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|SCISSORS FOR LEFTY
With Underhanded Romance our favorite San Francisco band joins the big leagues
Interview by Dagmar Patterson, intro by Ashley Graham
On June 12, Scissors for Lefty unleashes on ze werld the album for which we've been wait-wait-waiting months (years? our whole life?). We're in love with this band, and confident that Underhanded Romance will convert you to our side of the spectrum. In fact, we're pretty confident that within just a few months the entire world will be in love with Scissors for Lefty. (We called this, just remember.)
We were first graced with the presence of these boys in August 2005 when they made their debut in Seattle. This was one of those shows that changed your mind about music. Scissors for Lefty became one of our bands. Ever since we can't help but feel a pitter patter in our heart for them every time we see them achieve something new. Now these boys are releasing the album that is going to launch them, and we could not be more happy, or more proud.
Here's an archived interview from December with the boys to celebrate. Enjoy.
Q: Have you been to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center in your hometown [San Luis Obispo]?
Bryan Garza: You could always hear the seals behind these walls and wonder, are they okay? Yeah, Iíve been there before. I had my bicycle stolen out of my car while grabbing lunch right near there. My friend and I thought weíd left them somewhere. Within twenty minutes someone had broken into my car assembled the bikes and took off on them. So, Merry Christmas.
Q: Do they let you look at the animals?
BG: Yeah. Thereís a large seal population over there. There was actually a lady who got chomped by a Great White who liked to swim with seals, for years. Then one year she didnít come back.
Q: How did they know what got her?
Steve Garza: She came back, in half.
Q: You went over to the U.K. this year?
James Krimmel: We went once in May and then again in August. Weíd never been there before.
SG: I made this foolish remark that it was so great to be in Europe. And of course the U.K. is an island outside of Europe. So they were like, you jackass.
Q: How did you sign on with Rough Trade?
BG: They came to a few shows, without us knowing.
Peter Krimmel: They liked our live show and they wanted us to cut a record. It was really pretty quick and easy.
Q: So now youíre able just to do music?
BG: When we go to the U.K. they pay enough so we can eat and stay the night somewhere. Weíre in the indie genre, which is not known for its cash-flow. We always sell enough merch. But itís mostly your own cash, your own credit card. We donít feel as in debt (in the U.K.) as in the States.
Q: [To the Krimmels] Your mom is a Malaysian singer, does she still sing?
PK: Not really. She sang a lot when she was 19 and then she met my dad, who was in the Peace Corps. That was back in the 60s.
Q: So youíve visited Borneo?
PK: Yeah. All of my momís side is still over there. We get the whole localsí tour.
Q: Did she teach you any of the languages?
PK: No. And I figured out why. So she and my dad could talk right in front of us without us knowing what they were saying.
JK: Occasionally there wonít be a Malaysian equivalent to an English word. So every once in a while there will be yadda yadda yadda . . . loser kids. We tried Pig Latin but they figured it out pretty quickly.
Q: Is your dad a linguist type?
PK: Yeah, he kind of is. He went to France and learned French, then to Germany and learned German. I was surprised.
Q: Did you pick up that skill?
JK: I took four years of Spanish and it didnít really do any good.
Q: Whatís happening with the second CD?
BG: We cut it the same time we went to the U.K. We love this album. This album is way more reflective of what you see live. When we recorded Bruno we were learning to record and didnít have a feel for how to capture upbeat songs. Itís a very playful album. It still has its story, its arc. This oneís a lot more upbeat and playful, and higher quality of us. I donít want to downplay Bruno Ė it has its own personality, it was what we were.
Q: Are you a fan of Pulp? You get a lot of comparisons to Jarvis Cocker.
BG: Weíve heard that a couple of times, and itís only flattering. Pulpís pushed a lot of the boundaries for male flamboyancy. Itís not our intention. Our vocal range is kind of in the similar area. Half the time weíre trying to rip off female artists but no one seems to catch up with that.
Q: Like who?
SG: Like Kelly Clarkson.
PK: Girl groups from the 60s.
BG: We donít like to try to sound like butt rock. Itís never been our schtick. We try to be a little more lighthearted and more playful or clever if we can be. When you stray on that path, people think, British sounds. I think weíre San Francisco rock 'n' roll. Weíre a flirtatious pop band, and if weíre compared to Jarvis Cocker, thatís great. Keep up the good comparisons. I think we write a little less about adultery. If I had my way weíd write more about that.
Q: You mentioned the girl groups from the 60s. Which ones do you like? The Crystals?
PK: Yeah, the Ronettes or the Shirelles. The Supremes.
SG: These guys are really focused on melodies.
PK: Girl-fronted groups: the Cardigans, CSS. We come from all these really different angles.
SG: Thereís a lot of stuff we grew up dancing to and learning to have a good time to. The hard part is that there arenít a lot of male artists that fall into that category. I have a hard time identifying with the personality types [of males] Ė too insecure.
Q: When you were a teenager what kind of shows did you like to see?
SG: Milli Vanilli and Information Society. We had horrible music. Everything was early hip hop, grunge. It definitely shifted gears when we left home. Weíre not music snobs.
BG: For our first [Scissors for Lefty] show, I convinced these guys I was gonna conjure up lyrics. And I lay on the floor and nothing came to me. The audience started creeping backwards. A lot of our music was a lot more somber in the beginning. The bands we have always loved have had a lot of variety. We donít try to have one signature sound. James is actually a really good bassist. We kicked him off and made him play drums when we lost our drummer. Peter used to play guitar only. We play a lot of musical chairs. Sometimes your strength isnít always your strength live. Itís better to do something that allows you to have a good time. It keeps you from having, like, four All-stars that donít get along. Instead every one is always in a state of utter fear.
Q: Whatís the scariest place youíve stayed?
JK: A cemetery.
PK: We didnít realize it was a cemetery at the time.
BG: We pulled over on the road and fell asleep. We just donít like the mediocre. One day you wonít even spend a dollar on a soda, but youíll buy a $1,000 toy for your band gear. Itís like, I donít want to buy that sweater, I donít care if itís freezing outside. Iíll run in circles. If I only have one glove, Iíll put the other hand in my pocket. Turn your underwear inside out.
PK: Donít wear underwear.
Q: Which countries have you liked a lot?
PK: Germany. The people there are cool. They donít get jokes though. They just sit there.
BG: London is great. Scotland Ė I always have a good time in Scotland. But San Francisco is our favorite place. Itís kind of half-Euro city, half-American. We play little towns like Fresno or whatever and we have a lot of fun. I couldnít believe how much fun we had in Merced. Kids were asking for autographs.
PK: We found a dog.
JK: We saved a dog.
SG: He was running across the highway . . . and I ran out and nabbed him. Peter got him a collar. The dog started farting.
PK: We stopped giving him treats after that.
BG: Itís kind of like that marine rescue you mentioned, except this was under-bite rescue. That dog had a terrible under-bite.
PK: It was really cute. But we canít have a dog. Our apartments wonít let us have dogs.
SG: We ended up giving him to a couple.
BG: Weíre humane when we can be.
Underhanded Romance is available now on Eenie Meenie Records.
More on Scissors for Lefty: www.scissorsforlefty.com / www.myspace.com/scissorsforlefty.