The Musical Glow That Is Al Jardine

AL JARDINE plays The Coach House Jun 16; photo Spud

AL JARDINE plays The Coach House Jun 16; photo by Spud

“My pal, Brian Wilson and I, went to college together,” muses Al Jardine of the legendary Beach Boys. “And we started at El Camino Junior College. He introduced me to his family; I came up with the production money to make our first record – my mother actually gave us the money for it, that first record – a recording called “Surfin’”.”

Al Jardine is now on tour, aptly titled A Postcard from California, From the Very First Song with a Founding Member of The Beach Boys, and it is described as a storytelling tour.

“That’s what my concert is all about, how we generated that first song,” Jardine explains. “And we give a little soliloquy or monologue at the start of the show, bringing people into the living room of the home of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson. Looking through the recording glass window while we are making our very first song. You know what I’m sayin’, right? It’s like a trip through time.

“And then we come out of that recording, there’s an actual tape recording of conversation rehearsing the song. At the conclusion of that, Matthew Jardine my son, Jeff Alan Ross, and I sing the song in its entirety. That’s how the show starts.”

So why a storytelling tour at all, and where did such an idea come from? Jardine has the answer: “To be honest with you, it was a long developing idea an agent brought to my attention some time ago. He came back with it eight years later because he has had success with Peter Asher and Jeremy Clive, a couple of English musicians who were popular at the time. They have combined their forces to do shows here; Peter of course was a producer of great renown, Linda Ronstadt to name one and James Taylor is another. He has his own band now and he is doing it with Jeremy. And it has been such a success story for Peter that it was brought to my attention.”

In 2010, Jardine released his solo album A Postcard From California, which featured a wide variety of musicians.

“It’s people I have grown up with during my Beach Boy years, and we all have shared the stage with,” Jardine said. “We all have fond memories of the sixties and seventies. I just called people and they were generous with their time and ideas.

AL JARDINE; photo Randy Straka

AL JARDINE; photo Randy Straka

“Glen Campbell is featured in a video explaining his involvement with The Beach Boys. And I go on to extend the conversation to his involvement with me and my album. It’s kind of informative and beautiful. He was our sixth Beach Boy at the time, Brian Wilson couldn’t tour at the time and Glen Campbell came in to help us out.”

The tour also features each member displaying their wide range of abilities. Jardine elucidates this aspect: “I play the upright bass, just for fun. On that first record, that’s what I played and on the very first Beach Boys song. We have one of those that I play. I play acoustic and electric guitar. Matthew plays guitar and percussion as well. Jeff Alan Ross does the keyboard orchestration and the video imaging that we have on stage, which is very impressive.

“I’ve always loved singing harmony, I’m a harmony guy,” Jardine continued. “I just love singing with Brian Wilson, and the guys, and my son Matt now. Matt and I both tour with Brian Wilson when he is touring. When we are not with Brian, we go out in our trio, celebrating the stories behind the music.”

Like almost any musician, there are pre-show rituals he likes to engage in.

“We like to get there early and get sharp,” according to Jardine. “We like to get the lighting and the sound right. But with a trio, it’s so easy. It’s so much fun. You don’t have the constraints of so many mixes and challenges, like with the major systems of an arena. We have a jazz club sound, you know. The mixes are tight; they always sound great cuz there is very little that can go wrong.”

Bask in the magic and history of Al Jardine and The Beach Boys when he comes to The Coach House on June 16th.

The Crazy Wonderful Hijinks of the 131ers

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

The 131ers have been creating quite the stir lately. Known for mixing genres and distilling it into their own unique sound, the origin of their name comes from an unlikely source as well. The name itself is an obscure reference to early MP3 tagging technology.

But why reference this to begin with? According to vocalist/guitarist Kaleb Davies, “Actually, I came up with the name when I was like…. eleven years old, because I decided I wanted to be in a band called the 131ers someday.”

“And that day came sooner than he thought!” adds bassist Chris Graue.

“And then I started making music with that name a long time ago,” Davies explains. “And it just stuck throughout every form of the band, until this one which is kind of now the real form. So, I guess the weirdest thing about that is that it’s very old. The name has been around for ten years.

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

“Ryan (Dawson, drums) and I met in high school and started making music then. We were the original two members of the 131ers; and we decided… there was some weird college stuff, dropping out stuff….it was decided we were going to do this band as a duo cuz it was easiest at the time. And Chris got involved by making the music videos. And then he started filling in on some shows, and then kind of just told us he was in the band.”

“I kind of shoehorned my way in,” Graue admitted. “To be fair, they just kept making me play gigs, and then eventually I just said, ‘I am either in this band or…no, I am just in this band cuz you keep calling me’.”

Davies further describes how the drummer came to be in the band as well, “We met Greg (Wilmot, guitar) through a YouTube show that he used to host, and we hit it off. I think the story there is we saw him at a show months later in Anaheim where he lives. I was really, really drunk and he said something like, ‘Are you going to let me play guitar for you?’ and I responded like, ‘Yea, of course!!!’ and now he is our guitar player.”

“Pretty much if you want to be in the 131ers, just show up and tell people you are in the 131ers,” jokes Graue.

What influences a band is often quite diverse, and often rather unexpected.

“I listen to a lot of ska and punk, so I don’t know how much that comes through,” points out Graue. “It probably doesn’t. Especially as a bass player, I’ve always just listened to so much ska growing up. I’m basically just playing ska basslines at different rhythms, no matter what I’m doing.”

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

When it comes to playing live shows, Graue remarks, “I like the drink tickets. Those are pretty cool. I like the people that come to them, like the people at the shows, and like hanging out with them afterwards. I like a lot of tension, so I want everyone to look at me for thirty minutes, and then talk to me afterwards personally.”

Davies gives his take on the live experience as well, “I like playing live shows. We were doing another interview and they asked, ‘Why do you play music, what inspires you?’ And my response has always been being able to play live. It feels like the most important thing and I feel creatively I get the best buzz off of that. I don’t think I can pinpoint why but think it just has something to do with the mutual, one-on-one thing you get with somebody when they are liking your band, or you’re watching a band and know what they are going through. Yea, there’s nothing like it.”

The 131ers also love the studio environment, albeit for much different reasons.

“I like it a lot,” Dawson said. “I feel that it’s cool because you learn a lot about the song you’re recording while recording it. You think you might know the song cuz you have played it so many times live, but once you get it down on paper so to speak, there are so many things you can manipulate and do with it. On the other hand, it might change the song completely.”

“You can be way more ambitious too,” adds Graue. “When you’re playing it live, you have to sort of play it the simplest way that you can, to make sure you don’t screw it up.”

“Every show I have ever played, I started playing shows when I was fifteen or whatever, I always have a red bandana tied around my microphone stand,” Davies recalls. “I don’t know why, sometimes I wipe my face with it, but usually I don’t even touch it. But if I don’t have it, I like flip out. We have even had people buy one and bring it to the show.”

“We tried playing without it once and it was like the worst show ever, so he swore he wouldn’t ever do it again,” Dawson chimes in.

Catch the wild antics and intense tension of the 131ers via their upcoming album Nothing’s As It Should Be and catch them live at Los Angeles Ale Works Jun 15 and Pop Obscure Records Jun 16.

The Heavy Thunder Of Uriah Heep Strikes SoCal

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

As one of the founders of the ‘eavy metal sound, Uriah Heep has paved a road filled with experimentation, progressive ideas, and rich sounds that has garnered them love and praise since their inception in 1969.

For those who are not aware, their name comes from a character in the novel “David Copperfield”. And the origin of their formation went a little like this: “How did the band start? It got started by us playing our instruments,” laughs co-founder/lead guitarist, Mick Box.
“How does any band start? You start in a band, and you form, and change members until you find a combination that you like. And we found that in 1970 and improved on that by about 1972. And that was the one that would be termed the band that had the most success at the time. So, we came out with Heep, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Zeppelin all at the same time.”

That was over forty years ago and is a testament to their staying power to still be going strong today. According to Box, “We still have the same passion and energy for what we do, mate. Music is our life. And we are lucky enough to have had songs that stood the test of time, that people still like hearing in the live arena, which allows us to tour in 61 countries. It’s marvelous, something that is your job to travel around the world like that, it could be no better. We never forget how lucky we are.”

Having such a long and intense history, it could be hard to narrow a single standout moment. Yet for Box, there is one highlight: “I think of the standout moments it would be that we were the first western rock band to play in Russia, in December 1987. We were invited over there by glasnost; and we went over there and played to 180,000 people. Just a marvelous experience considering what you were taught in school about Russians. We had no idea how big we were over there through our music, which they could only get access through the black market.”

Every band typically has songs that they like to play.

“We leave that to the fans, Box said. “I mean, generally fans let you know exactly what their favorites are. They usually range from “Gypsy” to “July Morning” to “Easy Living” to “Lady in Black” and the list goes on. We let the fans do the choosing, cuz you know, we are playing for the fans, not ourselves.”

There is also a long history of fans giving the band some pretty strange things over the years. Box relates one such occurrence.

“We did a five-week tour of Russia, and the first show was in Yekaterinburg. Someone said there was a guy outside who wants to give you a present and of course I said to give me a few minutes and I will go out and meet him. He actually made – you know the beautiful churches that are all over Russia – well he makes the bells. He’s the actual bell maker. And he gave me a bell with my name on it. Which was very, very heavy and huge. And I had to carry it around for five weeks. It was a hard thing to lug about.

“I think mostly we have been pioneers of the entire industry, by being the first, through our success that everyone else could follow. And now, of course, Russia is on every band’s tour and the European market. Being the first to do something like that, and being pioneers is quite something.”

This love of progressivism and constantly moving forwards is a defining feature of Uriah Heep as a band.

“In January, we recorded a new album called Living the Dream with a great producer by the name of Jay Ruston, that’s getting released in September on Frontier Records,” revealed Box. “And of course, we start a world tour again starting then. Then we’ll do great European things and it’ll go on forever again,” states Box.

Touring is well-known as a grueling ordeal, so how does a band like Uriah Heep get through it over and over again?

“What you do is you look out for your health,” Box explained. “It’s as simple as that. Nobody wants to see someone out on stage drunk or drugged up or anything, you know.

“So, we look after our health. You’re only as good as your last show as far as we are concerned. We give it 110% every time we are on that stage. And to do that, you have to look after yourself. Health first is the answer. We can do an eight-hour day before we hit the stage, and to do that you have to be on top of the game.”

Witness the sound and the glory of Uriah Heep when they hit The Coach House on Apr 19!

The Ramshackle Delight Of Adult Books Hits Costa Mesa


ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Fribourg

Adult Books wrap up their tour with Tracy Bryant, stopping at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa Mar. 29. Nick Winfrey (guitar/vocals) of Adult Books illuminates how this meeting of the minds occurred.

“I’ve been playing in Tracy’s band for like a year now. I play guitar in his band. And Dan (Quintanilla/Adult Books) is going to be playing bass, too. We’re just like good friends, and all of our band members hang out all the time, so it just made sense. Go on tour with your friend, help each other out.”

In fact, the band looks forward to touring, for both the on and off-stage antics which make it so enjoyable. Winfrey describes it like this: “We are getting ready to go on this tour to South By (SXSW). I’ve been thinking of our last national tour when we were at South By. I was actually telling this story – we floated the river between San Antonio and Austin. You rent innertubes and drink beer on the river and get sunburned. And then you get picked up and they take you back to the top of the river. That’s one of my favorite times on a tour. We ended up getting too drunk to play that night, but I like it.”

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Casandra Marquez

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Casandra Marquez

Getting their name from the band X, Adult Books has been rocking their unique brand of rock/punk styles all over SoCal for some time now (much like the band they get their namesake from.)

“It was one of my favorite songs; I liked the sound of it,” Winfrey said.

As a matter of fact, Adult Books has near-future plans for fans to look forward to.

“We just finished recording a new record with Jonny Bell (Crystal Antlers) at Jazzcats Studios in Long Beach,” Winfrey revealed. “And we are finalizing our release plans for that, but it will hopefully be out within the year. We are also gonna have a new single out soon, too.”

Playing live shows is a driving force of Adult Books. “It’s really fun to play to a packed room, and just like, feel like all the good energy coming from people,” Winfrey noted. “And like good energy coming from your friends that you’re playing with. That’s probably what it is, being able to share the kind of collective energy together.

“We are all from Orange County, our drummer Sina still lives in Orange County. But the rest of us now live in L.A.” according to Winfrey. “Myself, Dan, and Sina have been playing in different bands together since we were in high school. And we have been doing Adult Books since 2012. And then we have a group of friends that are all similar from different points that live in LA now and will sometimes play in the band, too. Everyone that plays with us we have been friends with forever.”

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Thomas Kanschat

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Thomas Kanschat

When it comes to their music, Adult Books is known for their diverse songs and sounds. “Everyone kind of has their own thing,” Winfrey shared. “Our drummer Sina is really into hardcore, and definitely still in the punk world. Me, I listen to a lot of postpunk. And Dan is all over the place. I think we all bring our own influences to the band.

“My favorite song to play from the last record is “Casual Wrecks”. And then um…for a while we were covering The Cleaners from Venus song “Only A Shadow”. I really like doing that cover.”

Adult Books has no pre-show rituals, except for one. “Dan has a habit of getting sick before every show,” claimed Winfrey. “I don’t know if he has that problem anymore, but he used to get really nervous and throw up before shows. But other than that, we don’t have any rituals.”

The Frenetic Vibes Of Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

“TBS! TBS! TBS!” When you hear this, you know Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds is about to take the stage and it’s going to be a wild ride. With diverse sets combining elements of reggae, rock, punk, pop, and more, it is no wonder the high energy performances of TBS attracts so much attention.

“Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds actually started as, you know, a graph crew in Torrance, CA,” according to guitarist Matt McEwan. “Writing graph and skating and hanging out with the homies, and that’s how we met, is through mutual friends.

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Singer Moises (or Mo) Juarez elaborates further, “I used to b-boy a lot and breakdance while he (McEwan) was more of a graffiti artist, like skater and surfer, and we grew up in the same neighborhood. Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds was a graffiti crew that was known around the neighborhood; and as we started getting into thinking about band names, we thought about all these names.”

“We thought about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but that was already taken,” jests Juarez. “So, we couldn’t do that you know? And then we thought Metallica, but that was gone. So, then it was like what do we do next? We thought Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds was the next best thing,”

“We started in 2000-2001. But the band didn’t start trying to play shows until 2003. But we were just jamming in the garage, just doing shows in our local neighborhood,” details Juarez about their garage roots. “Our first show, you could say, was at a venue called the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach for $50 and opening for Too Rude.”

McEwan adds to this that, “Me and this guy (Mo) would be doing acoustic gigs all around town before really performing and writing songs. Playing at the Sacred Grounds, the old acoustic lounge spot in San Pedro.”

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Continuing to think about their journey as a band thus far, the topic of influences came up.

“All kinds. Guaranteed Sublime, Bad Brains, Long Beach Dub, Steel Pulse, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder… love Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. Bruno Mars recent stuff, Nirvana, grew up on Pennywise too,” both members chimed back and forth.

“Being able to play music, with this guy (Mo), my best friend is a privilege and a blessing,” explains McEwan.

Further illustrating the sentiment, Juarez goes on, “We’re lucky, man. We’ve been doing this a long time, there’s definitely rollercoasters up and down. But, you know, you take it back to why you do it for the love. We have a new song coming out, called “Yesterdays,” it’ll be out when our album drops in April/May, around that time. There’s a line in it that reminds me of how it all started; cuz it all started with our love of the music, wanting to be like Sublime. That’s why I wanted to be in a band, straight up. I wanted to be like Sublime. And I don’t know if it came across in our music, but everyday you look back and get to feel blessed to do what we do.

“The energy we get from the crowd. And that no matter what, our records sound good and have great production. But the energy you get from any band who is doing their thing can’t compare to the energy that is being produced out of your radio.

“I like playing a song called “Vices.” We have a new song called “Frequency”, as well. And I like playing that song now, too. I like playing a lot of our songs, and like playing cover songs too. We do “Master Blaster”, a Stevie Wonder cover.”

TBS has been around for over a decade, and as a result have gotten to work with many legends of the scene, including Ras MG (who helped produce an upcoming track of theirs called “War Letter”).

“We know people through Ras for years,” Juarez clarifies. “Our good friend Chuckie introduced us to all of them. We’ve been in the scene for a minute so Long Beach/Hermosa is very close. I got tattooed by Opie. So, we just hit up Ras like ‘yo man you interested?’ And he said I love you guys and would love to work with you. He’s just a genius and he’s down to work. I like good working people with good ethics, you know?”

Hard working, energetic, and diverse, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds is fired up and ready for the what the future holds. About to head out on the Illuminate Spring Tour, catch them when they next hit SoCal in early June.

The Whirlwind Excitement of Gogol Bordello Is Hitting SoCal


GOGOL BORDELLO play Observatory/Santa Ana Mar. 2, Observatory/North Park Mar. 3 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 5; photo Daniel Efram

“Since I was a little baby, I thought I would like to have some kind of Gogol Bordel-lesk type of name; so when I grew up and became a big tall man, I said what could be better than a Gogol Bordel-lesk type of name than Gogol Bordello,” according to Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello.

“We were all winners of an American Idol competition. Except it was from different countries. Like Pedro is the winner of the Latino American Idol competition, Sergei is the winner of the Gypsy Russian American Idol competition. Then a producer put us together and told us all the lines… and here we come. Isn’t it obvious?”


GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Armed with a healthy dose of sarcasm, a nine-piece band, and their gypsy punk sound, Gogol Bordello is heading out on tour in support of their recent album Seekers and Finders. And it is impossible to tell what any given show may be like.

“There are no shows that are alike,” explains Hutz. “The people in the band are spontaneous and playful. The gist of it is the band itself, the organism of the band is an improvising type of entity. We have played shows during earthquakes in Japan, and all over the world in all kinds of settings. From jazz festivals to metal festivals.


GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Daniel Efram

“The thing that makes a special show is seeing people’s eyes sparkling. That’s the show – the show is the eye of the audience. And I think the ratio of that in our case is pretty high. You know, there is a cliched saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul; but I think it’s pretty accurate I think. That never gets old.”

Known for their high energy shows for nearly twenty years, Hutz shed some light on how they have gone about this feat.

“There is a figure of speech: How do you capture energy?” mused Hutz “The important thing to understand is we do not capture the energy. We exude the energy. The engineers come and capture the energy. The band can exude energy at any given point in time.

“I like garlic. So like that goes for like everything else in my life. It has to have like that garlic frequency. And it has to remain quite spicy…. Which is why for this record I want to make sure all the spice is there.

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

“My favorite songs to play are when I get drunk and do entire Jesus Christ Superstar by myself. And karaoke by myself. That’s my favorite songs. I do hip-hop style, mumble hip-hop, medieval-pyscho-mumble-billy.”

As for the pre-show rituals the band engages in, Hutz said they decided to use something he learned in his past.

“When I was in the theater I learned a useful tool. Before the show you get to spend time together for sure.‘Cause it’s eight people with diverse moods and backgrounds. So about an hour before the show we start hanging out and not giving each other personal space. And then we do this kind of cathartic group, I guess you call it pyscho-gypsy gymnastics type of a thing. And then off we go. But really, it’s not even necessary. Give me a microphone and I’m ready.”

Gogol Bordello has never been a static band, constantly mutating since their inception.

“It’s always been transforming,” illustrates Huntz. “It started out as a duo, me and an accordion player. It literally snowballed for three or four years to being an eight piece. In fact, I didn’t want it to be a rock band. I wanted it to be a chamber, Tom Waits kind of a thing. And then it got out of control and became this insane orchestra of transplanted souls. And it’s always been shapeshifting ever since.”

Experience the aural feast that is Gogol Bordello when they come to the Observatory / Santa Ana Mar. 2, the Observatory / North Park Mar. 3 or The Fonda Theatre Mar. 5.

One Love Cali Fest Day 1: Good Vibes Aplenty


ATMOSPHERE; photo Andy Ortega

Arriving at the Queen Mary, it was quickly apparent that the promoters were serious about throwing an epic reggae festival. Even though it was a bit overcast, no one in attendance was going to let that slow them down. The grounds were packed with people milling about, exploring the vendors, and getting familiar with the two stages.

Getting from one stage to another was a fun experience in that you had to cross a bridge or go through a tunnel; this made it almost feel like you were going into a different venue altogether. This also prevented the bands from bleeding into each other’s sets, thankfully while providing room for the myriad of vendors and people milling about.

It seemed that nearly every kind of food could be had: burgers, tacos, vegan, and the list goes on and on. There were also plenty of vendors for smoking enthusiasts showcasing all the varieties of vape juice, papers, and everything else.
Of course, the main draw was the artists.


FORTUNATE YOUTH; photo Andy Ortega

FORTUNATE YOUTH was one of the earliest acts in the day, and their unique sound got the crowd going. Their bongo player was especially intense, with furious whirlwind hands creating some interesting rhythms. What really stood out was the full band lineup, and the way they used it to create the good vibe sounds people love about reggae.

MATISYAHU; photo Andy Ortega

MATISYAHU; photo Andy Ortega

MATISYAHU also went on early in the day, putting his full weight into bringing his unique vibe to the party. The band was loud, exploring noisy and spacey terrains they have become heralded for. And the steady rhythm section paired with Matisyahu’s signature lyric/writing style created a fascinating wall of sound that got the whole crowd buzzing.

TOMORROW'S BAD SEEDS; photo Andy Ortega

TOMORROW’S BAD SEEDS; photo Andy Ortega

TOMORROW’S BAD SEEDS were a major crowd favorite. Minutes before they took the stage, a chant of “TBS! TBS!” could be heard from many devoted followers. Their upbeat set began, and immediately the whole crowd was moving. The fusion of rock, reggae, punk, and pop was apparent; it also sounded awesome. As they got to their more rock numbers, a mosh pit furiously began becoming tough to avoid. Throughout their set, it was quite a treat to see TBS and the fans feed off each other’s energy. Sadly, it was only a thirty-minute set but was a shining example of the shared camaraderie of this scene.

Then ATMOSPHERE took the stage. As the crowd cheered, lyricist Slug disarmed them by sarcastically clapping and saying “Atmosphere, yay…..” (evoking a number of laughs from the audience).

As the beats rolled out, the crowd began vamping without hesitation. With a trippy projection screen behind them, they laid out their trademark sound and styles. Atmosphere didn’t hold back their darker songs, either. But Slug realized where he was and apologized, stating, “That was a bad vibe song. You’re not supposed to play a bad vibe song at a good vibe show! Here’s a good vibe song.”

Their hour-long set was diverse, with some great melodies and real talk by Slug that showcased why Atmosphere is so legendary.

The Long Beach reggae scene came together as one, and put on one excellent festival. The lineup was diverse, with nearly every permutation of reggae-inspired music on display. Whether you’re a newcomer or a devout fan, the One Love Cali Fest is a great way to get to know this music on a more intimate level.

Expect The Unexpected When Cold Showers Comes To Town


COLD SHOWERS play SPACE Jan. 18 and The Echo Jan. 19; photo Robbie Simon

Hailing from Highland Park in Los Angeles, Cold Showers has been bringing their singular vision to the world for the last seven years. And remain steadfastly dedicated to that, in both their live shows as well as studio productions.

One of the driving forces behind this is their dedication to perfection. In the words of guitarist Chris King, “I want people to know that when they come to see us, they’re going to see a band that’s…. prepared, for lack of a better word. We put a lot of thought into our live set; we have now like a mix of live instrumentation, and sequenced electronics, and layers of samples.

“I guess the one thing I want people to come away with when they come to a show, is they can hear that thought and detail was put into everything. We aren’t a band that likes to roll out of bed and see how it goes. My personal philosophy is if we don’t think we are about to have the best show we’ve ever had, then we should just stay home.”

It’s also impossible to know what you’re going to hear from them next.

“We are a little more raw live than on the record,” King points out. “We add tons of parts to the songs live that aren’t on the record. ‘Only Human’ has been one of our favorites to play; that’s one where we added stuff, there’s a lot more like noisier guitars and stuff that we do live that isn’t on the record.”

That unpredictability is due to how Cold Showers approaches studio as well as live settings. According to King, “When we write all of our records, ever since the beginning, it’s never been…we never think about how are we going to pull this off live. It’s always writing a record is one process, and let’s make this record as good as possible, no compromises for every single part. When we finish the record, it’s a whole new thing to start figuring out how we are going to do it live…’cause different things work better in the live setting.”

Even those backstage never know what might happen when the band is around. King details one particular reason for that, “I don’t know about the other guys, but I really like to get adrenaline and blood flowing; so I will try to find a spot backstage to shadowbox. It’s a full body exercise and it loosens me up. It looks crazy, I mean I’ve been walked in on. I feel like backstage it’s random people, and it’s definitely embarrassing when it happens, but then I don’t care.”

Yet, even though there is a heavy dose of experimentalism running through their sound, King adamantly cites pop music as being a huge influence on the group.

“Pop music, actually, is what I would say is the most overarching widespread influence over all of us. We’ve always been trying to push I guess how far we could take songs and be experimental; but underneath it all, have pop songs. All of us grew up liking pop music, I grew up loving all the old Phil Spector girl group stuff. And a lot of our favorite bands that are in genres some people would say are closer to us, like postpunk or whatever categories; the best ones, the ones that I listen to that hold up, they wrote pop songs.

“As we have been working these last couple of years on the record, a lot of the things we have been listening to collectively are The Knife which has been a big influence. PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, those really pop up out of my head.”

Cold Showers gaze is firmly fixed on the future, gearing up to hit the road with some surprises in store.

“That’s really the reason for this tour,” King explained. “We wanna try out new songs; we have at least three, hopefully even more that we will have ready to play on the road and test them out. And then bear down in February and March and record a new record.”

See them for yourself, when they play SPACE in San Diego Jan. 18 or The Echo in Los Angeles on Jan. 19.

The Raw Power of Dhani Harrison

Dhani Harrison; photo Andy Ortega

Dhani Harrison; photo Andy Ortega

Dhani Harrison brought a heady mix of noise, psychedelic meanderings, and heavy rock-n-roll to the Constellation Room on Nov. 28. Anyone who came expecting a folk-rock set, a pop concert, or any other pre-conceived notion was in for a surprise.

The band itself was comprised of two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. Throughout the set, Harrison also invited a number of different guests on stage with him. There was plenty of hard rock vamping, guitar solos, and what we all love about rock bands; however, many numbers saw Harrison employing a keyboard and/or effects unit to create hypnotic drones. In addition, several instances of experimental feedback looping (the kind seen in modern noise centric bands) was used as well.

Dhani Harrison; photo Andy Ortega

Dhani Harrison; photo Andy Ortega

All of the hard rocking and experimental layers blended beautifully with the melodies and song structures created by Harrison. There were sprinklings of his dad’s influence throughout the set of course (most evident in the vocal inflections of his voice and the use of multi-voiced harmonies.) Yet it was all too evident he has painstakingly crafted a style/sound all his own. The songs had the power pop feel about them, but also a subdued atmosphere of darkness and mystery.

Although he reveled in introducing some songs as “loud,” the set was still an intimate one. That is not to say it was not loud, because it most certainly was. But instead of the volume causing tinnitus, it was that perfect level of loud that helped to convey the intensity of the songs. His other favorite moment seemed to be every time he brought up a special guest, something which happened almost every other song. He addressed the crowd a few times, mostly notably letting everyone know they should continue to “be lovely and be excellent.”

Overall, Harrison did a spectacular job of pulling aspect from every decade of rock since the sixties. There were sixties vocal harmonies, seventies style jamming, post-punk experimentalism, nineties rock riffs, indie rock sounds, electronic drones, and more. All of this was on vivid display during the last song of the encore, as all the guest members piled on stage for a raucous cover of “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges. It took me by complete surprise, and will go down as one of the best show I’ve ever seen.

The Madcap Energy Of The Butcher Babies Arrives In SoCal


BUTCHER BABIES play the Observatory Dec. 11; press photo

Now on tour behind their latest release LILITH, L.A. based Butcher Babies are dead set on bringing their unique blend of fierce energy and raw emotion to the world.

Butcher Babies gestated from the friendship between frontwomen Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey, who were in a punk-metal cover band together. In Shepherd’s own words, “Carla and I were in a band together about a decade ago – it was a punk/metal cover band – and we decided that we wanted to start something original and fresh, on our own.

“So, we quit that band and created Butcher Babies as an ode to Wendy O. Williams. She has always been a huge inspiration for us, and we used to cover the song “Butcher Baby,” so we decided to kind of neo-model the band after Wendy O and the Plasmatics. And here we are eight years later.”

Just like their inspiration, Butcher Babies bring a wild show that is strangely addictive.

“It’s just craziness, I guess you could say,” Shepherd explained. “You know, there’s a lot of raw energy that comes from the entire band. It’s not just the two girls up there. We have been a band for eight years and our energy is incredible onstage. The energy is insane.” And there is plenty of what makes a metal show great, i.e. “a lot of crowd surfing, a lot of moshing, a lot of circle pitting.”

Emotional intensity is prominent at shows, especially during the more melodic numbers. Shepherd recalls performing “Thrown Away” (one of her favorites), “It’s all melodic. It’s slow. It’s a beautiful song, but there’s so much emotion that goes through it. It’s really cool seeing the same people who were just throwing down in the pit – they’re in the front row, singing the lyrics. There’s been times where men are crying, singing that song with us. So, it’s a really unique experience to play that song.”

Creating moments of connection with audiences like this is one of their favorite aspects of playing live shows. “The crowds, though, really make it,” Shepherd explains. So is taking the audience for a turbulent ride.

“One of my favorites is “Gravemaker.” I absolutely love that song, and it’s so fun to play. It’s an emotional rollercoaster the whole time.”

This madness begins during the pre-show rituals. “We sacrifice many children,” declares Shepherd. “I’m just kidding. Carla and I like to get ready together, so we will sit in the back of the bus and blast old school hip-hop. And do our make-up together and get dressed. But before we go onstage we have a chant that we do, and we have done it at every single show that we have played.”

That camaraderie is at the core of Butcher Babies. “We all hang out and we are all good friends,” Shepherd revealed.

“We have known each other almost a decade; we go to movies together, we go to bars together…But we all enjoy each other’s company and its actually pleasurable to hang out together.

“I think that’s one thing a lot of bands should do more, if they don’t. Because I think that creates a team mentality, and first and foremost, we’re best friends. And then we’re bandmates. And that is how it has been from the beginning….and so I think that’s been part of our key to success is the fact that we do respect each other.”

An atmosphere like that plays a vital role, both on and off the stage. “It’s hugely important, you know, for the chemistry you have on stage, the chemistry you have in writing music together,” Shepherd said.

“All five of us have a hand in our writing and you want to have that mutual respect for each other when writing because then people aren’t going to feel like….like if you go into a writing session, and someone feels like they can’t speak up because they are embarrassed about sharing their ideas, that is hugely detrimental to the band.”

All of this combines into a heady mix that is Butcher Babies. Having been around for nearly a decade, playing all over the globe, and with three studio albums now under their belt, they are gearing up for even more world domination.

“It’s been a crazy wild eight years,” Shepherd mused.

“We are pumped about the movement of the band and can’t wait to see what the next eight years hold. So, thanks for taking this rollercoaster with us!”

Catch the Butcher Babies playing their last show of the tour, at the Observatory / Santa Ana Dec. 11.