'Everything in Gravity Grows'
In the fast and exciting world of music fans, there are Lyrics People (LP), and there are Music People (MP). Then there's that rare beast, the Lyrics and Music Combo Person. LP are first attracted to songs based on the words, obviously, while MP often have no idea what their favorite songs are about because it was the beat or the groove that hooked them. I used to be an MP, but I've learned that that's dangerous because you can love a song and then get your hands on the liner notes and find out that your beloved song is about something stupid, like beer. And not even an elegant treatise on beer. (This is hypothetical; no offense to songs about beer.)If fact, I maintain that many Natural-Born Lyrics People are pushed into the MP camp because they can't make out the lyrics because their favorite singers model themselves after Kurt Cobain. I'm here to put an end to the madness. Armed with a phone, some phone numbers and a naturally winning personality, I embarked on a valiant quest to shake things up a bit by making local bands talk about their songs! Our quest begins with Jeffries Fan Club, a ska-punk-pop band from Anaheim. On this day, they're getting ready to play a show at the Viper Room in Hollywood. Lead singer/guitarist Mike Dziurgot, 20, is just getting out of the shower when he receives this life-altering call from the OC Weekly. A big fuss is made-in the background, of course-about the fact that he's taking the call while naked. Song: "Rolled," from the band's new album, Nothing to Prove (Vegas Records) Mike Dziurgot: "Rolled" is about growing up and surfing and girlfriends and stuff like that. The first verse is about how my friend Jay and I used to wake up at 5 every morning and go surfing. The second verse is about a girl I was kind of seeing, and one of her friends liked me, so I couldn't really be with her-like kind of one of those types of things. OC Weekly: Wait, why couldn't you be with her if one of her friends liked you?Because her friend liked me first or something. It was high school-you have to remember that. The last verse says, "I didn't need no television/I had so much more behind the neighborhood liquor store." There's this group of stores and stuff by my house, and there's an alley in the back, and we saw a guy get shot back there and all kinds of other weird stuff. It also says, "Didn't have to watch pay-per-view to learn to fight/Because the neighborhood boys always taught me right" because I grew up around a lot of gangsters, and they were always fighting and pressuring me to be into gangs and stuff, but I was always into surfing. Why the title "Rolled"?I was a little troublemaker. "Rolled" is just getting in trouble, you know, like, "He got rolled." A part in the chorus says, "I just laughed when I got rolled." When you're a kid, you don't care. I'm actually not familiar with the term "rolled."It's more of a drug-dealer kind of thing, not that I have anything to do with that. But when a drug dealer gets busted, he gets "rolled"; when you get in trouble, you get "rolled." What does the song sound like? It's a punk rock song, but it has kind of a reggae break in it. Jeffries Fan Club play at Old World Hall, 7561 Center Ave., Huntington Beach, (714) 898-3033. Aug. 31, 8 p.m. Call for cover.We believe 26-year-old Erik Hanson-guitarist/music writer/lyric co-writer from Long Beach's groovy, funky, whatever-y Ruby Diver-is dressed when he receives his life-altering call. There's something suspicious about bands from the LBC. Everything's "deep" and "groovy" and "beautiful" and full of "good vibes." I say, "Can the mystical mumbo-jumbo!" Hello. I've been to Long Beach! I don't get it! Make me understand! Song: "Superstar Black" from Superremote (Turftone Records) Erik Hanson: We wrote the song on an afternoon in Long Beach, and it's about positive summer vibes and a couple of shows we had been to, and it ended up evolving into a song about music and its effect on us. What are some of the lyrics? "Got an old car painted superstar black for the Sunday-afternoon drive/Got some Marvin giving me a soundtrack for the drift down to the East side." What is "superstar black"? It's literally the color of the car. It's painted a real shiny black, and it's an old Cadillac. Metaphorically, it was just that feeling that we had in Long Beach of going to gigs in classic cars and feeling like a star even if it is for that night only. Is there something star-ish about the color black? In a trashy limo, '80s way and in just a modern cool, refined way, yeah. What are some other lyrics? The chorus is: "And as the music plays/Oh, the groove gets so spiritual/Hours become days, and everything in gravity grows/The boys become amazed/To see the girls dance like angels/We're in the perfect place as everything in gravity grows." What does that mean, "everything in gravity grows"? It was something that grew out of the process of just feeling deeper and not necessarily partying, but having good times with good friends. 00 Soul plays a monthly gig at the Foothill called La Conga, and when it first started out, it'd be like 500 people, and everyone there was all about pulling up in their classic cars, coming and dancing. No bad vibes. Never any bad fights. People would toke up on the dance floor. It's just about the process of getting deeper through dancing and a community experience with friends and getting into the music. What do you mean by "getting deeper"?I think-for us, anyway-it's the process of growing up. It's a mid-20s kind of thing. You party in a different way, and you dance in a different way. When you're 18, you go get fucked-up and trashed at a party, and it's cool. But as you grow older, you look for different ways to celebrate. I guess the experience with the soul music and everyone feeling cleansed and just dancing your ass off like no one's watching, you feel like you're getting deeper and seeking out experiences that are more love-filled than just a crashing at a keg kind of thing. It's still a good vibe at the Foothill once a month. Describe how this song sounds? It's a groovy song, like most of our songs, but it's very single-y. It's our single on this album if there is one. Ruby Diver play an acoustic set at the Long Beach Art Museum, 2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, (562) 426-7601. Aug. 23, 7 p.m. Free. All ages. Whew! I barely got out of that one with my delicate chakras intact! (Although I did like what he had to say about growing up.) Next up is Danny Walker, the 28-year-old guitarist of local soon-to-be-stars Wank. He calls me from a cell phone while on his way to a show in San Diego. We talk about all kinds of interesting stuff and even some nerdy gear-head stuff because I'm just learning about amps, and I like to show off my limited knowledge by throwing around terms like "tubes," "tones" and "warm" and by complaining about how heavy my amp is, which always elicits you're-one-of-us sympathy. Then I realize (quite ironically, considering my pretending to know about electronics) my tape recorder didn't record the conversation because I'm an idiot, and I don't even want to begin to explain how I fucked up because it's not an honest mistake, and it's not something that happens to everyone or to the best of us. That's what you get for making yourself out to be MacGyver, I guess. Luckily, I'm able to talk to him again and have him repeat himself. Song: "Larry Brown" from Get a Grip on Yourself (Maverick) Danny Walker: One of the most important songs to me is "Larry Brown." It's a song I wrote as a tribute to a friend who died of leukemia when he was 14. The song is about not taking life for granted because that kid with leukemia, Larry, could have been me, could have been anybody. The message is remembering those who died young and, at the same time, never take life for granted. Don't waste yours. When you're listening, what catches you first: the music or the lyrics? I always listen for a good lyric, but sometimes, it's the melody that will hook you in. The words to me are more important than the melody. But I think in order to have a good song, you've got to have both. I always like a good beat, too. For me, lyrics stick out; you can listen to the birds whistling to find your melody. I think it's important to make it personal and come from the heart if possible. Eventually, you get all worn-out from trying to dig too much stuff out of there, but I think it's all worth it because if it's real to you, then it's going to be real to other people because people can tell if you're full of shit. How long ago did you write "Larry Brown"?I wrote it in October 1997. I'm really stoked about "Larry Brown." I never thought about writing a song for Larry, and one day, I was just sitting there strumming, and it happened. It was a little scary at first Why? Because I felt awkward, you know? I felt awkward writing about a friend who died and using his name. I felt like maybe I might be stepping over a privacy right, you know what I mean? But I think he can be an inspiration, and there's nothing negative about Larry in this song. It's all about him having courage. He dealt with shit that most people never will have to, and he died with it. It definitely was a little awkward because I didn't want to exploit anything that wasn't mine. But I felt deeply about it, so I think his story's worth sharing. Has his family heard the song?I think his family moved to the East Coast afterward, but if that song ever was played around there, they'd definitely know it was their Larry because of the leukemia reference and the reference to his brothers. Their names are in the song. A lot of people have asked if I ever talk to his family, but I don't know where to go. I don't know. I'd feel awkward talking to them because, shit, they might be upset. I don't think they would be, but I'd probably feel awkward about it. Live, if it's not "Forgiven," it's "Larry Brown" that takes people over the top with us, so we always close with that. You always close with it?Yeah, it's kind of weird to end on a sad note, but it's not really a sad song. It's more a go-out-there-and-live-because-otherwise-you're-wasting-it song. Not everybody gets a chance. I don't know; it's kind of sappy stuff for a band with the name Wank. I'll say! I'm about to cry! Better catch up with the fly boys of my favorite, far-too-unknown-outside-of-Costa Mesa, garage-y surf band, the Measles-who recently released a tight little winner called The Several Faces of the Manshark. Bassist/co-vocalist Rob Measle, 22, takes a break from his whiny, depressed bad mood to answer my probing questions. Song: "Stereophonic" from The Several Faces of the Manshark Rob Measle: "Stereophonic" is a combination of a couple of girls I know and how they made me feel when they were constantly yelling, and there was nothing I could do to avoid it because they were yelling in both my ears at the same time. Do you know what the lyrics are? No, but I need to. The lyrics are: "Her yelling keeps me up at night/I can't stand to hear her cry/When she comes at me from both sides/It's like she's stereophonic/Stereophonic, you know what I mean/Stereophonic; she's causing a scene. Her screaming really freaks me out/And her whining I can do without/But when she surrounds me with her cries/It's like she's stereophonic/Her modulated nagging is always at full-blast/Her meter's in the red/So you better act fast/The levels aren't dropping any time soon/The really sad thing is you know you're screwed." Were you going out with these girls? Yeah, but not at the same time or anything. It's like you can't escape it, and it's just so annoying sometimes because they demand so much attention. What were they yelling about? Anything-just constant yelling. I don't have specific stories, really. It's abstract, you know? For a new twist, I'd like to discuss the instrumental song "Sponge Rider." What's it about? It's about boogie boarding, you know? Being a sponge rider? They ride sponges. It's about boogie boarding instead of surfing. But there aren't any words in it, right? Yeah. So how's it about that, then? Imagine, if you will. It's all there. From the opening seconds of the record, you hear the beach and the waves crashing, and you feel that wave coming up on you, so you jump in the water with a splash, and you're riding that wave on your boogie board. It's all about ridin' that boogie board, and then you kind of mellow out for a little bit, maybe do a little floatin' out there, and then you go right back into it. It's interesting because some people might not think you're this athletic surf band.I don't understand how they could not think that. I mean, we all have hard bodies. We're all as cute as hell. Are you a lyrics person or a music person?Well, I'm a melding of both. The music and the words have to match or else it doesn't work for me. It can't just be cool words and shitty music, and it can't just be cool music and crappy lyrics, you know? They've got to both be there.
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