Greater California's Choir-Driven Dream Pop Perfectly Captures Long Beach's Music Scene

Greater California and their supergroup choir at the First Congregational Church
Greater California and their supergroup choir at the First Congregational Church
Aaron Giesel

Long Beach's Greater California has been a band for so long that their website still links to a Myspace page (where you can read about the history of the band circa 2002) and the only full interview with them available online is from one of L.A. Record's first issues (where they talk about recording their second album between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.).

But that's all part of the territory for a band with such a deep history with nostalgia--which also includes more than a decade of comparisons to Odessey & Oracle-era Zombies and choruses that fleck of youthful psychedelia. And it definitely doesn't mean that the dreamy pop five-piece is a relic from the city's post-Sublime past or that they're still not making some of the most beautiful songs this side of summer (the band is also now on Facebook and Instagram).

In fact, frontman Terry Prine, his Wurtilizing wife Kari, drummer Greg Brown, guitarist Chris Berens and bassist Shea M Gauer are as much motivated by Long Beach as they are an indelible part of it--and they've just released a new single that proves it.

For the first music to bear the Greater California name since 2009's All the Colors (produced by the late Ikey Owens) came out on Alpha Pup, the band setup a recording session in the city's oldest church with a supergroup choir comprised of top local voices and then tapped indie Long Beach's latest homegrown label, Porch Party Records, to press it onto 7" vinyl.

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The resulting A side, "Long Shadows," is an ethereal testament not only to Greater California's annual holiday choir show (by now, a sing-a-long tradition), but also the creativity, talent and collaboration that goes on every day in the LBC's forever inspiring music scene.

As the band prepares for a series of shows this fall, we caught up with the local fixtures and talked to them about their new single.

On why they released "Long Shadows" and the B side "Napsack Night Quilt" as a single and not a full album.

These two songs were an influence of a film project that we started around the same time they were being recorded. We wanted the album and film to strike a parallel and touch on similar themes about the leaving of society and reverting to a simpler way of living. With us, it seems like there are always agroup of two or three songs that start the process and influence what the bigger collection of songs are going to sound like for an upcoming album. We have been recording in segments for a few years now and finally have a good group of songs that fit together. Our hopes are to have a full length finished in the spring/summer of 2015 with the film to follow shortly after.

On how the recording of "Long Shadows" reflects the Long Beach music community. The group that sang on the recordings was definitely a supergroup of local musicians that we had been singing with for a few of the holiday shows and so everyone was really familiar with each others voices. We had recorded with Jeff Lewis at the Compound and knew that he was also running sound for sunday services at the First Congregational Church, one of the most beautiful spaces in downtown Long Beach. He was able to get us in there one evening and the rest is magic.

For us, it was a moment in time of what the music scene was like in Long Beach while we were recording. Not only was everyone involved in the choir great musicians and singers in their own right, but they were also our friends and in bands that we admired. Luckily we captured it when we did [in 2012], because a few have since moved away. And so in hindsight, the song "Long Shadows," aside from any of our own personal meanings, really feels like a time capsule and has taken on this incredible life of it's own.

Greater California plays at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park on Sunday, November 30 at 4:00 p.m.; at 4th Street Vine in Long Beach on Wednesday, December 10 at 8:00 p.m.; and at Fingerprints in Long Beach on Sunday, December 14 at 5:00 p.m.

To purchase a digital or physical copy of the new single, visit greatercalifornia.bandcamp.com. You can find the band on Facebook and Instagram (@greatercalifornia) too.


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