“The needle leans down on a hundred and wind burned eyeballs strain to see down the center line, trying to provide a margin for the reflexes. But with the throttle screwed on, there is only the barest margin, and no room at all for mistakes. It has to be done right…and that’s when the strange music starts.” Hunter S. Thompson, Hell’s Angels (1966).
Thompson never goes on to describe the music that began to develop in his mind as he was gripping to his bike going 100mph down a stretch of highway just south of San Francisco. But the so-called “strange music” was made from a perfect harmonic merger of both fear and euphoria – resulting from discovering unrestrained freedom. The wild era of the late 60s, when every rider reeked of unleaded fuel and cheap whiskey, seemed like the final days of a lawless, barren west — when brigades of runaway, patriotic, misfits would crudely, or rather – proudly, fix an American flag on their bikes for the wind to violently shred as they rode through California between the Bay Area and LA – stopping only for a “good time.” And after a few shots and some hours of riding full throttle – the loud engine noises would fade away by moments of clarity – when the only thing they heard was the sound of a girl’s arms, clinging to their chest, began to grip tighter. That’s when these desperados heard the same strange music Thompson had: the kind Bob Dylan played when he decided to plug in at folk festival, right after he had made a bargain with the devil.
Last year, Jesus’s Sons fled San Francisco and made LA their new home. They make noise like the freedom, good time music of a bygone era. Their sound, although purposely nostalgic, remains as relevant today as it would’ve been in the yesteryears, because no matter the many wicked ways you live your life by, if you easily succumb to evil temptations, Jesus’s Sons are here to help you repent your sins. The gang of five just released their first L.P. (self-titled) chock full of foot-stomping, debauchery-ready, Western Americana songs. ’60s psych-garage may be their foundation, but the wild bunch throw in some tender loving tunes, a faint sound of Southern Gospel, and some heartbreaking Blues. If you happen to find enough cash inside your unwashed denim jacket to pay for a tall-boy, a pack of cigarettes, and a girly mag – then the following thing you ought to do is simply put on this record – so the next time you’re out switching to fourth gear, heading north on Interstate 5, and the only thing you hear is the wind flowing through your helmet, that’s when Jesus’s Sons’ strange music will start.
Front-man Brandon Wurtz chatted with LAC to tell us how him and his boys plan to win the west.
LA CANVAS: Why would you ever leave San Francisco?
BW: That’s a tough question for us. We loved SF. Sometimes the doors just open and you gotta take the opportunity. The motorcycle shop I work for, Charlie’s Place, was moving down to LA and for me it was an easy decision. It worked well for both the shop and the band to make the move because the SF government and the pirates that run the city have grown increasingly unfriendly to anything outside of the tech boom. It’s dot com all over again, praise the lord.
LAC: What happened to guitar solos?
BW: I don’t think they were ever really gone, but I’m sorta lost when it comes to 1990’s and 2000’s music when a lot of music turned into a digital mess. That’s most likely where guitars got lost in the mainstream. My parents played really good music while I was growing up so my brain wasn’t melted by the time I started playing in bands and luckily my musical taste never wandered too far off. Shannon Dean is a great guitar player, there are so many great guitar parts and nuances to this record from him. I can’t say that we brought guitars back anyway regardless of what has come and gone in music, have you heard Black Mountain? That dude shreds. Praise McBean.
LAC: How were the recording sessions for the LP and how much whiskey was consumed?
BW: Recording this record was one of the most fun times of my life so far. It was like that spring break in Cabo you know, the one where the chicks were everywhere and you were super drunk and you remember every single thing except the parts you don’t? I mean I never went to Cabo during spring break but it was like that minus the chicks and Cabo. We had almost the whole record written when we went into Fuzz City in Oakland with Rob Good producing it, and we recorded everything live to 1/4 inch reel to reel tape on a Tascam 388. We layered vocals and some percussion on top while we basically threw a party in the studio. If there was whiskey in the room, we didn’t leave till it was gone.
LAC: Give us a brief background on the band members….
BW: La banda…
Chance Welton, from Idaho. Tall, white and a one man party. DRUMMER
Erik Lake, from California. Our burrito brother, and single. BASS, VOCALS
Bert Hoover, from California. Single, young, handsome, well spoken and punctual. SLIDE GUITAR, VOCALS
Shannon Dean, from Iowa. The fella your dad warned your sisters about. LEAD GUITAR, HARMONICA
Brandon Wurtz, from Idaho. Motorcyclin’ and his Old Lady. GUITAR, HARMONICA, LEAD VOCALS
LAC: List some of your influences…
BW: Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Carl Perkins, Link Wray, Eddie Cochran, Bob Dylan, Wanda Jackson, Wilson Pickett, The Shangri Las, Velvet Underground, Spindrift, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Steve McQueen.
LAC: Which one of you is the biggest sinner?
BW: We’re all good boys. I guess I stole a blow pop the other day. It feels good you know? We’re here to have a good time, but we are trying to give everyone else a good time too so where’s the sin in that?
LAC: If you could re-score any movie, what flick would it be?
BW: I think we already sort of re-scored “The Glory Stompers” as we wrote the album. I would say “Easy Rider” or “Space Jam” if the scores weren’t already perfect.
LAC: Dream motorbike?
BW: I got a dream bike, it’s a 1964 Honda Dream. I’m building a 1970 CB750 bored out to 836cc that’s gonna break some hearts, so right now that’s my next dream bike.
LAC: Dream babe?
BW: Wendy Peffercorn
LAC: Favorite bar in LA?
BW: One of my favorite bars is Harvard and Stone in Hollywood. We’re playing their anniversary party February 19th with Spindrift. You should come check it out and get drunk and party with us.
LAC: Best time to play the LP?
BW: We wanted this record to sound good when you first wake up and you gotta head to work, or when you’re driving down the road, shooting pool in a bar, sitting around a campfire with it blasting out of an old van, or when you’re making out on a couch with someone you just met. These are tunes for all the people like us, trying to transcend the 21st century bullshit.