In the time it takes you to read this article, you would’ve already gotten through the bulk of Roosterhead’s brand new album Short Circuits. Never ones to waste time on the trappings of overindulgent song structures, the neon slathered sound of this OC duo exercises experimentation by cramming as much weirdness as possible before most bands can finish a single verse. Their latest project is true to its name, with each track on the 14-song album clocking in at exactly one minute or less (okay, except for the magnum opus last track, which is 1:05). Combining cartoon craziness with the spirit and conciseness of punk, these guys take cues from their personal tastes for short songs that deliver more bang for your buck.
“We’ve always liked short songs,” says singer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Johnson. “We played a radio show one time and they asked us to make a playlist of some of our favorite songs and they were all under two minutes.”
Together with his bandmate Shawn Her Many Horses, the two constructed verses and choruses, some as short as nine words long, that helped them get the point of each song across.
The art of the short song isn’t exclusive to punk of course. Combing through their collection of influences, Johnson and Her Many Horses both recognize the brief, beautiful works of artists like Guided By Voices and Daniel Johnston who did some of their most interesting work in under a minute. The more limits the band put on themselves, Johnson says, the more creativity came out. That includes the band’s predilection for using obscure and random instruments to record with, including pocket synthesizers.
“I went onto Amazon and bought a $35 synthesizer that has a stylus and I wrote songs using the stylus on the synthesizer having no idea what the notes were,” Johnson says. “Then I’d go back on the next track and reinterpret it with bass and guitars and drums and send it to Shawn and have him do his interpretation.”
For Roosterhead, it the main inspiration was the test of their own willpower to approach songs in a new way.
“Really with this album it was mostly just an experiment just to see if we could do it. Whether it worked out or not was kinda beside the point.”
As much work as that sounds like for a one minute song, Johnson and Her Many Horses managed to get what amounts to less than 14 minutes of creative output without breaking much of a sweat. In fact, after finishing the album, they decided to go back for more, this time with a video camera to create a film component for their release show tonight at Beatnik Bandito in Santa Ana.
“Basically we finished the album and the we filmed 14 music videos in two weeks,” Johnson says.
Roosterhead perform tonight at Beatnik Bandito Music Emproium, 7:30 p.m. No cover. For full details, click here.