The band of the week is Long Beach natives The Commotions! Full disclosure, dear readers: At one time, I had the pleasure of playing keyboards with this band until an amicable split months ago. I assure you I'm writing about this band not from any motivation other than to share their wonder with you all. Also, a digital release of their new record, produced by Mars Volta's Ikey Owens, will be available for your listening pleasure this coming Sunday at the Continental Room. To mark this occasion, the Commotions sat down to talk about where they're going, where they've been, and how they're getting there.
OC Weekly (Kristina Benson): How do you pick the songs you cover? What do you feel you add to the covers?
Marianne (lead vocals): Reuben climbs high onto a mountain, fasts and meditates for three days and three nights--and then he returns with songs we will cover.
Reuben (guitar, vocals): We usually add some salt, pepper, Tapatio and queso fresco.
How has your sound changed since the band first started?
Reuben: Tighter, for sure. I guess we're not so "Animal House frat rock" anymore.
Marianne: I spent the whole first year in the Commotions thinking I was going to be the backup singer and just sort of waiting for the right girl to come along and take lead. So I think the biggest change came when I realized I was going be the singer of the band, no matter how much that thought scared me. And then, once I really embraced it and stopped trying to be some other girl with better hair or a different voice or the ability to dance in high heels--well, then I wanted to sing about things I cared about, not just food all the time. Though I do care about food a great deal . . . but what I mean is that once we started being ourselves, that's when the biggest change happened. We went from imitating our favorites to taking risks and creating something completely our own. Does it ever get any better than that? That's our new EP.
What is the most fun you've ever had at a show, and why?
Reuben: They all kind of melt together. I had as much fun playing our first show at a Long Beach party as I did last Sunday in Fullerton at the Continental Room.
Marianne: My favorite shows are always the Art Walks . . . probably because I like being outside. The Pomona Art Walk stands out because we were literally on the sidewalk in front of a record store. Everyone sharing one power strip, total MacGyver sound set up. . . . It reminded me of when I was a kid--singing in parades and nursing homes, shopping malls, amusement parks--there's something honest about a show like that. If people want to hear you, then they stop and listen. If they don't, they keep walking. There aren't any rules, and no one knows who you are. Anything is possible.
If you could be in any Orange County band, which would it be and why?
Reuben: Wait, we're an Orange County band? That's news to me! I'll join the Harbor High Navigators Jazz Ensemble, if they'll have me. High-school bands are where it's at right now.
Marianne: The Killingtons! Duh! That guy totally hit Reuben with his car!!
If you had a $500 budget, what piece of equipment would you buy for the band and why?
Reuben: Maybe a small printing press. We need shirts.
Marianne: I'd buy a smoke machine, some strobe lights and a disco ball--but then I'd probably get myself kicked out of the band.
All of you have very different musical influences. How are these evident in the music you make?
Reuben: I think all you'd have to do is listen to "Why We Leave." That song captures all of our influences perfectly. It's like musical Lord of the Flies. But basically, what you hear is what you get.
Marianne: We all care a great deal and fight really hard to find our place in each song. And it doesn't always work! For every song we finish, we throw out at least three. Often more. I don't know if that's normal or not.
If for some reason you were forced to cover a Snoop Dogg song, which would it be and why?
Reuben: Balls to covering! Let's write a song WITH Snoop! C'mon, Snoop, hit us up.
What's the coolest record any or all of you ever got for less than $5?
Marianne: I got 8 1/2 Souvenirs' Happy Feet for $.60!
Reuben: I just got the Mar-Keys' Last Night for free! Beat that.
I heard you guys do a killer B-52s cover set. Why the B-52s?
Reuben: It started as a joke between [our drummer] Matt and I. We thought we could pull it off for Halloween. We pulled it off.
Marianne: I wanted to play "Love Shack," and Reuben didn't. I told him I would never play out as the B-52's ever again if we didn't play "Love Shack." But of course I did.
If you could do the theme song to any TV show taking place in Orange County, what would it be and why?
Reuben: The Munsters. That took place in Westminster, right? We're kind of outcasts like they were. Nobody wants to be our friends.
What's your favorite song to play and why?
Reuben: Probably the newest one in our repertoire. For me, it's usually the last song we wrote. At the moment, that would be "Remember the Time."
Marianne: I'm always most in love with whatever song we are working on.
You can find out what the Commotions are up to by visiting here. They play at the Continental Room in Fullerton every Sunday during the month of February.