Lunch With Little Hurricane

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On Tuesday, April 10, I sat down with CC (drums) and Tone (vocals, guitar) from San Diego’s blues-rock duo Little Hurricane. The two have been on a meteoric rise since last year’s release of their debut CD, Homewrecker. They recently returned home from SxSW, where they opened for the Shins and M. Ward, but were able to find some time for some El Zarape and conversation about the re-release of their album and their upcoming Casbah show.
Alfred Howard: So you’re playing at the Casbah on April 28. Is that a bit of a homecoming?
CC: It is, it is our first Casbah show of 2012.
Tone: It’s always good to come back there.
AL: What makes that venue feel like home to so many musicians in San Diego and beyond?
Tone: It’s just got the vibe.
CC: I think that’s where all the cool bands go to play when they come through, so there’s some history there. Tim Mays is awesome, and then we’re playing with River City, who we played our very first show with, so it’s good to be playing with those guys and then Maxim Ludwig & the Santa Fe Seven, who we had open for us at one of our residencies in L.A., and they’re pretty awesome.
AL: So you guys just got back from SxSW, and I saw you guys in a couple of Rolling Stone articles. Would you say that is a goal fulfilled?
Tone: Yeah that was unexpected but awesome at the same time, to get some good publicity out of it. She followed us around to the Shins show. She took pictures of our biggest show, which was awesome.
AL: Last you went down there independently. What were some of the differences going down there and playing with the Shins and M. Ward?
CC: A little more pressure this year to put on our best show, whereas last year we were just fighting to be heard. This year it felt like each show we wanted to do our best.
Tone: People were coming to our shows to hear us for the first time or maybe not the first time, so now people are here, we gotta play good, not just drink shiners all night.
AL: Did you have time to check out any music while you were down there, or mostly working?
CC: We did hear a couple of cool bands. We saw Delta Spirit and Fun, a band from Nashville called the Electric Hearts -- they’re pretty awesome, they played before us.
Tone: Saw Miniature Tigers. They played after us.
CC: And Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr. They’re always really fun guys.
AL: So you guys are gonna be re-releasing your debut album Homewrecker pretty soon right?
CC: May 1.
AL: Is it going to be different at all then the original?
CC: We added a new song called "4th of July." We re-recorded the title track "Homewrecker," so that’ll be a new version of that, and we changed the artwork a little for the CD release, and it will be on vinyl.
AL: As a two-piece doing blues rock, I’m sure you get compared to the Black Keys or White Stripes often. What do you guys do to keep your sound unique and your own?
Tone: That’s a good question. Just visually we try to separate ourselves by never playing red instruments or white instruments.
CC: Or wearing red and white onstage. I try to stay in the sun [laughs]. I think we never would intentionally want to sound like the Black Keys or the White Stripes. So we feel like if a song is going in that direction, we try to change it and make it more our own. I think, personally, to differentiate myself and Meg White, I try to do drum fills and try to fill in the sound a little bit more. I don’t think you could draw that many comparisons to mine and her drumming other than that we’re both girls and we’re both in blues-rock duos.
Tone: I think comparisons are gonna be there for anything, no matter what you’re doing. The songs come from us, we’re different, unique people, living in different areas than those other bands, so hopefully our inspirations differentiate us.
AL: So you guys have been touring a lot. Have you gotten to play with any musicians who have influenced you? And what are some of those influences?
CC: Delta Spirit is one of my favorite bands, so getting to play with them at SxSW was awesome. At ACL we got to play with Elbow. We got to meet them and tell them about the cover song that we did and check out their set from onstage and see them do it.
Tone: We’ve been listening to the new Delta Spirit.
CC: Head and the Heart is great, the Heartless Bastards ...
Tone: Bon Iver and some more mellow stuff, more background listening.
AL: How 'bout some older influences?
Tone: I personally really like this one album Face to Face did called Ignorance Is Bliss, and they never played the songs live, and I’m kinda bummed cause they’re playing at the Casbah acoustic this weekend, playing just that album, and they had never played any of the songs off that album cause people would boo them, 'cause it’s not punk rock like the rest of their stuff. And I wanted to go see that, but I’m gonna be stuck working at Coachella. Should I go to work or pay to go see this band play acoustic? It’s just a weird thing that they would come to town when I’m leaving, to play this album that I really love, though apparently other people love it cause they’re touring on it.
CC: One of my first and most repetitive concerts that I’ve been to is George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic. I love P-Funk. I was, like, 14 the first P-Funk show I went to. They have two drummers, and they would sub one out 'cause he would just get so exhausted 'cause they put on such a long and fun and lively show. I’ve probably seen them like 30 or 40 times. And it’s fun because sometimes you’d meet the band, so I’d say they’re one of my older influences. Anyone else, Tone?
Tone: I like August and Everything After.
CC: Man, that’s what I was gonna say. That’s a great album, Counting Crows, so good.
Tone: Except they don’t know how to end a song.
AL: I love the stage layout you have. Are there ever shows where you have to sacrifice it? And how important is the visual element of the show?
CC: We’ve rarely sacrificed it. We’ve actually flown with that nightstand in a cardboard box when we didn’t have a case for it 'cause we wanted it to be there so bad. So, we’ve had it since the first show, both the nightstand, the lamp and the rug. So we kinda feel like it’s part of our set. 
Tone: Sometimes we’ve had to not set up side-by-side, and that kinda hurts it, but the lamp has been with us at every show.
CC: Hopefully that whole setup will change with the next album.
Tone: Gonna keep it album-specific.
AL: Was the stage setup a mutual decision?
Tone: It kind of just formed on its own. I just saw the nightstand at the swap meet, and I thought, “That looks like it should have speakers in it.” It didn’t, so I put some in, then I thought, “That looks like a living room. Oh, we need a lamp. Ohm we need a rug.”
CC: And that was before the song "Homewrecker" had been written or the theme of Homewrecker. Then when it turned Homewrecker, it made sense for our stage setup, for the name of the band.
Tone: Someone tried to steal our lamp once.
CC: In Vegas.
Tone: They said it was a joke, but we had never met them
CC: It wasn’t funny.
AL: What are some of the local bands you guys are into?
CC: The Heavy Guilt is pretty great, the Silent Comedy is pretty great.
Tone: Transfer
CC: River City, we saw them the other night at Riviera. Transfer, they’re doing really well.
Tone: We run into San Diego musicians everywhere. At SxSW, we ran into Steve Poltz at a BBQ place.
CC: Low Volts, Tim Lowman. Everybody’s so nice, at least all those bands that we mentioned are really nice people. They’re not d-bags, so it makes it easy to get along with bands in San Diego and want to support their stuff.
AL Would you say there’s a San Diego sound?
CC: I don’t think so. Well, maybe reggae, but we’re not part of that sound. Within our circle, everyone just wants to play good music and real music. All of those bands, they play real music, it’s not synthetically produced.
Tone: More soul.
CC: It’s authentic.
AL: What’s on the horizon? Do you have any touring plans for the summer?
CC: Still submitting. Tours will be had. We’re playing some festivals we may not be able to announce. We’re playing Telematics, an auto convention in Detroit with the Stone Foxes. Finishing this next album.
Tone: Trying to travel and tour as much as we can.
CC: And we have a Taco Bell commercial coming out.
Tone: Not sure for which arrangement of food products. Could be a Chulupa, could be a Dorrito taco. Could be something new we’ve never heard of.

Alfred Howard writes lyrics for the Heavy Guilt and the Black Sands. He also writes music reviews for Owl and Bear.

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