Interviewing a band at the same time is always a challenge when it comes time to transcribe the audio. When I met up with the Bay Area’s The Soft White Sixties at their Berkeley recording studio shortly before the New Year, I wasn’t anticipating for each of the guys — vocalist Octavio Genera, guitarist Aaron Eisenberg, drummer Joey Bustos and bassist Ryan Noble — to be as talkative as he was. Everyone had an opinion on most of my questions, which resulted in a lot of stuff that didn’t make the final story. Here’s some of the most interesting leftovers.
A couple of years ago the Sacramento Bee compared Octavio to Howlin’ Pele of the Hives. And now you’ve had a chance to play with them at the Fillmore, in December. Was that meaningful to you?
Genera: Regardless of The Hives, the biggest thing for us was playing at the Fillmore, because the venue itself. It’s awesome to play there. You walk in … and it’s hard to ignore what happened there. You see the posters of those who played there right when you walk in. The Hives are all really nice guys. They’re actually a funny, awesome band. Even during their soundcheck, they’re funny; how they’re interacting with each other. They’re a great band. I liked them, but it was good to play the Fillmore more than anything.
Why did you name yourselves after a lightbulb?
Noble: I don’t think anybody’s actually asked us. Usually, it’s like, “Oh, is it a 1960s thing or something?”
Genera: We threw around band names.
Bustos: At the time, we had five guys and a bunch of names, and they all pretty much sucked. The two things I like about the name is that it sounds good; the way that it rolls off the tongue. Also, there’s so many bands that are named after something that’s a little more common. So if you were to Google a band called, you know, “The Cassettes,” you’re going to see a bunch of websites for cassettes. For me, it was very important to have a name that was Googleable. The music has to speak for itself. If we were called the Aggressive Assholes, we’d have a certain sound. But we’re named after a lightbulb, so we can really do anything.
Genera: When I first heard the name, I didn’t even think about the sixties pertaining to (a decade in) music. It was a blank slate. You can ask people, “What are great band names?” A lot of times, that just pertains to how much they like the band. The name could be horrible, but they’ll love it because people like the band.
Bustos: I got a band for you: Neutral. Milk. Hotel.
Eisenberg: It’s also funny (that) different people grab onto those three words. There’s people who will come up, and they’ll really grab onto like, “I thought you guys were going to wear all white” or “I thought you were a bunch of 60-year-old men.” We get a kick out of catching people off-guard sometimes.
Noble: There’s a connotation that I didn’t really see at first, but I have grown to like: The idea of an idea. Like a little lightbulb popping up over your head. Every time we’re in the practice room, and Aaron’s like, “What if we did this?” It’s like, “PING!” There’s a little soft white sixty that pops up over his head.
On the music they have been listening to lately, besides the new Vampire Weekend record (Noble: “When I read interviews and spots on other bands, I kind of like to hear what they’re listening to.”)
Eisenberg: My favorite record that came out this last year was the new Queens of the Stone Age record, “…Like Clockwork.” I’ve been going between the ends of the spectrum between that one and the new Jonathan Wilson record, “Fanfare.”
Genera: [Also listening to Wilson] and a lot of times I go backward and find something to listen to.
Noble: I’ve been really into … Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Then a great band from Australia called Hiatus Kaiyote. I saw them at The Independent … rocked my socks.”
Bustos: I listen to a lot of Spoon at work.