Races: Lucas Ventura, Devo Higgins, Wade Ryff, Breanna Wood, Oliver Hild and Garth Herberg. Photo by Bryan Sheffield.
Atmospheric rockers Races played their first show just two years ago in October of 2009, haphazardly assembled from friends playing in other bands, and already have drawn a following with their big sound, built from the ground up by six members playing smoothed out classic rock licks with a gentle percussive roll and Asiatic synthesizers, something like an indie-minded update of Fleetwood Mac's hevenly pop.
Frontman Wade Ryff, whose warm vocals wrap his songs like a wool sweater, said he'd been frustrated with trying to fit his songs into other bands and spoke with his friend, guitarist Garth Herberg, about forming a one-off band. The band now features Devon Lee on vocals/percussion, Breanna Wood on piano/vocals, Oliver Hild on bass/moog and Lucas Ventura on drums/percussion.
“I think we all sensed that there was something really special there and we just kept playing together because it felt good.,” Ryff said.
With so many members in one band spread across our great city — in Mt. Washington, in Chino Hills, in the Valley — it can be tricky to find all of Races in one place. The band members also keep busy in other projects, with Ryff, Herberk and Ventura backing up bands like Peter and the Wolf as a rhythm section, for example. But this is very much a locals' band, working with local label Jaxart and playing in and around Echo Park often. Ryff said his favorite local spots are Stories “because its one of the few coffee shops where you can still smoke on the patio, Tribal Cafe for the juices, Prado for the babes, and the portabello mushrooms at Elf are off the chain.”
Their debut LP, Year of the Witch, is slated for March 2012. They'll play the Constellation Room in Santa Ana's Galaxy Theatre Nov. 20, Central Social Aid & Pleasure Club in Santa Monica Nov. 29 and Bootleg Bar Dec. 13, among other upcoming shows.
I asked Ryff to take us through his new three-song EP:
Ryff: The first song is the title track. Which has become our banger I guess. It's a song about God or death essentially, and other uncontrollable forces that sweep things in and out of our lives. It sounds dark, but its actually a positive song and focuses more on the idea that every loss is a chance for a new beginning.
"All for You" is one of the oldest songs we have. It was the last song in the set for the first show we ever played together, although we re-worked it quite a bit since then. That one is pretty self explanatory I think. It's a song about forgiveness, and being there for someone even when they dick you over.
The last song "Hope & Gloom" is a bonus track we added last minute. We didn't know we were putting out this EP until four days before we submitted everything and we wanted to add something special instead of just another track off the album. Garth and Breanna were out of town for the weekend, so the rest of us just threw together an alternate version of one of our newer songs. I think we tracked the whole thing over a a day or two.
The song is about being stuck in this place between hope and gloom, where both sentiments are extending their hand to you, but your not sure which one you believe in, so you accept that each will find a comfortable place in your future. And so one night, you have a methamphetamine induced premonition that you will be blessed with finding true love, but it will come to you in the form of multiple wives and divorce, and you will be blessed with children, but they will be cursed with the same weaknesses that your parents passed down to you.