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Photo by Jeanne RiceThe last (and only) time we saw Wiskey Biscuit play—they opened for the Donnas and the Toilet Boys—we were overpowered by their stonedness, by their guy who played cowbell and gourds, by how they were seven guys on a tiny stage who all looked squashed and inbred. "Hey, inbred motherfuckers!" we thought, giggling at the spacy-looking guy striking his cowbell very seriously. "You guys rock!"
And rock they did—for the rock, it is eternal, and it is inside Wiskey Biscuit, who met while in high school in Huntington Beach, like, 10 years ago! Of the seven guys in the band (including Brandon, their "rhythm section," or, more properly, "cowbell section"), we met three: Jason Mason, the singer, who now has glamorous LA hair; Danny Preston, the organ player (in the sitcom, he'd be the bookish one); and Jeff Cairns, lead guitarist, who now has his first job in, like, forever, working at a hip Silver Lake coffeehouse!
We traveled to the coffeehouse so we could watch in amazement as Cairns served the slowest tart in the West: leisurely picking up a fork, wrapping it in a napkin, putting the napkin on the tart plate, picking it back up, unwrapping the fork, adding a knife, wrapping it back up, replacing it on the plate—always pausing a moment or two between each move, as if playing an invisible game of chess.
But first we met at the trio's cool 1911 Silver Lake bungalow, in whose front yard rested old shoes and garbage. Lots of garbage. There we found the answers to cool questions, like:OC Weekly: So what the hell were you doing in Rolling Stone?Mason: We don't know! Are you friends with the girl who wrote that article calling you "local upstarts"?
No, we don't even know her! We've just been playing around forever.Who are the best celebrities you've had at your shows?
Gary Franklin videotaped one of our shows.The guy with the head?
Yeah, the movie critic with the pointy head from years ago. We don't really run around with celebrities. They're always busy. They always gotta go somewhere.
We found out lots of other stuff, too. Like, one time in the summer of '92, they all bought one-way tickets to Prague. They didn't busk because they were the worst street musicians in the entire world, but they had a pretty darn good time anyway. And they were there when the first McDonald's was finished in Prague, and there were big protests with lots of punk rockers. Cool.
I guess I haven't told you what they sound like yet! Well, they are rock & rollers, for sure, none of this hip-hop-meets-metal thing so prevalent these days, no sir! They sound very much like mid-'70s Stones, before the Stones became goofy and old and all their songs started sounding like Mick and Keith wrote them specifically for Microsoft commercials. When you first look at Wiskey Biscuit, you don't really expect much (a friend remarked that they don't even look like they should know one another, much less be in the same band). But then they start rockin', and it makes you want to take your shirt off quicker than a U.S. women's soccer star, you know? They say back in their high school days, when they were music snobs, they didn't like anything that wasn't at least 30 years old—blues and roots music only, thank you—so their influences were pretty much the same as the Stones'. Which makes sense! If the Black Crowes were funnier and smarter and from Huntington Beach, they might be lucky enough to be Wiskey Biscuit.
They haven't rehearsed since their last show, which was two or three months ago, but they're not worried. "We'll get at least one in before the Foothill show," someone said—probably Mason because he did all the talking, but I seem to remember this one being Cairns, who mostly looked like he was trying not to giggle, but it wasn't necessarily because he was stoned! According to his roomies, he's always like that.
Also, they now have a new drummer—they always seem to be breaking in a new drummer—but they swear this one's for life. "He's the perfect mix of not-too-good," Mason said. And I understand this because I have a friend who swears B's are better than A's: it shows you're smart, but not obsessed. You're more well-rounded that way.
Mason agreed. "That's the attitude of our band!" he said. "That's why we don't play all the time, not necessarily because we're too high. It's just that we've been through that, where you're young and eager and have ambition and think, 'We're gonna make it!' We've been through that already. Now we just play because we have to. It's like when you're on psychedelics, and you think, 'There's something wrong . . .' But you don't know what it is, and then you go to the bathroom. And you think, 'Oh, that's what it was! I had to pee this whole time, and I didn't even know it!'"
They don't think they'll ever get a record deal, so they're producing an album in the basement—a.k.a. Mason's room. "But we only have an eight-track, and there're seven guys in the band, so we don't know where to put everything," said someone—we're not sure who. But even though they don't think they'll get a deal, they would still take one if someone offered. "I want a new guitar," Cairns said.
Now, instead of living in HB, where they were always getting picked on because they didn't play football or surf, they live in Silver Lake—where they're always getting picked on for being from OC! Keith Morris, of the Circle Jerks and Midget Handjob, washes dishes at Millie's Restaurant up the street. Mason imitates him hating the band: "'I hated your band, man,'" he drawls. "'But you're like broccoli. You learn to like you.'"Wiskey Biscuit play with the Ziggens at the Foothill, 1922 Cherry Ave., Signal Hill, (562) 494-5196. Fri., 9 p.m. $8. 18+.
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