Better Now Than Ever talk original music, Phoebe Bridgers, and if they consider themselves a boyband
Written by Taleen Postian on March 21, 2023
WXVU Radio’s Taleen Postian interviews Better Now Than Ever, consisting of Michael Simeone [referred to as Indigo in this interview] on Vocals and Guitar, Chris Puente on Vocals and Guitar, Michael Donodeo on Drums, and Martin Gerlein on Bass.
Photo Credit: Milagros Capcha
The first interview with this Nova-based rock group, Better Now Than Ever conducted outside of their second-ever show at The Gem in Spring City, PA. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
WXVU: Thank you all for taking part in this interview! First question, how long have you all been a band?
Indigo: A hot 4 months.
Chris: Not too long, I think we started playing together in about November.
WXVU: So how did you develop the setlist for tonight?
Chris: So we got told about 3 hours before the set that we were being moved up by 10 minutes and that we had and get like 5 more songs.
Indigo: In fairness, we weren’t really told 3 hours in advance I just didn’t check my email for 4 days.
Michael: This is a recurring theme with the band by the way.
Indigo: It’s a recurring theme with my school work as well.
WXVU: For posterity, if they break up in like 4 months we will know that is due to some scheduling issue.
Indigo: No it’s going to be when Martin and Donodeo fight to the death.
Martin: Oh yeah that’s gonna-
Micheal: We’re best friends.
Indigo: Has anyone told you about the prophecy yet?
WXVU: I have not heard about the prophecy, Indigo please tell me.
Indigo: Basically, at each of their births–
Chris: What is he saying?
Indigo: –they were prophesized to fight to the death.
Michael: It’s a Maryland thing.
WXVU: Oh you’re both from Maryland?
Martin: We are.
Indigo: Same hospital!
Martin: Same beds and everything.
Michael: At the same time it got really crowded.
WXVU: Were you guys separated at birth or something, I see a resemblance.
Michael: I wish I ended up being 6’3.
WXVU: How did you all come together as a band?
Michael: So it started out with Indigo and me, we started jamming for fun just playing some music,
Indigo: I wanted this guy to be my drummer for over the summer, doing gigs at home.
Michael: So we started playing and I didn’t realize there were any plans to have it be anything but then he says, ‘yeah we’re bringing in some other guys’, so this eventually became the band and we started to get some gigs and now we’re here.
Chris: I got added in because Mike Simeone, our other guitarist, we’ve known each other since freshman year and he knew I played guitar and sang a little bit. We’ve kind of known each other since birth as well. We have the same birthday–
WXVU: You guys are like long-lost bandmates, you’re telling me this band originated a couple of months ago but all of you apparently were born together.
Indigo: He’s my twin from the same state.
Chris: But he knew that I played guitar a bit and that I had a fairly high vocal range– as in female vocal range– so that made it an easy choice for another singer.
Indigo: He lets me do all the songs I’ve always wanted to do but can’t sing myself.
WXVU: I have to say the vocals were great tonight.
Indigo: Thank you so much.
WXVU: And I feel like you picked songs that spoke to each of your individual talents, I could tell when you began a song who was going to sing it and I think that’s really impressive because I hadn’t heard you guys sing before.
WXVU: Any other highlights you want to cover that I have not asked yet?
Indigo: Should we tell her about Donnie?
Martin: Our manager, we should tell her about Donnie Hall.
WXVU: You have a manager, that’s impressive.
Michael: He is a real person, he is a very real person.
WXVU: That definitely doesn’t sound like a cartoon name.
Chris: Definitely not a name that Mike Simeone came up with.
Martin: Definitely not, no no.
Michael: He lives in a three-bedroom house, he’s got a wife–
Indigo: He does not live with anyone he just needs the extra space.
WXVU: I was going to say it’s a really specific detail to know.
Michael: Yeah sometimes we practice there.
Indigo: He’s retired now. He made all his money in day trading that’s why he has a three-bedroom house to himself.
Micheal: Property values these days, you know.
WXVU: So where did the name come from, obviously, of this very real man?
Micheal: Donnie Hall? His parents named him, Donnie for short. But I think the name of our band is much more interesting.
WXVU: Yes let’s talk about that.
Michael: We were deliberating for a while. We had a ton of names and you know I thought the band was going to break up, we all had our own things like they were all good but we were looking for that one thing and I guess we decided oh we’re going to call–
Indigo: No Martin should tell it, this kid right here, in addition to being the tallest member, came up with the name.
Martin: We were at practice and I said you know what let’s stop practicing better pick a name now than ever right? I meant to say better now than never, but it came out ‘better now than ever’ and they all just agreed to it instantly. And I think it goes to show not thinking about band names makes the best ones
WXVU: This is kind of a more controversial question, would you consider yourselves a boy band?
Chris: I’m not hot enough.
Indigo: This man is lying to you, you can’t see him through the record, Chris Puente is plenty attractive.
Chris: I would not be comfortable with that my ego is not strong enough to accept that compliment.
Michael: I mean we’re a band of boys, so if you want to consider us that, we weren’t founded by some label or anything.
WXVU: You’re indie. But what about Donnie Hall?
Micheal: He just came into the scene actually.
Indigo: We see him more as a benefactor than anything.
Michael: He’s kind of like always there, he’s a character, you got to meet him sometime.
Chris: For the songs for tonight we picked a bunch of bands that we just enjoy and part some of our favorites so like Mike Simeone loves My Chemical Romance.
WXVU: As do I! Did you see their concert in Philly?
WXVU: I went! I had to tell you because when you were playing The Sharpest Lives I said to myself ‘oh my goodness they didn’t play that at my MCR concert’ so really you guys completed the journey for me I have to thank you. It was beautiful.
Indigo: Thank you, it’s one of my favorites. All my favorite bands from the 2000s seem like they’re coming together, doing comeback tours, and they all are too expensive to see live!
Micheal: We’ll put this on record, Ticketmaster sucks.
WXVU: So we have the name we have your setlist let’s talk a little bit more about those songs. Blink-182 you want to speak to that?
Chris: That one’s mostly me and Mike. So we were going to do All The Small Things at the end because we just knew it would run well with the crowd, also I was really looking forward to making that small dick joke in front of the audience. That was a highlight for me.
WXVU: Could you explain that joke to anyone who would love to hear it?
Chris: Gladly! So we’re playing All The Small Things of course as our outro song, I introduce it by saying ‘this song is very personal to me, if I could use any song to describe my personality, my being, top to bottom, inside out it would be that song’. I think it hit well. We had to add Feeling This from our last set because we weren’t ready for the time increase with our set.
Michael: And Jersey too.
Chris: And that as well, as a pretty substantial add on
WXVU: You adapted well, I couldn’t tell that you were floundering in any way.
Michael: It helped that we had played the song before.
WXVU: Now I have to ask, are you planning on writing anything original?
Chris: You actually heard one!
Michael: We will take it as a good sign that you could not distinguish it from the rest of the songs.
Indigo: All credit to this man right here, Michael Donodeo. That hook all him, that melody–
Michael: The only hook I’ve ever written, that’s good I’ve written a lot, they just all stink.
WXVU: And if anyone wants to hear this original song, can they find it anywhere?
Indigo: They should come to see us live.
Chris: Not yet.
Michael: Show up to practice one day.
Chris: Be in St. Mary’s on Monday you’ll hear it.
WXVU: Beautiful beautiful. Anything else I’m missing?
Michael: Can I plug the upcoming original? It’s pretty much done, we were going to play it tonight but we thought it would be a little too short notice since we haven’t really run it as a full band yet.
Chris: Plus Stacy’s mom is too good to not shoehorn in.
WXVU: I loved the intro, I love that you were like ‘this is really emotional to me’ and then you launch into Stacy’s Mom.
Chris: I did that with Built This Pool too, to be fair.
Indigo: We have another original that’s pretty much ready. You’ll hear it next time you come to see us, it’s called Bryn Mawr vs. Everyone and it’s an absolute banger.
WXVU: I love that.
Indigo: See people love the title
Michael: It’s the only Pop Punk song about hating your hometown where the hometown is also all top 1 percenters.
Martin: Well put, well put
WXVU: That’s going to be the tagline, that’s really good. Do you have any lyrics ready for that one?
Chris: We’re going to have to keep that to ourselves for now.
Michael: Some are on the back burner, but there are some memorable lines.
Chris: There is one line in particular that is memorable that I would prefer to not have in print.
WXVU: Well that’ll be a bit difficult, in this digital age of print.
Michael: WXVU is a family-friendly program.
WXVU: That is true.
Indigo: I want to flip the script, interview you real quick, this is a running debate among us–
Michael: It is?
Indigo: Are you familiar with the item– a whetstone?
Chris: Jesus Christ
WXVU: Yes I am, uh, Martin Is currently jumping for joy– do people not know?
Indigo: Yes yes Castilli doesn’t know or Jess–
Chris: Castelli isn’t part of the band and Jess is fucking stupid…
Michael: We love our friends, everyone.
Indigo: I would like to clarify that I think Jess is lovely, she is coming to support us, and she seems like a lovely individual.
Chris: She is my friend from back home so I am a good primary source on this.
WXVU: Well I love that you’re building anticipation [for new songs], that’s a good boy band move, I want to know what the lyrics are now and you’re not telling me.
WXVU: One other question I want to ask; why Phoebe Bridgers?
Michael: It’s a great song. [The rest of the band begins to yell–]
Chris: No no no–
Indigo: He’s in love with her, he’s in love with Phoebe Bridgers.
Chris: And I can sing female–
Michael: I think that Phoebe Bridgers is a very talented musical artist and I think that also if she wanted to be my wife I would not say no.
Indigo: Perfect, succinct, exact.
WXVU: You’re really playing hard to get there, I like that.
Michael: Yeah she’s got to come to get me, that’s where we’re at here.
WXVU: I mean you’re an excellent drummer, she’s not an excellent drummer–
Michael: She probably is, she could do anything.
Chris: A funny thing about that, when he recommended that we play Kyoto I kind of looked at him weird, like ‘we play pop punk are you sure that this matches’ but I got to say, we played it in both our sets so far, and because of the kick midway through, the change in genre, it’s probably one of our favorite songs to play.
WXVU: I have to say; I really appreciated that as you started playing it, I felt that cross in the genre. That was unexpected, it made you guys more multifaceted in the eyes of the audience which is great.
Michael: Next time we’ll bring that out.
Indigo: Listen I play the guitar, I did a little singing, I even did a little rap today, you missed the rap, but for all of our sake I’m not going to run it back.
Michael: [quietly] It’s long.
WXVU: When is your next show?
Chris: Come see us on March 31st, I’m not sure where yet.
Michael: It’s at Nova’s Battle of the Bands.
WXVU: Excellent, I will be looking out for your next single.
Michael: Also, hire us, please.
Indigo: You know what that’s our closing statement: please hire us.
Michael: We need money, vindication, and to be liked. We just need to be liked.
Indigo: [begins singing] I am Vindicated I am selfish I am wrong–
WXVU: Are we good?
Michael: I think we’re good.
Indigo: Closing statement; thank you so much, Thank you so much to WXVU–
Michael: The Roar! [Someone roars.]
Indigo: Please let me do your closing statement, please let me do the roar. [Roars]
WXVU: Alright I’ll send that to the station master. Thank you all for your time!