We The Beat presents:
Hanni El Khatib
The Buttertones, Clean Spill
Thu, February 23, 2017
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pmSOhO Restaurant and Music Club
This event is 18 and overhttp://www.sohosb.com/event/1405310/
El Khatib started Savage Times last December, after the Bataclan attacks forced the cancellation of a planned Paris performance. With unexpected time on his hands—and unexpected ideas on his mind—he'd scheduled open-ended studio time at Crystal Antlers frontman-turned-producer Jonny Bell's Jazzcats studio. Each day, he'd take the hour-long drive through L.A.'s industrial corridor to Long Beach, sketching out riffs and lyrics as he drove. (The Suicide-meets-Italo-disco burner "Born Brown" came suddenly while in traffic, and he started screaming the words as loud as he could so his voice would be the perfect amount of wrecked.)
If he felt like making an solo electric guitar song, he'd do it—like the one-take from-the-heart "Miracle." If he wanted to compose on piano for the first time ever, he would, and that's how he ended up with the shimmering soul-searching "Gun Clap Hero." And if he wanted to resurrect old-school studio pro techniques like charting music for a string section or hiring a trio of singers for backup vocals, he'd do that, too. For seven months and fifty songs, he'd work with Bell to capture, strengthen and grow that morning's burst of inspiration, celebrating at Long Beach's oldest bar—or with the studio's resident cats and chicken—once the fifteen-hour work day was done. For a grand finale, he wrote and cut the scorching "Mondo and His Make-Up," a nod to the supercharged guitar-garage he made his name on, and after some precise editing, the Savage Times experiment was done.
And the result? 21 best-of-the-sessions songs, destined for vinyl release as a 10" box set, as well as the kind of creative revelations that only happen when you quit looking around and start looking ahead. Originally, he'd hoped to explode the lingering idea that he was simply a blues-rock guitar player, left over from his first single and his work with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach: that's why Savage Timestouches everything from garage rock to punk to disco, hip-hop and even some unexpected solo-guitar self-portraiture. But on the way, he also exploded his own idea of what he could do—even maybe who he was, or would be. Savage Times was an experiment, but an experience, too.
"I realized that if I want, I can play everything," he says. "Or if I don't wanna play guitar or make a straight-forward rock song, I don't have to, and it'll still sound like me. It opened my eyes to how I can sound like myself over whatever backdrop I want. That's not important. What's holding it together is my point of view as a musician. What surprised me is how self-sufficient I can be. You realize you don't need all the things people tell you that you need to make great records. You need good gear and good people—that's it! And you don't need much more."
The Buttertones started their own journey in 2011 as three music school misfits (or drinking buddies, they say) in the heart of Hollywood, happy to learn how to to play, produce and perform but less excited about frequent go-nowhere conversations with classmates who had little interest in either the past or the future of music. So that's why bassist Sean Redman (also a former member of Cherry Glazerr) felt like he'd lucked out when he found guitarist/singer Richard Araiza and drummer/polyinstrumentalist Modesto 'Cobi' Cobiån: "Cobi and Richard were the first guys I met where I thought they knew what they were talking about," he says. "They had good influences—they weren't just trying to pander."
Their first rehearsals were in a Hollywood bedroom where Redman was living on an air mattress, then Araiza finally locked down Boettcher—who he'd often see responding to the same casting calls as he did—to replace another guitarist who was transitioning back to family life even as the Buttertones prepared their debut release, a self-titled cassette on L.A.'s garage-pop Lolipop label. Then they absorbed sax player London Guzmån (formerly in Long Beach's Wild Pack of Canaries with breakout local Rudy De Anda) after spotting him at a local DJ night, recruiting him for their sophomore album American Brunch—and discovering the kind chemistry they didn't know they were missing. Says Araiza: "We're proud to be a legit band. It's a very collaborative process—we rely on each other. I feel that's rare nowadays, especially with rock bands."
When it came time to make Gravedigging—the follow-up to a special issue 8" for Innovative, which ended up pulling them aboard the label full-time—they knew it was time to go deeper and get dirtier. Recorded at Jazzcats studio in Long Beach—home-away-from-home to fellow Innovative Leisure artists Hanni El Khatib, Tijuana Panthers, Wall of Death and more—in the spring of 2016, the sessions were supercharged with hard-won live experience from endless street-level shows and relentless midnight-to-six rehearsals at the Buttertones lock-out, then focused even further by the insight and vision of producer Jonny Bell. ("Jonny pushed us like crazy," says Boettcher. "He had so many ideas all he time.")
It kicks off with "Pistol Whip" and "Sadie's A Sadist," twin tales of love and crime that match outré Dangerhouse Records punk (the dirty surf of the Alleycats, the slash-and-burn sax of the Deadbeats) to an urgent rock 'n' roll rhythm section and lyrics about what happens when you get into something you can't get out of. "Neon Cowboy" is a weird-Western Wall of Voodoo take on that expansive Ennio Morricone soundtrack sound, then "I Ran Away" is heartbroken East Side Story sweet soul and "Geisha's Gaze" is a sleazy popcorn-style R&B slow burner. It's zig-zag through the wild parts of music—the kind of road trip that Iggy Pop was on in Repo Man or the kind where Lux Interior picked up Poison Ivy hitchhiking—and it ends with a climax and a cliffhanger both. That's the nervous-but-nasty title track "Gravediggin'," a pedal-to-the-metal instrumental that goes blasting over the edge of the world into a dazed slow-mo fade, with just enough time between freefall and impact for Araiza to sing, "I've been treading my way through another haze / Tossed my heart to the wind …" Think of it this way: you might not yet know how the band that made Gravediggin' is going to land—but you know it's going to hit hard.
Led by surf industry royalty, Pat Curren, on vocals (his father is three time world champion, Tom Curren), Geoff Shea on bass, Cameron Crabtree on guitar and Charlie Fawcett on drums, this low key quartet started playing their instruments when they were tiny groms in between catching waves. They eventually founded the band in 2013 and released their first EP, XO, in 2015. The band is currently in the studio recording their first full length album set to come out by 2017
SOhO Restaurant and Music Club
1221 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
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