Grand Tarantula will release a new EP on Monday night at the Tin Can Ale House. You can get a preview of the release on their Bandcamp profile. The five songs are hard, drum-driven, garage-pop punk anthems.
Personally, I’ve always frowned when the terms pop and punk lay adjacent, but this four-piece combines the sugary catchiness of '60s guitar jangle pop with a precise punk-rock charging fury. The songs are infectious, with well-crafted hooks, screaming guitars, vocal oohs and ahs and '50s-diner hand claps.
Singer Jordan Clark has the perfect voice for these songs and can switch from playfully melodic on “Drugs” to gently scathing on “I Don’t Get It.” Their live show is powerful, sweaty and energized, and these tracks will add to their dynamic. I sat down with Jordan Clark for a quick chat about the upcoming release.
Alfred Howard: I hear elements of '50s doowop, girl groups, early punk and pop in its more artistic aims. What were you listening to before the sessions for this EP?
Jordan Clark: A lot of different stuff: Elvis, all kinds of early '60s R&B, soul, rock & roll. XTC's White Music, Morphine's Cure for Pain, Mr. Bungle's California, all kinds of stuff. I'm pretty all over the place.
Al: That’s funny, I was going to ask if Mr Bungle’s California was an influence.
Jordan: I love Mr. Bungle. All there records. California was different though, even for them. It really opened my mind up to a lot of those early '60s artists like Del Shannon and Everley Brothers. I was like, 16, so it was a big deal.
Al: If you were making a mix CD right now, what's the first and last track?
Jordan: First track would be Girls' "Vomit." Last would be Faith No More's "Stripsearch."
Al: Where did you record this? And how did you record: live, ProTools, tape etc.?
Jordan: We recorded the EP at American Sound Studios in San Diego with Brandon Jensen and sent it up to Brent Clawson for the mix. We recorded everything separately. I like recording live but it just wasn't happening with our schedules.
Al: Were you all in seminal San Diego band Hot Like a Robot?
Jordan: Three out of four of us.
Al: How does this band differ creatively and sonically from Hot Like a Robot?
Jordan: Hot Like A Robot functioned more like a "band." We all contributed pretty equally with the music. We started playing in 1999, so a lot of that '90s San Diego emo/indie/punk sound rubbed off on us. With Grand Tarantula, it's pretty one-sided as far as writing goes. Creatively I've never felt more free.
Al: Do you have plans on a full-length?
Jordan: We're going to release another five-song EP here in a couple months.
Al: You guys have a very dynamic and high-energy live set. How do you maintain that driving pulse?
Jordan: I don't know, really. I'm usually a pretty mellow person, but I think when I get onstage I really feel comfortable enough to let other sides of my personality show. I think growing up on the East Coast with a thriving punk/hardcore scene helped influence the live show as well.
Al: I’ve noticed you have a couple of 7-inches out. Are you vinyl enthusiast? Do you have a preferred medium and why?
Jordan: I wouldn't say I'm a vinyl enthusiast, but I think it sounds better for sure. I feel like CDs just end up on the floor of someone's car, where vinyl tends to get tucked into a shelf and taken care a little more.
Al: What was the approach to writing these songs? Does everyone contribute lyrically? Musically?
Jordan: I usually write a song at home on an acoustic or bass guitar, and when I feel comfortable, I'll show the guys, and they kind of dig into it. Jamming can be fun, but I really like to have a personal connection with each song, so most of the time it'll be a slow process at my house before I show it to rest of the band.
Al: How often do you rehearse?
Jordan: Once or twice a week.
Al: Touring plans?
Jordan: We'll be heading up the coast pretty nonstop here starting late summer. First run will be in August.
Al: These are some "nice weather, window down and play them loud" songs. How has San Diego shaped the sound of your music?
Jordan: When I first moved out here, San Diego had an amazing indie/punk/rock scene. So many bands had a huge impact on me personally: No Knife, Jehu, Tanner, Rocket, Three Mile Pilot, Boilermaker. I could go on for a long time. I get more starstruck running into Mitch Wilson or Pall Jenkins more than any "rock star" out there.
Al: Favorite venue to play?
Jordan: The Casbah.
Be sure to celebrate with Grand Tarantula at the Tin Can Alehouse on Monday, May 14.