By: Martin Halo
With the American musical landscape in upheaval, caught between cultural influence and weekly relevance, it has become increasingly hard to find the still breathing pulse of rock n' roll buried deep beneath cloak of industry and marketing.
In response, California's underground musical vanguard is full of artists struggling to create work that strive for more than quick fame. Originating from a scene that birthed The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Doors, and the Grateful Dead, the indigenous musicians of California have evolved into the next generation of lasting figures. From the wind-blown beaches on Los Angeles to Northern California's rolling green hills, the California coast has recently delivered such promising bands as the Cold War Kids, Comets on Fire, and from the San Francisco Bay Area, the folk-inspired psychedelic grooves of Vetiver.
"When I moved to California everything changed," says Vetiver founder Andy Cabic. "I really didn't have any friends to play with out here. I lived for the first year and a half in a really small closet because rent was so expensive. When I came to California all I had was an acoustic guitar."
Andy Cabic - Vetiver
"I was into the Byrds and Gram Parsons already you know," says Cabic. "I wouldn't say I experienced any kind of sea change between the coasts. I have always been into music, just obsessed with buying it and chasing it down looking for new things. There were a lot of stores that carried reissues here in the Bay Area that you couldn't find back East, like the Youngbloods and Norman Greenbaum.
Growing up in North Carolina, Cabic's musical interests stem from gems buried deep in the bins of local record stores. "My folks were bureaucrats for the federal government," he explains. "They would take me to these record stores with an allowance. I bought whatever used records the clerk there would point me to."
Vetiver released their sophomore effort entitled To Find Me Gone in May of 2006, which includes contributions from Devendra Banhart.
"Devendra and I met through mutual friends in San Francisco," says Cabic. "He was going to school up here at the time and I was working in a book store. Pretty much the first day we met we sat around and played music, maybe wrote a song that week. It happened pretty instantaneously."
"The sessions for this record were spread out over some traveling in the summer of '05. The title of the record was taken from the song 'You May be Blue.' I had these songs for quite a while. This record is the product of an extended bout of touring and getting friends to play on the album. I was really just waiting for these musicians to get their parts on there that I had in mind for them," says Cabic.
Andy Cabic - Vetiver
Produced by Thom Monahan (Pernice Brothers, Tussle, Beachwood Sparks), the record fuses the grace of lethargic folk with psychedelic hooks. "Compared to the first record it has a denser sound and broader arrangements," says Cabic. This reflects Vetiver's solidified touring lineup - Otto Hauser (drums), Brent Dunn (bass), Alissa Anderson (cello), Sanders Trippe (guitar), and Andy Cabic (guitar/vox) at the helm.
The band hails from a geographic region that is known for pushing the boundaries of cultural experimentation while remaining socially conscious. Cabic observes, "California, as a whole, is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I am not sure I could pinpoint what it is you feel when you are out here but there definitely is a feel and vibe to Northern California."
Cabic and his brotherhood of rock n' roll outlaws operate outside the mainstream spotlight, far from Clear Channel and MTV. "We live in a culture that thrives for instantaneous recognition," says Cabic, "I understand that things like influence build over time, even for the bands that are bubbling under the surface. I am not that impatient that I am searching for reward or fame right away."
Andy Cabic - Vetiver
"MTV is owned by Viacom, which is owned by another corporation which owns the labels that release the music that MTV is covering. They have become a media outlet that chases money and profit while covering the company's bottom line. Of course, their focus is going to be publicizing aspects of the company that make more money than music. I don't exactly look to MTV to define what American values are anymore. Every time I turn it on there is another show about some teenager's birthday. It has become depressing, so I look to other things for comfort."
Cabic continues, "Arthur Magazine is doing a good job out here, and I read MOJO," referencing two publications that try to focus on artistry rather than insider drama. "I think people are curious to a point where they have a greater capacity for different styles of music than in the past because of technology. Even with the overwhelming level of saturation by the amount of people and ideas being exchanged all the time, I still think people would know if something was important if they heard it."
"In the '60s and '70s, focusing on the album was a concept that was revolutionary. That is a concept that I grew up with and was the focus of [To Find Me Gone]. Music hits you at a certain moment in time. When it hits you all you want to do is make that a part of your life."
VETIVER TOUR DATES
01.31 | Wesleyan University | Middletown, CT
02.02 | Carnegie Hall | New York, NY (w/ Banhart, Bunyan, Adem, Cibelle, CocoRosie
02.03 | Johnny Brenda's | Philadelphia, PA (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
02.04 | Satellite Ballroom | Charlottesville, VA (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
02.05 | The Artscenter (West End Theatre) | Carrboro, NC (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
02.06 | 40 Watt Club | Athens, GA (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
02.07 | The Mercy Lounge | Nashville, TN (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
02.09 | Rock & Roll Hotel | Washington, DC (w/ Vashti Bunyan, Vandaveer)
02.10 | Southpaw | Brooklyn, NY (w/ Vashti Bunyan)
03.07 | El Rey Theater | Los Angeles, CA (w/ Bright Eyes)
03.08 | El Rey Theater | Los Angeles, CA (w/ Bright Eyes)
03.09 | Great American Music Hall | San Francisco, CA (w/ Bright Eyes)
03.10 | Great American Music Hall | San Francisco, CA (w/ Bright Eyes)
JamBase | California
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