always exciting and thrilling to experience a new band who is fresh
and talented. At the recent Noise Pop festival in San Francisco, I saw
Call and Response (C.A.R.) at The Bottom of the Hill, and they gently
assaulted the audience with their unique kaleidoscopic vision thing.
They are a five-piece act with strong harmonies and they really stood
out during their performance. They also gave a few good performances
at SXSW. C.A.R. have been compared to many bands and they say that they
are ďinspired by the arrangements and songwriting skills of such bands
as The Free Design, Sly and the Family Stone, Nick Drake, The Zombies,
The Jackson 5, and AIR. But they are also very distinctive in their
own right. Growing up in Santa Barbara, Simone, Dan and Carrie decided
to move up to San Francisco a few years ago.
Simone plays the Wurlitzer electric piano, Yamaha organ, Mini-moog,
guitar, percussion, and is also a vocalist. Dan brings guitar, Roland
synthesizer, Mini-moog, electric piano, and vocals. Carrie sings and
plays organ, electric piano, percussion, and guitar. Some tall girl
named Terrie plays bass guitar and provides various special effects.
Some bloke named Jordan plays drums and percussion. They seem like happy
people. Too happy. Are they a Christian band? I would soon find out.
Call and Response's debut, self-titled full-length was recorded at the
new Kindercore studios in Athens. It was the first record to follow
Kindercore's new vision of bringing fresh talent from around the world
and letting them mingle with Athens' own unique music scene. The resulting
album has a wonderfully new sound that is a great illustration of Kindercore's
past and future. With Call and Response on the label, Kindercore is
now definitely on the map. I recently met Simone and Dan at Benetton
Headquarters in San Francisco, because that is were Simone works by
day. They are fresh-faced and young internationalists, and they are
good looking people.
How did you meet each other... through Craigslist?
Dan: (laughter) We met in High School
in Santa Barbara originally, back in the early 1990s. We went to separate
colleges. We didnít really know each other in High School. We were in
different grades. We were rebels. (laughter) This High School gang.
It seems like a long time ago.
Simone: We knew each otherís bands and stuff.
AL: Were you in bands in Santa Barbara?
Dan: Yeah, I was in a band called
Picnic with a Gun. We had computers and old synths. When Simone finished
college and came back, we wanted to form a band. It was Simoneís idea.
AL: Why didnít you stay in Santa
Simone: Well, I went to UC Davis.
I was really into music. We have a mutual friend who Dan was playing
with. I was like ďDan, we should play music.Ē Because we were into the
same things. We both like pop and electronic music. And some experimental
stuff. I was really into 1960s music and bands like The Zombies.
Dan: Itís rare in Santa Barbara
to meet people who you can relate to. Everybody was listening to stuff
Simone: Not even that cool. Stuff
like Alanis Morrisette. I wanted to say that we eventually started the
band in December of 1997. We started to play in LA. We didnít really
enjoy playing down there. They claimed that they got it, without getting
it. LA is a joke.
Carrie wanted to move out of Santa Barbara. We grew up together. We
had piano lessons together. When Carrie joined, we decided to move to
San Francisco. We had another bass player and drummer, and they started
to do other things. I was living with Terrie. She was already in another
band for a long time. When I finally asked her to join it was like magic.
We were already very tight. We were recording this record for Kindercore.
We were using this drummer, Mario, who is in From Bubblegun To Sky.
He freaked out and didnít want to come with us to Georgia. So we meet
this guy at the last minute, Jordan, a week before we were to record.
We asked him and it was totally great. Heís now our drummer.
AL: How did you get involved with
Dan: We sent them a demo tape a
long time ago. In Santa Barbara, we did a tape a long time ago, and
sent it to them. Back then they didnít have any money to be messing
around with new bands. Since then they got hooked up with Emperor Norton.
They wanted to do a record with us and they kept an eye out for us.
We went out to meet them. So we finally went out to their studio last
summer and recorded it with one of the guys from Olivia Tremor Control.
It was really fun.
AL: How do you go about writing
songs? Who writes music?
Simone: We all do.
Dan: We all arrange them together.
We try to keep it open so everyone can contribute.Like Simone will come
in with a main idea for a tune, a chorus and a verse, or Iíll do that,
or Carrie, and then the whole band fleshes it out.
AL: Are they jam sessions?
Simone: Thatís weird. Thereís a
main idea and then we jam. We have a ďSessh.Ē On our new record, we
have some songs that were there since the beginning. Hopefully in the
future, Terrie and Jordan, our rhythm section, will be able to write
songs with us. They werenít in the band when we wrote many of the songs.
AL: Do you think that the time you
have spent in San Francisco has influenced the band in any way?
Simone: We are such a tight songwriting
crew. We are into art and stuff together. As friends too. We take that
energy and create in the room where we are, whether it is in Santa Barbara
or here, itís still the same. We haven't changed our process of making
music even though our environment has changed. It changes the content
of the songs, but the actual writing of the songs is born in us, and
it goes wherever we go.
We havenít become crazy urban people all of a sudden. We just do what
we have always done. We never play more than once a month because we
donít want to be pigeon-holed as a local band. We would like to tour
the back east since the record is out. Possibly in the summer?
AL: Have you done any massive tours?
Simone: No. Weíve played LA and
Portland, but not really. Weíve never been ďOn Tour.Ē At SXSW we are
playing five times in a week. It will be a big deal for us.
Dan: It will be the biggest event
we have ever played. It will be fun. It will be good to get out of town.
We like playing anywhere that we havenít been before. We like when the
whole front row isnít people we know. Itís exciting.
AL: Do you listen to any other bands?
Dan: I just collect vinyl. One hit
wonders of old funk tunes. I donít follow other artsits currently. I
listen to Blues artists from the 1950s, and Chess Records. Itís the
root of all pop music.
Simone: I listen to stuff from the
1920s, to harmonic groups, to the Steve Miller Band. Itís like a library.
You can pick and choose. I am classically trained pianist and so is
Carrie. All of us as a band are drawn to certain songwriting and melody
techniques that do stem from the 1960s, because that was the first reaction
to the Blues. They made melody a big part of their songs.
AL: You play a lot of notes.
Dan: We are into playing our instruments,
but we never forget that thereís a song as well. Keeping a really melodic
simple song, but cramming notes in as well. In the 1970s, a lot of session
mucisians, you could tell that they were awesome playing underneath
the song. Sometimes thereís a crazy funk drummer underneath some bubblegum
Simone: Playing around the chords.
A lot of it has a spontaneous feel and thatís why itís so good. Our
own songs have to have a groove.
AL: Do you try to play records or
DJ before a live show to create a mood.
Dan: Definitely. Sometimes we canít
do it because we are too busy. So we get a friend.
Simone: We got to DJ at KUSF last
Friday. That was fun. We would like to have a DJ to come along with
us and create a mood.
AL: You guys look really happy on
stage. Is this because you are drinking before you go onstage or something?
Simone: We are like best friends.
Dan: Whenever we play together we
are excited to see what the other person does. We try to play different
every time and improvise. Iíll hear a new note that Jordan does on the
drums and Iíll go ďYeah, cool!Ē
AL: Do you like Brian Wilson? The
Dan: Of course. We are into production.
When we listen to records, we are listening for the production values.
Where stuff is in the mix. It gives us ideas on how we can do the new
Simone: Some of The Beach Boys lived
in Santa Barbara. We have to like them. We know their sons. When Dan
played me ďFriendsĒ I became a lifelong fan. Heís my hero.
AL: What about the look of the band?
Do you think about that? The way you see you onstage, thatís who you
Dan: Pretty much. We donít think
about it too much.
Simone: Itís not like weíre planing
what to wear onstage before the show. We are interested in aesthetics
and looking good but there is no plan.
AL: On the postcard I have here
the band in nude from the shoulders up.
Simone: That was the whole thing.
Keep it pure. I saw Doves play last night and some girl came up to me
and said ďI heard that you guys play naked. Do you really play naked?Ē
She saw the postcard too.
Dan: Therefore we play naked. Donít
Blink 182 do that. Itís hard to do that.
AL: Whatís up with this ďEMOĒ stuff?
Not that you have anything to do with that?
Dan: Goleta is one of the capitals
of Emo. In High School, all my friends were in Emo bands. Itís like
Punk Rock, but kids writing stuff from their diaries. Emo was a negative
term at first. The hardcore punk kids would go, ďThatís lame, thatís
just Emo music!Ē They are these young kids trying to deal with heavy
issues without even grasping anything. Fugazi started that. They were
great. But the people who copied them forgot that Fugazi are also good
musicians. The Makeup are stylish Emo. One of the things about C.A.R.
that I liked is that it had nothing to do with Emo. I was so bored with
AL: You were saying that Carrie
writes stuff? What did you mean by that?
Simone: Sheís very well-read and
very good with her words. I think that in her heart, that she would
like to be a writer. She was also talking about doing scores for films.
I think that she would be good at that.
AL: What if she quite the band and
wrote a novel?
Dan: I would read it.
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| June 2001 | Issue 15