Band To Watch: Boycomma

Band To Watch: Boycomma

The Southern California emo band Boycomma formed when Brad Warriner approached a mysterious figure nicknamed Jimbo at a skate park to tell him that he looked like Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. After they formed a band, Jimbo had the title of their debut album Use Me tattooed on his chest, then quit around Christmas last year. “No one really knows why,” Warriner explains. “He just quit music.”

This is the first detail I learn about Boycomma as I hop onto a FaceTime with Warriner (21, vocals and rhythm guitar) and We’ine Ta’aga (19, bass and backing vocals, nickname Ine) on the first of February. I’ve had Use Me (in memory of)’s rapid-fire opener “Stop Pretending You Like Salad” on repeat for a week and it only gets better each time I listen to it. I slid into their Instagram DMs after I noticed the stream of enthusiastic comments on their photos, some proclaiming “boycomma world domination.” We talk while Warriner is on break from his job at a pho place, hitting a sour apple Geek Bar vape and blowing the cloud into the camera. Ta’aga is sitting at school, eating lunch. At one point, classmates come up behind him and put a plastic bag over his head and pretend to kidnap him. When I ask what their favorite Weezer album is, it turns out neither of them are that into Weezer, but Warriner praises “Only In Dreams,” the sprawling closer to the Blue Album, which makes sense because it’s probably the most emo song on the record.

“Stop Pretending You Like Salad” is a ferocious start to the LP, clamorous guitars catapulting the song forward as Warriner sings unforgettable hooks: “Turn my back, turn my back and stab it/ No more second chances/ Well, that’s just my bad habit.” The song originated when Warriner worked at a poke place and jocks would come in ordering “the biggest bowl of fish and it was like $18 or $19. They would be like, ‘Let me get this, this, this, that, that, that.’ They go crazy. But then they would be like, ‘I want the salad on it.’ It pissed me off, because no you don’t, bro, just get rice.” Then, when he would clean up the leftover bowls on the tables, “the salad wasn’t even touched. Every single time. So I was talking to my band, like, ‘Yo, I fucking hate people who pretend to like salad. Stop pretending you like salad.’ Then, I was like, ‘Oh, shit, that’s actually a fire ass song name.’” At the time, he was in a relationship with a girl who had been sending him mixed signals. “In the midst of writing it, it came into life that I stood for salad,” he says. “I’m salad, and the other guy is obviously rice. Get rice, it’s okay. You just like the thought of me.”

Boycomma began in April 2022 in Cypress, California. They advertised shows as parties with a band, alluring the many who were desperate to get out and have fun following quarantine. Sometimes, that brought unwanted guests. At their Halloween gig in Garden Grove, gangbangers showed up and pointed a gun to Ta’aga’s chest and Warriner’s neck. “There was an altercation prior to the guns,” Ta’aga clarifies. “We tried to break up the fight.” Warriner exclaims that a girl punched him in the mouth, and his manager, Stephanie Marler, started “beating her up.”

Even without weapons, though, their gigs can get rowdy, with people moshing and jumping off of roofs, as captured in the Use Me (in memory of) album artwork. It’s not surprising, since their music shreds. In “Je Ne Sais Quoi,” which has accumulated over 100,000 streams on Spotify, guitars come crashing in viscerally, a wall of sound as massive and powerful as a tidal wave. The lyrics are sparse but lacerating: “I hate how you copy me/ But you still look so pretty.” In typical emo fashion, unhinged song titles are littered throughout Use Me, including “Big Booty Hood Twerk Vine Compilation,” a track that’s more devastating than you’d expect. “I should know more about you/ But I don’t even care to ask you,” Warriner sings wearily, which he explains is about a time he was at a party and a girl kept trying to touch him despite his palpable lack of interest in her.

Aside from me, Boycomma have only done one interview with a man at a venue who asked questions unrelated to their music, such as what their favorite colors were. Yet Ta’aga was recently recognized on the street and asked for an autograph. Warriner got a phone call from a guy who said that his girlfriend loves Boycomma, asking if he could call her and talk to her for a little bit to make her happy.

After our chat, I discover I lost all the audio because screen-recording a FaceTime automatically turns off the microphone because of wire-tapping laws. (“That’s kinda funny,” Warriner says when I inform him.) We convene a week or so later for a second FaceTime, but Warriner’s phone connection goes in and out as he speaks, so he takes refuge in a Dairy Queen, where I can hear Post Malone playing on the radio in the background. Ta’aga pops in and out of the FaceTime because of his similarly shitty connection; we’re joined by Misael Lara (25, lead guitar, nickname Misa). Though not present, the group is rounded out by Isaiah Navarro (21, drums). A few nights prior, they played a mansion in Fullerton, their first show of 2024 and their first show with the new lineup. “It was one of the most energetic crowds I’ve ever had,” Warriner says.

Today, Boycomma are back with “Ditch,” a raucous track from their forthcoming album. It’s going to earn them many comparisons to Deftones, but Warriner doesn’t mind: “Deftones are great. They’re fucking awesome. I’d love to kiss Chino on his mouth, to be honest,” he says. It’s dropping alongside a collaboration with the clothing brand Ditch. Ta’aga works for the company as a general manager at a warehouse. Below, hear “Ditch” and read our conversation about Use Me (in memory of), their next album, emo revival, and more.

You sent me the song “Eat Me Alive” from your next album. It’s a slower one.

BRAD WARRINER: That one is actually the demo version of it. That song is full band and fully distorted out. It’s kind of like “Je Ne Sais Quoi” a little bit. But that song to me, I just feel unheard. There’s a Pinegrove lyric that really stuck with me where basically he’s saying he went to bed without talking to this person about something and then the next day he wakes and his silence went unfelt. Silence being unfelt… I don’t know, that was crazy to hear. Everyone’s had that — where you want to give someone an attitude but it doesn’t even fucking faze them.

That’s how I tried to interpret that in my song. The main line in it is “Are you even listening?” And not only is that crowd engagement — yes, which is cool for a band — but it’s a real thing that I’ve actually said to somebody. I’m fucking with their head, and I’m like, “Are you even listening to me? Look at me.” In that song, I say, “You’re acting like I don’t give you both of my goddamn ears for all of your problems, but you want more because I couldn’t solve them.” I just feel unheard. Feeling unheard in rejection is such a crazy, gut-wrenching — like oh my god, why am I even trying at all with anybody?

Do you think that making music is a way for you to feel heard in your relationships?

WARRINER: The women that have been in my life, the women that I’ve hurt and who’ve hurt me, are the ones that actually keep me up at night. And — Misa knows — if I have a certain feeling, like if I’m angry or sad, I need to be outspoken on it. When it comes to real stuff, at times I have felt unheard with certain lovers or past experiences, but I don’t get to tell these people these things because I’ll say it to their face. But I guess the thing is I won’t even see their face. So this is how I can say it. and I can just hope to God that maybe they’ll listen to it and understand that it’s about you. It’s about you. I’m trying. I’m out here. I’m trying. I’m hustling. I don’t get to say it to their face. I’d say anything to anybody’s face, but I can’t. I can’t text you. You moved. I don’t even know where you live. It’s crazy.

MISAEL LARA: What I love about what Brad’s lyrics say is how sometimes — even listening to him now — he’s almost speaking Latin. You’re just talking and you’re kind of confused, but then when he sings and he writes, it’s so focused that it’s relatable for everyone — anyone who experienced fucked up shit or people who care or don’t care. It kind of reminds me of when you argue with someone and you’re really hurt by a mistake they did. But you start arguing and really going into them deep about what they fucked up on, and at the other conversation somehow it’s your fault now.

I like to play and practice with him because he’ll sing and do stuff and I’ll be like, “Oh, you’re just broken. But I like you that way.” Maybe that just makes me soft. I’m not much of a talker, but I really enjoy the time I get to talk with Brad. He’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. But who cares? I don’t think that’s bad. I love him for it. I hope other people can really see past him and get to know him lyrically. Like, close your eyes and listen, as opposed to just judging what he’s doing.

I like that I can actually hear what you’re saying and what the words are, which can be rare with emo music.

WARRINER: I was in choir. They taught me how to actually sing out the lyrics. I was in choir for only one year, but that’s the one thing I retained. I was never a good singer. And then in choir, my teachers were like, “You have to sing like this.” I was in advanced in eighth grade, and I played the drums in the advanced choir. That’s how much I wasn’t even in choir.

How many instruments do you play?

WARRINER: Five or six.

When did you start playing music?

WARRINER: It was like sixth grade. My uncle always played guitar. He was in bands. He taught me “Smoke On The Water,” and it’s like a godsend from there. I fucking YouTubed everything, every song I liked’s tabs. I was in eighth grade learning midwest emo. Dude, I have a problem. All these weird tunings, I would snap strings because I wasn’t gonna find good strings because I was 13.

I can hear Post Malone playing in the background.

WARRINER: That’s so embarrassing.

When we talked last, you mentioned Glocca Morra and Algernon Cadwallader as some of your favorite bands. I wanted to ask what about those bands influences you.

WARRINER: For me, I get nerdy and it might be autism about music… So you hear Post Malone, he has his beat, his verse, and then a pre-chorus and the chorus, and then maybe a breakdown here and there. Dude, with emo music, you hear the coolest part of the song, and it’s six seconds.

LARA: Then they never play it again.

WARRINER: Like, that’s pretentious. And they know it, too. Like, the Beatles would do that. And I don’t like the Beatles because they’re pop, but they would add a really good part and it’s only happens like twice in the song.

With those bands, it’s like, you can sit here, I have nothing in mind, I have no chords, I have no lyrics, and then you can play something. You can be like, “Oh, it’s the emotion.” No, dude, they came up with something that’s still in 4/4 for the most part, and in between the 4/4, they’re doing things that aren’t just 1234 strokes style. Like, that’s all music ever. It’s the intricacies. It’s cool if you can tap, but if I’m going to sit on stage and tap for 30 minutes, no one’s gonna care. You have to know spices; you can’t have too much spice. That’s the perfect spice of music.

A lot of people say it’s for high schoolers and stuff, which I get. But that’s because you just realize what heightened senses are, and I think when you grow up a lot of people just try to tuck it down. And it’s like you’re allowed to fucking feel things, dude. It’s not about being sad all the time. But if you’re sad, dude, tell people. You don’t have to be like, “I’m gonna go to work, and I’m just gonna treat everyone like a dick because I’m upset at somebody for something.” That’s for that music, dude. They can bring into life something that was obviously not there. And it’s cool. It’s just so cool. Because it’s not G-D-C-E-A. It’s not the same. With music, there’s no rules. Like, do whatever. I can stop the song right here, and then I could start it again in ten seconds.

When they dropped those albums, it made me lowkey jealous. Like, why can’t I grow up in Illinois or the middle of Wisconsin, hating everybody?

One of my favorite things about Joyce Manor is that they don’t even have normal song structures like verse, chorus, second verse… They don’t even have choruses.

WARRINER: I started doing that, too, because I don’t want it to be boring. I don’t want left and right, left and right. Sometimes, I do it. But for the most part, I want it to just be continually growing, in a sense. Even if it’s not growing, you could start off big and then funnel down into something way more simple so they can tune in. I don’t even mean to, but a lot of people said there’s no structure to it. Like “Eat Me Alive,” it’s the same thing the whole time. It’s the same thing — two chords, does not change.

There’s a lot of screaming on the new song “Ditch.”

WARRINER: It’s on the album. I think it’s gonna be our best album. I’ve been putting in the work for this for like seven months before I even taught them the songs, just to make sure that I’m good so when I bring it to practice I know it like the back of my hand. I just want to scream and show I like this, too. Yeah, we made an indie album. Yes, I made “Je Ne Sais Quoi” and “Copycat,” but that’s not it. There’s no rules. There never will be rules. And if you don’t like it, then someone else is gonna like this a lot more.

An indie album?

WARRINER: The Use Me album, to me, is indie. Like, it’s emo, but it’s kind of indie.

I think it’s emo.

WARRINER: Maybe the lyrics are, but I think the chords and everything… like “Salad,” yes, and “Loftlee Double,” I get it. Those are pretty emo. But “Big Booty Hood Twerk Vine” is very, very indie. So is “On A Wire.”

I know every artist is going to beat themselves up and be like, “I hate it.” But I do. I think that album is a three out of ten. This next album, to me already, is like an eight. It won’t ever be a ten, but it’s an eight out of ten to me. I’m so excited for this album. It’s awesome.

I wanted to ask about the artwork for Use Me with the guy jumping. What is that from?

WARRINER: That’s from a house show we had, and everyone in the crowd caught him. There was like 350 people, and they caught him from jumping off the roof.

And someone was just photographing it.

WARRINER: Yeah, we had photographers, and they were on the roof. He was like, “Can I jump?” I was like, “It’s not my house.” I was like, “Only once.” And then he did it like five times. Then the photographer got the perfect shot of it. I was just like, that’s album cover; that’s so tough. The kid was still in high school, and I told him about it. He was like, “That’s so awesome.” He’s a cool guy. I forgot his name.

Since you started off playing shows, was it hard to go into recording music?

WARRINER: No, because I’ve been recording music since like 10th grade by myself in my room. So I understand what comes with it and the time and how it fucking sucks so much. But give me two beers, and I’m good. It’s go time. I have to be here, I chose to be here. With music, I take myself seriously. You gotta capture certain sounds, and even the fuckups are in there. That’s how I want it to be. I don’t want to be Pierce The Veil, all perfect. It’s gonna fuck up. No one’s perfect — not even Pierce The Veil. That’s why [Vic Fuentes] is 5’4”. Continuing on, that’s how I view music recording. It’s hard. It’s just time. You gotta dedicate a lot. To be honest, it’s very mental, getting in the studio for eight hours right after work. I hate that shit sometimes.

How long were you in the studio for Use Me?

WARRINER: We already had mühl ready, so we dropped that on March 8. Then immediately, we went into recording next week, and it took us like five months. I wrote all the songs in three weeks, and then I had to get it recorded, but we didn’t have money. I didn’t have a job back then. We were bumming it, but that’s why half the album sounds like shit. We got it recorded for free at this venue. Every song after the third song after that is this same layout. There’s no mixing. It’s all just live band.

Why is it every song after the third song?

WARRINER: Because we only had three songs recorded at our studio. To take time would be eight more days minimum, which no one had. So we did the last five songs in two hours just back to back, like continuous track. No metronome, drunk at [Santa Ana venue Feel The Good].

How are you recording the next album?

WARRINER: We’re taking our time. We’re really sitting down for that. I’m not doing nothing, like no live band anything. I want it to be very good layout, but we’re taking our time with it. We have our own studio, but we’re gonna probably go put some money into it and go somewhere else. We just recorded at the Hallwood Media place, and there’s other studios out here like Balboa. We haven’t talked about it yet because I only have eight songs and I need two more. Once I get ten, it’s go time because I want to drop it by the end of summer.

I think “Ditch” is going to get you a lot of Deftones comparisons. I was curious what you think about that.

WARRINER: I’ve heard this so much. Literally yesterday, some guy was like, “You’ve been listening to Deftones, huh?” I get it. It’s just [“Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)”]. It’s almost the same cadence. But that’s fine. I’ve been compared to Title Fight for the past three years, so I’m fine with being compared. Their brain doesn’t go beyond that, and that’s fine. At least if they like Deftones, then that gives them another reason to like it. So I don’t care. Deftones are great. They’re fucking awesome. I’d love to kiss Chino on his mouth, to be honest. I love Deftones. Everyone loves Deftones. How do you fucking not like Deftones?

Do you hate Title Fight because of all the comparisons you’ve gotten?

WARRINER: No, I don’t hate them. I just hate them because I don’t think they’re that fucking great.

LARA: I’m not gonna tolerate no hate speech.

WARRINER: We love Title Fight. They’re great. But everyone acts like they’re so revolutionary. Like, they fell in line, too, bro. They don’t even like y’all. That’s why they’re not coming back, bro.

When we last spoke, you said how “Je Ne Sais Quoi” takes influence from Duster.

WARRINER: I was listening to Inside Out. It was so simple. I really liked that first chord, which is a major 7, but theirs was on the seventh fret and I just moved mine to five. Then I made the rest of the song just following the cadence of those chords. That’s it. Also, “Goggle” is another Duster song, too. But not entirely, obviously. Chord-wise, the beginning of — I’m not gonna say which one it is.

LARA: We all know. Everyone knows.

WARRINER: It’s “Unrecovery.” I don’t tell people that. I stole it. I just ripped it. Like, this is mine now. I want it.

I actually haven’t listened to Duster. I feel like I can’t now because they’re big on TikTok and it’s embarrassing.

WARRINER: I feel the same way about Pinegrove. I was Pinegrove’s top .001% listener of all time in six months. In six months, I hit that, and I’m prideful about that. And it’s only gonna get worse. With Duster, I get you with the whole TikTok thing, but their songs that aren’t on TikTok… they’re OK. I saw them live, and they go so slow. Like, speed up, dude.

LARA: They gotta pay rent, too.

WARRINER: They’re going slower than my heartbeat, and it’s off-putting.

I grew up going to emo shows, so whenever I have to go to a show where everyone’s standing still, I don’t know what to do with myself, and I have a boring time.

LARA: You won’t have to worry with me in the band anymore.

WARRINER: Dude, I’ll walk straight through the crowd. Ine will take his shirt off and just start kicking people in front of him and hitting them with his bass.

LARA: I would take my shirt if I looked like Ine, the fuck?

WARRINER: That’s what I’m saying. Ine will walk backwards with his bass behind his head screaming and people will just start moving. The thing with our shows is my little brother is always there, and he’ll start punching people.

LARA: The fucking linebacker?

WARRINER: Yeah. He’s like 6’1”. Every time he sees me, he’s like, “Wassup, lil bro?”

How was your show the other night?

WARRINER: It was a massive party. It was a mansion, and the guy let us play inside. And I was like, “OK, man.”

LARA: He had a fucking fossil. He had a fish fossil.

WARRINER: Yes, he did have a fish fossil.

LARA: He was a rich guy that was like, “Yeah, I’m rich. Here’s a fossil.”

WARRINER: I would’ve stolen that fossil if I saw it.

How did you get connected to this rich guy, and why did he let you play his mansion?

WARRINER: He came to our show, and his name’s Barry. He was like 17, and he was like, “Hey, can you guys play at my house?” I said yes, no question. Don’t care where you live, I’ll play. Then we played at his house. He expected to make hella more money. I gave him almost $200. I was like, “Bro, that’s more than all of us are making. You’re loaded, bro. I’m not giving you shit.”

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