Bay Area natives B and Not B have been playing together for a little over a year, pairing witty lyrics with 60's-inspired pop hooks to keep your head bopping from beginning to end. Wrapping up a five city tour of the Northwest, the band recently recorded a full-length, self-titled LP slated for a January release. Songs from the upcoming record can be previewed on the band's website.
B and Not B is made up of David Ricardo (songs, voice, right-handed guitar, trumpet, tequila), Dusty DiMercurio (left-handed guitar, voice, studio production, tight jeans), Brad Robertson (bass guitar, video production, wisecracks--also of Upstairs Downstairs), Dan Caporale (drums, scooters), and Jamie Osborne (keys, delays, doing the needful). These serious musicians make sure not to take the art of performing too seriously--check out their recent video of entertaining unsuspecting San Franciscans with a Zeppelin cover played live from their van. Local Frequency sat down with B and Not B (well, most of the group; Caporale couldn't make the interview) at The Uptown to chat about Michael Jackson, pirates, and Disneyland. (The band plays the Make-Out Room tonight).
If you could describe your sound as a San Francisco neighborhood, which one would it be?
Dusty DiMercurio: I think we'd be the Tendernob. We have all kinds of class, but we don't have all kinds of cash.
Brad Robertson: So you're saying we're cheap?
You guys just came off of a short tour of the Northwest, how was that?
David Ricardo: All of the tour stops had their charms, but my favorite stop was in Burlington, Wa. because it was my first all-ages show. I loved the enthusiasm of the young people, who weren't afraid to get right up in my face and dance! It rarely happens.
DD: It always happens at the Make-Out Room. Usually around 11'o clock, after the bands are done. The kids start rolling in, and lose their shit over '80s music. My mom is a school teacher and I played for her class one time, and the kids loved it. They haven't learned how uncool is it to lose yourself over something you're into.
BR: We've all played in bands forever, and have gone to shows forever, and we lose that urge to just go crazy, really enjoy what you're doing. I think people are having more fun than they actually let on. David is like one of those people who doesn't care, just will dance.
DR: We did an impromptu show at a Chevron-Sunoco in Redding which was a lot of fun.
BR: We got a really late start...but we still had a lot of energy and we were kind of bouncing off the walls when we went into the gas station. When I went to pay the kid behind the counter asked if we were actors. We were kinda close to Ashland, Ore. so I guess he's used to getting some manic types rolling through town. I told him that we were a band on tour. When he asked us what kind of music we played, instead of trying to describe our music, I decided to grab my camera and round up the guys and guitars and show him.
Where is everyone going for the holidays?
BR: I'm staying here. My girlfriend's family is coming from New York for a week.
DR: I'm staying here also.
Jamie Osborne: I'm going to Detroit, and to the Motown Museum--it's like an annual pilgrimage. I go to the studio and touch the piano. It's really out of tune. It's cool, they've got all the Motown records on the wall, and Michael Jackson's glove.
BR: That's why Michael Jackson only has one glove!
JO: You think they buried him with one glove?
BR: He doesn't need another glove, he's legendary.
DR: I don't think they buried him, he's probably cryogenically frozen.
DD: They're going to figure out how to bring him back.
What are you reading now?
DR: I've been downloading books from Project Gutenberg and reading them on my phone. I just started Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, who's one of the founders of Boing Boing. It's about post-death--people who don't want to live now and say "deadhead me" and choose to go in suspended animation and come back when it's cooler.
DD: In Disneyland?
DR: Yes, so maybe with Michael Jackson, maybe it's all a deliberate plot. Maybe he planned his death and he's coming back when things are better.
BR: The whole Disneyland angle is freaking me out. It reminds me of the last time I went to Disneyland as an adult, years ago, and took acid. I don't want Disneyland to be any part of my afterlife.
DR: It's an already creepy place. I've never been to any Disney-related place.
DD: I did a pot brownie last year and went down there. I ate one thinking, "Eh, it will be OK." I didn't realize how strong they were, I nearly had a fucking panic attack walking around.
BR: I just read part of the Master and Commander series by Patrick O'Brian. It's 22 books. They're great. You have to re-wire your brain. It has long, fake, Old English text, and it takes a while to get into it. After a while, I couldn't talk, I couldn't text anymore. I was like, "Arrgh."
DR: Did you guys know if you go to the bottom of your Facebook page, you can choose to change it to pirate talk? I was like, "Woooo!" Then I was like, "I don't know understand anything anymore. I should probably turn this off cause nothing makes sense."
BR: Do you think a lot of the pirate battles happened because they couldn't understand each other?
DR: I don't want to attack you, I just wanted to borrow an orange. I have scurvy!
JO: I'm reading Beneath The Underdog: His World as Composed by Mingus. I've been totally obsessed with Charles Mingus recently. [The book] is about his life in Los Angeles and his career. He was a crazy, classic tortured genius.
DD: Right now I'm reading The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. He was a young writer from Sweden, who wrote three books and turned the manuscript in and suddenly died. There's some controversy around his death, because during his life he helped uncover Nazi members in Sweden. It's fiction, but there are a lot of parallels between the book and his life. I'm losing sleep over it.
Brad, you filmed the video for your cover of "Immigrant Song." How did that come about?
BR: When I first moved to San Francisco in the early '90s, there were a lot of great art rock bands that would perform in public around the Mission. Perhaps my favorite was a group called Guerilla Rock who used to dress like Evel Kenevil and play funk out of a VW van.
DR: The band just started playing ["Immigrant Song]" in practice one day, I had to learn how to play it on trumpet, because there's no way I could sing Robert Plant wailing.
BR: We went around to about six places: Alemany flea market, 24th and Mission, Dolores Park, etc.
DD: People loved it. They rocked out hard with us and thanked us for playing. We realized afterward that it would have probably been a good idea to bring flyers or our EP or something to help market ourselves. Afterwards we thought, "Man, we suck at marketing."
What song has been stuck in your head lately?
JO: Anything by Girltalk.
DD: It's Raining Today--Scott Walker. Can't get enough of his fantastic crooning.
BR: I've been listening to the Staple Singers all week. Maybe I can talk David into covering "I'll Take You There," that way I'll have an excuse for having this song in my head all the time.
DR: Maybe next time Brad. I've got a couple: "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, "Horseriding" by Euros Childs. "Daemon Lover" by Shocking Blue .
Where can we see you next?
Tonight--Dec. 2nd, at the Make-Out Room for Penny Arcade. This is the last show were playing for 2009.