Double Naught Spy Car is a mysterious band.
“Western Violence,” their new CD, is a sweet, then snarling, then sardonic mashup, no, homage, no, sendup, of Bollywood bhangra, Monkish jazz, Tiki lounge exotica, prog rock, and funk. What could be a musical morass is instead laser sharp and all intent, with virtuoso skills and advanced ideas that pull you into Spy Car's deepest forays into noise and beauty.
Who are these guys?
“Double Naught Spy Car rocks, socks, rolls, and sizzles. This is
a swinging, raunchy, bluesy, throaty, growling band. Double Naught
Spy Car rules. Woof.”
– James Ellroy, crime novelist
If you're from L.A.'s Echo Park/Silverlake musical scene spawned at Spaceland in the 1990s, you know Double Naught Spy Car well. On the scene since 1995, Spy Car has a legacy of sweat drenched epic shows with every band that counted, at House of Blues to Knitting Factory residencies to Al's Bar to Largo. They've backed up James Ellroy, Stan Ridgway, Moris Tepper, Stew, and a long parade of singer/songwriters, and stumbled into the legit modern classical world with the American Composer's Forum. They've play surf music festivals, new music festivals, have been house band for Circus Sirius, shared stages with Pere Ubu, Banyan, David Lindley, and Jonathan Richman, collaborated with ex-Zappa and Beefheart alumni. If it's fringe or bold, with a palm tree in the background, Double Naught Spy Car has been there.
“DNSC combines dead-on noir flavor with a modern perspective that's both
brutal and poetic. Many noveau-instrumental combos excel at retro vibe,
but few mix the past and present so convincingly.”
– Joe Gore, Guitar Player Magazine
But who are these guys? Drummer/percussionist Joe Berardi co-founded The Fibonaccis and Non Credo, has recorded/toured with Stan Ridgway, Robert Fripp, Rufus Wainwright, Donovan, Lydia Lunch, Nels Cline, James Black and The Whites, Frank Black, and Kid Congo Powers.
Bassist Marc Doten has recorded with or produced Shelby Lynne, Josie Cotton, Taj Mahal, Dave Alvin, John Doe, Poncho Sanchez, Marcy Levy, David Hidalgo, and forged the sound of Tony winning play Passing Strange, with Stew and Heidi Rodewald.
Guitarist/steel guitarist Paul Lacques launched alt country I See Hawks In L.A., world beat The Bonedaddys, polkameisters Rotondi, and has recorded or written with Bo Diddley, Polka Freakout (Grammy nominated), Peter Case, Davey Allan, Tony Gilkyson, Stew, and Eddy Mitchell.
Guitarist Marcus Watkins has recorded/toured with Nina Hagen, 311, The Dust Brothers, Johnny Halliday, Stew, Moris Tepper, Flea, the Blue Hawaiians, Josie Cotton, Florent Pagney, and Geza X.
“You guys blew my mind. It's so great to see somebody do something original.”
-- Paul Williams (the Paul Williams)
“Western Violence” represents a steady music evolution that began with first CD “Comb In Blue Water,” a reverb and twang drenched retro-with-dissonance effort. Glowing reviews followed, and tracks appeared on many TV and film soundtracks. Songs like “janmichaelvincentrehab.com,” “Cake Left Out In The Rain,” and a riveting cover of Duke Ellington's “The Mooche” caught the ear of self proclaimed “demon dog of American crime fiction” James Ellroy, who collaborated with Spy Car for many live readings in Los Angeles.
“The cream of the crop”
– Natalie Nichols, Los Angeles Times
“Danger High,” recorded by Steven Rhodes, stretched the genre boundaries of Double Naught Spy Car, with tracks like “Macedonia 6-5000,” “Naked Lurch,” and “Crosseyed San Paku” influenced by collaborations with Middle Eastern/gypsy musicians from the Aman Folk Ensemble and Circus Sirius, star of high dollar San Francisco dotcom festivals in the internet bubble years. Again, tracks from the album landed in many TV and film soundtracks, and led to several scoring gigs, including “Fools Gold,” an indie feature starring Camryn Mannheim, an episode score and an appearance on two History Channel documentaries.
“Western Violence” goes a bit further with tweaked processed sounds and elements of hard rock and metal. Like all Spy Car recordings, this is real time, recorded live with minimal overdubs, and no click. Mixed by long time collaborator Paul Dugre (Los Lobos, Weezer, The Weirdos, X, Bad Religion), this is Double Naught Spy Car's most muscular, and, dare we say, pop venture yet.
“Western Violence” hits the airwaves on October 16, with a CD release party at Villains Tavern in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon, October 13.
A brief Northern California tour is scheduled for November, and in February 2013 Double Naught Spy Car will do a series of shows with Stew in New York and East Coast cities. A Spy Car studio project backing up Mr. Smolin on his upcoming CD has just been completed. “Stewcar,” a collection of songs improvised on the spot by Stew and Double Naught Spy Car in three marathon sessions, with a grant from the American Composers Forum, will be released later in 2013.