Sounding the 805

Improv for Short, and Softsilence gives it away now

By Chris Mastrovito 09/23/2010

For some unknown reason, indie rock and alternative comedy go together like shovel and pail. If you are into bands such as Yo La Tengo or The New Pornographers, chances are pretty good you can be seen watching stand-up by David Cross or Patton Oswalt every other week. So the idea that local indie rock band Franklin for Short would be invited to perform at L.A.’s alternative comedy breeding ground, UCB Theatre, to play a few songs and subsequently become the helpless subject of improv comedy sketches is not surprising.

“Apparently, Matt Besser is a fan of the band,” explains lead singer/guitarist Seth Pettersen. Besser was one of the original quartet that made up The Upright Citizens Brigade television show on Comedy Central in the late ’90s. The band is expected to play roughly four songs, after which the sketch team will interview the members and perform improvised sketches based upon actual events that have happened to the band. Pettersen predicts that it’s “gonna be killer.”

Records don’t sell themselves, but in the case of Ventura’s Softsilence, its records actually buy themselves, at least for what’s left of the month of September. In the latest promotional tactic from a band already quite skilled at selling itself, the alternative rock/pop quartet has been just giving its CDs away. Not content to simply hand them out at shows, the band actually worked out a deal with the top local record stores to offer its newest release, The Innocence EP – Deluxe Edition, at the check-out counters (that’s prime record store real estate), for the low, low price of free, for all of September.

Painfully aware that even your grandmother could potentially pirate its music, lead singer Bryan Dixon says part of the goal is to get people into the record stores that could use the extra business and, of course, to “just saturate Ventura with Softsilence.” The band members are not known for being squeamish in their promotion: these are the same guys who cold-called L.A. recording studios last year asking for free recording time, and actually succeeded with little more than brass balls. If you’re curious and have never heard the band’s music, now is a good time to sample it in the few days left of the giveaway.

Last weekend, many patrons of The Dirty in Ventura were surprised to be graced with the humble presence of So Cal punk legend Steve Soto (original bass player of surf punk pioneers Agent Orange and founding member of legendary OC skate punk band The Adolescents) performing with his band Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts. The fact that the Twisted Hearts, a distillation of the best elements of Americana, country and rock, bears almost no perceivable resemblance to Soto’s punk résumé is irrelevant, and it’s clear that there is very little in this world that Soto can do willfully to make him less “punk,” short of selling seal pelts to purchase Hot Topic stock shares.

Sounding the 805 is Ventura County’s only biweekly local music column. If you have a tip, a suggestion, a complaint, some dish or just a kind word, shoot Chris Mastrovito an e-mail.


cmastrov@yahoo.com

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