Band to Watch: Ponytail's Ecstatic, Ambient Art Rock - Rolling Stone
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Band to Watch: Ponytail’s Ecstatic, Ambient Art Rock

Stream the Baltimore indie group’s new album ‘Do Whatever You Want All the Time’

Click to listen to Ponytail’s “Do Whatever You Want All the Time”

Who: An art-rock quartet from Baltimore, Maryland who specialize in expansive, ever-shifting tunes that include African-inspired beats, tangled guitar melodies and the gleeful yelps of vocalist Molly Siegel. The band’s third album Do Whatever You Want All the Time finds them moving out into more atmospheric territory without giving up any of their manic energy. “We all listen to mellower music now,” says guitarist Ken Seeno. “We always have and still listen to a lot of krautrock and psychedelic music, so early on we were into more aggressive stuff, but now it’s like Cluster and Roedelius, later krautrock that is more mellow and ambient.”

Art School Rock: Though there are a lot of bands throughout rock history who met in art school, the members of Ponytail have the distinction of being a band who came together as part of an assignment at the Maryland Institute, a prestigious arts college in Baltimore. “The assignment was to start a band, and the professor basically formed our band based on his intuition,” Seeno recalls. “He put me and the drummer Jeremy [Hyman] together because we were the youngest. He put Dustin [Wong] with us because he was oldest in the class. And then he put this guy Michael Petruzzo with us, he was wearing a Destiny’s Child t-shirt, I remember that. And then Molly was the last one to get picked.” After talking about their favorite music, the group started playing together, with the experienced musicians Hyman, Wong and Seeno playing off the freeform noise made by Petruzzo and Siegel. Petruzzo eventually left the band, which led to them focusing more on melody with Siegel as their frontwoman.

Making the Scene: Seeno moved to Baltimore for school, but arrived just in time to take part in the early stages of what is now a thriving indie scene in the city that also includes Beach House, Dan Deacon and Wye Oak. “New York is established, there’s a tried and true path, there’s history,” Seeno says. “With Baltimore, that wasn’t even thought about. We just wanted to play shows and there was nothing else going on so we just made our own fun.”

Rock the Vote: Since all four members of Ponytail are artists in their own right, the group have learned to compromise in order to keep everyone happy and engaged. “We have four different tastes, and where that all overlaps, that’s where Ponytail is,” Keeno says. “If one person says no, then we can’t do it. We settle things with verrrrry long email chains.”

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