Houston Calling

Ten Questions for The Pleased

July 1st, 2004 · No Comments

Earlier this year, I saw The Pleased, a great band I had never heard of before, open for Psychedelic Furs here in Houston. Hailing from San Francisco, this band came out and blew the crowd into stunned appreciation. My jaw repeatedly dropped throughout their set–it was an amazing show that seemed to come out of nowhere. Their mix of early nineties shoegazer rock, sixties psychedelia, and late seventies garage/punk is the perfect sound for today.

I quickly ordered their album, Don’t Make Things, from their website and have been spreading the word ever since. This is one you’ve got to hear (and, at only $11.98 w/ shipping, you really have no excuse). It’s one of my favorite albums so far this year. Seriously.

I recently found out that the band is on tour with another California band, The Shore–who have a CD coming out on Maverick in August. Their sound is late Verve crossed with Oasis–a good combination. They seem to be getting the push since I heard one of their songs on TV the other night. They will stop in Houston for a gig at Fat Cat’s this Saturday night (July 3rd).

If you’re a fan of bands like Coldplay, The Cooper Temple Clause, The Verve, or Oasis, this is a show you won’t want to miss. Unless you’re heading out to the Gun Crazy show (see the interview in a previous post), which you should do also. Somehow.

I very seriously doubt that we will again be given the opportunity to catch these bands in such a small atmosphere. Gosling and Three Fantastic are also on the bill. It’s an 8 p.m. show.

I got in touch with The Pleased, and vocalist/guitarist Rich Good was kind enough to endure my repeated emails. Thanks to Rich for agreeing to the interview.

Ten Questions for The Pleased

HC: How did The Pleased get started?

Rich: We all fell into the same place and time a couple of years ago–Noah and I had been wanting to do something for a while prior to that, but the band was not fully formed until 2002 when Genaro and Luckey found their way to a practice room above a bar called the Mine Shaft. We take our time.

HC: I first saw The Pleased when you opened here in Houston for the Psychedelic Furs (one of my favorites from the eighties). You were a great surprise–it made up for me missing The Alarm (another of my all-time favorites from that era). Anyway, The Pleased got a great response from the typically fickle Houston crowds, which was nice to see. You guys are from San Francisco yet your sound is more of what came out of the U.K. in the early to mid-nineties–but not dated at all. What do consider to be your musical influences?

Rich: Everything is influential–but musically anything from Terry Riley to Roxy Music to whatever is on the radio. We all have widely differing tastes and probably the last thing we listen to is anything that sounds remotely like us–influences define themselves in our music more as a feeling rather than riffs and notes. I don’t think we have a regional sound–SF or UK–and we don’t pay enough attention to any one genre of music to really expose the influences as one defineable type of music. We’ve been playing together is a small room long enough to have developed a distinct Pleased sound.

HC: Don’t Make Things is a great album, and the comparisons to The Strokes are vastly unwarranted in my opinion. I noticed that you guys have gotten quite a bit of press in the U.K. as a result of the album. And you have played shows with bands like The Vines, Hot Hot Heat, and The Von Bondies as well, both of which get a lot of press world-wide. How do you guys go about creating your music? Is it a collaborative effort or do you all piece it together?

Rich: Vast and unwarranted. The songwriting is very collaborative–the seeds of songs obviously start with one person’s idea for a melody, progression, lyric, or whatever but I could say that the songs are almost entirely written in our recording space with all members present throwing ideas into the pot.

Sometimes it take ages–“One Horse” took about 15 minutes, understandably.

HC: One thing that impressed me when I saw you guys play was that you seemed to be genuinely enjoying yourselves while playing. A lot of bands (like The Strokes or Interpol, for instance) tend to take themselves too seriously and can come across as snobs or “indier-than-thou”-types. Basically, you guys didn’t come off as pretentious at all. Do you think that being accessible to fans is an important part of being in a band? And why or why not?

Rich: We all have different levels of how comfortable we are with the concept of a rock show. Personally, “Indier-than-thou” is not really my style; stage presence and performance is important but why try to separate yourself from the audience? I prefer to include them–otherwise you may as well play at home.

HC: You guys are not on a major label and put out Don’t Make Things independently (on Big Wheel Recreation). I think it’s ridiculous that a lot of bands without a sliver of the talent of other bands get signed and get promo where some have to fight and slog it out just scraping by. What’s your take on the state of the music industry today? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How does The Pleased use the internet as a tool to market itself? I saw the album on iTunes recently–that’s a good start.

Rich: The music industry is what it is. It’s not like no one has done this before– you go in with your eyes open and try to make decisions based on your own goals in music not what some one else wants you to do. It’s amazing that this industry of creativity is overflowing with dickheads who want to make you do it to some predefined model of “how to be a band.”

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

Rich: Personally, that we sound like a New York band.

HC: I read an interview in which Noah was quoted as saying, “You don’t need recording studios anymore if you’ve got a computer and a garage…Anybody that spends over $20 on a record is spending too much.” Was Don’t Make Things really recorded in someone’s bedroom? How did that process come about?

Rich: Yes it was predominantly recorded here in Nevada City. Some of the takes we had done here and there but it was basically recorded in two rooms at my place. I converted my garage into a tiny studio and so we moved from the bedroom into there for the second half of the recording process. We like being in control of everything we do so it makes sense to do it that way for us.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

Rich: Devendra doing “Wake Up Instead” might be interesting. I’m not a huge fan of covers so I’d probably rather listen to an original. Either that or have
stereolab do our entire repetoire in their drone style.

HC: What’s in store for The Pleased in 2004 and beyond? Any plans for another record?

Rich: We’ll get back off this tour and layabout at the river for a while and then set about recording some of this new stuff later in the year. Either that or we’ll start listening to what people tell us to do and we’ll be on a fast food commercial by September.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

Rich: Right now? TV on the Radio, Devendra Banhart, Roxy Music, Bach Cello Suites, and of course, Joanna Newsom.

Thanks again to Rich Good for taking the time to answer these questions. Please be sure to catch The Pleased at Fat Cat’s this Saturday night with The Shore and Gosling.

Also, there is an early show starting at 2 p.m. that same day, featuring The Rocket Summer, The Plain White T’s, Number One Fan, and Kevin Devine. Enjoy.

Be sure to support these independent artists by purchasing their CD, Don’t Make Things, from their website.

Now Playing in My iPod: The Shore — [self-titled]

Tags: Music