The Limousines aren't really an overnight success, but the duo -- singer/lyricist Eric Victorino and keyboard player/composer Giovanni Giusti -- did have an impressive impact on San Francisco rather soon after they started making music.
"When we met, I was a regular rocker in a four-piece band with a major-label deal, and Gio was doing production for underground rappers," says Victorino. "We talked about doing a few tunes together as a duo, me singing and him playing keyboards and doing production. We exchanged ideas over the Internet and, when we finished a song, we'd put it up on our MySpace and Tumblr sites. We didn't have a CD out yet, but when Live 105 started playing a demo of 'Very Busy People' we realized we might be able to turn The Limousines from a hobby to a career."
One of the electro-pop duo's first live gigs was a spot on the bill at Live 105's annual BFD
concert, playing to 3,500 screaming fans that were singing along with every word. "I'd been in bands for a while, so I was ready for it," Victorino says. "I've played gigs where the people in most of the audience look like dots. But I had to drag Gio onto the stage."
Victorino will not, presumably, have to do that when The Limousines play the Independent this Wednesday, Nov. 27.
The success of their early live gigs encouraged The Limos to produce their debut album, Get Sharp, a disc full of upbeat, darkly humorous tunes. It got good reviews and was picked up by an indie label that shall remain nameless. "We made the album ourselves. We signed [a contract] when they offered to help us promote and distribute the record, but they wound up taking ownership of the music and leaving us holding our dicks." Even though they'd lost control of their music, they continued to promote themselves: A video they made for their song "Internet Killed the Video Star," -- a play on the Buggles hit "Video Killed the Radio Star," of course, -- received over one million YouTube hits.
For Hush, their just released second album, the duo took a more serious approach. The music is still upbeat and bright, with the energetic ambience of the best '80s dance rock, but the subject matter is more emotionally direct and less playful. "My marriage was falling apart when we wrote it," Victorino says. "The songs are about infidelity, obsession and other more adult themes. We still have a good time when we play these songs live, but there's no joking around. It's more serious than what we were doing before. I can see myself singing these songs in 20 years without being embarrassed."
The band financed the album on Kickstarter, raising more than twice their goal of $35,000. The money allowed them to upgrade their studio, and it will finance their next album as well. "We produced on our own schedule, which sometimes allows you to overthink things. It's easy to throw away a song if you don't see the value in it. If you have a team, or a label, or an outside producer to tell you a song is good enough to keep, it can be helpful, but when they're not on your side, it's terrible. In the new digital world, we can do everything a label could do for us and we don't have day jobs anymore, so we're doing OK."
"When we recently stopped by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we went into the MTV room," Victorino concludes. "There's a plaque on the wall that says something like: 'MTV started with 'Video Killed the Radio Star,' but they lost the music somewhere along the way. Today it's all reality shows and not much music, which The Limousines documented in their song 'Internet Killed the Video Star.'''
"Even if we're just a footnote, to see your name on a plaque in the Rock Hall of Fame is something to take a picture of and send home to your mom."