SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEW
SUIT YOURSELF MODERNISTS caught up with the incredible Sidewalk Society whose album "Strange Roads the songs of Rolled Gold (The Action) has rocked the music world, this Californian trio have single handedly taken the music of the Action, rewritten and performed it to such a high standard that members of the original band hold it in high acclaim!, we are very pleased to announce that we have been given copies to give away at the Bristol Modernist weekend and as part of our Birthday celebrations in May, but for now we give you the band in this exclusive interview...
Hi Guys can you tell us a little about yourselves, where you are from, your connection with the Modernist scene, when you first encountered the scene and your early personal influences musically.
Hi there, we are from Southern California, we found the modernist scene through our love of 60s music, especially the Who when were kids, literally 11-12 years old. We were/are obsessed with the Kinks, Stones, Beatles, Who, Small Faces, Syd’s Floyd et al.
Can you tell us about the band, who the members are and who or if the band are influenced by...
Sidewalk Society is Dan Lawrence (guitars/vocals), Dan West (bass/keyboards/vocals) and Jerry Buszek (drums)—a trio of music obsessives heavily influenced by the aforementioned bands. Of course, individually we all have our own flavour that we bring to the common mix. There is a big Jazz, R&B and Classical influence in there as well.
When did the band's career begin, where did you guys meet and how difficult or easy did you find it in the beginning?
The band was founded by Dan West and Dan Lawrence after bonding in the seventh grade over a mutual love for The Who Sell Out album. We brought Jerry Buszek in on drums about 10 years ago. This version of the band is an extension of things Dan West and Dan Lawrence have been doing together throughout years of playing together.
Can you tell us about your first gig, what was it like? and can you tell us about what it's like now?
The first gig with the current line-up was in a basement bar in Long Beach CA, Jerry took the Metro down to Long Beach from L.A. with a (Pokémon) backpack, some sticks and borrowed a kit from another band on the bill. It was a great set. It hasn’t changed all that much other than the fact that our repertoire has grown vastly and Jerry tends to play his own kit!
As well as being influenced by the Action (Strange Roads) you guys write your own songs, can you tell us about the process that you go through.
It varies, but as a general rule, DL and DW will demo pieces individually and then get together and collaborate to get to the final arrangement. Then we will generally play them live a bit before recording. We like to track live as a trio in the studio and then build off and up from that. We are fortunate that all of us are into recording and have access to a studio, also we have recording setups at home.
How easy is it to release your work and how have you come to terms with the incredible success Strange roads, the songs of Rolled Gold.
Our releases sort of fall into two separate categories? Our original material recordings, the most recent of which is “Venus, Saturn and the Crescent Moon” on our own “Grandioso” imprint. It’s more difficult to do it ourselves, promote, ship etc. That said, it’s relatively easy these days. However, it’s always better when you have support in that area. So, for our next original release we will be looking for an indie to work with. That brings us to Fruits de Mer Records who we
have worked with for nearly 10 years. They specialize in doing vinyl-only releases with contemporary bands covering obscure tracks from the 60s-70s. Focusing heavily on the psychedelic, prog and krautrock genres. They (Keith Jones) have been amazing to work with.
Really, without FdM we would not have anywhere near the amount of exposure we have had. It is a joy to work with them. Actually, we have a new track on a forthcoming compilation with FdM. They have included us on many of their compilation LPs. We have done two 7-inch EPs and one full-length LP with them as well. One of the earliest tracks we did for FdM was picked up for an ACE Records songwriter’s series compilation, “To Love Somebody–Songs of the Bee
We are blown away by how well “Strange Roads” has been received. It was a bit of gamble due to how revered the Action and the original songs are? That said, we have been really taken with how some of the most hardened Action fans have told us they love the record. The icing on the cake has to be that Roger Powell and Ian Whiteman have both told us that they really enjoyed what we did with our versions of the songs? We did “the Strange Brew Podcast” with Ian over
the phone and really got on well. That was definitely a band highlight, an incredible experience. (thank you again, Jason Barnard!) Most of all for the group it was a huge musical success, we are very pleased with the way the record turned out, to say the least.
“Strange Roads, the songs of Rolled Gold”, isn't your only release, can you tell us about your other albums and singles.
Venus, Saturn and the Crescent Moon
Fruits de Mer:
A Phase We're Going Through (compilation) - Crustacean 11
Sidewalk Society 7” EP - Crustacean 14
Sorrow's Children (compilation) - Crustacean 25
Plankton - Record Collectors best of the early years (fdm); (compilation)
Bowie/The Action covers EP - Crustacean 73
Strange Roads, the songs of Rolled Gold - Crustacean 81
To Love Somebody – Songs of the Bee Gees (compilation)
Have you ever toured?
We have not toured per se but we have played all over Southern California and ventured up to Northern CA, San Francisco, Oakland etc. It’s a very large state!
What is the scene like where you live, can you give us an insight into the Californian dream?
We would describe it as pretty scattered, the L.A. area is very large so it’s always been a challenge to have a centralized scene? The DJ scene is more of a thing these days and it’s less about bands and live music. For us as a band we have received far more attention and positive response from the U.K. and Europe, the majority of our record sales happen there. Which is something we are really grateful for. Our sound appeals more to that crowd. The 60s-influenced
scene here, at least for bands, tends to sway more in a straight garage direction we would say?
We are a bit of an anomaly, and wouldn’t change it for anything.
Where can our readers buy your albums and hear more from Sidewalk Society?
“Strange Roads” and other FdM releases can be found directly on their website as well as other fine “stockists” in U.K. and Europe. In the U.S. for now, we have a few copies for sale at shows and through BOMP! Records. “Venus, Saturn and the Crescent Moon” is available at some of those same fine retailers as well, but is also available at shows and on “Bandcamp”. If you are so inclined, we are also on most digital outlets, not including the FdM releases.
Where can we catch all the band’s latest info?