Philly five-piece East Hundred just ended their impressive eight-year run with a show last week at Johnny Brenda’s to a room packed full of family, friends and fans. The band played through a gigantic 20-song set of material from their entire catalog, a few unreleased songs, favorite covers and one new song, written for the occasion. After two encores, champagne toasts and many thank yous, the band waved goodbye and stepped down from the stage they had played so many times. We sat down with frontwoman Beril Guceri for a retrospective on the life and times of East Hundred.
How was the show? A fitting finale?
It was fabulous. It was just a huge team effort to put it together. I just wish more people elsewhere, outside of Philly, could have been able to be there. We wanted to end on a positive note and give back to fans and friends who supported us for so long.
East Hundred had considered calling it quits several times before. What was it that ended up being the breaking point?
We always felt, all along, that we had things to do. There were always new songs to work on, and the mindset was always, “Let’s keep going with these, until we have the opportunity to record them professionally and release them.” With no industry support, you just eventually get burned out, doing everything on your own. But there’s really a multitude of reasons. I don’t like to think of it as a break up, but rather, we’re just all going our separate ways.
Is it hard for five people to all remain happy and stay on the same page?
In a five-person democratic society, everyone has to feel good about the songs. It’s very hard. I think there’s a need for a little more stability in our lives. We spent all of our free time on this band, and there was almost no flexibility. Apart from that, there’s paying bills, personal dynamics and changing musical tastes.
What will you miss most about playing in this band?
I’ll miss being on stage. When we started, I had horrible stage fright. I learned how to be a performer with this band. It takes years to cultivate that identity, and I feel like I’ve finally gotten warmed up to performing.
[Drummer] Will Blair has already expressed the notion that there will be some other musical project, and that those who are interested will continue playing. Does that interest you?
It’s hard to imagine not playing music. It’s a primal instinct. Personally, I’m constantly writing music and lyrics. Right now, I think it’s too soon to talk about a new project. I’m just trying to take a breather. I’ve had people approach me about working on a solo project, but I have no idea when that would happen. And even then, I’m not sure I would pursue it like I did East Hundred.
How did your band measure success? Was East Hundred successful in your eyes?
I think I can speak for the whole band in that we all felt we were incredibly successful. We did everything on our own. We never had PR people. We never had a solid manager. We built a whole infrastructure and established relationships with bands, venues and music-industry people. We constantly heard positive feedback from people whose opinions we really trusted. Artistically, I think we were as successful as we could have been. When you start getting emails from people in Germany and New Zealand telling you how much they love your music, that’s fucking success!
PW's Music Issue 2014