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|The (Wacky, Zany, Unpredictable) Attractives
Spend some time with San Luis Obispo’s most beloved band
by Devon McReynolds
Hailing from sleepy-slash-boring San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California, the Attractives have set the standard for how to play the best shows in the area. A typical Attractives show consists of crazy dancing, the crowd singing along to all the songs, and it is not uncommon to see someone dash up to embrace the band members themselves. Having released their debut album Josephine on Art Monkey Records last year, the Attractives are planning a move to Los Angeles in order to get more exposure and play more shows, especially after the key venue in San Luis Obispo for indie bands shut down (for more info, read on in the interview).
I caught up with the Attractives—Kenny Carranza, Noah Kwid, Johnny Hill, and Josh Barnhart—as well as some other “guests,” at Spike’s after one of their packed, boozy, dance-party shows. The following interview is nonsensical at times, and straight-up unintelligible at others, but it provides a (somewhat skewed) insight into what I’m convinced is the craziest, coolest local band ever.
Kenny: We’re doing an interview on Johnny’s birthday.
Johnny: (to Josh) Come on, it’s the only time you’ll be interviewed in your life!
Me: How did you meet?
Johnny: I was sexually attracted to Noah because he looked like my ex-girlfriend. You remember Laura right? It’s like looking in the mirror. You look at Laura and you look at Noah…
Kenny: Laura’s got boobies.
Johnny: No, she doesn’t. That’s why.
Noah: Yeah, she’s got like that much (makes gesture with hands). I’ve seen ‘em.
Johnny: See, now look; now he looks like Laura. So, anyway, I wanted to fuck him, but the next best thing was playing music with him. (gestures to Kenny) He got insanely jealous--I’m just throwin' that out there, just throwin' that out there.
(shouts of “shvan luchen” – German for “cocksucker” - abound on the tape, making it the only truly clear message of the entire interview.)
Kenny: I don’t know, I’ve known [Johnny] forever. We’d known each other for days, and uh…
Noah: …he was sexually attracted to Johnny.
Me: Oooh a love triangle!
Kenny: And there was this friend of ours named Minnesota and he had a gay workshop, and uh…
Josh: This is a true story.
Johnny: I’m not proud of it, I’m not proud of it.
Kenny: No, but honestly, I’d known him for days and like, he was telling me, ‘I’ve got this thing going on' and…yeah.
Noah: Well, the thing is before the rest of us…
Josh: I hope you have fun editing all this.
Johnny: It was right when you were puking all over your shoes and I was like, ‘Hey do you want to start a band?’ and you were like (pretends to vomit) ‘Ohhhh okay.’
(The following will live on in Attractives history forever.)
Johnny: It was my 21st birthday and we were at…Ohhh, some cheese fries???
(Noah is still trying to answer the question.)
Johnny: You want some sauce to dip…hey, did we get these for free? Hey, bring the fucking plate over here. Hey, Devon want some cheese fries?
Me: Nooo, no thanks.
(Noah is still talking to me.)
Spike’s employee: (noting tape recorder) Tell ‘em Spike's serves damn good food and damn good beer and we serve food till 1 a.m.!
Noah: So our first practice was at my dad’s house and we were going to play our first show without a drummer, but then Kenny and Johnny saw this one guy –Josh—play with the Kills, this other band –
Johnny: (noticing two burly men eying the cheese fries) Hey, did you steal those fries? (pointing finger at Josh) You stole the fries…Uhh, he was eating most of them. They were sitting right in front of me.
Irate Spike’s diner who looks like Sea Bass from Dumb and Dumber: You stole my fries! What were you thinking! Do you realize how violated I feel right now?
Johnny: Hey, hey, do you want a beer? What are you drinking? Hey, when you’re done with that beer, let us know, and we’ll get you another one.
(silence for a few moments)
Johnny: We almost got beat up.
Me: That would’ve made an interesting story.
Noah: So Kenny and Johnny saw Josh play…
Josh: No, it was on Halloweeeeen! And, they were not impressed. Not. Impressed.
Kenny: This only has like, 30 minutes of tape on it, so if you want to say it, do it now.
Johnny: Should I get more beer?
Kenny: Yeah, it’s the best thing to do. Get another one! Or two! Or three! Please get two or three.
Me: Okay, I guess we can keep going. How would you best describe your music? Like, if you had to put it in a category…
Johnny: Strokes rip-off, Strokes rip-off.
Me: The first big concert I went to was a Strokes concert.
Kenny: How long ago?
Me: It was probably 2002.
Kenny: I beat you by a year.
Kenny: I didn’t actually go there to see the Strokes, I went there to see the Moldy Peaches.
Kenny: No, but they were my favorite band at the time! No, I love the Strokes. And apparently, from what I hear, their new album…
Me: …Oh, it’s going to be SO GOOD.
Johnny: That’s what I heard too.
Kenny: Yeah, it’s supposed to be ridiculous.
Me: Yeah, well their last one…
Johnny: So, yeah, Strokes rip-off, next question?
Me: Whoaaa, okay! So what are your musical influences individually?
Kenny: My stepdad was probably one of my biggest influences, and he’s been given a lot of credit which he may or may not deserve. He disowned me when I was…well, a long time ago. I don’t know, that’s how I got into the whole guitar deal. He’s probably the most amazing musician I’ve ever really heard.
Me: How so?
Kenny: How so in the fact that he was told he’d never amount to anything and he was living with a wife that told him to quit…
Johnny: This is going in a depressing direction.
Kenny: …but he couldn’t because he loved it so much. And that’s what got me intrigued with guitar when I was like, eight years old. So –
Johnny: That cocksucker hasn’t even touched his cheese fries. (silence) Ohhhh. It got quiet when I said that.
Kenny: (uproarious laughter) But as far as influences –
Johnny: He hasn’t touched them!
Johnny: Wrap! It! Up!
Kenny: Sterling Morrison. I think he’s…I dunno…Sterling and, like, Keith Richards are probably my biggest as guitar playing influences.
Me: What about you Johnny?
Johnny: My influences are all the shitty modern bands who think they’re really good and have a lot of fans. Everyone thinks they're cool because they all look good because they have this friend in L.A who writes for a zine and they get published and they think they’re Guns ‘n’ Roses. There’s this one weekly magazine in LA and cocksuckers and douchebags all go to shows and write up reports about shitty bands. Anyway, like, horrible bands make me want to not do that.
Kenny: Well, the whole purpose of the band is, with all the shitty music going on, and they’re getting popular and making money, and it’s worthless, it sounds horrible. It’s based on this really grim, stupid-ass, narrow grid of rock and roll. And I just want to choke on it. I can’t swallow it.
Josh: Everything he says is bullshit.
Me: Let’s get you into the interview, Josh.
Johnny: I wrote “fuck” on a french fry.
Me: What musicians inspire you, Josh?
Josh: Well, besides David Hasselhoff’s drummer, Keith Moon a lot.
(In the background, at the mention of Hasselhoff, the rest of the Attractives are repeating “shvan luchen” over and over.)
Johnny: Shvan luchen, okay, cocksuckers.
(all the Attractives are saying their versions of shvan luchen in different accents, and a lot of “jah''s)
Me: What about your influences Noah?
Noah: Well, it’s always changing, but it probably started off with the Modern Lovers and I was stuck on Wire for awhile and Gang of Four and now I’m listening to a lot of Muddy Waters.
Me: Who does most of the songwriting?
Josh: I think it really varies all the time.
Noah: Usually one person writes the rhythm and the lyrics and the rest of the band fills in the parts that aren’t present.
Johnny: You weren’t listening to him!
Me: Yes I was! I was listening! I was enthralled!
Johnny: What’d he just say?
Me: No, just let me…
Johnny: What’d you say?
Me: He said it switches, it depends on who is there, and they fill in.
(Noah is still trying to explain things to me)
Johnny: (to him) You’re boring.
Unidentified friend: Okay, everybody should finish their drinks and come to my house.
Johnny: I want some more cheese fries right now. He’s not even fucking eating them.
Me: So, I heard that all of you were moving to L.A.? Why?
Kenny: Because there’s not a goddamn venue to play in town. We can’t play music our whole lives and make a living and feel like we’re doing something productive in San Luis.
(Now the interview starts to fall apart--the alcohol has set in, it’s late, and the shit has hit the fan. Josh’s slurring about something in a German accent. I don’t know what the hell is going on, and that’s probably a good thing.)
Kenny: (laughs) These questions aren’t even getting answered right now.
Johnny: It’s okay. She’ll piece it together and make some shit up.
Me: You released Josephine a year ago. What’s next for you? Do you plan to stay together when you move to LA?
Kenny: Well, that’s the plan.
Me: Gonna try to make it big?
Crazed fan: JOOOHHHHNNNNYYY!!!!
Crazed fan: HAAAAPPEE BIRTHDAY!@@##%%!!!!!
Kenny: We’re hoping to record a live album ideally by the end of the month and I don’t know how we’re going to put it out, but probably independent.
Me: No Art Monkey Records?
Kenny: I’m sure they’d put it out for us, but I’d rather not go that route.
Noah: We plan on having shows, getting a fan base.
Me: If you could relive any event in musical history, what would it be?
Noah: The whole Exploding Plastic Inevitable thing.
Josh: Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
Kenny: I would steal Bob Dylan’s soul.
Johnny: For the record, I would like to say that Josh was too good for this interview. Say that his vocabulary is limited to "poo poo" "caa caa" and "pee pee". Also, he had to go to homosexual readjustment camp. We can’t talk about it now that he’s back from the camp and he’s "heterosexual." He tried to touch Noah’s privates.
Noah: I had to beat him off with a stick one time!
Johnny: Now he’s straight and we don’t talk about it. We act like nothing ever happened.
Me: So Kenny, tell me more about working at Boo Boo’s. I bet you get some characters...
Kenny: Everyone who buys Andre Nickatina or Mac Dre can blow me. Read all about it on my bio on our website. Not only do they tear up the entire hip hop section, but they’re fuckin’ illiterate as motherfuckers. They speak a language I can’t understand, and I try, you know.
Me: Alright, well I think that’s it for the interview...
Johnny: I hope you have something to work with there.
For more information on the Attractives, visit their website at http://www.theattractives.com or find them on MySpace.