I recently declared that this blog was going to be all about me. Well, that’s kind of true here. Yes, this post features a mixtape from the class clowns of the Los Angeles music scene, LA Font, but I’m going to start by talking about a book that I am reading.
Considering how many times I’ve recommended it, it’s embarrassing that I’m just over halfway through it, but Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad is a must read for any music writer (or fan). Particularly if you like indie rock. Or punk rock. Or garage rock. Which brings me to LA Font.
I won’t lie, speaking of embarrassing, I have been so slow getting this interview finished. I think I received this mixtape in April and am just now getting around to posting. Fortunately though, the timing worked out that when I did listen, I was already a couple chapters into the book, and it gave me a perspective on “punk” that I personally had never considered.
I’ll try and keep it short, but the basic idea I as I took it, is that this loud, gritty, aggressive music came from kids who didn’t feel like they fit into the mainstream, didn’t feel like they could be “popular,” and so they just decided to make it happen on their own terms. To do their own thing, and embrace being different. The title of the book is actually a line from a song by The Minutemen, promoting the idea that anyone can be “DIY” in whatever they want to pursue. Pretty inspiring stuff for a genre I had basically ignored until now.
And again back to LA Font. I might be crazy, but I see a connection. These guys have been “DIY” for a while now. Before it became cool again in the past couple years. They have appeared in every venue (including the prestigious Troubadour), and at a slew of local events. They funded their most recent album via a Kickstarter campaign that not only reached, but surpassed its goal. They are beloved by print and online publications all over the country, but especially here in Los Angeles. They are everywhere, and they made it happen their way, with a sound that shouts, like indie and punk bands of yore, “We are going to do what we want and you’re not going to stop us.”
So of course it makes sense that they put together a mixtape titled, “Garage Rock To Clean Out The Garage To.”
So listen up, because you’re going to learn something. About LA Font, about garage rock and about being DIY. And it will be loud.
Garage Rock To Clean Out The Garage To
TA: It seems like garage rock is making a bit of a local resurgence. Is that something you agree with, or is it just that people are finally noticing?
Danny Bobbe: As long as there are garages, there will be garage rock. Garages and beer.
Greg Katz: Burger Records is it.
TA: To me it makes total sense that you would clean a garage out to garage rock – there is a purging quality to the sound. It’s no holds barred, loud, fast, noisy, get everything out of your system kind of music. Did that sort of aesthetic draw you to the genre? If not, what did?
DB: It’s just the only thing we can play. We don’t have much of a choice. There are no symphony auditions in our future.
TA: Is this your favorite kind of music to listen to in your spare time? What other genres and/or artists have influenced you? Anything fans may not expect?
DB: Yeah, it’s pretty good. We were driving to a gig in Corona the other day, and I put on Philip Glass. I wanted Greg and Jon to think I was worldly. Our friend, David Shane Smith, told me about him. He’s pretty cool.
GK: We’re big fans of Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz’s 1997 rap hit “Deja Vu” and its innovative use of the groove from Steely Dan’s “Black Cow.”
TA: Have you guys ever received criticism – for your instrumentation, sound, lyrics, vocals – that you just thought was way off? Are there any common misconceptions about the band? What about garage rock (or punk) in general?
DB: Greg keeps negative press away from me ‘cause he knows I’ll freak out and hide in my room. I’m unaware if anyone has said anything bad about us. Though someone once called me a dickhead at a Ty Segall show.
GK: A while back I saw a blog commenter saying we were a rip-off of the Henry Clay People. Took it as a compliment. Those dudes play like champs.
TA: Where are all of you from originally? Does the SoCal setting influence your music?
DB: I was born in Alaska, moved to Utah, went school in Montana, and have been in LA for four years. I love it. Palm trees are my favorite tree.
TA: Do you strive to capture that raw, live energy in the studio? How do you go about it, and have you been pleased with the results?
DB: We tracked our ost recent LP live. We kept playing the song until we got the right take. I’d look up at the rest of the band from time to time, everyone was jamming.
GK: We’ve recorded everything we’ve done live in-studio. The record we’re working on we tracked live to 2″ tape. Aside from that, Qdoba burritos have been an important part of our recording success, I feel.
TA: What is one thing you have in your garage (or storage closet, or regular closet) that you just can’t get rid of?
DB: I’ve got some Wranglers and Carharts that need to go. I keep thinking “Yeah, but what if it snows?”
An old video, but check out the band performing “Fine Lines” (off their most recent release, The American Leagues) for Little Videos in 2010:
LA Font “Bright Red Flame”
You can grab LA Font’s full LP, The American Leagues, for FREE on their Bandcamp page…or be a kind soul and throw a few bucks their way in exchange for the tunes.
And keep your eyes on their Facebook page – the band is currently working on their second LP with producer Eric Palmquist (Wavves, Fool’s Gold).