Let’s face it, Los Angeles is saturated with music. From the Sunset Strip to the San Fernando Valley, you could throw a rock on the street and it would most likely land inches away from a guitar-strumming crooner. Within a town that can make or break your music career, it is important to stand out from the flocks of bands that migrate to LA with ambitions for fame, and the four Angelenos that comprise pop-rock outfit Los Angelics are doing just that. Los Angelics performed their first live show at the House Of Blues Foundation Room in April 2014 and have since played more than 50 shows around Los Angeles at venues like the Maui Sugar Mill and the Silverlake Lounge, where they are currently holding a residency for the month of August every Monday night. Maria Gironas talks to Los Angelics frontwoman Sara Coda and synth op Pat Campo about their friend Mikey (who once ate rotten sushi out of the trash) and what it means to be a LA-based band.
When I think of LA bands, I think of Jane’s Addiction, I think of the classic ones on the Sunset Strip. But what’s cool about your sound is being your own name and everything, you’re so apart from that. Is that something you, not necessarily strive for, but hoped for as not the typical LA band?
SARA CODA: No, I don’t think we were striving for anything honestly. We’re striving for the best result that we had in our capabilities to get, and I don’t think any of us knew starting it that our sound was gonna be like this.
PAT CAMPO: And we love LA bands, previous, current to the ’80s and ’90s and so on. But I think that we decided along the way that our influences are worldwide, you know? And the fact that all four of us are from LA, that’s going to be enough to make us an LA-based band. It doesn’t have to be influences from LA, just that we are from LA. It could be New York or Mexico or Persia, you know? Columbia! Tijuana! It could be anything.
What does it mean for you to be a Los Angeles-based band?
CODA: It’s widely known as a dreamer’s city. Everybody comes here chasing a dream, and that’s no different for us.
CAMPO: Obviously our name is Los Angelics, we want to make it known that we are all Los Angelenos and Los Angeles based; we’re all from here, this is where we met, this is where we started working. Los Angeles, it’s an upward battle at times, but we feel like with the four of us, what we could do… It’s not hard to get where we want to get, you know?
CODA: And I don’t think we want it to be easy. I think we like the challenge, too.
CAMPO: I think what purpose of us being Los Angeles based and tried to cleverly put that in our name is that, Los Angeles is the city of dreams, and actually to fulfill our dream and get to our dreams here, that’s the ultimate dream. I’m not saying that just ’cause I’m from Los Angeles, I’m saying that for anyone that’s from across the state.
CODA: There’s like a camaraderie with anybody who’s come here chasing a dream, so you automatically have a lot in common with a bazillion people.
You keep describing this dream that you have. What is the dream? Is it just to play music together?
CODA: That gets kind of sticky; it gets complicated and personal.
CAMPO: I think for us, and I’m hoping she agrees here, to do our music, to be able to support ourselves doing that, and being happy while we’re doing it. Also, playing out live, and touring while we’re supporting ourselves through our music, and also getting our fans—not just the fans, but the fans who understand what story we’re trying to convey, that’s the ultimate dream for any band. And to have fun in the process. To have fun in the process is the dream for us.
CODA: Can I add to that? I think, yes, I agree with him. [Laughs.] I think we all have this in common, the four of us, we all want to inspire people, and growing up, we were inspired by music and we became musicians because a band or an artist had a song that touched us or made us feel not so alone and encouraged us through hard times, so to be able to pay it forward in that kind of way would really say something.
If you could pick one of your songs that you’d really like someone to relate to, what would it be?
Why that one in particular?
CAMPO: Well, it’s a little tricky. The song, musicality-wise, [has a] great beat. Great vocals, great harmonies, great synths; everything, you know? And the theme along with that is kinda deep, which I like, but it’s hard to get to because sometimes we stumble on it. But, as we’re talking, it’s basically a take on how we do our… our immediate environment. Especially America.
CODA: It’s a conversation you would have with yourself in the mirror kind of pumping yourself in the mirror. There is a little bit of a social commentary in there, but it really is just a pumping yourself up for whatever is happening in your life and you’re gonna take it on in this environment. And the environment is a perspective.
CAMPO: Which is the land of the brave and dangerous, which is obviously the title of the EP and a line in the song. But as we discussed before, America used to be the land of opportunity, but now it’s changed because opportunities dried out. You have to fight and struggle and grab the opportunities out of other people’s hands, and the people who are the most brave and the most dangerous, they’re the ones who get the most opportunities.
So since your first time practicing two years ago to now, how do you think you’ve grown the most?
CODA: Our relationships with each other. We’ve had disagreements and fights or whatever, and we’ve learned how to work them out. You learn a lot about yourself through that process and about others. What’s been interesting for me is how I stand in my own way and kind of actively recognizing it and getting myself the heck out of the way.
CAMPO: Exactly what she said. For me, for all four of us, finding our role in the whole process and being comfortable with it. But not just being comfortable with it, being able to communicate it and owning it. So that’s the biggest growth I think for us or for me.
What do you do to hang out when you’re not playing music?
CODA: We watch a lot of movies. A lot of movies. I wouldn’t say we’re movie buffs—Pat might be—but a few times a week, we watch movies. We watch a lot, rentals if we miss it in theaters.
CAMPO: We’re definitely documentary connoisseurs too. Well, it has to have a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But anything that fits that, we’ll go see.
CODA: [Bandmate] Joz [Ramirez] got us into cars, too; Joz is a super-car enthusiast. He talks about it and watches YouTube videos about it and jams it down our throats, so finally we’re like, “Wait a minute, we like it too.” So now we’re all about cars.
There’s no question as to how alive the art and the culture around here. Where do you see the LA music scene going in five years, as far as your music and within the community itself?
CODA: I think if I had answer to that, I would be like a gazillionaire right now. [Laughs.] But I think everybody’s just figuring out the thing that works universally is being authentic, so everybody’s doing a little bit more honest and real and putting down the guard. I see artists doing that more now. It’s less about an image now, and I like that.
So why should someone come to the residency this month to see your music?
CODA: The show’s a lot of fun, it’s a cool venue in a cool neighborhood, it’s a cool place to hang out. It’s a great place to bring a date—if somebody brought me on a date here, I would be like, “Yes!”. And the show’s different; it’s a lot of fun. It’s not like anything you’ve seen before.
CAMPO: But also, it’s a residency. On Monday nights, it’s a free show.
CODA: Oh yeah, that’s big.
CAMPO: So, there’s no reason not to come out. And what she said before! We’re a lot of fun to watch, and to add on top of that: We’re pretty damn good! [Laughs.]
CODA: And we like to hang out and keep the party going. We’re fun after the shows.
CAMPO: Yeah, come hang out with us, talk to us, get tacos on Alvarado.
CODA: Yeah! So, there’s a taco truck on Alvarado in front of a supermarket there, and it’s called Taco Zone. They have the best cabeza tacos.
CAMPO: It’s tradition after every show that we get tacos there. You have to go there and check it out. And Crazy Rock’n Sushi. I’m sorry, but I love it.
CODA: We actually had a roommate who ate rotten sushi out of the trash. We had a roommate, Mikey, and we were at Sushi, and we didn’t finish it and got a box to go. And everybody’s saying, “No, no, don’t get sushi to go, it’s raw fish; it’s gonna be rotten in like a day!” And I’m like, “Mikey will eat it. Trust me.” So we go, we put it in the fridge, and like a week went by, and Mikey didn’t eat the sushi. And then Joz was like, “See, I told you he wasn’t gonna eat the sushi!” and he threw it away. That same day, Mikey comes in my room and is like, “Hey, are you sure you don’t want this sushi? I found it in the trash.” And he just ate rotten sushi out of the trash. S