By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
Wrapped in echoing keyboards and harmony-soaked vocals, Relative Strangers’ sound melds ’70s classic rock and psych pop with jangly guitar-driven spaciness—earning the group frequent comparisons to British rockers Muse. Santa Ana-native twins/co-vocalists Daniel and David Alcala’s lyrics convey joy, pain and nostalgia for teenage kicks and heartaches. (“Just let me, let me catch your eyes/We will meet and never be the same/I am now your friend, why do you wake me again and again?”) The vivacious band started when the Alcala boys were in high school and got together with rhythm guitarist Chris Brown and bassist Aaron Stapish; drummer Chris Garcia joined up in 2008. Relative Strangers’ catchy hooks and explosive arrangements snap and crackle all over their new five-song EP, From the Westwood, which they will unleash on April 19 during their month-long residency at Detroit Bar.
OC Weekly: Who was the lucky lady the song “Early Morning” was about?
Chris Garcia: It was about a maiden who broke David’s heart.
David Alcala: No. Actually, it was about this girl whom I had no feelings for. When I started dating another girl, I changed the lyrics and almost the entire song to fit our relationship and how we felt about each other.
You sing a lot about women. Do you foresee yourselves working with any female musicians?
Chris Brown: Five is enough, and we are all pretty tight. Adding a woman might change who we are. But if she were phenomenal and added a great thing to our band, I wouldn’t be against it.
David Alcala: I’m 100 percent against it. I think it would be too much drama.
Daniel Alcala: She has to play the glockenspiel.
How do you guys let loose before or after playing a show?
Aaron Stapish: I’ve actually walked up to Chris while he was playing before the show and slapped him across the face. You know, tried to wake him up.
Daniel Alcala: That’s how Aaron lets loose: He hits his band mates.
Stapish: I’m not even joking. Sometimes we’ll do the Running Man dance for a whole song to loosen up and not be so serious.
Garcia: We also have a team talk, pray with one another, sing psalms. Light a candle with incense, sit in the van, hold hands, do ’shrooms . . . just kidding. [Laughs]
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you while playing in concert?
Daniel Alcala: At Avalon once, every time I would touch the microphone with my hand or lips, it shocked me.
Aaron Stapish: I looked over, and I could see the electricity—his hair stood straight up.
Daniel Alcala: I went to sing something [in the microphone], and I was like, “My heart is . . . ah, FUCKING BITCH!” But the best part was that Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was playing in the background.
At one of your shows at Detroit Bar, you mentioned your dog and mascot, Miko, is very sick. Is he feeling okay these days?
Daniel Alcala: I have to get his chest leaked four times a week. He has something called chylothorax, which means he has fluid around his lungs that constricts his breathing.
Brown: He will die if we don’t raise enough money to get the surgery. We have to raise about four grand total. We are dedicating our shows to Miko. By Saturday, we’ll have $1,200.
Daniel Alcala: Basically, he can live until my credit cards give out. It’s really sad.
What are your goals?
Daniel Alcala: Everyone is trying to get famous. The idea is to spread our creativity and music to as many people as we can.
Garcia: No, no we just want to be famous. I’m kidding, but not really. I’d like to get paid for doing something I love doing.
David Alcala: We just want to live our dreams.
Relative Strangers perform with Stacy Clark, Stereofix, Beta Wolf, We Are the Pilots, BLOK, I Hate You Just Kidding and Brother Cecil at the Yost Theater, 307 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, (888) 862-9573; www.yosttheater.com. Fri., 7 p.m. $8. All ages; and with Two Guns at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Mon., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.
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 "Special Relativity."