Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicked off on January 4th with seven weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band or Best Live Acoustic and a performance slot at the 2011 OC Music Awards, March 5 at the Grove of Anaheim. And, the voting is open now!
With a passion-infused blend of stunning, sonically scopic vocals and grand, sweeping instrumentation, Santa Ana-based [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Echo Echo[/lastfm], could be seen as a modern-day sonic equivalent of the ubiquitous alternative pop-rock of the ’90s–almost themselves an echo of a different era of rock ‘n roll. An era more about raw talent and organic musical prowess and less about overproduction.
Just like an echo never sounds exactly like the root sound from whence it came, Echo Echo utilizes the melodic sophistication of these post-punk alternative Britpop artists, but make it into their own–a dreamy, voluminous jangle of lush chords and humanist, soul-expanding lyrics.
For a band that creates such a serious, thought-provoking sound, when I met Steve Carson (vocals/guitar/piano) and Darren Carr (drums), I was shocked by how outrageously hilarious and captivating the two were. While we shared plenty of laughs and a few fancy cocktails, both Carson and Carr were polished, put-together, talented, and world-wise–a quality you can readily hear in Echo Echo’s music.[pullquote quote="I don't think it's ever sounded like anything else. I don't think that it ever will sound like anything else, because we're not copycats." credit="Darren Carr"]
Joined eventually by Jameson Burt (guitar/vocals), Bruce Yolken (bass), and Andrew Carter (keyboard/vocals/percussion), Carson and Carr have been making music together for about ten years, with Carter being the only person in the band that hasn’t been in the group for longer than seven years.
For comparison’s sake, Echo Echo shares sonic similarities to Brit alternative rock, with a instrumental penchant for the dream pop of the [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Doves[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Mercury Rev[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Manic Street Preachers[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Swervedriver[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Charlatans UK[/lastfm], and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]U2[/lastfm], although Carr explained how the group first started,howthey have always just wanted to play “music for music’s sake,” and how he doesn’t think they sound like anyone in particular thanks to their diverse amount of influences:
“I’ve played with Steve for almost ten years and it’s music for music’s sake. The best that we can do, purely because that’s all we do. Hopefully, it translates. For ten years, people have said, ‘what does your band sound like?’ I think it sounds like this band. I don’t think it sounds like anything else.”
“I don’t think it’s ever sounded like anything else. I don’t think that it ever will sound like anything else, because we’re not copycats. Steve does what he does and I do what I do, but you bring the two together and it’s something unique in and of itself. [pullquote quote="Dave said when he found out the name of the band was the Steve Carson Band, he was like, 'Oh. Uh. Are they like an actual band though?...Bad idea, You can't have four guys in band with one band members name.' Like Van Halen. Bad idea, right?" credit="Darren Carr"]
Carson agreed, adding:
“Recently, the songwriting process has been amazing because when we first started out, I had a bunch of songs that I had played. And then we started to collaborate…And then when time went on and we started to evolve–when we become Echo Echo about a year and a half ago–it was because at that point in time, we were collaborating pretty much on all fronts.”
“At one point in time, during one song, somebody would come up with something independent. And it wasn’t just about somebody sitting home and writing songs like in the beginning…It became more like, ‘What are you doing? That’s kind of cool…It’s extremely organic and natural.”
“We like to listen to music independently of one another. I mean, we constantly give each other CDs and say, ‘Hey, this is what I’m listening to.’ When I met Darren, I showed him some of my favorite music and said, ‘This is the kind of music I like. These are the drummers I like.’ Jameson the same thing.”
“We all like different things within the music. But there’s definitely something we all have in common which is just good music. Good songwriting. For the most part, we’re into bands that are doing something big….Like Spinal Tap mostly. Big bands like Spinal Tap and Anchorman.”
Carson is definitely a natural comedian. He has the kind of rakish charm and masculinity-seeped mojo that every great lead vocalist must posses. Originally entitled the Steve Carson Band, Carson and Carr explained that when the songwriting process changed and the attitude towards the music had changed, the name had to as well–especially since [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]David Lee Roth [/lastfm]didn’t approve. Carson began the story:
“We were Steve Carson Band for five years. And when we recorded our first album, ‘Fall Like You’re Flying,’ the process really made it evident after the finishing of the recording that it was time to take on a band name, because it was definitely a collaborative effort. We felt like the name, although starting out it worked, because that’s how it worked as far as the dynamic went, it became a major collaborative effort and it just seemed fitting to take on a band name.”
“We were at Henson recording our album and David Lee Roth was there…He asked, ‘Who are those cowboys out there?’ Our producer who knows him said, ‘Oh, that’s the Steve Carson Band.’ He was like, ‘No, no, no, no, no.’”
“Dave said when he found out the name of the band was the Steve Carson Band, he was like, ‘Oh. Uh. Are they like an actual band though?…Bad idea, You can’t have four guys in band with one band members name. Like [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Van Halen[/lastfm]. Bad idea, right?’ So Dave goes, ‘I like those guys. I’m gonna name their band.’ And he came up with some really horrible names for us…like Three Tides. I think that I’m making this up, but I think another name he came up with was Bikini Camouflage.”
Asserting that Carr was indeed making that name up, Carson took over, eventually explaining the organic way their new name, Echo Echo, came to fruition. [pullquote quote="We don't give a shit if it's hip, cool, popular, the sound that's now, the sound that's going to make anything for us. It's what we want to be doing."]
“So, the second to last day of mixing…Our producer Alex Gibson decides we’re gonna play this game where we all write on a piece of paper our five favorite words. So we all write down different words and two people had actually written down echo. So we would grab the words and put them together and our friend CJ actually pulled out of the hat, ‘Echo’ and ‘Echo.’
“Organic” was the word of the night, describing every aspect of Echo Echo’s career: past, present, and future. Carson and Carr created a relaxed energy, that spoke to their naturalistic instincts and their personable demeanors, as well as the lack of pretentiousness in their mass appeal sound.
Carr summed the dynamic of Echo Echo with each other and their audience beautifully: “I actually honestly think it’s because the number one thing this band doesn’t do is we don’t contrive anything. It’s the songs that we write because it’s the songs that we want to write.”
“We don’t give a shit if it’s hip, cool, popular, the sound that’s now, the sound that’s going to make anything for us. It’s what we want to be doing.”
[lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Echo Echo[/lastfm]-”Good Morning”
The 2011 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 4 -February 15 with stops at:
Jan 4 – Detroit Bar
Jan 11 – The District at Tustin Legacy
Jan 18 – The Gyspy Lounge
Jan 25 – The LAB
Feb 1 – Tiki Bar
Feb 8 – The Gyspy Den of Santa Ana
Feb 15 – The Slide Bar
Five Showcase Series finalists in each live category will then move on to the Showcase Series Finals.
Feb 24 – Best Live Acoustic Finals, Fullerton Museum
Feb 25 – Best Live band Finals, The Galaxy
2011 Best Live Band winner will receive a performance slot on the four Southern Califonia Vans Warped Tour stops!
Night Six of the OC Music Awards Showcase Series featured nominees for Best Live Band on Tuesday, February 15th at the The Slide Bar.
READ MORE INTERVIEWS ON KROQ.COM FROM SHOWCASE NIGHT 6 BANDS:
Friday, February 11th- Fiction Reform
Saturday, February 12th-We Are The Arsenal
Sunday, February 13th-Stereofix
Tuesday, February 15th-Echo Echo
You have the power to send one Showcase artist to the Best Live Acoustic Finals and Best Live Band Finals.
Cast your vote and enter to win a massive prize pack from the OC Music Awards partners (To be Announced). Voting will begin on December 27 and will be open through the last Showcase on February 15. The votes will be tallied and the band with highest score will automatically move on to their Series Finals! Click here to vote
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM