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The more you listen to Santa Ana four-piece Deathday Party, the harder it is to write them off as another raven-haired set of depressed art rockers. Instead, guitarist Alex Guillen, his brother/vocalist Giovanni Guillen, bassist Patrick Covert and drummer Joevanni Lopez balance the dark roots of post-punk with angelic, heart-pounding instrumentation, pushing their songs into the heavens. Their chaotic guitars, tribal tom-slamming and ghostly ambiance captivate crowds across LA and OC. In Santa Ana, you can usually find them at Fluxclub—a biweekly event at the Crosby (created by Alex himself). Whether they’re playing local haunts or LA hipster dens, the band’s main objective—oddly enough—is to pump life into the underground music scene wherever they can.
OC Weekly: Has the music scene in Santa Ana played a role in getting you involved in post-punk or other experimental music?
Joevanni Lopez: When we were growing up, we were in the same city, part of the same scene. [The then-in-Santa Ana] Koos Café was a huge influence on us.
Alex Guillen: As of late, it feels like there’s not much going on around here. We started playing the Smell [in LA], and it seems like everything [in our scene] is more based in LA now.
Do you find more kinship with LA bands?
Guillen: As far as kinship goes, we’re friends with [solo artist] Silentist, based out of Portland, and the Dead Science from Seattle, Washington. There’s also a band called Bestial Mouths who are an LA band. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening in LA right now; with Orange County, since there are less venues to expose new music, it’s harder.
Lopez: It’s seems like Orange County has been restrictive for so many years and there are not a lot of venues [for us] to play. You’re forced to go outside of your hometown and play other venues with other bands. But it’s just as rewarding.
What motivated you to start Fluxclub at the Crosby?
Guillen: I met Phil [Nisco], one of the partners at the Crosby, and I told him I wanted to start a [club night] here because there weren’t enough places to play. I kept looking for places, but ultimately, everything was way too expensive. So when one of our friends [Jeremy Hall, a.k.a. DJ Weird Beard] stopped deejaying [there], he said, “Hey, you can take over Wednesdays.”
Are you guys working on any recordings right now?
Guillen: We’re actually going into the studio next month.
Lopez: We’re working on new material, and everything that’s been recorded so far has been polished, and the studio is a work in progress.
Guillen: We’ve got about eight to 10 songs, so we’re still debating whether we’re gonna release three singles with B-sides or just put everything together as an EP.
Is there anything in particular that excites you about what you’re writing right now?
Guillen: We got a bunch of synthesizers and drum machines.
Lopez: It’s been a process creating the mood that Deathday has gone into, just keeping that mood in its own boundaries, keeping it contained, and then reproduc[ing] it live in front of an audience.
Most of your songs are pretty moody and instrumental. Would you say your new stuff sounds different?
Lopez: I would say that’s the root of [the sound]. So it’s just about keeping that, and then we’re starting to branch out. But definitely it’s testing the boundaries or our sound and our equipment. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve almost set fire to our own studio because we were pushing [the amps] so much.
Guillen: At the same time, I think we feel more comfortable being who we are instead of trying to become something else. I think we kind of grew into our own skin.
Deathday Party perform with Northern Labor Party and Vale at Gypsy Lounge, 23600 Rockfield Blvd., Ste. 3A, Lake Forest, (949) 206-9990; www.thegypsylounge.com. Fri., 9 p.m. Free. 21+. For more info on Deathday Party, visit www.myspace.com/deathdayparty.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "Happy Deathday."