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
*This article was altered on April 28, 2011.
Ready to rock anew, Santa Ana's Street Spirit are back after a mini-hiatus. Taking their name from a favored Radiohead song, the indie band have shifted down from five members to four, while adding a new drummer into the mix. Aly Miguel, formerly of the Miracle Dolls, joins guitarist/vocalist Redd (Melissa Astran), guitarist/vocalist Johnny Maffeo and bassist Luna (Monica Rios) in completing the reconfigured lineup. Finally, Street Spirit can return to doing what they do best: gigging constantly and ringing ears with their raucous alt-rock.
OC Weekly: How did Street Spirit originally come together?
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Melissa Astran: I've had certain songs that I've been playing since I was a teenager, so I got a few of those songs and, one day, decided I wanted to start my own project. I got Monica to play bass. I started looking for a guitarist, and I found Johnny, who had just come down from Detroit. I called my cousin who was a drummer. We just collaborated. I gave them my ideas and showed them what I had. It was total garage band.
Redd, you played bass in your previous band, Mystery Hangup. How has that transition been for you in that you're a vocalist in Street Spirit?
Astran: [Laughs] It has been crazy! When I joined Mystery Hangup, I didn't even know how to play the bass! From that point on, it's been a whirlwind. Transitioning from bass and going into being in front has been really crazy. I knew I always wanted to do it. The thing that has been hardest for me is just the nerves and being confident enough to get up in front of people and do that.
Street Spirit have been inactive for a while, but you've found a new drummer and have gone from being a five-piece band to a four-piece. What was that process like?
Astran: I met Aly and remembered her from a long time ago. She plays the accordion in addition to being an amazing drummer. I was so lucky to get ahold of her—she's so extremely talented on both instruments.
Monica Rios: I found it a little bit challenging to go from three guitars to just two. We really have to focus on harmonizing. It's good finding a drummer who's going to stick with us for a while.
Will the band still employ male-female vocal tradeoffs?
Johnny Maffeo: Even with new songs, we take that into account. We have songs that I write and that Redd writes, and we would like to continue to keep that male-female mixture. That was what made us unique locally.
Astran: We eventually want to incorporate everybody in the band vocally. We are going to incorporate more instruments within the music, too. We've gotten more confidence and know what we want now.
With the mini-hiatus, it's been some time since the band have performed live. How are you all approaching your first show as a reassembled version of Street Spirit?
Astran: I think we are just looking to have a good time and get onstage. We all miss playing. We're all going to have a really bad-ass fucking time at Clancy's—and make a couple of fans while doing it.
Rios: I'm just going to be looking at the crowd and watching their jaws drop when they see our new drummer!
This column appeared in print as "Repaved and Reenergized."