boygenius on Its First Grammy Nominations and Keeping Rock Fun

For boygenius, the indie-rock supergroup with a penchant for neckties and introspective songs, this fall has held the kind of firsts that prove a rock band has turned into a phenomenon: its first arena show at a Madison Square Garden packed with fans chanting every lyric, its first performance at the Hollywood Bowl, and soon, its first feature on “Saturday Night Live.”

On Friday, there was another first — and second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth — with boygenius’s debut Grammy nominations as a band, a haul that included nods for two of the biggest contests: record of the year (for the ethereal and anthemic “Not Strong Enough”) and album of the year (for “The Record”).

The recognition has capped off a whirlwind period for Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, successful indie performers in their own right who turned an idea for a one-off collaboration in 2018 into a group that has captured the hearts of Gen Z fans and beyond, establishing a reputation for free-spirited onstage antics and the kind of wholesome bond not usually associated with touring rock stars.

On a Friday afternoon video call, the trio discussed their nominations, songwriting and the future of their music from the basement of a New York City hotel where they were preparing for “Saturday Night Live” this weekend, a rack full of possible costume choices lined up behind them. It was in that hotel basement that they heard the good news, then, as Baker put it, “did a little screaming, hugging, jumping up and down,” before the texts started flowing — including notes from Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, who also received six nominations each.

“It’s like when kids cry on Christmas morning because I do feel so overwhelmed that I could just go to sleep,” Baker said.

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

This has been a remarkable year of firsts for you. Has it changed your relationship to the album, playing in these large arenas?

BAKER Not in a corny way you guys, but that’s the metric I return to. My relationship to it has stayed static, by making something that we preserved.

BRIDGERS And it’s grown — I think of “True Blue” now as a kind of communal experience because that’s kind of the first moment in the set where the audience acts the same way every night. Lucy and I have pretty low voices and when people sing “True Blue,” they sing the octave up which is really funny.

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