Cab 20 drives to tighter sound in phase 3
It’s Valentine’s Day again, and this time around let’s be sure your arsenal of love is fully equipped to knock the socks clean off that special someone. DHR’s got you covered. Let’s see… Chocolate. Yeah, gotta have chocolate. Flowers. Yep, bingo. Card. Oh yeah, can’t forget that. A shower. Hm, better fit one in for sure. A shave. Okay, just this once. Your sharpest, slickest faded denim jacket. Well, gee, I don’t know, that might work; yeah sure, why not? Ah, and of course, Cab 20’s brand new LP Holy Denim Faded Vibrations will have your sweetheart doing backflips of pure rock n’ roll ecstasy! Yep, don’t see any socks anywhere; told ya!
That’s right, the El Segundo-based rock n’ roll band Cab 20 is back with a slick new hunk of vinyl, the full-length debut on their label Mock Records. Following the 2010 release of their debut LP Dirty Smiles, the Cactus EP in summer 2011, and a lineup change in 2012, the matured graduation of a young band whose front man is still only 20-years-old was captured in a live performance last fall at Loyola Marymount University’s famed KXLU 88.9 FM Los Angeles, and released as “Doom Gloom & Happier Things: Live at KXLU 11/16/12.” The new record, officially dropping Feb. 19, acts as a 10-track milestone preserving the band at its peak during its second incarnation.
After two different lineups as a three-piece, Cab 20 has reacquainted with its original drummer and expanded with an additional guitarist. The new four-piece sound with Bert Hoover (guitar, vocals), Jason Silengo-Almanza (bass, vocals), Erik Lake (guitar), and Zack Cosby (drums) was captured on Doom Gloom, while the preceding lineup of Hoover, Silengo-Almanza, and Eric Contreras (drums) makes up Holy Denim Faded Vibrations. The new LP is sort of the band’s three-piece masterpiece encapsulating a year’s worth of work before moving in a slightly different direction.
“In the words of Ozzy [Osbourne], we were going through changes,” said Hoover, laughing.
He went on to describe a lack of communication between the three-piece, and a replenished chemistry with their new/old drummer.
“And then I was hangin’ out with Erik Lake at Mock Records, and he would occasionally come in and jam with us,” he continued, “and we just kinda decided to roll with it and then started writing a bunch of songs, like you do when you find a new member – you know, it’s kinda like the honeymoon period of being in a band.”
But it wasn’t necessarily a smooth consummation, as their first show was a disastrous wall of mud. They first needed to figure out how to play with four members and rework their old songs to that effect. It’s a good thing they did, because they were soon and unexpectedly invited to open for the heavy hitting band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (which had Hoover dancing around like a teenage girl, as they happen to be one of his all time heartthrobs). After playing to a sold out crowd in Santa Cruz for BRMC and killing it, that’s when the new lineup got motivated.
Lake, the new guitarist with the unique perspective of having been a fan of the band before eventually finding himself in the band, said, “For me personally as a musician, it’s been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had – the first band where everyone’s into it all around… great communication… Bert’s the hardest working musician that I’ve ever met, and that keeps everyone going.”
Members of Cab 20 said their new sound still sounds like Cab 20. Silengo-Almanza claims, “It’s the same of what people used to like, just more of it.”
Hoover agreed. “I think the same reasons anyone would’ve loved us before are still present in the band now… We’re just a lot tighter and compact, but the sound I think has doubled. There’s like depth to it now, it’s not just loud guitar and loud bass and loud drums that sound like they’re trying to fight each other. It’s working together, and the sound is bigger, but it’s not too much, there’s just more to it. It’s a little more straightforward, it’s not as loose as it used to be. It’s more compact and driving.”
“Definitely not as loose as it used to be,” agreed Silengo-Almanza. “It feels like a completely different band sometimes, but it’s still the same band cuz we’re doing a lot of the same songs. Just the overall sound and feeling has changed, it’s a lot thicker and heavier and it’s tighter. It’s deviating away from being anything close to psychedelic, which some people had described us as before. It’s not a jam band, it’s like a real, legit, tight, functioning machine. It’s awesome.”
“It’s rock n’ roll,” said Hoover. “It’s not post punk, it’s not psychedelic, it’s not metal, it’s not desert rock, it’s not dream pop. It’s rock n’ roll. It’s not just rock, it’s rock n’ roll – it’s always gonna be.
“It sounds like Holy Denim, but taken a step up. Here’s Dirty Smiles waaay down here, and here’s Holy Denim [up here]. And now where we’ve come to has lifted that, allowed that to breathe and become the next entity of Cab 20, phase 3.”
Silengo-Almanza, just before rubbing jalapeño pepper-laced fingers in his eyes from the salsa he’d made earlier in the day, also said, “From a cooking perspective, it would be kind of like if something already tasted really good and you already liked it and you were happy with it, and then you threw in some hot sauce and now it tastes way better.”
“But it’s not different,” adds Hoover, “it just tastes better now.”
Cab 20 plans to release a couple vinyl 45s on Mock Records this year before recording their next album as a four-piece. They’re kicking off a West Coast tour with a record release party at the Comic Bug in Manhattan Beach Feb. 16 at 5 p.m., with support from local band Froth. To order pre-sale copies of Holy Denim, go to www.cab20music.com/, a limited run of faded blue vinyl are available. You can listen to Cab 20’s complete recorded output on DirtyHippieRadio.com, tuning you in to the independent music community.