Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SD Mini Tour Blog 4

Day 5: Chords, Strings, We Brings... Melodies—Until We Don’t.

Seattle to Chico—that’s a long drive by anyone’s standards. So once again we were up early, cloudy eyed and dry mouthed and greeted with some major attitude by the hotel receptionist. She’s been surly to me the other afternoon, but I was chalking that up to her having a bad day. Yet when she gave me lip when I asked her where the water was, I started to think that maybe she was just an awful person. But then Dan had a very pleasant interaction with her, which lead me to the only logical conclusion: she hates me for no other reason than perhaps my face or my smell, some deep and primal reaction of her chemistry causing her to revolt in utter annilhilation of my very being. Or as Dan pointed out, maybe she was an awful person but she had a chemical reaction with Dan’s face and smell that tamed the beast. Either way, that’s some heavy shit for seven in the morning.

We stopped in Portland on the way through Oregon to pick up Todd, who had kept Neil company on his drive back from Seattle the previous evening. It was comforting to get one last good look at Portland, her streets and bridges once drenched in sunshine now shrouded charcoal skies, and as we climbed into the mountains South of the city, the atmosphere swallowed the roadway and we were transported to a mystical hill country where mists glower likes ghosts in and out of the wooded glens and towns appear and disappear from view like mountain mirages.

Once we arrived in California, the sun broke through the cloud cover and it went from being pleasantly cool to downright hot in a matter of miles. We took a pit stop in the lovely town of Yreka. Here’s somethings we realized about Yreka:

1. Heather was dressed very fashionably for the town in her sweat pants, t shirt, and sandals—we saw a number of women dressed this way out and about.

2. Dan was able to become an honorary HR consultant at the local McDonalds by taking an interest in an application handed in to the ‘”fry manager” who then commented, “she’s cute, we should hire her.” Dan went on to discuss the merits of the applicants’ job skills and concluded she would make a solid hire, in fact he would even recommend that they hire her. They seemed convinced.

3. The old town included an H and R Block in it’s original 1984 building, recently renovated.

4. Dudes do meth here. And cruise around toothless and bare chested.

Todd took over the driving duties and we sailed through the mountains of Mount Shasta and down into the high planes of Redding and into the heart of agriculture surrounding the Chico area, little towns named Dairyville and tiny general stores and nicknamed bars spotting the 99 byway.

The Chico Courtyard Marriott was quite lovely and staffed with a couple of guys who were overly eager to tell us what bars to go drink at and how we could buy beer from them 24 hours a day. We unpacked, iced a couple of left over beers and watched bad television for an hour or so before heading to the club. We were met at Normal St Bar by Paul Harper of Soft Crest, who gave us the skinny on band order and drinks for the evening. I got to sit and enjoy free ice cold Coors Light while watching Hiroki Kuroda lose his no-hitter bid in the 8th evening to arch-nemesis Shane Victorino (fuck Victorino!) and await our turn to play.

Soft Crest performed a loud and energetic set of wave-gaze inspired tunes to a mostly college-aged crowd. They were gracious enough to lend us a bass amp for our set so we took the slot immediately following them. We set up our shit, plugged in, and let it rip, opening with a bone crushing version of “Son.” No sooner had we hit the second verse, then Chico’s finest came rolling through shutting down the show due to a noise complaint. We were obviously in shock at first—if you can’t play loud music in a bar in a college town, where can you?—but the news was true. The bar was cited and the show was shut down.

I freely admit it to being a demoralizing feeling to have driven 750 miles on 4 hours of sleep, set up all your gear, and then get shut down before we can even finish one song. That totally sucks. But it also tests what you’re made of—after such an experience, can you bounce back? The answer for us is a resounding YES. We stuck around drinking with the Soft Crest kids and turned the evening into a huge party.

I thought upon leaving the bar for the hotel that our night was over, but I was wrong; the fun was just beginning. Dan had smuggled out his cocktail still slushing around in its plastic cocktail tumbler and was in the mood to listen to some jams. Our sober driver, Todd, happily obliged, so we cruised in circles around the neighborhood of the hotel listening to Nate Dogg and Warren G and Ice Cube and a host of other 90s gansta rap classics, laughing and singing along. We brought the party back to the hotel, and to avoid incrimination, I am going to have to say the details of this story must be relayed in person as to avoid possible prosecution, but needless to say, we ended the night in true high school fashion.

This morning was rough, two days, two hangovers. As I write this the relentless central valley sun is beating down on me and the landscape surrounding me looks as if it has just plain given up. Yet I am filled with hope for the future and the confidence that we can do this and do this well.

Writing from the road,

Ben, Chain Letter Author, and one small part of what makes Summer Darling the best band in the world to be in!

SD Mini Tour Blog 3

Day 4: We Are Band Name From Location

We had a small caravan headed up to Seattle, so we said our goodbyes to our Portland friends and family and went north, crossing the Columbia river via a bohemoth steel drawbridge, and winding our way through swales strewn with evergreens and switchback streams with Indian names. Our car stopped by the hotel to unload some gear while the other car took first time Seattle goers to Pike Place for some delicious mac and cheese.

We confirmed an in-store rather last minute at Sonic Boom Records’ Ballard location, so we had to track down a bass amp for the show. Luckily our friends in By Sunlight had already arrived home from their leg of the tour the previous night, so we were able to cruise by their house. With Scott from Manuok and Robert from By Sunlight in toe, we made the scene at Sonic Boom.

In contrast to previous in store performances, the Ballard location of Sonic Boom was staffed by kind, gracious people who were genuinely happy to have us. Even the owner, Jason, hung out and ran sound for us! We played on a butterfly stage that transformed back into a wall between sections when we were through. We played a quieter set, opening with a blessed out lounge version of “Son” and followed with alternate versions of a number of our jams.

The afternoon hours we spent at King’s Hardware drinking happy hour beer and eating fancy hamburgers. The group once again split up, with Heather and I taking the van back to the By Sunlight house. Their house was another three story Craftsman affair, with a rehearsal space in the basement and an large open back yard with a work shed. One by one the members of By Sunlight rolled in to meet up with Heather, Robert, Scott, John and I. We drank cold Rainers and sipped Ten High whiskey from a plastic jug. Mike and John rifled through some records and played some classics like ELO and Hiroshima at alternate speeds—the 45s at 33 and the 33s at 45.

We commented on how necessary it is to hang with other people in bands from other cities. It reminds us that while we may be crazy, we are not alone. I spent a drunk’s minute contemplating this pacifying effect. While it shouldn’t matter whether anyone else can relate, somehow it does make me feel better to know that the By Sunlight kids are doing what they do all the way in Seattle and Scott does what he does down in San Diego. Ultimately the pre-party felt like a solidification of a friendship that’s been three years in the making.

The show at Sunset Tavern was the most fun of the tour. Perhaps we played better in Portland, but we definitely connected more with the crowd in Seattle. Manuok and By Sunlight followed with appropriately spirited sets—we were all a bit soused by this point—and the mood was celebratory and festive. We left for our hotel with our hearts and heads drunk on new lasting friendships and the feeling we’ll be back to conquer Seattle in the near future.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SD Mini Tour Blog 2

Day Two and Three

The City That Works

Portland works. It was tough to leave this morning, I won’t lie. We cruised into Portland early Friday evening, cresting the bluff that overlooks the Willamette and down over the Ross Island Bridge into Southeast Portland. We had many faces to see, a BBQ to attend to, and a girlfriend to pick up at the Ace Hotel. Our friend Jeremy had offered up his house for us to stay at so we made our first stop there. He lives in a blue cottage off 39th with a large kitchen and cozy basement where we set up camp.

We spent our evening with old Portland friends drinking beer, eating carne asada tacos, and playing a dice game called “Farkel.” For the life of me I can’t remember the rules to this game, other than it was highly amusing to play after a few cold ones. The house that hosted this party was an old 1906 Craftsman, with vaulted roofs and a dungeon basement, filled with a century of memories, warm, welcoming.

Saturday we spent a glorious day of brilliant sunshine and soft breezes cruising around PDX consigning records and bar hopping. We started at Music Millennium then went to Hawthorne Street and hit Jackpot and Exiled Records. We had a microbrew at the Bagdad, a refurbished old theatre. From there we hit Green Noise records and then the downtown location of Jackpot, at which I found a record I’d been hunting for five years. We ended our tour at Mississippi Studios and Prost, a German biergarten in the heart of the historical Mississippi district.

When the weather is pleasant, Portland is about as idyllic a town as one is ever to find. People are out and about, shopping, dining, drinking. Bikes fly by, dogs and strollers connected to weird hybrids of yuppie-hippies populate the streets. Water fountains by the clover bubble the cleanest, freshest water in the world. The steel drawbridges gleam in the soft afternoon glaze and crisscross the blue green river water as joggers follow the trails that grace its banks. Everyone seems happy, even the homeless punks holding signs like “Your Add Here/Hobosigns.com” or “Will Rap 4 food.”

Our show was at a downtown club called the Knife Shop that sits adjacent to a revamped Biker bar called Kelly’s Olympian. The clientele of the bar is akin to a fraternity rush meeting, which at first is a bit unsettling, but then our crew starts to roll in and we overtake the scene with flannel, tattoos, beards, and long feathered asymmetrical haircuts. We played rather late, but people stuck around and we blazed through an electrifying set of jams from the album.

We capped the night with a visit to Portland’s famous Cartopia. Cartopia is a parking lot occupied by a half a dozen of the best food trucks one is ever to find arranged in a circle. Inside the circle are picnic benches strewn about for the Cartopia-goer to sit and enjoy their late night bounty. Between the four of us we had two fried pies, one savory one sweet, French fries with cheese curd and vegan chili sauce, and a fresh mint and Oreo milk shake. So, so delicious—and open until three in the morning to accommodate late night shenanigans.

A gang of is went back to Jeremy’s and drank Coors light and whiskey into the wee hours of the morning in an effort to pretend that perfect days don’t have to end, that if you just stay up it can go on forever.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

SD Mini Tour Blog

Day One: City Of Trees

As we cross the placid waters of the American river on our way out of Sacramento, the self-proclaimed City of Trees, it dawns on us. Sacramento is the “city of trees” not because of the sheer amount of trees in the city, but because of the severe scarcity of trees once you leave the city limits. It’s a barren wasteland north of the capitol, filled with dusty fields and beige strip malls, the occasional pea green agricultural swath.

Our first day of tour felt pretty seven-and-a-half. Everything was okay, not bad, not great, just okay. Todd took the morning driving shift getting us to Kettleman City and I drove us to Sacramento. The afternoon drive shift is always the most difficult for me, eyelids sagging in the brilliant sunglare of the California summer, bandmates napping or listening to iPods, nothing but the straightness of the road and the slaughterhouse smell.

We stayed at a Fairfield Inn just east of downtown Sacramento by the Exposition Center. After check in Dan, Heather and I went on an adventure to wrangle some dinner and a happy hour beer. Our first stop was Kico’s Mexican Cantina. The place had all the promise in the world, from its brick fa├žade and failing neon Corona sign, to it’s shantytown charmed clientele. Upon sitting down, receiving chips and what seemed to be water and tomatoes blended together, and looking at the menu, with it’s 14 dollar entrees and 8 dollar margaritas, we knew we were in the wrong place for us. With time running out on happy hour we bee-lined it for the Chilis across the street. We’re not proud of it, but at least we got a cold cheap beer and some buffalo wings before having to rush back and grab Todd to head over to the club.

Old Ironsides has a nice corner bar feel to it, with a colorful neon sign jutting into the intersection of 10th and S. The bar itself was old wood and red stools, with a couple of booths and an adjacent live room with a small semi circle stage and another bright green neon sign reading “Old Ironsides” behind it. Larry, the sound guy, had some pretty quotable moments throughout sound check. To wit: “As a black man, I like a big bottom as much as the next guy, but that bass is just too loud” and “Don’t try to fill the room with sound, that’s my job.” He was also very concerned with the possibility of “plain-clothes fire marshals” entering the bar and seeing a guitar case accidently strewn dangerously near the emergency exit—“I don’t know what they look like, no one does, and trust me, we don’t want that kind of trouble.” He also applied a stadium echo to my vocals that nearly caused the entire band to burst into laughter during the vocal break of our opening song. I sound like I’m harping on the guy, but Larry was actually really kind and definitely cared about what he was doing, which is more than I can say for 90 percent of sound guys we’ve come across.

Our set was a good, solid seven and a half, nothing too flashy. I discovered after the show that the kick drum pedal Todd had borrowed from John, By Sunlight’s drummer, had broken during our second jam, and being so concerned by this development Todd didn’t notice the replacement that John had left next to the drum monitor. To play with broken equipment is tough on the concentration, so it was an understandably difficult set for Todd. Being the pro that he is though, I didn’t notice that he was playing a man down.

We played with our friends in Manuok and By Sunlight, which are essentially the same band with re-arranged line ups for each. By Sunlight we’ve known for some time now. They are a band from Seattle who regularly tours down the coast to Los Angeles. Their music is bright, chimey, mathy, and morose, a sort of Minus the Bear hybrid with better songs. They are about the tightest band I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

Manuok is Scott with By Sunlight backing him up. His set is filled with solid songs that mix sadness with humor and tons of dynamic shifts that keep the listener excited. As I write this we are listening to Manuok’s new record The Old Horse, as we twist and curl into the mountains above Redding, the stark desolate landscape falling away into the lake and mountain country that this state shares with the next.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Darling August Mini Tour

Hey all, come say hi while we're on the road this week!

Thursday, Aug 26th @ Old Ironsides Sacramento, CA w/ By Sunlight + Manuok

Saturday Aug 28th @ the Knife Shop Portland, OR w/ Pine Language

Sunday Aug 29th @ Sonic Boom Ballard Location Seattle, WA 3pm

Sunday Aug 29th @ Sunset Tavern Seattle, WA 9pm w/ By Sunlight + Manuok

Monday Aug 30th @ Normal Bar Chico, CA w/ Soft Crest and Master Lady

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taste of Sound Interview

Todd sat down with Caroline from Taste of Sound and talked with her about his two favorite things: rock and roll and food. We've reprinted it here, but feel free to check out the site and read about other great foodie bands like Xiu Xiu and Midlake! When we did we found it quite fascinating!

Band Name: summer darling

Hometown: los angeles, california

Hometown favorite food: coconut sugar cookies

Tour favorite food: homemade granola

What's the first food you eat when you get home from tour? lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, specifically apples and carrots

What food is on your backstage rider? Or what food do you wish was on your backstage rider? i wish that ice cream sandwiches, flake chocolate bars, fresh, ripe tomatoes and my girlfriend's homemade bagels were on the backstage rider.

What's the weirdest thing you have eaten on tour? fast food...

What's the best food city and why? portland, oregon. the food trucks and carts are brilliant, convenient and delicious.

Regular or Diet? regular!

Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Raw? vegetarian.

What's for breakfast? yogurt and fresh fruit. sometimes homemade granola, too.

Spicy or Mild? spicy, please.

What's on your bar tab? beer, whiskey and coffee.

Do you see the dessert menu? um... always!

Best fast food? in and out burger

Favorite cocktail? whiskey on the rocks for some, the blackest of black coffee for others.

Do you grow your own food? no, but it is definitely in the foreseeable future.

Are you adventurous or stick to trusted favorites? adventurous!

Coffee? How do you take it? yes, please-all the time! the blackest of black for some, vanilla lattes with whipped cream for others, and laced with liquor for some other others.
Do you like to cook? very much.

Favorite recipe? currently we are super excited about sweet potato pancakes. super excited.

Favorite condiment? salt.
Favorite midnight snack? chocolate.
Do you eat for pure taste or nutritional value? both.
What do you eat before you hit the stage? cookies followed by chewing gum.

If your sound had a taste, what would it taste like? almond sandwich cookies with chocolate filling; a bit sweet and a bit salty.

Do any of your songs conjure thoughts of food? If so, which ones? and what would it taste like? "this would be the time" is reminiscent of macaroni and cheese (the blue box). it's so effortless and so comforting; it seems so new and exciting each time it's played, and yet it's still soooo familiar. and just plain fun to play.

Anything else you want to add? thanks!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The One Who Loves You Video

This is the video of a live acoustic performance of our song "The One Who Loves You" directed by Jack Schlinkert with camera by Max Sweeney for Happy Independent Thoughts as part of an ongoing series for Origami Vinyl.

Summer Darling - The One Who Loves You from plastic pearl on Vimeo.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aquarium Drunkard Premiers Summer Darling Live Video

Aquarium Drunkard is kindly premiering a live performance video of "The One Who Loves You" we did with Jack and Max from Happy Independent Thoughts. Jack and Max came out to our Spaceland residency and kidnapped us after soundcheck. We walked deep into the Silver Lake hills and found a quintessential Los Angeles neighborhood landscape: succulents behind, power lines and palm trees above, houses topped with satellite dishes and flood lamps, and us, drinking Coors Light out of a paper bag and playin' some acoustic rock and roll. Thanks to these nice lads for lending us an extra acoustic guitar and filming a classic piece of Summer Darling. Check it out here or click on the link above!

3 Shows This Week

Busy weekend for Summer Darling!

This Friday August 20th Aquarium Drunkard presents Summer Darling at the Grandstar Ballroom in Chinatown 9pm

This Sunday August 22nd Spaceland Presents Summer Darling in the Malo Parking Lot for the Spaceland Sunset Junction Party 3pm

Then later that same day, Sunday Aug 22nd Summer Darling joins By Sunlight + Two Guns + Manuok at Alex's Bar in Long Beach for a free show! 7pm

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Photos From Spaceland 7.26.10

Here are some more photos in case you missed our last Los Angeles show. A million thank yous go out to Mario de Lopez for snapping some amazing shots that really tell what it was like to be there!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Official Summer Darling Playlist of the drive to Santa Cruz

Some songs we felt proud for loving, some songs we felt guilty for loving. But this is the soundtrack that took us from LA to Santa Cruz. Enjoy!

1. AUTOLUX - census
2. KISSING COUSINS - you bring me down
3. EMINEM - lose yourself
4. ARCADE FIRE - we used to wait
5. COLD WAR KIDS - audience
6. BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE - sweetest kill
7. SPACEHOG - in the meantime
8. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE my mirror speaks
9. ICE CUBE - it was a good day
10. JUSTICE - genesis

11. HARD-FI - hard to beat
12. MENOMENA - queen black acid
13. JACK BLACK - let's get it on
14. JAY-Z - empire state of mind
15. JIMMY EAT WORLD - the middle
16. HALL & OATES - you make my dreams
17. THE KILLERS - mr. brightside
18. M.I.A. - paper planes
19. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN - for the price of a cup of tea
20. THE CLASH - train in vain (stand by me)

21. COUNTING CROWS - a long december
22. ALOHA - ruins
23. WARREN G (FEAT. NATE DOGG) - regulate
24. FOALS - this orient
25. BECK (W/ FEIST) - never tear us apart
26. COLDPLAY - viva la vida
27. PINBACK - prog
28. SUBTLE - f.k.o.
29. MY MORNING JACKET - off the record
30. LUPE FIASCO - no place to go

31. ROGUE WAVE - catform
32. ELLIOTT SMITH - l.a.
33. SONIC YOUTH - unmade bed
34. MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT - avalon blues
35. FRIGHTENED RABBIT - backwards walk
36. LOCAL NATIVES - who knows who cares
37. GRATEFUL DEAD - casey jones
38. IRON & WINE - boy with a coin
39. JASON DERULO - watcha say
40. NICO STAI - 12 thousand years

41. JAY-Z - lucifer
42. JEFF BUCKLEY - last goodbye
43. KANYE WEST - love lockdown
44. TOM WAITS - cold water
45. ELVIS PRESLEY - suspicious minds
46. ELVIS PRESLEY - kentucky rain
47. JEFFERSON STREET - lakes and barrels

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Darling Bay Area Weekend

We're playing three shows this weekend in the Bay Area!

Saturday, Aug 7th @ the Crepe Place, Santa Cruz CA 9pm

Sunday Aug 8th @ Streetlight Records, San Jose CA 3pm

Sunday Aug 8th @ Texas Toast House, San Jose CA 6pm

Come hang out with us!