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Wondering what the guys from Dusty Rhodes and the River Band are up to these days? Check out the Field Trip—the current project of former River Band frontman/keyboard/accordionist Dustin Apodaca and bassist Allen Van Orman. Along with guitarists Kevin Conway and Jeremy Schnaible, keys player Tim Calacsan and drummer Joseph Assef, the Field Trip root themselves in electric folk that's smoother than most variations of this genre, thanks to deliberate Yacht Rock infusions and a soulful underbelly that fans of the River Band will find familiar. They've played OC regularly for the last two years, and expect to tour and release a debut EP by year's end.
OC Weekly: Allen Van Orman and Dustin Apodaca were in Dusty Rhodes. Tell me more about how you guys met and started playing together.
Kevin Conway: Allen and I are cousins. Field Trip was originally a three-piece consisting of Jeremy [Schaible], Allen and their old drummer Miguel [Narvaez]. Allen called me up one day asking me if I wanted to join. I played my first show with the band one week after joining.
Dustin Apodaca: I met Allen in the High Desert at some weird party. The hostess was missing one eye, and she is currently a pornographic actress.
What was the initial vision for the group back when you first got together?
Conway: When we first started, the plan was to be a folky rock band—super-simple songs that were poppy and catchy, and mainly guitar driven. We would play a lot of small bar shows with friends, nothing too major.
How has that evolved since then?
Conway: It's really become a keyboard/synth-based band more than anything. It's got more of a proggy, '70s and '80s rock influence now. It's even got some R&B flavor now that Dustin is in the band and Tim's doing a lot more songwriting.
Apodaca: It's better.
Jeremy Schnaible: I sweat more.
Your Facebook page lists the genre as Yacht Rock. How'd you guys get to be so damn smooth?
Schnaible: We owe a lot to the Newport Boat Club. The owners took us under their wing; introduced us to etiquette classes. I now appreciate duck confit and a delicious port.
Conway: Mainly it was Dustin and Tim [Calacsan]. Me and Jeremy would be playing these grungy guitar riffs and then Tim would start playing these nice piano melodies, which made Dustin start saying, "I like that. Give me more of that." Soon enough, we dropped all the guitar-based stuff and kept it centered more on Tim's playing style and what Dustin's vibing with at the time.
Tim Calacsan: I was listening to a lot of Hall and Oates and Christopher Cross at the time. That stuff is like peanut butter.
Is everybody involved in the writing?
Conway: We each try to write our own songs, then bring them to the table. A lot of stuff gets cut and a lot of stuff does get changed around. The last few songs we have written came about through jam sessions with three or four of us around. Dustin is the main lyricist while everybody else throws out lyrical ideas.
You guys have mostly stayed in OC for gigs. What's next in terms of gigs elsewhere?
Schnaible: The motherfucking moon.
Conway: We don't have too much booked. We're heading out to Palm Springs at the end of the month to play the Ace Hotel. We've been in talks to head up north for a small tour in the near future, then some Midwest shows.
What OC band aren't getting their due media attention? Whom have we been sleeping on?
Van Orman: Miracle Days. Warships.
Conway: Check out Karma the Mirror.
Schnaible: The Gospels.
This column appeared in print as "The Field Trip: Smoother By the Minute."