"And a bunch of people threatened to quit the band," Castillo adds. "This band is so big — you've got homeowners and you've got people who are basically living in their campers — and when it came to doing the Coke commercial, there were a lot of people who just don't like the big multinational corporations."
It's remarkable that such an unruly, perpetually shifting, shiftless bunch has managed to hold it together for all of seven or eight years with few agreed-upon "leaders" (although Castillo asserts, "the original members always walk around like aristocracy"). The wireless, untethered energy they bring to the trad rock lineup is impressive. When they marched onto the stage at Shoreline Amphitheatre to join Arcade Fire (after crashing the women's room) at last year's Download Festival — ragtag horn and drum corps ripping through a few numbers as the flag girls and boy bumped and grinded in blond wigs and glittery G-strings — you realized what was really missing from indie at this performance, at so many performances: sex appeal. Theater. A drunken mastery of performance and the dark arts of showmanship, along with the sense of team spirit linked to so much marching band imagery bandied about in today's pop.
As Castillo quips, "Record companies are interested in having us play with their bands because their bands are so boring onstage. People pay big money to go to these concerts because the music is all great and produced, and then they go to these shows, and these guys are sitting there bent over their Game Boys. Oh, that's really exciting. Where's the show?"
This show emerged from the ashes of Crash Worship, the legendary SoCal "cult, paganistic drum corps," as Castillo describes it, "where people would just strip naked and writhe in orgiastic piles." Extra Action was the processional that would cut through the heaps, eventually marching north to a Fruitvale warehouse, at the behest of ex-Crash Worshipper Simon Cheffins.
"I've been pretty much kicked out of every band I've been in," Castillo says, who has played with the group for five years. Members — many of the sculptor, performance artist, or "computer geek" persuasion — come and go, sometimes after a few practices, spinning off into combos like the As Is Brass Band. But it's a family of sorts — a band-geek gang cognizant of the Bay Area's countercultural/subcultural performance traditions and the unchartable wildness extending from the Diggers to the Cacophony Society. And only "one thing seems to be a requirement," Castrillo continues. "People have to have some problem that needs to be expressed. Everybody's an exhibitionist. We like to take off our clothes." Those are family values we can get behind. SFBG
Extra Action Marching Band
With Death of a Party, Sugar and Gold, and Hank IV
May 18, 8 p.m. door
398 12th St., SF
Call for price.