The Thingz Are Carnival Freakz
Long Beach garage power trio the Thingz are fronted by the husband-wife team of Mike (guitar/vocals) and Kim (bass/vocals) Morrison, DIY rock-scene veterans with a somewhat-adorable backstory: They met at a show at Our House in Costa Mesa in the mid-'90s, then started dating a couple of years later. A short time after that, they formed the Thingz, then got married and settled down in LBC.
"Mike was living in San Diego, and I had no idea because I would see him at [Long Beach] shows almost every weekend," Kim recalls from when they met. Now, the Morrisons teach fourth and fifth grade by day, spending what seems like every minute they're not in the classroom doing some sort of music project.
As with most bands of this ilk, each member of the Thingz plays in several other projects around town. Mike and drummer Jason Cordero play in Bottled Spirits, an old-timey Americana string ensemble; before that, Mike and Jason played together in a rock outfit called Operator. Cordero also does the drumming for Long Beach power-pop trio Radiohearts, and he picks up the bass for a chamber-rock ensemble named Panther Heart. Before the Thingz, Kim logged in time playing with horror-rockers Voo Duo, back when they worked as a trio under the name Witching Hour.
And that's what's cool about Long Beach: The insularity of the city foments a cross-bred scene with a communal, grassroots vibe that doesn't really exist anywhere else in Southern California. Whereas Orange County is too spread out and LA too transient, Long Beach is a self-contained, fully functional scene that's composed of folks who decided to throw down roots there. And by Kim's account, Long Beach garage rock has started to draw the attention of people who live beyond the city limits because of this. "Every band has its own sound and personality," she says. "It's a good place to be creative and make connections." As for the Thingz' creative output, they've released two full-length albums: 2004's self-titled and Step Right Up in fall 2012. The idea for the latter came while Mike and Kim were on a wine bender, wandering around Paso Robles, when they happened upon a circus flier. "Mike remarked that there really isn't enough carnival-themed rock & roll," Kim remembers."And it was decided that the next Thingz record would employ just such a theme." They wrote the album with a loose circus sideshow flavor--songs with names such as "Human Pancake" and "New Bigfoot Blues"--and sonically, they borrowed sounds from the B-52s, shotgunning them through a lo-fi punk filter.
Albeit a fun direction for the band, Kim reveals they've opted to stray from that formula on their follow-up EP, Red Future, due in April, with the vinyl run already in process. There's more of a guitar emphasis, and they've sobered up a little. "Frankly, we really felt we had beat the goofy schtick into the ground, and it was time for something a little different," she says. "It isn't Pink Floyd's The Wall. . . . It isn't even The Final Cut. It's just something a little different from what we've done on previous recordings. We think it's our best yet."
The Thingz perform with Savage Gospel, Baus, and the Bell and the Beau at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839; www.prospectorlongbeach.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $5. 21+.
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