If the guys in Audacity know one thing, it’s how to have fun. The Orange County bred punk rockers have been playing music together since Elementary school, and though they have grown up since then, they still focus on having a good time, and it’s worked out in their favor.
The quartet is gearing up for a month-long tour with the legendary Man Or Astro-Man?, including a show at L.A.’s The Satellite on Friday, May 10, before playing dates with The Thermals in June. At some point, amongst the touring chaos, the four-piece plans on heading up North to record its third full-length album, and first on Suicide Squeeze Records. While prepping for life on the road, Audacity’s guitarist/vocalist Kyle Gibson was nice enough to chat with me about the tour, Orange County’s music scene, and what to expect from the upcoming album.
Katrina Nattress: In what ways has the OC music scene changed since you started playing?
Kyle Gibson: Our early elementary/middle school days consisted of us playing our own birthday parties and school talent shows, but once we started playing actual shows in high school the scene was kind of splintered, much like it is now. There was an Orange County old school hardcore throwback scene full of skater type punk bands that we would play with (including our good friends Bad antics), and there was still that whole dancey indie thing that was popular in the early 2000s along with the kind of Radiohead type bands you'd find anywhere in the country. We split our time bouncing around these different kinds of shows, never feeling like we found kindred spirits until we met this group of bands that called themselves the Slack Mafia, including Pterodacdudes and thee Makeout Party, the ashes of which Burger Records emerged from. There's a lot more bands making interesting music, and there’s more attention on the scene because of Burger's popularity. Plus, there's cool all ages shows at Burger and places like Unit B, and good venues like The Continental for touring bands to come through. When we were in high school DIY spots were always getting shut down, but now days people seem to be able to make these spots last longer. The cops still like to shut down parties however.
KN: What OC bands should we have on our radar?
KG: Bad antics, Pterodacdudes, White Night, Mynx, Cosmonauts, South Bay Surfers.
KN: On your Facebook page, you mention that "L.A. disrespects you." Would you say this sentiment is true for OC bands, or was this just a playful jab?
KG: Playful jab! The stereotype of L.A. being full of snobs is totally not true. It’s a beautiful place and so many Los Angelinos have been supportive of us over the years--we owe a lot to LA. At the same time, people tend to think of Orange County as some cultural wasteland, and it sort of is. It’s the suburbs, but so much great music has come from these suburbs over the years, and it’s had as much if not more of an influence on what punk is today as L.A. Jackson Browne lived and wrote his first songs in Fullerton, including "These Days". Philip K Dick had a religious experience in Fullerton after having his wisdom teeth pulled and wrote a bunch of books about it. Christian Death was the first goth band. It’s a shitty suburb but for some reason a lot of cool stuff happens here!
KN: You are about to go on tour with the legendary Man or Astro-man?. Are you stoked?
KG: Super stoked! It’s gonna be nuts!
KN: What are you looking forward to the most?
KG: Canada! We love Canada! And now we all have our passports so none of us have to wait in Seattle.
KN: How do you like life on the road?
KG: Road life is great. Driving is fun, making friends is fun. Truck stops, fun. Toll booths, fun. We usually try to bring a frisbee or something to keep us from getting too lethargic and bloated. That’s the bad part of sitting in a car for a long time; you get sleepy even though you're not doing anything.
KN: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
KG: Hmmm...The first time we played Canada we were 19 and of legal drinking age in Vancouver, and they gave us free drinks all night. Daniel from Nu Sensae said he had never seen people so drunk, but hey we were basically just excited children. Later that night our roadie Noonan sleep-peed in the tent he was sharing with members of Mika Miko. Also, we're friends with a family in Athens, Ohio, who has a large piece of property with pigs and goats and farm stuff. We always try to stay with them and shoot guns and play a show on their porch and run around the forest with their kids.
KN: How would you convince someone to come to a show that's never seen you before?
KG: Here’s the hard sell: "Listen bub, you're coming to this show. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. I know where you live. You're gonna be in the front row, cheering and singing along to every song. Memorize these lyrics. My brother will beat you up if you don't." Here’s the soft sell: "We're a fun band to watch. Our songs are great and some of us are handsome. Pretty please come to our show"
KN: Who are your musical heroes?
KG: Speaking for myself, I love Alex Chilton. He died when we were in SXSW and I still think about him a lot. I love his warped weirdo solo stuff and his pretty Big Star stuff and all his sad songs and all of his rocking songs. I especially love his guitar style. Rikk Agnew: big weirdo, awesome guitar style as well, made every project he was a part of ten times better. [Also], Todd Congelliere of Recess Records. He makes great music and is a great dude. He's done what he wants to do since forever, and that's pretty heroic.
KN: What are some albums that influenced you to make music?
KG: A Wizard, A True Star: Me and Matt used to ride our bikes to meet each other both listening to this CD on our Discmans. It’s beautiful and weird, and lots of the songs connect together like the second side of Abbey Road. You hear Todd Rundgren having fun being super creative and bringing all his wacky ideas to life.
It's Alive: I didn't really "get" The Ramones ‘til I heard this live album. Who doesn't want start a band after listening to The Ramones??
Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts: We loved their weird song structures and poppiness and sense of humor.
Pink Flag: Wire made us want to be super arty and totally appealed to our ideas about punk not being stupid but rather being freeing and all that stuff.
Born Innocent: This Redd Kross album was and is a big deal to us. It helped us to shed some of our high school Wire artsy wannabe British pretensions and realize that fun wild goofy music is fun to listen to. When Thomas joined the band we gave him a copy of this and The Replacements first record.
KN: You’re working on a new album. What can you tell me about it?
KG: It’s gonna be on Suicide Squeeze Records; we're going to record with Patrick Haight of Spot on Sound up North in June for a few weeks.
KN: Talk to me about the writing process.
KG: We've been writing this group of songs pretty much since the last album. Someone will come in with a guitar part or melody or something and we'll all jam it out bra until something cool comes of it. Kinda like the Grateful Dead must have done it. Usually lyrics come after; we still have some lyrics to write.
KN: How it will differ from your other albums?
KG: This album I'm guessing will end up sounding like a cross between our first and second albums; maybe some more punky aggressive stuff, and maybe some more experimental short fragmentary pieces. We're gonna try new stuff.
KN: Does it have a title?
KG: No title yet, lots of joke titles. Having a bunch of joke titles is part of our creative process I guess, until one day one of them becomes a non-joke.
KN: When can we expect to hear it?
KG: Next autumn.
KN: Burger Records has cited Audacity as a reason why the label exists. What’s your relationship with them?
KG: Burger are our bros. We love them and will always work with them. They took us on our first tour, put out our first 7-inch, co-released our LPs with Recess. Going into the Burger store is like walking into the Cheers bar, everyone shouts my name, i grab a beer, and antics ensue.
KN: What's next for Audacity?
KG: Practicing, touring, playing, recording, tweeting, releasing, networking, conquering? Then relaxing?
Photo by Abby Banks