From playing every Massachusetts basement gig going, California X have emerged as one of the finest of a new wave of garage punk bands. Their music is pleasingly melodic, dominated by grungy guitars and huge riffs. This 4-piece will have you head-banging yourself all the way to an early, stroke-induced grave. We caught up with them ahead of a performance on the Festival Republic Stage at Reading & Leeds 2013. Bassist Dan even treated us to some of his favourite quotes, which you’ll find dotted about in Grey. We don’t really understand them, but maybe you will:
‘And nothing else matters……..’
Tell us how California X began.
Dan: It began as an idea Lemmy and I had while we were living in New Haven, Connecticut. We wanted to start a fun sludgy rock band, so Lemmy wrote some songs but it took a little while to get the actual band going. I moved to Boston for a little while, where I met our drummer, Cole. I was also living with our second guitarist, Zack. Lemmy, Cole and I moved to Amherst in 2011 and that’s when it became a real band. Zack started playing with us a few months ago and has just recently moved to Amherst.
The Amherst region, where you come from, is often referred to as ‘Happy Valley,’ partly due to its arts and music communities. Do you think coming from Amherst was important to your early music career?
Dan: We’re actually not originally from Amherst. Lemmy and I are from Connecticut, Cole is from Boston and Zack is from New Jersey. I moved out here to to do more music stuff with some friends and partly because Lemmy and Cole started attending school in Amherst. There is a great music scene out here and we knew some people, so the move made sense. The community here is really supportive and we’ve made a lot of great friends.
Time and time again, you are compared to Dinosaur Jr. How conscious are
you of this and do you consider this to be a compliment?
Dan: Great question! We’re all aware of it, but so are a lot of other bands around here. Lately, it seems like bands from Western Mass are being compared to Dinosaur Jr just because we live here. We all like that band but I don’t think it’s an influence for us. We don’t really have guitar solos. Time will tell. Time Marches On. Time tells all.
Who are you other major influences?
Dan/Zack: The Clippers, Wintersun-Time I
What’s the best crowd you’ve ever played in front of?
Dan: The most fun I can remember having was in New Haven, CT last winter. We played with our friends Ovlov and Mope right after the record came out. It was a big mess.
‘Give Me Fire’
You’re appearing at Reading & Leeds this year with some brilliant
bands. Who are you most excited to be playing alongside?
Dan: Merchandise/Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats/ping pong parlour Zack: Haim
Why should people come and see California X at the festival?
Zack: Come if you like guitar music.
What does the future hold for California X?
Dan: We’re working on new stuff and hopefully we’ll be back in Europe next summer. Time.
‘For whom the bell tolls………………….’
If you like what you hear, head to the Festival Republic Stage on Sunday (Reading) or Friday (Leeds) and check out California X in their first live UK show.