Garage Rock '09: Photobooth pictures perfectly sloppy pop -- plus some really bad Spanish
Photo by Meltoid

Who says dumb can't be a whole lotta fun? "One of our friends called us 'bubblegum for skinheads,'" says Carlos Bermudez of his band Photobooth. "I don't go for the Oi! thing myself. But I guess it is bonehead bubblegum."

Ah, but what boneheady pop bliss — bouncing along in its own happy three-minute/three-chord oblivion, whether live and thriving at last year's Budget Rock fest or documented for garage posterity à la "Pretty Baby." Studded with "ba-ba-ba-bas" and propelled by an inexorable Troggs-y drone, the track will come out in a month or two as a 7-inch on Raw Deluxe.

Another tuneful case in point: "Da Me Tus Besos," recently released as a single by Daggerman — a number Bermudez, 25, describes as a "cheesy Spanish glitter rip-off."

"My Spanish is really, really bad," confesses the guitarist-vocalist. "I was trying to get my mom to work out the Spanish, which is embarrassing in itself, because I feel like I should know it by now." Yet simultaneous grammatical and lyrical perfection was not to be. "I had to make it grammatically atrocious to make the syllables fit," Bermudez adds.

No need to belabor it. Instead, how about a blurry B&W shot at Photobooth's origins? Bermudez's last group, the Mothballs — the de facto house band at West Oakland's Cereal Factory, the site of many a fun summer barbecue show — had split, and his pal Jason Patrone, ex-vocalist for FM Knives, had just moved to the Bay Area from Sacramento. "We were bored because we didn't have anything going on at the time," Bermudez recalls, and so one night in late 2007 the two drunkenly conceived a project named after a song by the Fevers.

Housemate Matthew Melton was pulled into the group before veering off to concentrate on his other combos, the Bare Wires and Snakeflower 2, which Bermudez also plays with. Now with Robbie Simon on drums and Tim Hellman on bass, songwriters Bermudez and Patrone figure an album is their next step — though god forbid Photobooth grows too solemn or careerist.

"It's really boring when people take themselves so seriously," says Bermudez matter-of-factly. "The cool thing about garage rock is that it's not really self-conscious about ripping off other people. It makes it more of a party thing than a cool thing."


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