Against a backdrop of Christmas lights and surrounded by a carefully curetted collection of vintage threads, San Jose indie rockers Ugly Winner took to the stage around 11 p.m., June 21, at Black and Brown to celebrate the release of their second full-length record, Inside Your Wave.
In between sets by supporting acts — Dinners, Hazel’s Wart and Breathing Patterns — about 200 fans sipped beer and perused racks of second hand jeans, shirts, bags and shoes at the used clothing shop, located at 850 The Alameda, just down the street from the Shark Tank.
Shortly before the band was set to play a gig the following day, June 22, at a house party in Oakland, singer and songwriter Takashi Makino said he was stoked about the release-party’s turnout, talked about the making of Inside Your Wave and shared Ugly Winner’s plans for the near future.
In the three and a half years since Ugly Winner formed, they have established a loyal fan base in and around their home city, San Jose. That base came out in force Saturday and Makino said it was great to see so many familiar faces.
“The community — as far as music and people who support that kind of stuff — is close knit,” Makino said of the San Jose indie rock scene. The story behind the making of Inside Your Wave reflects this.
Unlike their last LP, Minutes, Years & Never, and 7″, Other Things, which were recorded in a studio, Ugly Winner tracked their latest album on the north side of San Jose, in the house where Makino was raised, and where the band is able to practice and make “plenty of noise” away from all the “hectic-ness.” His roommate served as engineer and the whole process was way more laid-back than it had been with their previous effort.
“Nothing like home sweet home,” he said — “relaxation to record your music.”
Listening to the record’s nine compact and driving tracks, it is clear that the band had plenty of time to get each song right. Makino’s cracked caterwaul is diligently disheveled — sometimes recalling Isaac Brock’s vagabond bark, at other points reminiscent of Doug Martcsch.
There is beauty and frailty in Ugly Winner’s dissonance. Even their off-key, jangling verses sound right on, especially when they tumble, as they so often do, headlong into a driving, angular chorus — glued together by tightly wound bass lines, which nod to bands like Interpol and Joy Division in their tendency to careen end-over-end, like an oblong boulder bounding down a hill.
The band is pleased with the momentum they have established gigging around the Bay Area, and they hope to grow their following on their upcoming tour.
Beginning Aug. 1, Ugly Winner is hitting the road. Hard. The band is slated to play 18 shows in 18 days in at least seven states, not counting California. The trek will lead them up through Oregon and Washington, over to Idaho and then on down through Utah, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico on their longest and most grueling tour to date.
It’s going to be a test Makino said. “We’ll see how much it wears us down, but I think we’re all pretty excited.”
Assuming the band makes it back in one piece, they are scheduled to play at the Think and Die Thinking indie and punk festival in San Jose, Aug. 24 through Aug. 26, at the Billy De Frank Center. After that they’ll be at the Hemlock Tavern on Aug. 30.