One thing a lot of Orange County bands probably don't count on when they get the Weekly's attention is our desire to follow them even after they make the inevitable move to LA. Note to all the good OC bands out there: You leave us, and we will stalk you! So it's that commitment to local music that found us on the front porch at Sweet Bump It's Echo Park pad late last night, shuffling though a laptop bag to find a recorder in the dark next to overflowing ashtrays and a flotsam of porch chairs.
Those who don't recognize the band name might remember its founding members Nicole "Paco" de Leon and Jenna Eyrich--formerly of the Fullerton female power pop trio The Studiofix. These days they've expanded their sound quite a bit, branching out to a seven-member sprawl that fuses punk, funk, doo-wop and whatever else they feel like jamming on.
With plenty of howls, thwacking drums and spangling guitar twangs hemorrhaging from behind the door of their house, we knew we'd come to the right place. So we busted in on them just in time to talk about what they've been up to before their gig tonight at Bootleg Bar--for the record, they promise they'll be coming back to OC very soon. We told them we'd hold them to that. Considering our willingness to drive an hour down the freeway to find them, hopefully they realize we're serious.
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): Who is the is the mastermind behind this massive band?
Paco de Leon: Jenna is the puppet master behind it all. Jenna Eyrich: Paco and I started talking again about a year ago and we were thinking about starting a business together so we could make money to play music. de Leon: We would literally talk about business models all day. And after a couple of months, we decided to quit that idea and just focus on the music aspect. So once we started, Jenna recruited Bill Bittner, our guitarist, somehow through mutual friends. In January of this year we did like two or three songs together. Then Jenna met [drummer] Jay Doo [aka Jason Doolittle] at a party. Francesca just came to one of our first practices to hang out...so what's been happening is that people who are around Sweet Bump It kinda just get sucked in.
How did you guys start incorporating the back-up singing? de Leon: After rehearsal one night, we were hanging out with [Francesca "Cecca" Salac, Marlaine Reiner and Lisa Deines] and they were singing R&B tunes and a few weeks later, we as a band were like "why don't we have background singers?"
Marlaine Reiner: Naturally Francesca's voice is Barry White low and I'm like Mariah Carey high and Lisa is like Justin Timberlake mid, so that kinda worked out. Bill Bittner: We were going for an indie rock vibe but also adding some soul to it at the same time. So we asked them and they jumped in.
Francesca Salac: Lisa started out as our stylist and I've known [Paco and Jenna] since we went to high school together in Fullerton.
What were the first few shows like? de Leon: The first shows, I'd be like glowing and smiling the whole time and people would be like 'we get it you're happy' [Laughs.]. ..For me personally, to be driving a group of seven feels like a fucking bullet train. It feels incredible. It's like these are my fucking people and we're about to kick out in the mouth...in a good way. Bittner: In a sweet way...the sweetest bump you could ever get.
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What makes this group fulfilling for you guys? Bittner: I think the family aspect of it is the best. We practice twice a week but it's also about coming to hang out with your friends and extended family. Salac: There's so many of us that we all come away with something different. For me, I've never played in a band before or sang in public before this. So this is a totally new and different experience for me coming out of my shell as a performer on stage on top of working my 9-5 job. Some of us have 9-5 jobs, some of us are in law school, some of us are freelancers, so when we come here, it's a totally different experience than our day jobs. Deines: We all have very similar music tastes in a bunch of different genres. And we really get pumped off of one another. de Leon: Marlaine always jokes that this house is 'a safe place'. But it's true. Like, Francesca can come in here and say "I live the Backstreet Boys" and no one is going to ridicule her. Jay Doo: But we will definitely ridicule her for wearing driving gloves. [Laughs.] Salac: I wear driving gloves so I don't get sun spots on my hands!
So do people pull up next to you and automatically assume you're ready to race? Salac: I don't think so, considering I also wear a visor when I drive [Laughs.] Jenna Eyrich: And to go back to your question, I took a year off of playing music and it made me realize how much I needed it. I'm so depressed without it. Reiner: And it's the exact opposite when we are playing. It's not even neutral, we have to much fun, it's probably annoying.
Sweet Bump It play tonight at Bootleg Bar with with RUMSPRINGA and Champagne Leader. 9 p.m. 21+ $10. For more info, click here.