Southern California pop that makes Keanu Reeves green with envy

    Finding a band that’s influenced by the Beatles is about as difficult as finding a hipster who’s heard of Franz Ferdinand. Finding a band that makes the Beatles’ influence sound fresh, however, is another story. Irving is the needle in the haystack, offering sugary pop noise while managing to surprise you with song structure and melody. The quintet makes it possible to go from swirling feedback to a “ba ba ba” coda during a song called “The Curious Thing about Leather” without making you reach for the skip button.

    Their debut LP, 2002’s Good Morning Beautiful, was lo-fi goodness that smacked of the Beach Boys and gleefully lacked any pretense, making it equally suitable for long drives and wild parties. After a few short tours in support of their 2003 EP, I Hope You’re Feeling Better Now, the Los Angeles-based five-piece working on a sophomore album. Prefix‘s Mike Krolak sat down with the boys (keyboardist Aaron Burrows, guitarist Brian Canning, bassist Alex Church, guitarist Steven Scott and drummer Brent Turner) to talk about the past and the future, but ended up discussing coke binges, the Duke and Dokken tattoos instead.



    Prefix Magazine:
    Okay, let’s get started.

    Irving: Part 1:
    Aaron Burrows: Testing. Testing. One, two, three.

    I think we’re good.

    Irving: Part 1:
    AB: I’m just checking because we did an interview one time where we went through the whole thing and then she looked down and there was no tape moving at all. We had to redo the entire interview.

    Alex Church: And that was for Rolling Stone.

    AB: That’s true! And the last time we were in San Francisco, we did an interview in a noisy restaurant, and all that got picked up was the background noise, so we had to do that one again, too. So, Mike, we’re not going to redo this one; we’re only going to do this once.

    This thing always works. It’s a cheap piece of crap but it works better than any of the other recorders I’ve ever used. And I always come prepared with spare batteries.

    Irving: Part 1:
    AB: Look at that. Better than Rolling Stone.

    I first saw you guys when you opened for Enon in October 2003. What was it like playing with those guys?

    Irving: Part 1:
    AB: Enon was cool. We played seven or eight dates with them. It was good times.

    You recently played a date in Anacortes, Wash. That seems like an odd stop for a show. The town’s population is about 14,000.

    Irving: Part 1:
    AB: There’s a little venue there called the Department of Safety. It’s an old firehouse; it’s incredibly cool. They built a hostel, so when bands play there they can stay in the hostel. It’s run by a group of great kids.

    Steven Scott: It’s a nice change from smelly rock clubs.

    Brian Canning: We had Thursday off and we went to the San Juan Islands. It’s like a little vacation up there.

    Do you guys have other jobs on the side?

    Irving: Part 1:
    AB: Yeah, I’m a wax-museum smelter, so I make wax figures for wax museums. I’m working on John Wayne right now; it’s about half done. When we get back I get to finish John Wayne.

    [Everyone else in the band starts looking at each other confusedly. Church shakes his head.]

    Brent Turner: John Wayne kinda rules, too.

    AB: I’ve got his six-shooter done, that’s about it.

    Do you prefer playing festivals or clubs?

    Irving: Part 1:
    BT: Festivals are really, really fun, but show-wise, they’re not as fun. It’s kind of rush on, rush off. You tend to play shorter sets.

    AC: It seems like you get good crowds though.

    BT: A lot of our friends play festivals, so we get to see all of our friends’ bands.

    AB: By touring, we end up meeting a lot of cool bands. We’re also part of a collective called the Ship, so we have a lot of friends through that community, bands like Earlimart, Let’s Go Sailing, Pine Marten. So when we go to, say, SXSW, bands from our community will be there. And it’s cool because everyone’s in one place.

    How did the Ship come about?

    Irving: Part 1:
    BT: I heard someone describe it as a bunch of friends who hang out together, barbecue together, and happen to be in bands together.

    SS: Earlimart founded the Ship, but before the other bands formed, Earlimart and Irving fell in love, so to speak —

    AB: We dated for a while first.

    SS: Right, we dated, and then with the other bands, we had kids.

    AB: It’s very geographically based, because we play at the same venues, we all have rehearsal and recording studios within a couple blocks from each other, and we all live within the same community. So essentially, it’s just a few bands with really cool people who started recording and playing together, and now we support one another.

    AC: Los Angeles is such a big place, and we felt like we wanted to create a community of our own that felt comfortable, that felt like us. That was impetus for all this.

    BC: We got caught up in a bad crowd for a while. You know, like Brad Pitt —

    AB: The drugs, the coke, the gunfights …

    SS: Keanu Reeves’ band Dogstar …

    BC: They opened for us a few times.

    AB: Right. But we had to break away from that.

    BC: Keanu got jealous because we were all signing autographs.

    AB: We’re all better looking than him, too.