Lately I’ve been having the problem where whenever I actually want to go to a show, there’s too many bands I want to see everyone playing on that one night. Sometimes it gets to the point where I just don’t go anywhere, because it’s easier, but sometimes I have to make some hard choices.
A couple weeks ago this was the problem with two bands signed to Father/Daughter Records, although the fact that PWR BTTM’s show with Ra Ra Riot was technically sold out made it less of a problem. So I went to an underground house show that not only a few of my friends were playing at, but so was Plush.
This weekend was becoming a similar kind of problem, with Frankie Cosmos playing one venue in SF and Diet Cig playing another, all in one night. I had to pick, but luckily, if you haven’t bought tickets to either yet the choice is easier for you, because Frankie Cosmos is sold out. Don’t be sad. Don’t fret. There’s still the opportunity to see Diet Cig, Plush, and Jay Som. Knowing them all, it won’t be a show you want to miss and if you have the luck to go, I’m here to tell you why you should.
For one, Diet Cig is signed to local label Father/Daughter, and are known to put on the most energetic show you’ll ever see. And since they are actually from the East coast, they don’t come out here as often. Jay Som is one of the best local lyricists and musicians coming up. Also soon going on tour with Mitski! Finally, I actually got to sit down, talk, and doodle in Golden Gate Park with Plush. I’m going to let their words explain why you should go to that show. I brought markers, gel pens, crayons, colored pencils, and even glitter so they could doodle their insecurities.
1. They all came together for their love of music and they’re all self-taught.
Sinclair: Eva and I have been friends since we were five, I guess. Well first we were not friends, but we knew each other and then we were great friends. We became best friends in …5th grade…6th grade, who’s to say really?
Dylan: I met Eva through our friend Max, and then we started taking about starting a band. So that’s kind how the band started. It was me and Eva recording songs on garage band and then we asked Sinclair to play bass, and then Karli.
Karli: Then I met Sinclair and Eva just through our extension of our friend group. Dylan knew a bunch of these dudes from State (San Francisco State University) and from the dorms, and then I knew them because they were friends with my friends from state and the dorms. And just having a bunch of people at that set of dudes house, we all just started hanging out and became friends. I think Eva, Sinclair, and The She’s came to like a party.. was it like New Year’s or Halloween?
Sinclair: I think it was Halloween.
Karli: It was Halloween, and that was like when I formally met them.
Dylan: I started playing in bands when I was like, probably like beginning of high school, when I was like 13, 14. I was playing in hardcore bands and stuff. My brothers are all musicians in like the UK and so when I was younger they would tell me what records to listen to. Or just be like, all that stuff you listen to sucks, you should listen to this instead. And then from the music they showed me, it kind of like got me on to that. My dad was like super, super into music growing up, like he was really into soul music. So I listened to a lot of that growing up, but I guess I didn’t get really really into music until I was like probably in the 8th grade and was actively like “This is my thing, this is the thing that I like.”
Karli: Growing up my dad was a jazz saxophonist, but he played a lot of everything. He was in a couple bands in the ’80s and ’90s that were local. He played in a lot of swing and blues bands were pretty awesome. And I kind of just grew up around that. Like my uncle was in like a grind-noise band from San Diego. So a lot of my family was just very active in the music scene and I grew up around a lot of people who played music, so it felt kind of like inevitable that would happen to me. I took piano when I was really little, too. So it was just kind of like an intro to playing instruments.
Sinclair: Eva and I, well we’re in The She’s too, and that started when we were like in the 7th grade. Before that we were in a band with eight girls that was called My Noisy Neighbors, and we all played guitar. Well, I played flute.
Karli: I never knew this! Whoa.
Sinclair: Yeah and then I was out of town but they went to this music camp, Hannah, Sami, and Eva. At the JCC that was like a Rock Camp. Then afterwards I came back and they were like “We went to this camp, we played like real music, we wrote a song!” like all this stuff, and I was like “Oh my god, I gotta be part of this.” And they were like “if you want to, you can play drums.” And I was like “I will learn, I can do this.” So we all kind of just picked instruments and that’s me and Eva’s knowledge. Well I guess I play drums in that, but I guess the way that we’ve all been was just like picked up random instruments. None of us were formally trained.
Dylan: I think I took drum lessons for like a month and then my drum teacher had to go to rehab. I think I was like eight, and so I was like “I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Sinclair: Eva tried to take guitar lessons once, too, but then her teacher was like “I have to go on tour!” So…
Dylan: I didn’t start formally playing drums again until like a year and a half ago, before this band started, and I’ve just been doing it since. Everyone’s kind of just self-taught.
Karli: My introduction to guitar was when my dad kind of just got me a guitar for my birthday. But I went to Catholic school, and their was, like, a choir. And my 6th grade teacher was like “If you’re in the choir”…because at that point I enjoyed singing but didn’t really feel confident doing it and she was like…”If you sing in the choir, I’ll teach you how to read chords on the guitar,” and I was like “I have to do this!” So I had a year of kind of guidance in terms of power chords and stuff but then I just would play like endless covers.
2. They have a new EP coming out called Please and tomorrow’s show is the “official early release party” because the official official release date is the 29th of April.
Karli: We had the studio time before all the songs were written. So it was like serious crunch time. A lot of time getting time to sit down and band out a song, which oddly enough we ended up being really proud of. And I feel like it’s shown a lot of progress and maturity with the way that we’re going with things: a little more clean, a little more like dynamic in structure.
Dylan: It’s a lot more like “poppy.” Like, it’s a lot more clean. On the last one we hid behind a lot of effects, really washed-out production. And though a lot of that is really cool, I don’t think it was accurate. That’s not what we sounded like live, so I think it’s cool now that like of the people I’ve shown this to they’re like “Wow, it’s like straightforward…pop.” There’s like distortion on like one song.
Sinclair: I think it was necessary though, for Pine.
Dylan: Oh no definitely, that wasn’t, like, a dis, that was just like where we were at. This whole band started as, like, it wasn’t going to be a live band. It was just a project. Where we could just get together and play songs in our free time and just record shit and put it on the internet. And then it kind of became a thing. We were actually gonna do this. I think it’s (Please) just a lot more of a honest portrayal. Not that the last one was like dishonest, but this is definitely a lot more where we’re at.
Sinclair: Plus we’re like more comfortable with everything.
Karli: Totally, like Dylan was saying, it didn’t sound the same live. The Pine recordings. A part of that was, I used Eva’s setup to record my guitar, and so like when we played live my guitar was clean. I didn’t own any pedals or an amp, so it’s like the translation from Pine recording to Pine live was drastically different. And now I feel like with this release, it sounds exactly the same live. Like it translates perfect, if not then live it’s even more like raw and like emotional, I guess. Which I think is really really cool and makes me really excited to like play new songs.
Dylan: This is the first release where I definitely cautiously tried to have my own kind of identity behind the drums. It’s very easy for drums to just be used as a rhythmic instrument, because that’s really what they’re for. So I listened to a lot of like Portishead and like Massive Attack and a lot of computerized drums and tried to emulate just programmed drums but in a live setting. So that’s why a lot of the stuff on the new record is just very simple and very minimal and like very very repetitive. And I was listening to a lot of Krautrock bands, so a lot of Neu!, Can, Kraftwerk, and stuff. I really, really tried to be very, very repetitive.
Sinclair: I think also on Pine, we like had these songs but we weren’t really sure where they were gonna go so we were all like “I don’t know, is this OK?” Just like didn’t really venture to do too much different stuff or too like crazy. And this time we were a lot more comfortable or like “lets fuck with this.”
Karli: I feel like the songs on Pine were written before we were a band. So we put them together, as a band, it just kind fell into place and was really easy. But with writing for Please, like Stan (Sinclair’s nickname) said we have an image in mind. We had more of an idea, like how our music sounds live or like how it sounds when we XYZ. So for writing for this release it was easier to kind of have a guide. Like to where the end goal was. It’s different writing for a project and writing alone and using it. At the show it feels like more of a revealing. Like “this is our EP and we’re playing song off it.” I’m really excited for that.
3. Did I say they are signed to one of the dopest local labels? Like honestly, bless Jessi Frick and Father/Daughter Recordss.
Dylan: I don’t think we ever envisioned this band as being a label band or anything kind of like that or at least I didn’t. It was kind of just like when people are like, yo we should do then, wait hold on. Then the Father/Daughter thing happened and we were like “this is right.” I don’t think, if it wasn’t Father/Daughter, I don’t think it would have been anybody. We would have just put it out ourselves because Jessi is someone that… It’s nice to be involved with somebody, not insinuating that other people don’t, but it’s nice to be involved with people that genially care. Not even just what you are doing but who you are as a person.
Karli: Like wanting to hang out and get to know us.
Dylan: Yeah, or like just texting you and saying “Happy birthday.” It’s cool. Jessi is just, like, sick and she’s doing a lot of really cool things. Especially for the Bay Area. So it’s really cool that she’s finally getting the recognition because she puts out and does so much work.
Jessi Frick is amazing and a role model and we just went on to rant about everything she did and why she’s the most amazing person for about 30 minutes.
4. They are one of the reasons that the SF music scene is definitely not dead.
Karli: I’ve been here for coming up about six years, and I feel like, when I first came up here, maybe because I just didn’t know a lot of people or what but it did feel like there was a total lull. Maybe, this is a total grand statement, but this is the beginning of a resurgence of the music scene. With bands like Never Young, Toner, Dick Stusso, Mall Walk, Jay Som, all of these bands popping up left and right, seemingly out of nowhere and like getting signed immediately or going on tour with Mitski! I feel like we’re on the cusp of like a really big resurgence. It’s going to make a lot of people saying the music scene is dead seem stupid.
Dylan: Now you have bands that are sonically very different but cool. It’s sick that you have certain bands that sound nothing alike other than the fact that they play electric guitars, and they’re also all friends with each other. I haven’t seen a bill in the last year and the half that I was like “oh cool I have to watch the same band five times.” Now it’s like cool, there’s so many different bands.
Karli: There’s certainly overlap with many but now you can go to a show and be like oh dang, those are all very like interesting to me, they’re young, in their early 20s, this is one of their first or second bands ever and their doing something really cool. And I like all of these bands and they all appeal to me in a different way, which is really unique.
Sinclair: Also everybody goes to each other’s shows. It’s a really cool thing.
Karli: It’s extremely supportive. Maybe we’re in this really bizarre tiny bubble of young musicians that all support each other a lot, but I feel like at any given show that I’ve go to I’m like ‘Oh I know this one person in this band,’ and then there’s a crowd of people that I’m just like ‘OMG there’s so-and-so from that band’ and so on.
Sinclair: It’s impossible to go to a show and not see a bunch of people that you know.
Dylan: It’s just so frustrating when people who have no grip on what’s happening are writing about something that’s very important to a lot of people. And also it’s just perpetuating the notion that the Bay Area is dead, when it’s not, it’s just all your weird heroes moved to LA Let LA have them.
Karli: Do your research and look at the new scene and support them. Like Dylan was saying, in the five minutes that they spent to write this article about how the music scene is dead they could have looked up two really great songs by an up-and-coming band and written an article about them, supporting the music scene instead.
5. They actually care and are good people.
Dylan: I would want our music to give people what bands gave me when I was younger. A spot to be at where I didn’t have to worry about anything other than what was happening and at least provide someone with some sort of release. Let it be, being sad, being happy, or being angry. Make people feel less by themselves.
Sinclair: Also a comfortable space. Somewhere where people feel safe.
Dylan: There’s a real big thing about bands being put on pedestals when in all actuality they are just people that really just have shitty day jobs. I would hope to create a space where people are allowed to feel equal even if for just a little bit.
Karli: I always want to be approachable. I know putting myself in my shoes when I was 14, which we all did, I would see people in bands and be so afraid to talk to them. Even if they were really nice. I just know that at our shows people do feel very comfortable talking to us. We’ve had young girls come up to us and say that they really appreciate us and our music. I always want that to be a thing. I never want to be viewed as the cool guy rock star. I know when looking at musicians I’ve really enjoyed, when I’ve had interactions like that, I’ve never forgotten it. It’s a big reminder and a humbling experience.
Dylan: I want to get to the point where we never have to play a 21-and-up show ever again.
Dylan: I just want to give back to what got me into it.
Karli: I want to make it clear that music is accessible, and you don’t have to be technically trained, you don’t have to know a lot of people. It can start very small. You just buy a old guitar from the thrift store and look up chords online and do covers for years. Even if that’s all you ever do, it can be really cathartic and good for people.
6. There will be surprises at the show.
Karli: We figured if we had the physical tapes by that time then we may as well do an early-bird.
Sinclair: So now if you come you can have the tape, when the music won’t be streaming or available for purchase until the 29th. It’s gonna be special.
Karli: We’re also gonna be playing a lot longer than we usually do.
Dylan: Yeah, we have a long set.
Karli: We’re playing almost the whole discography and SECRET SONGS.
Sinclair: We’re gonna make it special.
7: look at this amazing doodle they doodled during the interview!
Diet Cig, Plush, Jay Som
Bottom Of The Hill
April 16, 2016