve been in, not including [the Ween cover band]. I started playing bass my senior year of college, so I was 21? I think? And before that, I played piano and saxophone growing up.
Juliette: You gotta bring out that saxophone.
Ivy: I know, it’s in my basement. I was a competitive saxophonist. I went to state competitions in middle school.
Juliette: No you weren’t!
Em: That was me with the violin!
Ivy: I’m scared to try to play it again because I’m scared I will have forgotten all of it and will hurt my ego.
Street: Did all of you grow up in Philly?
Ivy: I’m from Chicago, but I lived for a lot of my adolescence in rural Maine. But my parents moved back to Chicago, so when I go quote–unquote, home, I go to Chicago. And I moved to the area to go to Bryn Mawr, and I’ve been here ever since.
Em: I’m from Northeast Ohio.
Juliette: I’m from Massachusetts.
Street: How’d you guys all end up in Philly?
Em: I moved to Brooklyn and I lived there for a while, and I was just like this is an unrealistic and unsustainable lifestyle, so I moved here.
Street: Remind me which one of you lives and works at Planet Phitness [a West Philly house and performance space]?
Juliette: Owner, manager, up until July.
Street: What happened?
Juliette: We all moved out. It was kind of an expensive house? It was at 42nd and Woodland, so it was like a lot of USciences students. We were by the Starbucks there, so it was prime real estate. So it just didn’t seem worth it to live in a really old, cold house, so we moved out.
Juliette: So fun story by the way, so I’m trying to put on this festival, this recurring festival with a friend that we had at Planet Phitness two winters ago, but I no longer live at Planet Phitness, so our idea was to call the real Planet Fitness and see if they would let me have a festival there, so I called them and they were really nice about it, and they told me to talk to corporate. So I guess we’ll see.
Street: I think you guys have a pinned tweet which describes your sound as “basement goth” not “bedroom pop?” Has anyone ever tried to call you “bedroom pop?”
Ivy: No, but I think like, just in the broader DIY spectrum scene, there’s like a recurring theme of like, “recorded in their bedroom,” and we are not so distant from that, 'cause we recorded in our basement. You know, like we’re definitely tangential to that, but we’re basement goths.
Street: Ivy, I understand when the band started you were fairly new to singing.
Ivy: Yeah, so what happened was in 2016, my former band Littler kinda went on hiatus, 'cause half of us moved to LA, so I was having sort of like a quarter life crisis, and one of the things I wanted to tackle was something that scared me, and one of my biggest fears at the time was singing. I had never sung in front of another human in my life, and I was deathly afraid of it, so I signed up for singing lessons. And it was really scary and hard, but I just kept doing it as an exercise, and then I recorded demos in my room, and then Juliette and I started playing together, and that’s how that happened.
Juliette: And you didn’t even sing in the Ween cover band.
Ivy: That’s true. Our line–up went through a couple different changes for our first show, but originally I wasn’t even going to sing, but people left and then I was like, guess I have to. So it was like, and I thought of it as being like, well, it’s like a good exercise in me challenging myself, but I didn’t necessarily think that it would continue. But I still get nervous about it and I still don’t think I have a great voice, it's not my primary skill set, but I’m less likely to have a panic attack every time I sing.
Street: I saw that you've worked all sorts of jobs at Pitchfork, the ICA, The Onion's AV Club; how does all that work in art and popular culture come across in your music?
Ivy: Well all those are internships I had in college. I really went into college thinking I was gonna be either working in a museum curatorial department, because I was an art history major, or doing music journalism, which is what I did in the summers. So I was really priming myself for that, and then when I came to graduate, I was like, “Oh I’m terrified of moving to New York, I don’t wanna do that.”
Ivy: So then I kind of pivoted. I’ve been working in academic publishing, which is sort of a more stable version. But then my Senior year I started playing music myself, so then I was able to continue being active, just in a different way.
Street: Can I ask about your current day job, Ivy?
Ivy: I work at the Weitzman School of Design at Penn, in the graduate architecture department, and I do all of our events, so lecture series, website, social media, and annual publications. So I do like a little bit of everything. But I have told other people this, it is kinda funny that running the lecture series is not so dissimilar from shows, because I manage the payment, I contact the person and their handler, promoting the gig, and getting people to come, and buying refreshments. A very similar skill set, but just in a different realm.
Street: Do you think of music as a sort-of escape from work, or do you tend to draw upon your work while making music?
Ivy: I think it’s like a nice companion piece, I guess. Because I think when you work a nine–to–five job you really need to have something outside of it that keeps you going. It doesn’t have to be something you do for money or for any real reason other than enjoyment, I think having a band is my outlet for that, something I just do for myself, and it’s fun. But I don’t really talk about it at work, so this will be breaking journalism.
Street: Are you guys excited or nervous for your upcoming show with (Sandy) Alex G?
Em: I’m excited!
Ivy: Yeah I think it’ll be cool, it’ll be our biggest show. Union Transfer is a nice venue. I think it’s nice that it’s like a hometown show and their homecoming post–tour show, so I think there are gonna be a lot of moms there, and a lot of friendly faces, including my mom.
Corey Flood will be opening for (Sandy) Alex G along with Tomberlin at Union Transfer on Saturday, Nov. 30, in a sold–out show. More info is available here.