So, I really have three songs that stick out on this album, North Coast Electric, that I just love to listen to. Berkley Front is one of them. When I was finishing up music school in Detroit, I remember living in this super cheap house I rented with a couple of friends - it was such a piece of shit. Not to be cliche, but that didn’t matter. We had so much fun. We’d listen to records, (back then vinyl was cheap and an easy way to listen to older music), play guitar at the house, go see shows and I’d just daydream of what I was going to do with my life (even thought I was already 22 year old). Trying to make a living as a guitar player isn’t exactly the easiest or clearest path in life, at least not for me. It’s not like there’s a fast track internship program for mediocre guitar players in Detroit that’ll lead to get great gigs four days a week. Maybe that’s something the auto industry can work on for us. Berkley Front really is me look back on that period of my life and seeing how those daydreams did and didn’t come to fruition.
You’ll hear me say this a lot, while rambling thoughts is easy enough, I’m not a very wordy lyricist. I try to create visuals with the vibes of my songs to paint the story I’m attempting to tell - very much in a soundtrack or film music kinda of way. With this said, I’ve been able to travel a fair amount, and after a couple late night rides up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) I really wanted to have a tune that would be great to listen to while cruising at night and remind of those great trips. I had a couple vibes in my head while working on Berkley Front. Part is Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean, which come through in the opening drum groove. Then, the strong, laid-back pocket found on those classic Barry White albums from the 70’s, and then tie it in with 60’s surf rock. Berkley Front Obviously isn’t a soul tune, but for my taste, I put this on a playlist with tunes like Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin', William DeVaughn’s be thankful for what you got and M83’s The Wizard. I think we did a good job just grooving on this tune. The shimmery sounds of the Fender Jaguar guitar, the quirky backing vocals and Takashi Iio on the bass (who just crushes it) really brings it all together. There are a number of other nod’s in the production of this song such as the really low backing vocals ,a la Modest Mouse, the guitar solo is part tribute to the Grateful Dead and part Ventures and Dick Dale; and finally, David Bowies Dancing in the Streets. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m really happy how this song turned out with it’s laid-back pocket. After the album was completed we filmed the live video, and as the song moved from the studio to the stage we flipped the groove a bit and gave it more of a boogaloo feel.
There’s a Spotify playlist of cruising tunes to check out below, and the live video performance of Berkley Front featuring two of my favorite people and musicians. Takashi Iio on bass and Rick Beamon on drums kicking that boogaloo feel on this tune.
Thanks for reading and make sure to pick up a copy of the album on vinyl if you can.
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