Cocktails Talk SF Music Scene and Power-Pop Before Show at Amoeba SF Jan. 31

Posted by Billy Gil, January 23, 2015 02:17pm | Post a Comment

Cocktails play a whimsical, harmonic, fuzz-and-synth-laced brand of power pop with boy/girl harmonies that harkens back to bands like Imperial Teen, The Rentals and that dog. They bring the catchy, garagey goods in healthy doses on their debut album, Adult Life, which is out now. Catch the band live at Amoeba SF Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. and get a FREE Converse Rubber Tracks split 7” with Windham Flat, who recently played Amoeba SF as well.

We took a minute to speak with Patrick Clos, frontman for Cocktails:

Have you guys seen the nature of the SF music scene change along with its changing demographics? Are kids still coming to rock shows?

Patrick Clos: For sure. There definitely used to be a lot more like local, scuzzy guitar rock/garage/psych type bands playing around and such, but you know how it goes—there’s no longer rooms for like $500/month and such. But still, between here and Oakland, there’s no shortage of rock bands.

It's like old-man talk or whatever, but back in my day, my buds all worked retail gigs and we stayed out every night, and didn't have to catch the bus to Genentech or whatever in the morning, lol, it was not a model for great success. But on a positive note, when kids do actually come out and there's someone spinning good records, and you get to hang with your buds and rock out or dance to a good DJ, it can still be really fun. We played at Thee Parkside the other night, and it was a blast. It's important that people support the places like that we have left.

Is it safe to call you guys power-pop? I’ve always wondered why power-pop and bands like Teenage Fanclub, Big Star and Imperial Teen have stayed cultish when they play the catchiest music. Why do you think power-pop has always seemed to stay an underground thing, save for say, Weezer and Green Day or something?

PC: For sure. I mean we started the band so we could basically just turn up, and play fun/poppy jams. But who knows, we may throw a curve ball one of these days. We don't want to feel like all of our songs must be strictly power-pop or whatever.

I guess the reason it's always been somewhat cultish as a genre is because it's like a close cousin to straight-up-rock music—they like each other because they're related and all, but one happens to be kind of a pussy.

Your music seems pretty young and carefree, but the album’s called Adult Life. The title track seems to wrestle with the idea of settling down vs. say, staying single and playing in a band in your adult years. Was that something that was weighing on you while writing the song/album?

PC: For sure. It was a weird time for me, personally—and I think some friends were going through the same thing of trying to figure their lives out, haha. I was doing the 9-to-5 thing for a non-profit, and there was this massive lay-off looming, and I was thinking about like fall-back options and such. I thought of maybe just trying to be in a touring rock band for a little while—which also didn't seem like a very sustainable option, especially while living here—so that song is kind of a cynical take on all of that.

You have a song called Bob Pollard’s mind. What do you think is in there, besides 56,209 more songs?

PC: Ha, no clue. But I've always admired how dude manages to string a bunch of words together that don't make any sense, and then upon repeated listens, it's like they couldn't be any other way.

I’ve always loved bands that have multiple vocalists singing together and both guys and girls singing. Was that something you sought to do with Cocktails?

PC: For sure. Lauren and I messed with lots of vocals and harmonies early on, and I feel like it's a big part of our sound. It's not as fun when it's just some dude singing. The dual guy/girl assault is clutch.

Keyboards play an interesting role here. They seem to be used sparingly but prominently on songs like “Don’t Bother,” “Adult Life” and “Whatcha Gonna Do?” Is that a matter of practicality (someone playing synths can’t play guitar) or preference? Do you see it being more of an element of your sound down the line?

PC: I guess it's more of a preference to not have them become a super overwhelming part of the sound. We kind of start with the songs first and then add the bells and whistles for hooks when we feel like they add something. We'll probably continue to switch it up.

What can you tell us about the recording you did with Converse Rubber Tracks?

PC: That was our first/only recording at a real studio (Different Fur) thus far, which was a really fun, but really quick experience. I remember they had these brand new pedals that we got to play with, and Ryan kind of fuzzed out his bass and we just kind of crushed it out in a (mostly) live take. Joel had just joined the band so we had him cut loose on guitar.

Can you make us a list of some of your favorite albums?

PC: The Beach Boys - Today!

Pulp - This is Hardcore

Shaun HarrisShaun Haris

Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool

The Beach Boys - 20/20

Cheap Trick - In Color

Fleetwood Mac - Mirage

The Beach Boys - Sunflower

Elvis Costello - My Aim is True

The Replacements - Tim

Chris Bell - I Am the Cosmos

Cocktails Live at Amoeba San Francisco

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