By Alejandra Loera
By Adam Lovinus
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nate Jackson
By Marcus Alan Goldberg
By Reyan Ali
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nate Jackson
This Huntington Beach quintet fronted by singer/songwriter Elizabeth Messick take a breezy approach to folk-rock, with lots of ukulele and songs about sun-splashed landscapes and counting sheep after dark. Messick, a student at Cal State Long Beach, flaunts a musical taste that has matured well beyond her 20 years, tapping songwriting influences from Leonard Cohen and performing Jefferson Airplane covers, making her band of guitar-wielding multi-instrumentalists some of the OC folk scene's most exciting up-and-comers.
OC Weekly: Is your band name a tribute to Alice In Wonderland?
1695 Irvine Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Region: Costa Mesa
Elizabeth Messick: Yes, it is, actually. [It was] my favorite book when I was a little girl, and I had always loved the Disney version of [the song] "All In the Golden Afternoon." About a year ago, I was sitting in a pool in Palm Springs, looking through my iPod, trying to get ideas for a band name, and nothing was really clicking. So I decided to pick up where I left off in Alice In Wonderland, and the first thing I saw was "All in the Golden Afternoon."
Hence your cover of "White Rabbit."
I just really like singing that song because it's in my exact vocal range, and I've won many karaoke contests singing it. [Laughs]
I've seen you do a pretty righteous cover of "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. How do you choose your cover material?
We did that cover for a friend's birthday. That was his favorite song at the time, and we wanted to play it for him as a birthday gift. We really like covering songs for people's birthdays because it's inexpensive and it means a lot to the birthday boy or girl.
You guys use lots of ukulele. What does that do for the overall sound of the band?
I wrote all of the songs on ukulele and piano, so I play ukulele for nostalgic reasons and because it has an awesome tone. I don't play it on all the songs, just the mellow ones.
You talk about Leonard Cohen being an influence—can you flesh out that connection?
Honestly, I don't think anyone can hear Leonard Cohen through my work. He's more of an influence to me during the early writing process. Whenever I listen to Cohen, he inspires me to write and write and write. The songs I have been writing now sound more like Leonard Cohen. They are very haunting yet soft and melodic.
How do your songs come together?
I had been writing songs since I was 15, and I never showed anyone my work. By the time I was 17, I was in a band for three years singing backup on someone else's songs. Once that band broke up, I really missed singing live for people, so I thought it was time to break out of my writing shell. To cope with the loss of playing shows regularly, I was writing nonstop for a month straight. The words and melodies just flowed through my body. Sometimes, I even wrote melodies in my sleep, and I would record them on my iPhone and turn them into a song the next day. So basically, I start with a simple song with vocals, harmonies and ukulele/piano, and the band do the rest—they're the icing on top of the cupcakes.
This column appeared in print as "All Into the Golden Afternoon."
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