As the four members of Blue Eyed Lucy crowd around a hightop at the Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, a reggae band sets up onstage. Not only is it Taco Tuesday, but it's also Reggae Night, and despite the middle-aged ensemble not being ready to go on at 9 p.m. sharp, the volume in the bar has already been cranked up.
The band members can hardly hear one another, but that doesn't matter, as they laugh and riff off whatever fragments of sentences they can pick up. "We're actually releasing an EP right here at the Wayfarer on July 23," says Blue Eyed Lucy's singer/guitarist, Armand Lance. "It's the first studio release we've ever done. We're releasing a full-length afterward, but the EP is made up of some older songs that didn't fit. It's a more rootsy, old-school rock & roll sound that we're kind of growing away from, but we still wanted to show it respect."
Lance is now the only original member left of what started as a three-piece. "Armand comes up with the basis of a song, then we go through it and change it," explains bassist Sam Schlenker. "I don't even know how to play rock & roll bass."
Schlenker, who met Lance at Chapman University, uses his jazz background to combine with guitarist Vince Phung's '90s rock sound, which brings another level to the band's sound. "These guys want to jam and do all of this artsy stuff, like a seven-and-a-half count--I don't do that," Phung says. "Everything is like grunge for me."
Adds drummer James Mozina, "I just go by how it feels. I play to the song." This final piece of Blue Eyed Lucy's new "psych-y punk & roll" sound was brought to the band by one of their original members. "He doesn't even like half of the songs we make," Lance jokes of Mozina. "I don't write songs expecting them to be changed. I go in with the mentality that it's good enough that it doesn't need much work, but they always change it, and it's always for the better."
While Blue Eyed Lucy may be focusing on creating the best songs they possibly can, they're aware of the changing OC music scene, how it can be a tough place for young bands to make a name for themselves. But it's not just other bands they're competing with; it's also the crowd. "Like anywhere, great artists will come out of OC, but it doesn't really cultivate them," Schlenker says. "It's not a culture to go see a live band anymore. Bands don't get the respect in general that they used to. Maybe it's because it's switched back to dance music now that the old pop/punk music is gone, but it's just not a cool thing to go see a live rock band these days."
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"For instance," Lance adds, "[the Wayfarer] is one of the best places for live music here in OC, and there's only a $5 cover to get in. I was here last Friday, and I didn't even come in because it was a $30 cover to see some DJ. It's more about DJs than bands."
Blue Eyed Lucy perform with Big Monsta, Thunder Gut and Them Evils at the Wayfarer, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com. Wed., 8 p.m. $5. All ages.