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TEENAGE KINGS OF SLOP POP: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO AUDACITY

As mentioned previously, Audacity blew Black Time off stage when they played with us back in 2007. They were to be the first of many, many American bands (he sobbed) that showed us how it should be done on our two trips to the states, but to date I’m convinced that they were the best – an absolutely astonishing performance. My dazed clutching to the fact that it must have been a fluke and the songs can’t have been that good has been consecutively disproved by a demo CD-R, a tape, and most conclusively by the ‘Power Drowning’ LP. It combines everything that is good and great about snotty three-chord teenage garage music: singalong angst anthems, blurry tempos, unhinged performances, bittersweet ballads (yes ballads!), goofy humour, hormone raging energy, all captured with the perfect balance of rawness and detail in a typically fine recording by Mike McHugh. There’s a real sense of a band that’s more than the sum of its parts – there’s nothing that remarkable about any individual player but together they lock into this raging groove and concoct inspired arrangements that get the best out of each song. There’s lots of bands around at the moment who do one kind of thing really well but fall down at the longplayer stage ‘cos they hit you over the head with 12 examples of it and that can get tired over two sides of wax. Audacity switch up tempo and mood frequently enough that the album is still lying in the ‘regular listen’ pile next to my turntable after many spins.

With such a great record under their belts, I assumed that everyone must be going hog-wild for Audacity in their homeland and they would be enjoying a hallowed period of headlining county fairs, playing civic functions for Governor Schwarzenegger and starring in their own Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello style series of beach party movies. Peering through the rusty interpipe in my leaky Victorian garret though I can discern some evidence that this may not in fact be the case and instead everyone is distracted by listening to indie-pop revival acts and limited edition cassettes by bands called TTTTTTrussstFFund. I implore thee, pilgrim cousins, to correct this oversight immediately by purchasing ‘Power Drowning’ - you can thank me later. If you’re not sold on my rambling hyperbole then you may be swayed by the fact that their bass player is called Cameron Crowe.

I tried to find out more about what made these young men tick and got back the below from the collective brain of the band (Cameron, Thomas Alvarez, Kyle Gibson and Matt Schmalfeld).

TB: How long has the band been going and how do you all know each other?
Audacity: The band has been going since pre-9/11 when we were in sixth grade. Kyle and Matt knew each other since first grade and started it up with two other guys who eventually left. We met Thomas in junior high and Cameron we saw around town cuz he went to Ladera Vista and we went to Parks Jr High. I thought he was a douchebag but we all became great friends in high school and he was actually really interesting and handsome.

TB: There seems to be a lot of cross-pollination of bands and people that are in or from your area - Party Fowl, Ty Segall, Traditional Fools, Burger Records etc – is it a small scene in Orange County? Do you all hang out together and stuff?
Audacity: "Orange county scene" is a strange phrase 'cuz there are no good venues and shit sucks over here. The Traditional Fools group of guys we met when they moved to San Francisco, but they're from South County and we're from North. We hang out with White Night and Thee Makeout Party and the only good shows are parties at their houses. Thee Makeout Party let us come over and hang with them and we're probably gonna record our next record in the studio located in their garage in Anaheim, where they have fireworks, Disneyland and set off car alarms on their street (this is Thee Makeout Party's idea of an icebreaker). We love our city though and always make sure no one calls us an "LA band", cuz we're not.

TB: Do you see yourselves in any kind of west coast lineage? Obviously you cover Red Cross and there’s a kind of Dangerhouse/Beach Blvd vibe to some of the songs.
Audacity: Kyle's adopted aunt is the McDonald brothers from Redd Kross’ sister! She just found this out a few years ago and met them once. From our hometown of Fullerton bands like the Middle Class, Adolescents, Agent Orange, Social Distortion, DI, and others came out. We like the Southern California Dangerhouse sound, and everybody knows that all the best punk bands and even bands in general are from the west coast!

TB: Who writes the songs – is it a collective effort or does one person come up with the basic ideas?
Audacity: Usually someone will come to band practice with an idea and we'll flesh it out. Matt comes up with majority of these things.





TB: How was it recording at the Distillery?
Audacity: Mike McHugh of the Distillery is an amazing guy. The last day of mixing Kyle was sick and sleeping on every couch in the place which ensured that Mr.McHugh would also get the disease and he suffered, even more than he usually does on a day-to-day basis. Usually recording would go like this - we walk into the studio, wake up McHugh off the couch, and then he'd send us to buy him a burrito and pack of cigarettes, then he would make fun of us all day and we would make a record. One time we played at the beach and he came and brought his awesome daughter Slashley.

TB: Your drummer is called Thomas Alvarez and you have a song called Mr. Alvarez - is the song about Thomas? One of his relatives? What's the score?!
Audacity: Mr.Alvarez is Kyle/Matt/Cameron’s English teacher from their senior year who would ride his bike to school and we were hypothesizing as to why this was and we decided he got a DUI, but he's actually a very respectable dude who just lives pretty close to the school. Thomas prefers to go by "Mr.Thomas".

TB: On the inner it says you were all 17 or 18 when the album was recorded - are you all off at college and shit now? Will you be able to carry on doing the band in holidays?
Audacity: It’s Fullerton Junior College for us. We plan on going to Japan during winter break with Recess Records.

TB: When we played with you, you were doing backflips off the stage and shit. I'm always envious of this kind of behaviour as I'm extremely clumsy and frequently trip over leads, fall off the stage, smack myself in the mouth with the microphone etc without attempting to do anything near as athletic. So what's the worst you've injured yourself doing a show?
Audacity: We cut our mouths a lot on microphones. Matt tore his meniscus and had to get some kind of surgery. Cameron’s finger bleeds a lot while plucking his bass. One time Kyle had to get stitches 'cuz whilst replacing a tube in his amp the old one shattered. On a related note, Matt’s amp caught on fire the other night.

TB: Do you all skate? I notice there's a few references in the lyrics. What’s your favourite song about skating?
Audacity: Matt and Cameron enjoy to skate. Favorite song about skating is "Skate or Die" by Bad Antics. Also, "Heaven is a Halfpipe" by OPM and "Sk8" by The Spits.

TB: What’s next for Audacity?
Audacity: We're on a west coast tour with Mika Miko right now. 7" on PPM out soon. We go on a USA tour in August. Next record is hopefully a split release with PPM and Recess and Burger. And a 7" on Goodbye Boozy. Also we need to steal our plates from our first album back from these dudes in Bakersfield. And JAPAN!

END INTERVIEW






DISCOGRAPHY
'The Anne Frank Tape' cassette (Burger Records)
split 7" w/Thee Makeout Party (Burger Records)
'Power Drowning' LP (Recess/Burger)

Audacity on the web here.

Interview by Agent Lemmy Caution. Pics stolen from the interweb, if anyone would like a credit please contact the editor.

To read other interviews, go here.


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