By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Photo by James BunoanThere are a few things that you should know about Los Angeles' Wild Gift right from the get-go: they're not an X cover band; they're all supremely cute, only they would like it very much if you didn't say so (well, maybe just this once); their "music is the message"; and every singer they auditioned before current Wild Gift vox-man Joey Pistoresi is, well, crazy.
"The whole thing about placing ads in the paper and finding singers," says guitarist Joel Graves, "is that it made me want to make a documentary. It was sort of like Heavy Metal Parking Lot, where everyone you meet is completely insane! We literally met people that were like, 'I'll sing whatever you want—Christian, country, anything!' In Los Angeles you'll get this thing where people want to send you a headshot first, which is a really weird approach to starting a band."
But with Pistoresi it was instant love, which is a good thing because after four years of playing instrumentals, Graves and bassist Dominic "9 Didge" DiSaia (more on that moniker later) were looking to play somewhere other than the garage. There was only one thing keeping them from the Wild Gift "tour, tour, tour/no more day jobs, please" quest: a full-time drummer. Clearly what Wild Gift needed was a kick-ass, martial-arts-practicin' Texan with a 28-inch kick drum to claim the vacant throne. And so drummer Duncan Black—oddly enough, a kick-ass martial-arts-practicin' Texan with a 28-inch kick drum, also notable for somehow acquiring Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson's old washer and dryer—flew out from Texas on a Thursday and they played the Viper Room that Friday. And that was all they needed: "We just want to play music that we think represents us," says DiSaia, "and share it with other people—just being real."
Simply put, Wild Gift play honest-to-goodness quality rock that shimmers with sincerity. It's a sound you'd describe as big, with the vitality of Pearl Jam and the rawness of Soundgarden, brightened up with the intricacy of Coldplay. (And that's not all: "I told Duncan he drummed liked Chris Bratton from Wool," says Graves, "and he gave me a hug.") And sometimes it's best not to dissect that kind of thing. They don't want to talk about riders, drugs or any rock clichés—instead, it's an illuminated gnome officially dubbed "Metro-Gnome" (get it, drummers?) and Dr. Scholl's.
"I kind of play hard," says Graves, "and it involves my feet . . . and stomping. . . . It sounds absurd, but I got these Dr. Scholl's inserts on tour, and they have the gel, and, you know, they got me through the tour."
"Socks and underwear is all I want," states Black proudly. At this point DiSaia worries that they're going to sound way too old-man, so Pistoresi quickly adds that he'd like "a big bag of dope and some Jack Daniels."
That's pretty tough talk for a guy who used to work at a gourmet cookware store, but Wild Gift can back it up: they might like Coldplay, but they've got a Black Flag work ethic. Once, DiSaia severed his pinky—didn't slow him down for a second.
"Well, it wasn't completely off," he says. "Just hanging. And I played a show with nine fingers . . . so they all call me '9 Didge.'"Wild Gift performs at the Camp, 2937 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 444-4CMP. Sat., 6:30 p.m. Free.