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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
the nogoodforme interview: Austin James Band
Austin James Band makes me wanna tap dance, a feat perhaps only paralleled by The Ohio Players on "Love Rollercoaster" (wacky, I know). I think maybe it's got to do with the Long Beach, California-based quintet's sounding very RAM-y to me at moments, which in turn recalls my mom talking about tap-dancing to "Dear Boy" in her college dorm room. All that sunny-sweet Vaudeville-style pop just gets me shuffling off to Buffalo, man.
If you're in the mood to attempt a little soft-shoe yourself, go listen to Austin James Band here. And if you live within reasonable distance (or, hell, even wildly unreasonable distance) of Sunset Strip, definitely check out the band tonight at The Key Club (8:20 sharp!). And for now, read our little interview with the boys, in which they speak of Duck Hunt, donuts, toy-vacuum-cleaners-as-guitars, the evanescent appeal of Wreckx-N-Effect (debatable, I'd say), and one big fat Paul McCartney crush.
What were your first experiences in making music?
Kevin: I had a guitar when I was a kid and I didn't know how to play it, so I had to make up a way to play it. That's that.
Chip: Nick and I used to pretend we were rock stars when we were like 5 and 6, maybe even younger. Our parents are both musicians, so it was always around us. My dad used to sing jazz to me when I was a little baby to get me to stop crying. Anyways, we had a drum set made out of paint buckets, and for the guitar we used one of those push toy vacuum cleaner things. You know the one that has those little balls in it and it kind of pops like popcorn as you're pushing it? Yeah, that was a guitar. And it rocked. I actually think Nick might have been the drummer at that point. Maybe we switched back and forth.
Chad: I was forced into piano lessons at a young age, but I hated it. It didn't last more than a few months. I often wish I'd of kept with it.
Nick I think air guitar in the garage with Chip is as far back as I can remember. I also started taking piano lessons from my mom in first grade.
Who are some of your all-time favorite bands?
Kevin: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnson, and Rachmaninov.
Chip: The Beatles, The Band, Beach Boys, Chick Corea, Stravinksy, and Miles Davis would be some of them. It's hard to remember all your favorites when you're on the spot.
Chad: George and Ira Gershwin, The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Danny Elfman, Stravinsky, John Williams, Elton John, Roger Waters, Paul Simon, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Radiohead.
Nick: The Beatles, The Band, Beach Boys, Queen, The Kinks, Beethoven, Dvorak, Stravinsky, Edgar Meyer.
Name one record you loved when you were a little kid that you still listen to today.
Kevin: Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan. I don't know how I got this album or why, but somehow I knew it was cool. And it's still one I listen to often.
Chad: I grew up listening to Boyz II Men, Weird Al, and that "All I wanna do is a zoom zoom zoom and a boom boom" song, but I'm sad to say none of those get the same attention I use to give them.
Nick: Paul Simon's Graceland. I still love it.
Who's your number-one all-time music crush?
Chip: I'd be lying if I didn't say Paul McCartney.
What's your favorite makeout music?
Kevin: The sound of the ocean.
Chip: Probably Sigur Ros, ()
Chad: There is this really old version of Ella singing "Someone to Watch Over Me," just her and the piano. It gets me there. Big time.
Nick: No music necessary.
What do you like to wear onstage? Is there a certain look you try to go for?
Kevin: I wear a thin bulletproof vest that's not detectable by radar or the human eye.
Chip: I typically wear whatever I was wearing that day. Jeans and a t-shirt, usually a solid color, sometimes a heather grey.
Chad: We've been told we need to look happier on stage. So I try to smile as big as I can and try to look honest about it, but I'm a terrible liar.
Name one item you always take on tour with you.
Kevin: Cans of tuna or other raw fish.
Nick: I'd never go on tour again without tons of celery and peanut butter.
What's the craziest show you've ever played?
Kevin: We played a concert in the woods somewhere near this river. I don't remember where it was or how we got there, I just remember what it was like. The stage was made out of plywood, but it was really sturdy. There were torch candles to the light the areas around it and these huge trees were growing behind it. Tons of people were just hanging out, dancing, and having a good time like we were all friends. Between songs you could hear crickets singing and fish jumping in the river.
Chip: Besides that one, we played this show at the Prospector in Long Beach that was completely taken over by very loud, very drunk, fans. Yeah.
Chad: Price is Right. Freaking insane.
Nick: Yeah, probably that one Chip was talking about where the drunken out-of-towners came onstage and took over our mics, heckled the crowd, then worshipped us as we tore down and packed up. Hilarious.
What are your favorite music venues (around town or in the whole wide world)?
Kevin: The Coliseum in Rome: The next emperor to start holding rock concerts there is going to be among the greats.
Nick: I saw Roger Waters perform Dark Side of the Moon and Brian Wilson perform Smile at the Hollywood Bowl and they were two of the best shows of my life, so yeah Hollywood Bowl is incredible. Oh, and I played there like 10 times and it ruled. They have this green room with Flamin' Hot Cheetos, Snickers bars, Coca Cola Classic, and an original NES equipped with Tetris and Duck Hunt! They really treat you right there.
And what are some of your other favorite local spots?
Kevin: I live right near the beach. Between the beach and my house is this epic lagoon. Through the lagoon, by means of a series of wooden bridges, runs a railroad track. I like to sail my boat down the lagoon, under the tracks, and out to the open sea.
Chip: Hole Mole on 4th and Obispo in Long Beach. Awesome.
Chad: This place down in Belmont Shores called La Creperie. I have to go there at least once a week, or I start to question whether or not I'm still alive. Also, there is this coffee place off 7th street that I refer to as "The Big Donut in the Sky."
Kevin: Anything with pictures.
Chip: 1984, A Brave New World - I think I'm a major fan of the whole dystopia thing. I'm kind of looking forward to the day when we find out we're in one...?
Chad: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Astral Dynamics, Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, The Dharma Bums, Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter
Nick: Don't laugh...Potter
What's your spirit animal?
Kevin: If you knew what a spirit animal was, it's likely that you wouldn't ask such a question in such a context. [Editor's note: I actually do know what a spirit animal is! Way to totally harsh my mellow in the final moments of this interview, Kev. (Kidding; I'm already over it. Let's go sailing through the epic lagoon.)]
Chip: It changes every time I see a new billboard for the San Diego Zoo.
Chad: Jack-elo-popotamu-sna-kanga-rooste-rabbi-turt-leopar-duck... It's a hybrid so I can go in the carpool lane by myself!!
Nick: Elliott, you know, Pete's Dragon.
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