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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Local Frequency: Bay Area Band Q&A w/ Orchid and Hound

Posted By on Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 7:30 AM


Lawrence Alarcon and John Constantine are Orchid and Hound. The two 23-year-olds formed the band last summer, but have been making music together since high school (they met at LA County High School for the Arts).

Alarcon and Constantine were classically trained in opera (by Stephanie Vlahos) but their own music has a pop bent. Orchid and Hound songs pair soaring vocals and bouncy piano melodies over somber lyrics that focus mainly on relationships. One barely notices that the lyrical content expresses a dour mood, as the music does just the opposite.

While they both live in the city, Alarcon and Constantine have flown under the radar here; the duo mostly plays shows in L.A. They're currently in the studio recording an EP to be released this spring. Orchid and Hound met up with Local Frequency at Whiskey Thieves to chat about self-help books, Miranda July movies, and crushing on Owen Pallett.

If you could describe your sound a San Francisco neighborhood, which one would it be?
Lawrence Alcarcon: Right now, I'd have to say Twin Peaks. I ride the 33 [by Twin Peaks], and every morning I get to see the same things: there's fog, there's sun, it's beautiful. Lyrically, I'd have to say the Castro, because I live there.
John Constantine: The Tendernob. I tend to write songs about society, more than Lawrence. I think in the Tendernob, you get to see the best of both worlds.
LA: You definitely get to see what the government does, or hasn't done for that matter.
JC: You get to see the excess, and the homelessness.

So, who's Orchid and who's Hound?
LA: Oh, shit. John?
JC: Lawrence is most definitely the Orchid. He's just so pretty. He sits there on the piano, so delicate, flower-like.
LA: John is most definitely the hound because he whines, he bitches. John sings, he's more vocal, he's the hound.
JC: We were thinking of making a quiz on our website: "Are you the orchid or the hound?"

What are you guys reading now?
JC: I'm kinda in between reads. The last book I read was Harold and Maude by Colin Higgins. I saw the movie, and I didn't like the adaptation of Harold. As for my nothing, trashy read, it's Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea, by Chelsea Handler. It was funny. I've seen her do standup once in San Diego. She was wasted,
LA: I really liked her on Girls Behaving Badly--which is like candid camera, except with girls. I'm reading No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.
JC: Is that a self-help book?
LA: No!
Sounds like it.
LA: She directed that movie that every one saw except for me, Me and You and Everyone We Know.
JC: Still sounds like a self-help book. I think the biggest self-helpy book I've read was A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. I read the blog, too, the chapter by chapter blog by Oprah... I don't think there's anything wrong with self-help, people don't help themselves enough. I'm an only child and my roommates are also only children. We're still learning skills that people learned when they're like, four.
LA: [Sings] I believe children are our future... I think you all are just only children in your own little bubbles, just bubbling along.
JC: Lawrence likes to make me aware of my only-childness at every moment.

You two have great style. What's an article of clothing that you've been particularly attached to?
JC: Well, before this band, I wouldn't say that I didn't have good fashion sense, or dressed badly...
LA: John didn't know how to put on a pair of pants.
JC: I've been wearing a hat three out of four days this week, but that's due to a bad hair week. I need to cut it...I don't know.
LA: John likes to ramble.
JC: Whatever, ramble on, sing the song.
LA: Is that a new lyric you've come up with? Cause I don't like it.
JC: Now, see that's Lawrence's problem. He doesn't know anything about classic rock, or pop culture really. That Zeppelin reference went right over his head, but play a measure of classical music and he's on it.

What's a song that's been stuck in your head recently?
JC: Owen Pallett's new album. I was a little disappointed that his boyfriend was his manager. There was some hope that I would go to his concert, and somehow catch his eye.
LA: Nothing at the moment has caught my ear. The thing that's eternally stuck in my head is "A Christmas Song."

You guys are in the middle of recording an EP, how's that going?
JC: Great. We're recording at this media college Expressions in Emeryville. A student there heard our music and brought in two other students to record our music. Since it's a college, it's portfolio experience for students and everyone is doing their part. So we're getting to record for free essentially. We're really lucky.

Can we expect the EP soon then?
JC: Yes, the EP will be released this spring with the full-length album this summer.

Favorite venues in the city?
LA: I would say Great American Music Hall. It's really intimate, but still pretty big. The Warfield is great, but only the general admission [section].
JC: Except for Santigold--everyone was dancing, that was a great show.
LA: I would like to take over Martuni's, the piano bar. I want to play the piano there, while John sits on top of it and sings...Bimbo's is hands down one of my favorite venues, I would love to play there.
JC: I wish they would allow smoking inside, it would set the scene.

Where can we see you next?
Feb. 5 at El Rio and Feb. 11 at Blue Macaw

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Jasmine Blocker


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