Friday, June 30, 2006

My Breakfast With Eagle & Talon

It’s the perfect sunny day on the morning I drive to a café at the base of the Hollywood Hills to meet with Kim and Alice from Eagle & Talon. I’ve just spent a week on the east coast – from Philly to Jersey, then NYC to DC, a rush of towns like a music tour sans music – and have returned home to the sort of weather that makes you realize why you live in California in the first place.

Soon, while finding a spot to read on a park bench waiting for the two members of the experimental pop (or as they call it “leotard rock”) act to show, I inadvertently sit in a near invisible puddle of rainwater. My jeans have a soggy bottom as I catch up on the latest buzz about 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

When the two arrive and apologize for running late, I tell them that it’s good because it’s given me a chance for me to dry out. We manage to get a table without further incident and I set up my ancient mini-cassette recorder after ordering enough coffee to make my ears vibrate, then we start talking.

One of the first things that you notice about Kim (words/guitar/bass) and Alice (drums/casio/back-up vocals) is that they’re really easy to be around… after about five minutes into a conversation with them, it feels like you’ve known them for much longer … and when the waitress eventually returns, we’ve realize that we’ve been gabbing away without even thinking about ordering and guiltily apologize.

As soon as she’s away, the talking starts again, almost conspiratorially, though now at least tangentially about food. (“I used to be into it …” Alice says about cottage cheese, “and then it went away. You know … the love.”)

Once the order is finally out of the way, our discussion turns to the band, though we digress often, with huge ten- to fifteen-minute bits about anything and everything.

I ask them how long they’ve known each other, because I notice that they’re almost completing each other’s sentences, and they laugh.

Kim: “That’s what every single person says.”

Alice: “Also, when we walk, she has to be on the… what?”

Kim: “Left side.”

Alice: “So towards the street…”

Kim: “It depends what side of the street you’re on.” (She laughs.)

Alice: “So, how long… Since 2003, right?”

Kim: “That’s when we met.”

Around that time, Alice had recently arrived back in the states from teaching English in Taiwan and Kim came from New York, where she’d been doing musical theatre.

Kim: “Isn’t this the first time you’ve ever seen me order French Toast?”

Alice: “That looks really delicious…”

Kim: “Yeah, it does look good.”

Alice: “It’s not like French Toast sticks.”

On her return, Alice joined her sister Alanna's band Fascinoma. When her role in the act seemed tenuous at one point, she looked for a second band to work with and answered a Craig’s List ad for an act looking for a drummer. And when that band eventually dissolved, Alice and Kim continued working together and about six months later began playing out under the name Eagle & Talon.

Flash-forward to present day, they’ve since self-released an EP and completed a tour around the country opening up sold-out shows for the Australia singer, Sia.

Kim: “We were really lucky. It was the best first tour experience you could have. So many of our friends have talked about going on these tours where they were playing to ten people in a bar who really weren’t listening.”

Alice: “There were just a few that weren’t sold-out. And even when they weren’t, it was still like four hundred, five hundred people…”

Now back in town though, Eagle & Talon’s days as a strict duo-act may soon be at the end, as they’re auditioning for a “bass and/or second guitar player.”

Alice: “Yeah, duos… There are a lot of duos. Maybe it’s hard to find a third band member.”

Kim: “We don’t want to be a duo.”

Alice: “And it’s like the longer we do it, the more people are into us being a duo.”

Kim: “We want a bass player. We’ve met a lot of bass players. A lot.”

Alice: “We’ll give up for long periods of time…”

Kim: “… And then we’ll meet with seven.”

We then end up talking about skull rings for roughly ten-minutes or more. I’ve just gotten a new one in Philly to replace the spiked monstrosity I’d had for years then lost, and I’ve all but convinced Kim to pick one up herself. Because it’s VERY METAL. But, Alice? Not so much. Handing mine back, she says, “Yeah, this is the first and last one I need to try.”

Then, I remember that we’re there to talk music and ask about their influences.

Kim: “The bands that I like aren't necessarily bands that I'm influenced by… I listen to a lot of music that is outside of our genre, so it's difficult to draw parallels. Like, I really love the musical, Sweet Charity. I definitely grew up listening to a lot of girl bands or girl-fronted bands, like Helium, Jale, Kim Deal stuff, Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth... I can go on forever about bands or artists that I love, but it doesn’t seem relevant to me in regards to song writing. Or maybe I don't notice it seeping in… I don't know, I don't think so.”

Alice: “I was friends with a lot of jazzheads in Cleveland and basically the only live gigs I ever went to were theirs or ones they invited me to. So, even though what I do is basically considered rock, I think a lot of my musical sensibilities were influenced by watching a bunch of jazz guys on kit. But bands I’ve loved? Radiohead … Who hasn't? Neutral Milk Hotel, Depeche Mode, Cat Power, Jeff Buckley, Sinead O'Connor, Cat Stevens, The Pixies. I like oldies and for a little while I was really into electronica like Squarepusher, Autechre, and Aphex Twin.”

I ask them what’s next and they talk about how they’d like to tour again and plan to do a full-length.

Kim: “We have a lot of songs. We have too many songs for an album. We write pretty often.”

Alice: “We're for sure recording a full-length this year. Possibly in Montreal, maybe in LA. It's still in the works, but we're definitely doing it. And we're in the middle of recording our first video for the song Dropped Down. So far it's involved getting covered in baby powder, dirty bath water, and white tissue paper… What's wrong with us?”

We start to discuss other current LA bands (like Cold War Kids, The Happy Hollows, and Ninja Academy, to name a few) and how SPIN recently called Silver Lake “the most vibrant music scene in the country.” It’s nice to see that people are noticing, I say.

And then, like throughout most of the discussion, we go off on another tangent for ten-minutes. This time, about tattoos.

Eventually, the check comes and we head out, all hugs and high-fives. It's still sunny out, still that beautiful Californian day, and we talk about upcoming shows all the way to our cars.

Eagle & Talon are playing on Thursday, July 6th at the Unknown Theater in Hollywood, on Thursday, July 20th at The Prospector in Long Beach, and on Friday, July 28th at the Il Corral.

Photo by George Tapia, who can be reached at


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