By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
*This article was altered on Feb. 12.
Since the October release of their debut disc, Crossed Wires, Costa Mesa electro-rock trio Mphase have been busy throwing wonderfully grimy, sweat-soaked dance parties at hometown venues Avalon and Detroit Bar. Their seductively icy sonics are created by singer/songwriter/keyboardist Geoff Harrington in collaboration with brothers James (drums) and Matthew Fletcher (keyboards). Usual suspects Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and, to a lesser extent, Grafton Primary clearly influenced the eight tracks on Crossed Wires, which clocks in at 28 minutes. Mphase’s ability to capture the ebb and flow of the seas and its glorious, glassy waves first gained national exposure when they scored the 2007 surf movie Stylemasters 2. They also contributed music to the documentary Echo Beach, which focuses on the 1980s surf scene of Newport Beach and debuted last year at the Newport Beach Film Festival. The band are currently laying down tracks in Harrington’s home studio for their forthcoming, as-yet-untitled second album.
OC Weekly: How did Mphase come to be?
843 W. 19th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Category: Bars and Clubs
Region: Costa Mesa
James Fletcher: I was gone for a few years on tour [as part of Matt Costa’s band], and I wanted to come home. Geoff had this record made, and it grew on me. We had known each other since ’94, and I was happy to help.
Geoff Harrington: I told him if he wasn’t into it, don’t do it. James was my first choice to play drums on [the track] “Morning Frown.” I know what I am going to get with him, and we don’t bicker. I wanted another keyboard player for a three-band rock bill, so I can step away and sing.
Matthew Fletcher: Six feet tall and thin were the first qualifications. Skills were second. It’s really a weight off your shoulders to have someone who already did all the work. It sounds amazing, so why would we want to change it? If that sounds lazy enough . . . I think three is a good number [onstage] when we split our $50 at the end of the night. It works.
Can you explain the band name?
Geoff: I actually went through a dictionary to find it. I put Mphase in Google, and there was just mPhase Technologies. They are huge. Our band is on, like, the third page. I wanted something that means nothing, but it actually does mean something. It’s the process of cell division in mitosis.
Do you feel like your music is part of what people are listening to now in Orange County?
Geoff: It’s an avenue. I’ve reconnected with the youth. It’s about picking the right shows to do and not overplaying. We would rather have people get high on Ecstasy and want to listen to it than a bunch of drunk guys who come to see a rock show. You either love the music or hate it. Either way, we are getting a strong reaction.
How would you describe your music?
Geoff: It’s not techno or house music. It’s electronic, kind of experimental. I went to England, and a girl went apeshit when I said I don’t like dance music. I don’t dance; I’m awkward when I dance.
Who is the female vocalist on your second track, “Max Beta,” and why is she only on the one track?
Geoff: She rocks. Her name is Nicole Martins. I really liked her voice.
James: She’s the vocalist for our other band, Satisfaction, which is more rock-influenced. Geoff thought she would be good for that track.
Geoff: I thought that song needed a female vocalist, and she worked out great. It was like a rant, a Blondie rap.
If you’re not playing music, do you hold any other exciting jobs?
Matthew: I do real estate by day and keyboards by midafternoon.
Mphase perform with the 88, Curtains for You and Extra at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Thurs., Feb. 18, 9 p.m. $5. 21+.
This article appeared in print as "Electro Surf."