Sexbruise? may have come out of nowhere to win this year's award for best electronic act in Charleston, but they're not letting it go to their heads.
"We are humble as fuck," says drummer John "Nasdaq" Pope.
One topic Pope doesn't restrain himself on, however, is the validity of the group's 18,000-plus Facebook likes, despite the number's tendency to rise and fall quickly and dramatically.
"People have accused us of buying likes, but all our likes are real. Before Facebook, there was no good way to know what things were the sweetest," Pope explains. "Our number fluctuates, but that's normal when you have this volume of likes. It's a natural process, like the tide coming in and out. Honestly, a lot of people are giving up Facebook, so that accounts for the loss, and occasionally 10,000 people will like us all at once, which is normal."
But how can a band who played their first show in May have already achieved such widespread appeal?
Since their debut, the group has only performed twice in Charleston — an opening slot for electro-funk group Stereo Reform and a party hosted by Metronome Charleston at the Tin Roof. (They also allege that Earth, Wind & Fire opened for them at the North Charleston Coliseum, but City Paper was unable to substantiate their claim).
Synth and baritone guitar player Caleb "DJ Setbreak" Bodtorf explains that it's because he comes from the future. "Everybody was dying from the robot aliens, and I had a pile of cash stashed away from making sweet beats, so I bought one of the two time machines in existence and got out of there," recalls Bodtorf. "I came back to the '80s and was hearing a lot of the music that was coming out, and I was like, 'We need Sexbruise? here.' We started out as an acoustic desktop band. Even though I totally knew it was going to happen, it still came about organically."
The desire to keep their vintage roots alive is why bandmember Stratton "DJ Desktop" Moore opts to use a '95 Dell on stage, rather than the standard modern Apple laptop most DJs employ.
"The tone I get out of that thing is amazing," says Moore. "They don't make 'em like that anymore."
When pressed, Moore struggles to explain his contribution to the live sound emanating from stage before admitting that he often plays Oregon Trail or Minesweeper during concerts.
"He's really fucking good at Minesweeper," says Pope, adding that, "Sometimes he brings a bag of Doritos as a percussive object, which is great because if we put the set on auto-pilot, we can have a snack."
The fourth member dipping into the Doritos, keyboardist and singer Julie Slonecki, says her highlight with the band came when Kanye West joined them onstage for an out-of-town gig, challenging Pope to a rap battle. "Kanye left in tears," she recalls. "It was a big moment for us."
Pope remembers asking his bandmates if someone had "poured a bunch of water on stage" before he realized that West was "actually crying that hard."
Although the band expresses concern that West may interrupt their award speech at the City Paper Music Awards this Saturday, they say they'll take it in stride if he does.
"We want to be Kanye's friend, but some people just push you away the closer you try to get to them," says Moore.
Taken at face value, it's hard to know what Sexbruise? really is. To their fellow musicians in Charleston, they seem like a foursome with highly creative ideas and a problem with honesty. But the band stands by their stories, and they did win their CP Music Award fair and square.
Perhaps that's just the power of a name, but more likely, it's the infectious songs they've written as a group, with titles like "Rock, Paper, Scissor, Shoot" and "Likes," a sing-along about the power of Facebook likes to influence award nominations.
One crowd favorite, "Ford Taurus," finds Pope rapping about the sway his vehicle has when he "rolls up to the club."
"In spite of all the things that I say, it's really not that sexy of a car," Pope admits. "And it's actually about a Hyundai Sonata, but that didn't work for the song."
And, like much of today's electronic music around the world, that's the intrinsic nature of Sexbruise?'s songwriting and marketing strategy: don't overthink it. "If you have to spend more than four minutes writing a song, then you're probably a fucking loser, you know?" Pope says.
In the coming months, Sexbruise? claims to have big happenings on the horizon, including a deal with PornHub's fledgling record label ("They own everything, apparently," says Bodtorf) and a corporate sponsorship that will effectively change the band's name to "Pizza Hut Presents Sexbruise?"
Whenever they're ready to announce their latest exploit, they've got 18,000 Facebook fans to share the news with, and to Sexbruise?, that feels pretty real.
Editor's Note: Writer Stratton Lawrence played with Sexbruise?'s Stratton Moore in the band Po'ridge.