If there's one thing the Hindu Pirates have learned during the rising tide of their rock & roll stardom, it's the value of teamwork. Especially when it comes to rolling a joint at a moment's notice. Sitting on the back patio of the Echo in Los Angeles, preparing to open for the Smith Westerns, their altruistic tendencies came in handy just minutes before soundcheck. One by one, they all chipped in a piece of the pot-smoking puzzle–first the papers, then the green, followed by some nimble-fingered rolling techniques. And in less than three minutes, their mission was accomplished.
Their demeanor was loose and relaxed, never wasting an opportunity to crack a joke or pick on their own version of Parks & Recreation's Jerry Gergich, guitarist Giuseppe "Joey" LoBasso. But it's all in good fun, as the quintet have both a spoken and unspoken musical chemistry that creates a sound greater than the sum of their individual talents.
Formed in 2009 while the members were in high school, the Hindu Pirates have gradually earned the plaudits of local music critics and bloggers, one even labeling them "future stars" ahead of their successful stint at South By Southwest. Upon hearing this for the first time, the band couldn't hide their smiles.
"It's really cool to hear stuff like that," bassist Derek Bostleman says.
Guitarist Casey Snyder adds that those well-attended shows in Austin were the band's second time playing outside California.
Having known one another since their early days in the Huntington Beach/Costa Mesa area, there's a degree of controlled chaos that comes with being in this band. That came through loud and clear in previous recordings, including their 2010 debut full length, Pelican Daze, a fun, scrappy, surprisingly catchy effort they finished tracking in a mere eight hours. Wide-eyed, youthful exuberance certainly helps, but it's the synergy between the five band members that separates this group from other emerging rock bands. Though they're known for blending garage and surf rock, the guys don't want to be pigeonholed.
"We're not really surf punk anymore," Snyder says. "We're moving more toward indie, psychedelic, alternative rock. We can be labeled a thousand different ways, and we're still a bit garage-y."
"Our sound is getting bigger," singer Austin Ferreira adds. "When we started, we hardly knew how to play, so what we were playing was what we could play. Now, we're learning how to play new stuff, which we're going to do until we can't learn anymore."
In recent months, they've raised their profile considerably, securing a prime slot on March's Burgerama festival lineup (which they say was a thrill because they got to be on the same bill as Ariel Pink), plus a full schedule of shows and other promotions that should introduce them to a wider audience. Following a few gigs with Matt Costa, Hindu Pirates will be playing a June residency at the Echo; during that same month, the band will release "In The Dark" as part of a split seven-inch single with Rainbow Jackson via Near Mess Records.
After we talk for about 20 minutes, it's time for them to light up the coveted joint. But just as fast as they've rolled it, their manager comes outside and signals it's time for soundcheck. The Hindu Pirates' reaction is akin to that of a kid who has been called in by his parent to do his homework. They don't mind too much, however. They know that on this night, lighting up the crowd takes precedence over sparking up another joint. Sometimes, it takes a little maturity to set a pirate's priorities straight.
The Hindu Pirates perform with Matt Costa at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Sat., 8 p.m. $15. All ages. For more info on Hindu Pirates, visit www.facebook.com/hindupirates.
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.