Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mini-Interview: Signal Hill

Take warning: Local shoegaze all-stars Signal Hill are having a cd release event for their recent EP at Pehrspace with Timonium and Idyllists this Saturday.

We haven't covered the band and their haunty/pretty music quite nearly enough, so thought we'd ask them a volley of questions about what they do (so well) and why.

Hey, guys. How are things? How's your day been today?

Dave: Doing great, Joe. Thanks for asking! Hope things are well with you also.

So, how did Signal Hill come together? How did you meet and begin playing?

Dave: Brian posted a listing on Craigslist, which I replied to. He knew Rishi (guitar) from playing together before, and I knew Tim (drummer). We all got together and started playing and writing. We were all on the same page musically, and meshed really well personally.

The important thing to us is that we are all actually friends and hang out (playing Tecmo Bowl, going out, watching The Office, movie night Sundays etc) besides doing the Signal Hill thing.

What bands inspired you guys?

Dave: The Mercury Program, Tristeza, Brian Eno, Mineral, Christie Front Drive, Ida, Slowdive, MBV, and tons of others….

Rishi: Death Cab, Pinback, Tristeza, American Football, The Beatles...

Tim: Everything from American composers like Aaron Copland, to fusion bands ala Chick Corea, to more recent bands like The Bad Plus, Cinematic Orchestra and The Mercury Progam from a drummer's perspective.

Brian: American Football, Six Parts Seven, Pele and Ghost and Vodka for me, at least for a lot of the jazzy riffs on the bass. However for a lot of the climactic driving parts, I would definitely say Mogwai and all those great hardcore bands I use to jam back in the day.

What are you shooting for with your music? (This sort of question always sounds dumb, but you know what I mean.)

Dave: Honestly, we don’t really shoot for anything specific. Our writing process usually works with someone coming with a riff, and everyone starts playing and seeing how it feels.

If everyone backs the melodies and overall vibe, we will keep with it. At the same time, if anyone is not pleased, we tend to move on.

Tim: To have a reason to drink whiskey while on a stage with instruments in our hands.

Congratulations on the release of your EP. What was the recording process like?

Dave: Thank you! Well we initially started in a studio (which coincidently was in Signal Hill!) to record drums only. We also recorded some raw tracks of bass, and guitars.

From there we had our friend Jeff Lewis come re-record guitars at our rehearsal space (Tim and Brian’s house) and spent more time doing overdubs, keyboards, mixing on our own.

It was a good process. Its nice when you have the time to make the songs sound how you want them without having to spend a great deal of money in the studio! However it tends to take longer cause its easy to procrastinate.

Tim: It was like a mini-vacation down in the town which is our namesake, ironically, whoda known? Much like any vacation you may have taken, complete with piano tuning oscillators, aux send/return knobs, and ridden with faders. Almost as many faders as we had burritos.

You guys seem to be part of a pretty tight-knit shoe gaze/post rock community here in LA. Can you tell me a little about it?

Brian: Breaking into the scene is pretty tough and I’d honestly say that we are lucky to know some great bands that share and experience some of the same struggles as us.

The worst thing you can do is see it as a competition between your band and others. I think everyone benefits when we work together, both bands and venues, to put on nights of fun times!

Dave: We feel very fortunate. When we first started, we didn’t really know any of the other LA instrumental/post-rock acts. There are some really great bands in the LA area and some really nice venue’s that support acts like ours.’

Some of our favorite local bands would be our good friends Beware of Safety, The Lights From Here, Third Uncle, Timonium, Soundtrack Symphony (from Ventura), Half-Mantis Group, Skyscraper Frontier, and plenty others!

Some of our favorite venue’s would be The Cocaine downtown and Pehrspace in Echo Park. Theres a lot of great venue’s here, but these fine places have the most down to earth and band friendly atmospheres. There’s something awesome about post show dance parties at Pehrspace. (Adam, I got pics on my phone to prove it!)

Tim: When I was hiking past the rock, I tripped and my shoe fell down into a ravine. As I was gazing into the depths below I fell into a dreamstate where I was abducted by a group of half-mantises claiming to be related to my third uncle, who by the end of tonight will have reminded me to beware of safety while hiking away from the lights from here. I think that evening episode was brought on by a scene filled with cocaine and pehrs, and maybe a plush glass of whiskey on the rocks set to a symphonic soundtrack.

What's next for you? Any plans to tour? Or more do recordings?

Dave: We are actually working on new material for a new ep! We have a majority of the tracks completed already. We hope to get that recorded soon!

As far as touring, not any full fledge tours at the moment, but we do have a handful of shows coming up in LA, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Phoenix. Pretty much stuff we can do over a weekend.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

Dave: Beware of Safety, Gregor Samsa, Brian Eno, and I'm eagerly anticipating the new Mercury Program album!

Brian: The One AM Radio, Six Parts Seven, and Owen.

Tim: The Bad Plus, the Donnie Darko soundtrack, The Cinematic Orchestra, A Silver Mt. Zion, and any jazz.

Rishi: Metal Hearts, Message to Bears, The One AM Radio, and The Buena Vista Social Club.

That's it! Thanks a lot for your time, guys. See on at the show on Saturday night.

- Celadon MP3 (YouSendIt link)


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