SF's Traditional Fools surf the rocky seas of garage punk
Wanna take your backyard pool party to the next level? You'll need the Traditional Fools on speed dial: their infectious, scuzzy surf punk is the best accompaniment this century has to offer to the twist, the shimmy, and the ladling of tropical punch. The three young men who make up the Fools guitarist-drummer-vocalist Ty Segall, bassist-vocalist Andrew Luttrell, and guitarist-drummer-vocalist David Fox all grew up in sunny South Orange County but later moved to San Francisco, where they became acquainted shortly after arriving two years ago.
"We all just wanted to get out of Orange County," Luttrell, 21, explains. According to Luttrell, who gladly skateboarded along with Segall, 20, into the Mission to be interviewed, the Mexican food may be excellent back home, but when it comes to playing music in Orange County, "nobody cares except people in other bands." Reservations aside, the Fools consider themselves de facto products of Southern California, which makes sense when you hear them: they excitedly cite X, the Screamers, and the early '80s Los Angeles punk generally found on the Dangerhouse label as a shared influence, and their eyes and smiles widen further at the mention of Redd Kross, from whose catalog the Fools can play a remarkable dozen covers at will, including a killer rendition of "Annette's Got the Hits." All things considered, it'd be pretty inaccurate to pin down what they're doing as straight-ahead surf rock: those kinds of riffs are most definitely present, but these guys sound way more subterranean than, say, Dick Dale or the Ventures.
When the three first musically convened early last year, they jammed on the Cramps' "Human Fly," and it clicked quickly enough for them to crank out their first three songs: "Layback," "Street Surfin'," and "Rock 'n' Roll Baby," all prominently featured on their first demo CD-R, which was a surf-washed slice of garage punk glory. Their style has only become more refined since then, as evidenced by their fantastic live cassette, Live at Wizard Mountain (Wizard Mountain Tapes, 2007), and their new, self-titled 7-inch on the Bay Area's Chocolate Covered Records. They block-printed all the covers for the single, which sports the benevolent gaze of a "chillin' cheeseburger" and their sharpest tunes yet: "Surfin' with the Phantom" gets the Vincent Price award for its spooktastic cackle and sense of impending wipe-out doom, and "River" is dialed in to the kind of raw, giddy party punk that Rocket from the Crypt were once able to muster.
The Fools have already opened for such heavyweights as the Phantom Surfers and strangely have never had to book themselves a Bay Area show, despite their frequent gig schedule: they've always been brought in by invitation, which also goes for their upcoming appearance at the now-renowned Budget Rock festival in Oakland. As well established as they may be locally, the Fools look poised to make waves overseas: their next release will be a split single put out by a label in Italy. In any case look out, collectors! they're only getting 30 copies to sell themselves. "We'll sell them for 15 bucks," Segall and Luttrell agree before laughing aloud. "Nah, we wouldn't do that."<\!s>*
THE TRADITIONAL FOOLS
Sat/8, 8 p.m., $6
924 Gilman Street Project
924 Gilman, Berk.