You Won’t is a local folk-rock duo made up of childhood friends Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri, who both hail from “a leafy suburb of Boston.” For a two-man band, their live shows incorporate an impressive amount and range of instruments and humor. In between every song, as Raky changes over from the drums to the xylophone to the musical saw and so on, Josh offers light-hearted anecdotes about the band and banters with audience members. They are a highlight in the folk-rock world for nimbly overlaying humor and theatrics in their shows while performing some truly heartbreaking songs from their debut album Skeptic Goodbye. Skeptic Goodbye embraces a full range of themes and influences (listen to “Realize” and think Bob Dylan), but has its crux in sketching a scene of serious heartbreak and the contemplation, childhood nostalgia, and cynicism that follows. Behind the lyrics of Skeptic Goodbye is Josh, who has an Oscar-Wilde-like breadth for charming humor and emotional depth within him. For their show at the Middle East with Good Old War and Pete Hill, we got to ask Josh a few questions about the band’s influences and what it’s like being local musicians in Boston.
How would you say Boston has helped shaped your music? And how would you describe the Boston music scene?
I’m not sure Boston as a place has much influence on what we do, other than to instill us with a deep abiding sense of Puritanical guilt. We’re not really a part of any scene here, we seem to live in a bizarro world of our own creation.
Do you have a particularly memorable show you played in Boston?
Easily the most fun we’ve had was a triple bill show with our friends Lucius and Pearl & the Beard at the Middle East Downstairs in December 2012.
What was it like writing and producing music in college?
We were both writing music while in college, but not producing much of anything. I was putting my half-assed creative energies into film and improv comedy and Raky was studying theater. We both were late bloomers when it came to public music-making. Actually Raky’s been drumming since forever, so that’s only half true.
What advice would you give to all the aspiring college musicians out there?
Take advantage of the many resources at your disposal in a college setting and understand that they will all disappear the moment you flip that tassel. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, no one is going to be out there waiting for you with open arms and sparkling eyes. If you want to build your life around music (or any kind of art for that matter), it’s going to take a lot of patience, hard work, and perseverance. Try to be nice to people even when you’re in a bad mood. I’m still working on that one.
How did you guys get into music?
We started writing songs in high school and emailing them to each other. Actually we started with CDRs. Email still had a whiff of the exotic back then. Goodness I sound ancient now.
Biggest musical influences?
Creedence, Brian Blade, Cat Power
And what have you been listening to lately?
Bombadil, Pearl & the Beard, Lady Lamb, The Suitcase Junket, Dolfish, Seamus Ennis
How would you describe your music in 3 words?
Strum bang nasal
Any hidden talents?
We can both throw a wiffle ball hard enough to really hurt you.