Tue 27 Oct 2009
East Coast Oasis
“We’re like the Gallagher brothers, except poor, American and nobody knows us,” jokes Piper, the vocalist behind Californian band Pearl Harbor. Piper formed the band with her sister Skylar last summer and things have taken off rather quickly for them. Without warning and on the back of a couple of demo tracks the band posted on myspace, several popular music blogs including Gorilla vs. Bear and Stereogum started raining praise upon them, loosely grouping them alongside a wave of similar sounding summery Californian bands.
Their music conjures visions of long hot summer days, beaches lined with palm tress and pavements filled with skateboarders. A cross between a scene from Baywatch and Californication; where people sit around smoking pot on beach front balconies all day while the busy streets muddle into a blur beneath them. It’s surprising then that Piper doesn’t particularly like the warm weather. “I don’t know about my sister, but I don’t particularly like summer that much”, she says. “It never goes away in Southern California. It’s October and my bulldog and I are sitting on the floor in my room with a fan blasting hot air in our faces.”
Piper and her younger sister Skylar only started playing music together last year, and as a duo they write all of Pearl Harbor’s musical compositions. They have had only minor input from others, most importantly their live bass player Cody, who Piper says “wrote the bass line for ‘Luv Goon’”. Cole Greif-Neill from Haunted Graffiti also helped out on ‘Luv Goon’ and he also produced Pearl Harbor’s debut EP Something About The Chapparals. “He has been programming killer drums for some of our songs as well”, she says.
But Greif-Neill isn’t the only known musician to have helped Pearl Harbor forge success early in their career. Piper’s friend Matty McLaughlin from The Soft Pack also played an important role, hooking them up with Mexican Summer Records, who consequently released Pearl Harbor’s first EP. “My friend Matty called up Keith (Mexican Summer) one day and was like ‘Wassup doggie, put out deez guys’ record’.”
“I never really imagined that I’d be making a record, let alone with my little sister and so early on in our band’s life”
Something About The Chapparals is both timely and brilliantly scattered with a range of relaxed kaleidoscopic sounds, helping them to stand out from a group of artists riding a similar buzz, including Washed Out, Beach Fossils and Best Coast. The EP has a flowery psychedelic vibe that many of the others lack, giving their songs a twisted shape, eloquently mixing smooth harmonies and cruisy guitar melodies.
They spent just one month recording the EP and Mexican Summer Records recently released it on 12″ vinyl. “I recorded all the basic tracks in my apartment on an 8-track,” says Piper. “This whole ordeal is pretty interesting to me. I never really imagined that I’d be making a record, let alone with my little sister and so early on in our band’s life… it’s pretty awesome.”
Right now the sisters have few expectations and plan on staying put in Southern California. They’ve only played a couple of shows outside of L.A and are pretty comfortable playing shows with their friends bands, she mentions Animal Style as one of her favourites. “Cody’s in that band too,” she says.
“We’ve only played a couple of shows outside of L.A. We haven’t played anywhere too crazy. I grew up here so I’ve kind of been to all these places a million times for one reason or another.”
Music is and may always be a full-time hobby for both Piper and Skylar, at least until someone offers up a haul of cash to send them out on tour. For now they’re content on casually making music in Piper’s apartment, hanging out with their dogs and surfing youtube for Merrell Fankhauser and Van Halen videos. Piper kindly sent me a link to this video of Michael Anthony performing a drunk bass solo.
“Right now I’m into this Merrell Fankhauser video ‘Dharmic Connection’, and into the album it’s off of, Maui. He’s still the Merrell you know and love, but he’s older, wiser and a little synthier with some new age sensibilities. If we could get that guy to collab with us, holy shit, my brain would dissolve.”
You can purchase Pearl Harbor’s debut EP Something About The Chapparals from the Mexican Summer Records store.