By Alex Distefano
By Daniel Kohn
By Aimee Murillo
By Nick Schou
By Nate Jackson
By Nate Jackson
By Dave Lieberman
By Daniel Kohn
I never intended to sit here and write a story about sitting here and writing a story. Oh, no. I wanted to write about the Siren Six!, the fabulous, peppy six-piece ska-ish band that relocated to LA from Minneapolis and has an exclamation point in its name. I spoke a couple of times with saxophone player John Reineck, and the interview was all set up to be set up for the following week—and then the Siren Six! became unreachable. I called thrice.
Telephonically chasing after a band bothers me. It's an affront to the natural order of things. To make myself feel better, I screen urgent calls from publicists while I play Frisbee with promotional CDs I'll never listen to. Then I look at band publicity photos and laugh about how stupid everyone looks and how much power I hold over them. "Look who's kissing my ass now!" I snicker to myself.
But back to the Siren Six! When I realized I might not get the interview, I called up music mensch Rich Kane. "Maybe they're holding out for Mean Street," he tittered. "Or BAM!"
"They'll be waiting a long time, then," I cleverly retorted. Then we both hung up and felt smug.
So, you see, I have no choice but to piece together fragments of Siren Six!-enalia. I first saw them at the Council in Pomona. They weren't the band I was planning to watch, but the minute they took the stage, I was captivated. I had never seen a band rock out in such a contrived and yet entirely convincing way. Damn, they looked like they were having fun up there! Except for the singer, who had this amazing, bedroom-eyed charisma—he just stood there and spewed charisma. They didn't stand still for a minute. They were tight, too. Greater-than-the-sum-of-their-parts, larger-than-life stuff. I felt giddy just watching.
After the show, I asked them if they naturally all dance around and look like they're having fun onstage, or if it's practiced. The singer said something elusive, like "Well, isn't that like the chicken and the egg?"
What did this mean? That they practice looking like they're having fun, which makes them have fun, which they then have to practice?
At the show that night, they were hawking their seven-song EP, Young and Professional. It's pretty good, full of impressive, soaring horns and lilting keyboards. Lilting horns and soaring keyboards, too. Very upbeat and danceable and par-tay!-ish, without being all the insufferable things that those labels imply (a warning, however: you could see frat boys liking this music). The first song, a peppy little barnburner called "One Sided (Come On, Come On)," has lyrics like "We are so tired of this one-sided relationship/Took us for granted and everybody knows it/You know you charmed us with your politics/You run your mouth off, making everybody sick," and then it carries on like that, with references to inside jokes and dirty looks and come on, come on. Come on, indeed! I choose to think the song's about their hometown music scene, the one they fled for the bright lights and empty promises of Hollywood. Of course, I have no idea what it's truly about, and I have no idea why they left Minneapolis. I'm not even 100 percent sure they're from Minneapolis. See what I'm up against?
I was initially taken by the Legend of the Siren Six! when I heard that they all lived together. United as one, they (allegedly) picked up and moved from Minnesota, leaving behind all they had ever known. It was like a sitcom. They were more than a band, they were A BAND. They were the Six Musketeers! The Six Pep Boys! The Six Dwarves! A Six-Leaf Clover! But then I found out from Reineck that they no longer all live together. Then I found out from Jason Thornberry, who plays drums for the Pressure, that trombone player and lone female Mara Breen is no longer in the band (okay, the Five Musketeers! The Five Pep Boys . . . ). Oh, the stories Mara could have told!
And now, some testimonials. Thornberry says the Siren Six! were "probably the best live band we've played with. They're performers, they really put on a show, and they have good songs to back it up. Their new songs are way more stripped-down, though, and the arrangements aren't as busy—more like pop-rock songs than ska songs. Their new shit sounds way better, I think."
A local industry guy (whom we'll just call Mr. Local Industry Guy) had a different opinion, though. "Hey, what do you think of the Siren Six!?" I asked.
He grimaced. "They're cocky as all hell, for one," he said. "And they deny the ska thing, but they're a ska band."
But I needed something a little more scientific. I needed a tiebreaker. I needed my sister. Right then, she arrived, wanting to show off her new haircut. I had bigger plans. "Hey, what do you think of this?" I asked casually as I hit PLAY on my CD player.
"I don't know," she said.