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"A slim," explains Drew Everett Phillips, speaking of the fundamentals-only hoagie variant found at Jimmy John's, "though it doesn't have the tomato or the lettuce, is at least three dollars cheaper than any other sandwich."
With his slightly longish hair and slightly oversized build, Phillips—lead vocalist for the Invincible Kids—looks like an indie version of Alex from A Clockwork Orange. ("I don't care," he says. "You can call me indie. I like indie.") Tonight he's sporting blue-and-yellow Asics and has a bandanna tied around his neck.
"They don't put the mayo on it, though," he says, continuing his discourse on slims, "so you've gotta do it yourself." Presumably, this justifies the half-dozen Hellmann's packets he's brought to the table, which he squirts one by one onto his deli paper and uses as a dip for his turkey sandwich. "Yeah. I used to work at Jimmy John's," he says.
"And what happened to that job?" asks Stos Lymperopoulos, the group's guitarist, even though it's fairly obvious he knows the answer.
"I got fired for getting stoned in the back instead of delivering my sandwiches," says Phillips. "I'm pretty sure it happens to a lot of Jimmy John's employees."
Having just finished a set at the Dinkytowner, the Invincible Kids are now in need of some sustenance. Given the amount of energy expended on stage, it isn't surprising that Phillips is two-thirds done with his sandwich even though they've only been in Jimmy John's for approximately six minutes. While in person the band members are low-key and prone to puns (they adamantly refer to their upcoming album release show as their "Seedy release party"), in performance they become exuberant.
Adam Plantenberg, their drummer—by far the most reticent of the bunch in the sandwich shop—has a heavy-metal edge on stage, dressed in a black T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, tight black jeans, and a pair of industrial-looking headphones intimating that he's really in his own world when he plays. The image is somewhat tempered, however, by the fact that he drums in his socks. "I'd go barefoot," he says. "I like to be able to feel the drums. But a lot of bars we play have glass and stuff on the floor."
Then there's Lymperopoulos, who provides the band's showmanship. At one point during the show, he steps down and shreds his guitar amid the crowd. Maybe because of his tattoo, his black Converse shoes, and his chain wallet, there's something about Lymperopoulos that's reminiscent of James Dean-era rebellion—an outsider who's somehow incredibly attractive to the mainstream.
But Lymperopoulos—and Plantenberg, too—are prone to modern-era recklessness. Last winter, they broke identical bones in their wrists in snowboarding accidents that occurred one week apart. (Upon request, they'll show off their matching scars.) Even though the group had only recently started playing together, they had to quit practicing for a while.
"I was like, 'Why the fuck are you doing extreme sports?'" Phillips says, opening a new packet of mayo. "Now they have matching screws in their shit."
However, the hiatus became a time for them to reflect on their sound, and effectively transformed them from a straight-up rock band into the computer-savvy group they are now.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to play guitar anymore," Lymperopoulos says. "So I started writing melodies on the synthesizer for one hand."
Now, he explains, they compose a good chunk of their music on their laptops, looping bass lines or synthesizer riffs throughout a given track. This technique gives the musicians a lot more freedom to experiment with sound. So while the Invincible Kids have the fundamentals of a rock group, the traditional interplay of guitar and drums is layered over with bursts of noise that erupt in their songs like strings of firecrackers (the equivalent of adding auditory mayo to rock 'n' roll's "slim" sandwich).
In the recording booth they share the sequencing responsibilities, but on stage it's up to Phillips to move beyond the rock aesthetic. In addition to vocals, he alternates playing keyboards, trumpet, cowbell, and a megaphone. Tonight, though, there was a minor setback.
"I broke my megaphone," Phillips says. "That's the third one I've gone through. I'm fucking pissed."
The first, he accidentally stomped on during a show. He loaded the batteries backward into the second, causing acid to shoot out at his face.
"The trigger busted on this one," he says, crinkling up his deli paper. The trio stand up to leave and begin walking out of the deli. "Jimmy John, I'm sure," Phillips says, turning around, "like, the Jimmy John, does cocaine in his private jet. I just know it."
THE INVINCIBLE KIDS perform a CD-release show with Oh My God!, Spirit of '76, and Man Is Doomed on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, at the TRIPLE ROCK SOCIAL CLUB; 612.333.7499