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Itís 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.

AL: 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.

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 Barbara?

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 like....

AL: Prince?

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 Kindercore?

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 pop song.

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 Beach Boys?

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 recording.

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 are?

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 that.

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.


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