If you still haven’t witnessed one of The Soft White Sixties‘ infectious live performances, it’s about time you came out from under that rock. Looking to add to their live show accolades, the San Francisco-based band have been hard at work perfecting their sound, appropriately dubbed “Working Class Soul” — a gritty edge to modern pop. With a debut LP under their belt, the band reflects on their inspirations and looks ahead at a new album release. Check out their debut LP Get Right below and get to know the guys in this exclusive interview:
Q: Where and when did you get started in music? And when did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
Joey: Right around my 16th birthday my first band Link 80 was signed to Asian Man Records. Soon after was my first national tour.
Ryan: My parents got me into music at an early age. They had a great record collection. My father was (and still is) in a band, so watching him play was a huge influence. The first band I was in was successful in a small, local scene in Modesto, CA. It was such a surprise and a rush to have unfamiliar people showing up to hear us play. I’m still pursuing that first buzz!
Octavio: I started playing guitar when I was 16…then played my first show when I was 18. I knew the first time I played in front of a crowd that I loved it. That was it.
Aaron: I grew up in a very musical household but I didn’t really develop my own obsession with playing it until senior year of high school. There were something like 400 fires throughout Northern California that summer so my neighborhood was constantly filled with smoke. Not the best skateboarding weather, but perfect stay-inside-and-play-guitar weather so that’s what I did all summer and got hooked.
Q: Who are some of your greatest musical influences?
Aaron: This can change every month. Right now I’d say the top 3 artists that make me want to pick up a guitar or sit down at a piano and play are Harry Nilsson, Jeff Lynne, and Queens of the Stone Age.
Joey: My first show was NOFX at 924 Gilman St. I was 12. That night I decided to play the drums and start a band.
Ryan: Michael Jackson, James Brown, Tom Petty, The Beatles, Black Sabbath. There are more but these 5 are up there. Everything else kind of branches out from there.
Octavio: CCR, Sam Cook, Otis redding, Al Greene, Bill Withers, Rolling stones.
Q: What is the best part about the Bay Area music scene?
Aaron: I think the number of venues we have here is something that gets taken for granted sometimes. After touring the country several times I realized we were really lucky to grow as a band in a city with so many different sized venues to play as we climbed the ladder. There’s a lot of places in the country that have either the small dive bar or the Enormo-dome and those are your only two options.
Joey: There are so many different types of music that come out of the Bay Area. You can find anything you’re into. It’s nice to live somewhere with such variety.
Ryan: The best part about the Bay Area music scene is the quality you see across the spectrum of “genre”. Some of my favorite local acts at the moment are Once & Future Band, High On Fire, Madeline Tasquin, K. Flay, and TuNeYarDs, to name a few. Those bands are all brilliant and couldn’t be more different!
Octavio: It’s a really diverse scene and there are a lot venues to play at every level. Its easy to get your first show and it has the best venues to have your last show.
Q: Can you elaborate more about your debut LP Get Right?
Joey: Get Right. is an album full of songs that show us as a band at the time we wrote them. As bands grow, their feelings and emotions change. I’m interested to see how the next albums change and evolve.
Ryan: GET RIGHT will turn out to represent a time in our lives. I love it for that reason, especially.
Aaron: At least half the songs on Get Right were ones we had been playing live for almost two years prior so in a lot of ways this album had a bit of a documentation angle. The last night we spent in the studio was my 25th birthday, which was also a pretty memorable cap to the whole experience.
Q: What was that like recording at Ninth Street Opus in Berkeley?
Aaron: It was a really comfortable place to work. A lot of nice, newer studios tend to have this really sterile vibe which I’m not really into, but Opus was able to be a top of the line studio without feeling like a museum.
Joey: It was great. An awesome studio to work in. And really close to happy donuts. So that’s cool.
Ryan: Ninth Street Opus is a gem of the Bay Area music studio scene. You feel like you are doing something meaningful just being there.
Octavio: It was like playing inside of a Martin Guitar. Sounds perfect….smells like old wood.
Q: Is it true that you make your own music videos?
Ryan: Yes, Aaron has had his hands on a lot of the video stuff. City Lights was a particularly fun one. We got to pummel each other. Finally!
Aaron: I studied film in college so the rest of the dudes are nice enough to let me use the band to work that muscle sometimes. Still every video has been a pretty collaborative process between the 4 of us and whoever else we’re working with.
Q: Will you be playing SXSW this year? What about other festivals?
Aaron: We’ve played SXSW the last 4 years in a row but will most likely be taking a break from it this year to work on our next record. We’ll definitely be playing other festivals throughout the year though. We love a festival.
Octavio: We love to be there in all the madness but its time to recharge.
Ryan: We love SXSW for sure! But we may bail on it this year in order to focus on the new record that’s in the works. I’m sure we will play a few others, though. Really looking forward to the Treefort Festival in Boise later this month. That town has always been a blast for us.
Q: What music is in the soundtrack of your life right now?
Aaron: I’ve been listening to Mini Mansions a lot lately. I also really like that new Marilyn Manson record.
Joey: I’m listening to a lot of Cage the Elephant right now.
Ryan: Soundtrack of my life is mostly proprietary stuff. Half-baked TSWS songs, riffs I write at home and songs by my friends are bouncing around my head a lot these days. I’ve been listening to the latest Angel Olsen record a ton. I think I’m in love with her. She loves me, too, she just doesn’t know it yet.
Octavio: James brown, Michael Jackson, Sly stone, Bill Withers.
Q: How do you find the inspiration for new music?
Aaron: Other music.
Joey: Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes for me its as easy as getting inspiration from the other guys in the band.
Ryan: To put it simply, inspiration comes from life. More specifically, it comes from heavy or meaningful experiences you’ve had, it comes from other people’s music that moves you, and it may just sort of pop into existence seemingly from nothing – as if from a sort of Higgs field of inspirational energy.
Octavio: It comes from everywhere…movies..albums..books, quotes.
Q: Are there any other creative projects on the horizon?
Aaron: Our next record is the primary focus right now. Once we get a few of those tracks in the can I’d imagine we’ll start working on the video accompaniments. Still chasing that goal of having a video for every song on an album. Maybe we’ll nail it with this next one…
Joey: I built a pinewood derby car today with my son. Soon we’re gonna make a marshmallow gun. A Createment!!!
Ryan: Personally, I like to tinker with songs, riffs and beats in Ableton at home. That’s kind of what I do instead of TV. Mostly that is for my own personal kicks. On the TSWS front, there is much to come. We are working on what we think is great stuff and we look forward to writing even more this year. And every year for that matter!
Octavio: Brand new album in the works.
Go behind the scenes of the making of their debut LP Get Right. in this video:
About the author: Elizabeth de Moya has been published in DJ Mag, LA Weekly and Thump. She has a BA in Linguistics from UC Berkeley. Check out her underground EDM e-Zine at www.blackbettyblog.com and follow on Twitter @blackbettyblog.