In the gritty underbelly of alt-country lurks sometimes-OC locals, The Abigails, a fusion of psych rock and outlaw country lead by front man and eccentric charmer, Warren Thomas. The group's rotating lineup currently includes members from Father John Misty and Douglas and The Furs, and considering Thomas spent time as a member of The Growlers, this is a cast of musicians that know their way around a stage.
The group is set to play at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on Saturday night, where they'll celebrate the long awaited release of their sophomore effort, Tundra. Thomas makes no bones about purging his personal demons on the album, and even included an eight-page photo booklet of handwritten lyrics on old album sleeves. We caught up with an unusually introspective Thomas to hear about the delayed album release and how the album art came to fruition.
OC Weekly (Heidi Darby): Getting Tundra out to the people has been a bit of a journey? Warren Thomas: It has been. This was our sophomore album and it was done and mastered in March of 2013. Burger Records and Mono Records helped put out our first album, and then we sent them our second and they were game but we had to wait awhile. It was supposed to come out in December, then January, then June, and then it ended up coming out in August.
That seems like it might have been frustrating. Nah, I was cool with it. I can't imagine what's it's like [for the guys at Burger Records] running a shop, a label, booking festivals and tours, organizing in-stores, putting out tapes, they do so much. Just keeping a store stocked with good records is difficult enough. You come to a certain point in your life where if you let your frustrations get the best of you, you realize it's for nothing. It's still not going to change anything. Besides, I honestly think it came out right when it was supposed to. The band that I'm playing with right now is really tight, and we got to do some touring over the year. It's been good.
I heard the album comes with an art booklet. Can you share any details? The LP comes with an eight-page book, my friend Robbie Simon and I put it together. Basically I'd hand written all the lyrics on old dust sleeves, you know the old ones that don't have holes in them. There was some art and doodles that intertwined, and Robbie suggested we make a book. There were so many lyrics that it was going to be difficult to fit onto one insert. I asked Sean (Bohrman) at Burger if that was cool, and he was kind enough to go for it. I'm so stoked on it. The lyrics are so personal, and when we play a show it's almost the opposite of that. It's cool that I get a chance to show the lyrics exactly how I wrote them out, and share them in a different way. It kind of shows a deeper side of what I'm writing about, and gives me a chance to be understood, which is always nice.
So do The Abigails claim Orange County or Los Angeles? There have been times when all of the members, including myself, lived in L.A. and there have been times when we all lived in OC. I feel like I'm kind of in limbo. I might move back to L..A in a month or so. Being a musician can be kind of funny, ya know? You never know how much money you're going to make, if you're gong to be successful, and you have to decide what successful means to you. I'm pretty certain that's how it is for most people playing music in this day and age. I feel like I've been kind of introspective, and I've thought about these sort of things for a long time. It's a coming of age.
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Did that come out in the record? When I'm writing good songs, it's when I'm personally not doing that well. It could be over a break up with a girl or whatever hardship I'm having. When I'm having a good time, I generally don't remove myself from that situation to write a song about what a good time I'm having. [Laughs] I wish I could do that, it'd probably make for pretty cool music. But lyrically, Tundra is more on the dark side. There's a couple of songs that are more upbeat and optimistic like "Oh La Lay." There's also a couple of covers, "For You" by Roky Erickson and Leon Payne's "It's Nothing To Me." The album's already done really well on the College Music Journal charts, and I'm happy to finally have it out there.
The Abigails perform at The Wayfarer, 843 W 19th St., Costa Mesa (949) 764-0039; www.wayfarercm.com. Saturday, November 8; 9 p.m. $5, 21+. For more information on The Abigails visit www.facebook.com/pages/The-ABIGAILS/