Friday, August 18, 2006

Central Second Collective Inteview Pt 1: Death to Anders & The Transmissions

We’ve covered bands from Los Angeles’ The Ship Collective extensively on Radio Free Silver Lake in the past. It hasn’t been an intentional plan or effort. It’s just that there are a large number of excellent independent rock and pop acts within the East side cooperative.

But there’s another musical operation in town, one where the bands skew a bit more experimental in their sound. And that’s The Central Second Collective, which is made up of rock-versus-folk act Death to Anders!, punk outfit The Transmissions, power popsmiths The Happy Hollows, the shoe-gazy One Trick Pony, the self-described “ever-changing” Die Rockers Die!, and punk outfit Anchors for Architects.

We spoke with Rob Danson from Death to Anders! and Christian Biel from The Transmissions about how both the collective and their bands first came together.

How did The Central Second Collective start?

Christian (The Transmissions): We all sort of met each other through a venue in Little Tokyo called The Cocaine, which was founded by our good friend Johnnie Munger of Milk:Blood.

The first four bands of the collective -- The Transmissions, The Happy Hollows, Death to Anders!, One Trick Pony -- kept showing up at each others shows. We started hanging out more and just thought, maybe we could name our group of friends and kind of spread the word about these amazing bands we’re discovering.

Rob (Death to Anders!): All of us got along so well, that we began booking entire nights together. We played mostly at The Cocaine, but we also put on great shows at The Silver Lake Lounge and The Good Hurt.

After [awhile], we began to realize that not only did we share the same fans, but many bands were wanting to be a part of the group we subconsciously put together. I called up Sarah from The Happy Hollows and we decided that we should just make our group an official collective. After a couple of meetings, we decided to name our collective Central Second, because The Cocaine (the venue that brought all of us together) is located on the corner of Central and 2nd Ave. in downtown LA. Since then, two other bands have joined the collective: Die! Rockers Die! and Anchors for Architects.

One of the reasons we made this collective is for the fans. The biggest thing that’s hurting the Los Angeles music scene is the complete lack of community. Bands at the local level book shows without knowing (or caring) about any of the other bands on the bill. The result is that their fans arrive to the show right before that band goes on, and leaves right after, without hearing the other music. I started the Central Second to fix all of this.

Instead of putting on fragmented 45 minute sets comprised of random acts and genres, we strive to put on an entire night of music that we think everyone that comes will enjoy. For any specific Central Second show we put on, we choose the lineup in such a way that if someone likes one of the bands on the bill, he or she will more than likely enjoy all [of them]. The result is that the fans end up arriving at the very beginning and leaving at the very end of the night.

The Central Second Collective was also created to help out the bands involved. For example, it’s much more efficient to have all the bands pull their funds and time together in order to promote for the shows that they’re all playing at. In LA, most bands never even think to contact the other bands on the bill to try and promote together. I believe that by not doing that, their promotional efforts become more expensive and more time consuming. It’s much easier to promote as a team because we are already friends and we also have each other’s contact information.

What ties all the bands together?

Rob (Death to Anders!): The Cocaine (at Live Jazz) ties all of these bands together. Not only is that where most of us met, but its also a great place where all of us can feel at home. Our music is really welcome there and the people that come to see the music are really supportive. The bartenders and sushi chefs are the nicest people ever!

Besides The Cocaine, our mutual inspiration for each of the collective bands ties all of us together as well. We all look up to one another and really support every band. In this case, we can be seen as a team, helping each and every band to be stronger. If a certain band in the collective achieves a successful goal (i.e. radio play, a larger fan base, a great spot at a new venue, etc.), they will inform the other bands on what they did so that everyone can grow together.

Christian from The Transmissions: in ways, I feel like the collective is a macrocosm of how all of our bands function. Each of us are made up of members with a wide range of influences, yet with some key similar influences. The similar influences are just enough to tie it all together with cohesion, yet the disparate influences make for something volatile and new. I feel that's what ties all the bands together.

We're all very different in many ways, but you can absolutely hear a bit of each band in the next one. I even think we are all starting to inspire each other to write new songs that have a flavor of one of the other collective bands. That's very exciting to me that that is happening.

How did Death to Anders and The Transmissions first begin?

Rob (Death to Anders!): Nick and I started the band about 2 years ago. We were both involved in the Recording Artist Program at the Musician’s Institute and our total estrangement from the death metal rockers and MTV wanna-be posers (which unfortunately makes up the majority of the students) brought us together.

Right off the bat, we had this bitter/sweet relationship. Nick was way into indie/folk bands such as Nick Drake, Elliott Smith, and The Decemberists, while I was into more abrasive noisy music such as Pavement, Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.

The polar opposite sounds actually complimented each other quite nicely when we got together to write.

Christian (The Transmissions): Denise and I met each other at a show and started playing together with a friend at his house just for fun. After a few months of goofing around I started writing songs for a band and then we went through a handful of bass players, none of whom seemed appropriate for the type of music Denise and I were drifting towards. Then we met Josh online and it just seemed to click.

The composition also shifted away from being centered around me and very much became a group collaboration. We truly are a weird hybrid monster of influences. We all have occasional cross-over favorites like Talking Heads or Stereolab, but each of us are really into particular artists that the others know nothing about or just don't care for much.

I think it makes for a unique sound in ways, because as much as any of us may be inspired by our influences. The sum of the three of us together makes for something a little different.

What’s next for you?

Rob (Death to Anders!): We all feel like we’re on a roll right now and we just want to keep up our momentum. We’ve been playing some really great shows at The Silver Lake Lounge and at The Cocaine. We would like to expand these shows to The Echo and Spaceland in the future. We’re currently focusing on getting reviews for our full-length album Punctuate the Calamities and putting some of those songs on the radio.

We’re also in the studio recording seven new songs. We’ll post them on our Myspace page once they’re done. These new songs can possibly lead to an EP or even another full-length album.

Christian (The Transmissions): we all are making a best effort to not let the collective become anything that’s elitist or more important than our individual friendships. So in that sense, we’re all just moving forward with booking our own shows and handling the business side of making music in our own individual ways.

As for The Transmissions, we are looking forward to recording a second album soon, and heading back out on the road. Hopefully we can make it to NY soon, since we haven't made it that far east yet.

That's it for the first part of our Central Second Collective interview. We'll publish the second part -- which focuses on acts The Happy Hollows, Die Rockers Die!, and One Trick Pony-- next Friday.

All the members of the Central Second Collective will play together on Thursday, September 7th at The Echo.

Death to Anders! also will appear on at The Cocaine on August 20th and at Mr. T’s Bowl on August 28, while The Transmissions will play August 19 at The Airliner, August 21 at Mr. T’s Bowl, and September 17th at Little Pedros.


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