Fruit Bats

Fruit Bats (10:15 PM)

The Parson Red Heads (9:15 PM)

El May (8:30 PM)

Sat, November 5, 2011

8:00 pm

$0.00 - $15.00

This event is all ages

Facebook comments:

Fruit Bats - (Set time: 10:15 PM)
Fruit Bats
Over the course of more than a decade, Fruit Bats have looked for ways to file down the cynical edges of modern life. Using bright melodies, defiant major-key chord structures, and natural imagery mixed with the occasional blazing insight or tender observation, Fruit Bats have never shied away from darkness, but have also resolutely refused to shy away from light. The band was formed in Chicago in 1997. An early entrant into the folk-rock boom of the new millennium, the group has been through several personnel changes over the years, but revolves around singer/songwriter Eric D. Johnson. At the time, Johnson was an instructor at The Old Town School of Folk Music, led his own space-rock band called I Rowboat, was a sideman in various groups, most notably Califone, and had a solo project called Fruit Bats.

Fruit Bats began to evolve into a group with the addition of a rotating cast of band members. In 2001, the debut record, "Echolocation," was released on Califone's imprint, Perishable Records. Tours with Modest Mouse and The Shins followed, and Johnson briefly became a touring member of The Shins. In the summer of 2002, Fruit Bats signed with Sub Pop and have since released four albums on the label: 2003's "Mouthfuls," 2005's "Spelled In Bones," 2009's "The Ruminant Band" and 2011's "Tripper." The song "When U Love Somebody," from the album "Mouthfuls," was used in the 2010 movie "Youth in Revolt." Johnson scored the 2011 movie "Ceremony," the feature debut of writer/director Max Winkler, which starred Uma Thurman and Michael Angarano. He also scored the 2011 movie "My Idiot Brother," alongside Nathan Larson. The film, directed by Jesse Peretz, featured Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer.

On the latest Fruit Bats release, 2011's "Tripper," the band continues in characteristically rich and involving fashion. "Tripper" was recorded at WACS Studio in Los Angeles with Thom Monahan, best known as producer for the last four Vetiver albums and Devendra Banhart's "Cripple Crow." For the first week, Johnson brought in a band. However, after working alone on soundtracks for an extended period, Johnson knew that he wanted "Tripper" to be more of a solitary pursuit than his previous albums. For the remaining four weeks, he worked with Monahan to deepen and refine the sound. Fruit Bats' lineup has now expanded to five, in turn expanding the sonic scope of Johnson's songs. The touring lineup consists of Johnson on vocals and guitar, Graeme Gibson on drums, Ron Lewis on bass, Dave Depper on keyboards and guitar, and Nathan Junior on lead guitar.

In 2010, Johnson founded the Huichica Music Festival in Sonoma, CA in partnership with Jeff Bundschu of Gundlach Bundschu Winery. The festival recently concluded its second successful year with a lineup that included J Mascis, Richard Swift and These United States.
The Parson Red Heads - (Set time: 9:15 PM)
The Parson Red Heads
Band members:
Evan Way – songwriter, vocals, guitars
Brette Marie Way – drums, vocals
Sam Fowles – guitars, vocals, songwriter (“Happy We Agree”, “I Was Only”)
Charlie Hester – bass, vocals

By any definition, The Parson Red Heads are in harmony:

har·mo·ny noun \ˈhär-mə-nē\

1 tuneful sound
2 the combination of simultaneous musical notes in a chord
3 pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts
4 internal calm: tranquility
5 an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative

It is impossible to discuss the Parson Red Heads without acknowledging the remarkable chemistry among the four members, their fans and friends. The band’s generous spirit is inseparable from their masterful songwriting, gracefully finessed guitar lines, precise arrangements and gorgeous three and four part harmonies.

With their new and second full release, Yearling (Arena Rock Recording Company), The Parson Red Heads deliver on the great promise that has been steadily building during their eight years as a band. Yearling was carefully recorded over a series of many months first in a familiar setting, Red Rockets Glare Studio in their former home of Los Angeles, with close friend and sometimes member Raymond Richards producing. But most of the songs on the record were done later on unfamiliar terrain, at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium in North Carolina with alternative pop legends Chris Stamey and Mitch Easter producing and engineering, respectively. Stamey mixed the record.

Stamey pushed the band in a manner they had never experienced. Lead singer-songwriter Evan Way explains: “Chris was a different type of producer for us, especially vocally. We’ve always pretty easily done a take and it is in tune and sounds good and it’s fine. But Chris would have us sing ten or twenty more takes and he was consistently pushing. He’d say ‘That sounds great but I don’t feel like you are really singing the song.’ Chris wanted to hear every word, and make us convey what the lyrics really mean. He didn’t care as much about perfect pitch compared to if we were conveying the true emotion of the song.”

“When I first worked on some string and brass arrangements for them,” Stamey says, “the gentleness and warmth of the songs and the approach came across in spades. It wasn’t until I saw them live that I realized what a powerhouse they can be, as well. They played spur-of-the-moment shows here while we were recording and–how else to say it? — kicked ass.”

Stamey came away a big fan: “There’s something about this band that lifts your spirits. It’s not facepaint, it’s all the way down to the grain. In the sixties, we would have said that they are totally ‘together,’ and they do have an all-for-one and one-for-all ethos, you can hear the musicians’ genuine affection for each other in every skywriting chorus and every sweeping improvisation.”

Yearling celebrates appreciating your friends, living thoughtfully and creating an intentional meaningful life, reflecting the heady maturity of a band whose members are in their mid to late 20’s. Evan Way says: “I don’t know if the theme was totally intentional. But all the songs came out about learning the best way to live. There are love songs in there, but it’s more about growing up, your memories and taking everything you’ve learned to make your life better.”

“We came up with the name Yearling as the title,” Evan continues, “which is a horse between one and two years old. That word captured the idea of something growing up. And the record took us a long time to make and we learned so much making it.”

This focus on growing and getting better finds its way into many lyrical lines here, such as “Think of the man you used to be, he is less than the man you’ve become” (“Time is Running Out”), or “Every night I wake up saying, every single soul is different” (“Unemotional”), hardly the typical voice of a band in their 20s.

And the Parson Red Heads have literally grown up together, forming while still their teens. Evan and Brette went to high school together, then became bandmates, then married in 2006.

Part of the band’s development is the musical maturity to slow down the tempos a bit to allow the songs to breathe and the vocal harmonies to best serve the lyrics. One of the standout tracks here, “When You Love Somebody”, is especially effective in how it reins the speed in a bit like a great Beatles pop song. These recordings are far more skilled and deliberate than the Parsons’ prior CDs.

Yearling has a timeless quality that continues and expands the classic pop-country-rock lineage stretching from The Byrds and Fleetwood Mac to the Jayhawks and Wilco. Evan hears those reference points, but says the band feels a stronger musical kinship with contemporaries such as Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Dawes and The Fruit Bats.

“It’s easy to hear a connection to the Byrds in some of the material,” Stamey opines, “in the vocal harmonies and guitar stylings, but maybe the real connection is in the sense of balance and poise both bands share. It’s a confidence in what they are doing that makes a listener want to lean in to it, to soak it up, instead of having to fend off a sonic assault.”

Other musicians immediately appreciate the Parson Red Heads. Various LA musicians sat in with the band over the years, with their live lineup swelling to more than a dozen members on many nights. Members of Blitzen Trapper and Wilco attend their shows, as do Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey from R.E.M., who have joined the Parsons on stage to rip through a cover of Tom Petty’s “You Wrecked Me”.

Peter Jesperson, the longtime manager of the Replacements and now handling A&R and Production at New West Records in LA, says this about what turned him into a major booster of the Parson Red Heads: “First and foremost – the singing. Evan as a lead singer with Sam and Brette doing harmonies is one of the best things going on in rock today if you ask me. First live show of theirs I saw, the vocals quite literally took my breath away.”

While many of the songs on Yearling start in a mid-tempo, they tend to go off into a looser and rocking instrumental direction near the end of the song (check out “When You Love Somebody”, “Hazy Dream” and “Time is Running Out”). When I asked the band about it, I hesitated to use the term “jam”. Evan laughed, “It’s okay, you can use the word. My alternative to a bridge is usually some sort of guitar solo and my tendency is to put it at the end. I like to put it at the end because then we have the freedom to do what we want without having to worry about going back to the song.” Brette adds, “We can’t help it now. We just keep playing and something cool usually happens.”

The band also rocks out, particularly on “Kids Hanging Out”, a power pop gem that is a highlight of their live shows. The record opens with “Burning Up the Sky”, which is a perfect introduction to the band’s warm vibe, with their defining big vocal harmonies front and center. “Hazy Dream” reflects the band’s characteristic psychedelic folk sound and strong melodic sense. “Unemotional” is a particularly affecting and sophisticated highlight of the record, made all the richer by Stamey’s additional piano work and Mitch Easter’s bottle-neck slide accents.

A major role in their growth as a band came from their five years in Los Angeles, where they moved in 2005 from Eugene Oregon where the band formed in 2003. Brette tells the story: “When we played our first show there, we said ‘Oh that was really bad. This is embarrassing.’ We made a decision and said we are not going to be that. So we practiced three hours a night, three days a week. We were all working 40 hrs a week day jobs with a commute. We call it the dark times. We were exhausted and probably malnourished.” Evan adds, “Meanwhile we were playing shows the other four days of the week, any place that would have us, the weirdest gigs.” Brette says, “It was crazy, but all the playing and practicing really helped us.”

The band moved back to Oregon in 2010, settling in Portland where they have quickly become beloved favorites on that thriving local scene.

So where did the Parson Red Heads get their name? Evan explains, “Brette and I both have red hair. My dad was minister, a parson, and people say we remind them of the Byrds [Gene and Gram Parsons], but it doesn’t have anything to do with any of that.” “At first we were called Vulture Town,” Brette recalls, “because I had a dream that we were called Vulture Town. Of course that didn’t sound anything like us, so after awhile we started searching for a better name.” Evan continues, “Our friend and former band member Anastasia opened up this big jazz dictionary, found a reference to the Pearson Red Heads, and she totally misread it and suggested ‘Hey how about the Parson Red Heads?’ And we said that sounds pretty good. The entry said they only played 2 times in the 1950s with Benny Goodman and they never recorded. And so we were like ‘Oh yeah, we could totally steal that. That’s the one, we’ll steal that name.”

Brette finishes the story: “Then a couple years later when we were getting ready to put out our first record, I tried to look them up and I couldn’t find anything about them. So I called up Anastasia and asked her if she still had that book, and she looked at it and said ‘Oh my gosh, I totally misread it. It’s the Pearson Red Heads.’ And I said ‘Then I guess we didn’t steal the name!’ But of course then our name means nothing.” [Evan and Sam crack up laughing].

The years of hard work, a careful recording process this time around and the band’s well-earned good karma have paid off with Yearling, a majestic pop record and a huge step up for the Parson Red Heads. The band members feel good about where they are and emphasize how much fun they are having. “Music is the main thing I care about,” Evan says. “I discovered something that I not only love doing, but I feel like I have something to contribute. And I want to make sure we do it right and work hard at it. But I also make sure everyone’s contributions are important, because if they don’t feel a part of all of it, they won’t have fun. For a band to work, everyone needs to have fun and then they’ll contribute their best.”

Brett’s final thoughts: “I am in the perfect band, because everyone is easy going, but these guys have a great work ethic. They work really really hard. I don’t know a lot of people like Evan and Sam, who just generally have good attitudes and are nice all the time, but are not bums. They are not bums at all!”
El May - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
El May
“… layered retro-pop tapestries evoke thoughts of El May as the long lost niece of Brian Wilson.”
– Direct Current

“.. a beguiling singer and tunesmith. Her vocal melodies and harmonies intertwine with deceptively simple piano lines to cast cool, alluring spells; subtle touches of rhythm and strings enhance the mood and the atmosphere “ –
Peter Blackstock, No Depression

El May is Lara Meyerratken.

Lara has performed and/or recorded with many stellar rock and roll acts like Ben Lee, Crooked Fingers, Luscious Jackson, Luna, Britta and Dean, Nada Surf, and Sneeze.

El May songs have featured in TV shows Melrose Place, The Lying Game, and Pretty Little Liars. Michelle Williams performs her song ‘Hero’ in the 2005 movie ‘The Baxter’. Other soundtrack credits include ‘Our Idiot Brother’ (2011) and Dutch film ‘Life In One Day’ (2009).

Lara has composed and recorded original music for Comcast, Austrian Telekom, Oronaine Skincare, (RED), DEL software and Kelloggs.

She was the Musical Director for the Cannes ‘Best Original Music’ Gold Lion Award winner for in 2010, and won the 2005 ‘Best Cover Art’ ARIA Award for the Ben Lee album ‘Awake is The New Sleep’.
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change