Style Is Substance for New Fidelity

It was the early 2000s, and George W. Bush was sending troops to Iraq for a war that we sometimes forget is still taking place. But for Daniel Perkins and Roberto Escobar, a recording session for a tune called “Soldier” was coming straight out of London circa 1960. They hadn't planned on starting a band, but an off-the-cuff remark from a friend regarding their “new-fi” sound quickly morphed into a full-fledged mod/power-pop hybrid called the New Fidelity. Once equipped with a name, the Long Beach duo expanded to a quintet (guitarist/vocalist Perkins, bassist/vocalist Escobar, drummer/vocalist Billy Parkinson, keyboardist R. Scott and guitarist/vocalist Shawn Malone) and threw on snazzy suits. They've since had their music played on the television show Parenthood and on KROQ-FM's influential radio program Rodney On the Roq.


OC Weekly: Where do you get the snazzy suits?

Dan Perkins: We've been collecting suits and accessories for years. Many of them are custom-made or mail-ordered from the U.K. The key to a good suit is a good tailor—even if it's custom-made, you need to have a good tailor to fit it perfectly!

How did you meet Rodney Bingenheimer?

Perkins: He invited us to meet him at Canter's on Fairfax in LA for dinner, and we've been friends ever since. He's played us a lot on KROQ and even chose us as one of his favorite bands for a piece done on him for NPR.

Tell me about your new single.

Perkins: Our new 7-inch was recorded by Billy in his apartment and mastered at Capitol Records. “California Summer” is about living in New York during the winter and longing to come back to California, and “Never Go Away” is a cool, syncopated '60s/'80s power-pop song on the other side of the white vinyl. We had some money from when one of our songs was on Parenthood, so we decided to release it ourselves.

Billy Parkinson: We'll ship it to whoever wants to PayPal us $7. As far as stores go, we haven't told them yet, but we're going to take a bunch over to Fingerprints and sneak them onto the rack. We hope they don't mind us keeping the ones we replace, though. Any other stores can take this as an open call for orders.

I've heard vinyl is making a comeback. Do you hope this is true?

Shawn Malone: There is definitely something really real about holding a vinyl record in your hands. You can actually feel the grooves that make the sound. Everyone you know who is a true tastemaker, a real listener, has a phonograph and records.

Parkinson: The CD seems to be going the way of the dodo, so we decided to bypass that format completely and release a vinyl record and include a download card with bonus tracks. Besides, we have yet to see an autographed MP3.

Don't you find it funny that you are in a band and your name kinda/sorta suggests monogamy? I mean, that's not rock & roll, is it?

Malone: ­We don't think it has anything to do with women. It's a fidelity to the kind of music we want to make. It's being true to that, not what's cool. We sorta tried to be what's cool, but it didn't work for us. Devo said it best: “We're through being cool.” Or maybe the Descendents: “I'm not a cool guy anymore, as if I ever was before.”

This column appeared in print as “Style Is Substance.”

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