"I'll punch Jimmy [Lavalle] right in the balls."
So declares Brian Barrabee, bass player for local miscreants The Long and Short of It. It's a joke, of course. He and the man that is The Album Leaf have been friends for years, but it's reflective of both Barrabee's personality and his band's. A simple question about their live shows easily segues into a rant about the testicular swatting skills of Barrabee, who's confined to a wheelchair. It's like talking to a bunch of grown-ups who haven't lost touch with their inner pre-Ritalin, ADHD children.
Within the context of their music, this all makes sense. Just as they have a difficult time focusing on anything subjective, their music often comes across as a pastiche of aggressive rock forms including punk, prog, metal and '70s hard rock. Somehow it works, and it's due in no small part to their piss-and-vinegar live shows, during which, more often than not, they smoke the headliner.
"We wanna be a fierce, in-your-face band," explains singer Ben Johnson, who onstage is known for Iggy Pop-like theatrics and has a voice that sounds like a cross between the Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra and Bad Brains' HR.
The genesis began in the boys' self-described "college years" in Santa Cruz, where Johnson and his brother Tim bonded with Barrabee over their mutual love of all things guy: sci-fi, sports and aggro-rock.
After returning home, they each played in other bands, but it wasn't until Barrabee drunkenly recruited guitarist Matt Strachota (who also plays in San Diego's dirty-country outfit, Bartender's Bible) that they found a common ideal.
"[We wanted to be] what we'd want to see if we were at a show and didn't know anything about the band," Johnson says. "More specifically-[The Long and Short of It is] tailored to our tastes."
Even more specifically, he adds, "you know, fire, dragons and the like. Real things."
And so after three years, two tours and countless local shows, The Long are finally releasing their debut album, Flight of the Mallard. Judging by its mathematical riffs, Johnson's surprisingly poignant lyrics, their work ethic and their "consciously image unconscious" looks (read: they're not exactly heartthrobs), you can tell that this is a band in it for the right reasons.
No talk, just rock. Hence their name.
"[We] don't think that, "Dude, I'm in a band, so I'm killer,'" blasts Johnson as if he were already onstage. "Everybody's in a fucking band, man, so who cares. You can do whatever the fuck you want, but when it's time to get on stage, you rock your ass off. Get up and kick ass."
The Long and Short of It play with Earthless and Red Fang at the Ken Club on Nov. 4. Call for time
and price. 619-284-2848.