In the four years since singer-songwriters Sean Galloway, Angelica Tavella and bassist Vince Gutierrez moved from the Bay Area to SoCal to form TV Heads, they’ve created a sound that turns indie rock on its ear. They’ve perfected the art of writing songs on a diet of post-punk riffs, raw vocals and electro textures. Put all of that together in a blender with a dreamy, psychedelic aesthetic and you have the makings of one of the Long Beach music scene’s most successful up-and-coming bands.
Gutierrez, the wooly, long-haired bassist who played with both of Galloway and Tavella’s solo projects before coming together as a band has seen their music evolve while simultaneously writing songs that are simpler to digest.
“We all wanted to do something more rock-n-roll,” he says. “We were doing these experimental songs for so long we wanted to write something that would be in your face and get stuck in your head.”
Last year, the band released their debut EP, Total Fucker— the title is a running joke based on the most popular insult they hurl at each other during practice. TV Heads’ knack for combining moody introspection with bold choruses showed itself on their lead single “Chin Up,” as well as haunting keyboard driven songs like “Cool It Now” and “Flower District.”
The three bandmates started playing music together while working as counselors at a rock camp designed to teach young musicians how to perform and record their own songs, which they’d all been doing for years in various bands. “Eventually, since we were all in each other’s projects anyways, we said ‘why don’t we just make this a thing,” Gutierrez says. The band rounded out their lineup with Long Beach drummer Jessica Lankford (taking over for Tavella who moved from drums to keys/vocals).
The band balances local shows and mini tours with their music-driven day jobs. Galloway scores documentaries, Tavella works for music production software company Ableton and Lankford is an assistant to a professional composer. Gutierrez is a festival production coordinator for Music Tastes Good, which continues in honor of Josh Fischel, the fest’s founder and a staple in the Long Beach music scene. Fischel passed away from liver failure just days after the festival.
“I was living in Oakland and he called me up with the idea of starting a music festival, he wanted me to be his right hand man, and I just couldn’t pass it up,” Gutierrez says. “We worked for a year straight before even getting approved by the city. Unfortunately Josh passed away but thankfully, we have a good team keeping his dream alive.”
TV Heads are also lending their sonic support to MTG this year, playing an opening slot on the two-day lineup, headlined by Ween and Sleater Kinney.
Though playing mostly in the Long Beach and LA area, the band kept their ties to the Bay Area by recording their EP in Oakland with legendary producer Jeff Saltzman, whose worked with the The Killers, Department of Eagles and Blondie. They released it on OIM Records, a label that Tavella helped created before moving down south. Recording up their meant a lot of long drives up and down the coast, sometimes just to record a simple guitar part.
“We all have family up there so it was never a bad thing to go back but the drive could be grueling,” Gutierrez says. “We usually tried to plan a show when we were up there to make it worth it.”
Though it’s exciting to leave town once again on their upcoming three week tour (starting at Alex’s Bar on Friday) the band is also equally pumped about getting back home to finish up the writing and recording for their next album, putting out a new single, music video that will take take TV Heads to the next level and broadcast their sound to a bigger fan base.
TV Heads perform with Mike Watt and the Jom and Terry Show and Spare Parts For Broken Hearts at Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach. (562) 434-8293, www.alexsbar.com. 8 p.m., $7. 21+.