Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cape May is that they live in Ocean Beach. For a neighborhood best known for reggae, jam bands and scraggly looking individuals with Greenpeace stickers on their acoustic guitars, Cape May's heavy-handed, guitar-driven rock is a jarring discovery.
Not only do all the band members live in OB; they're also roommates.
"I wouldn't say it's Partridge Family-I'd say it's more Monkees," says drummer Dustin Paul. "We all really get along well, and having us all move in together was a good way to tell if we could survive touring together."
"We've been learning a lot about each other," Paul adds with a laugh.
Cable addicts may have caught a peek into their home life when guitarist Andrew Bernhardt was featured on the MTV program Room Raiders. The program showcased a split-second glimpse of the band performing in their garage/studio/bedroom/rehearsal space and a hint at what really makes their existence so notable.
And that is: these guys fucking rock.
They came together about three years ago when lead singer and occasional rhythm guitarist Andre Che met Bernhardt. The duo picked up two other recruits and began playing around town as Cilantro. Eventually, the two sought a different sound and began looking for a drummer and a bass player. Dustin Paul filled the drum slot and Who-loving bassist Mark Wiskowski made the best impression out of a field of 30 players who auditioned.
As Cape May, the band has completed two videos, written around 60 songs and played 50 shows. They have also recorded and self-released an EP and a full-length CD and will release their second full album next week.
Living together, they're able to work on new ideas pretty much instantaneously. It's also helped their live show.
"We can't read each others' minds, but we're all pretty much on the same level," Paul says.
Che, whose deep croon sounds a lot like The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, is an energetic front man with New York cool and a touch of Jim Morrison swagger. When not stomping his foot along to the beat, Bernhardt can often be found laying on the stage, spinning around while still playing a perfect lead. Wiskowski has a patented rock stance and out-of-control sideburns that make facial hair fun to watch.
So how does Paul compete?
"Just make faces and hit things hard," he says.
Which only leaves one question: Who plays the dish brush?
"Me and Andre do the dishes pretty much," Paul explains. "Mark has never, ever done the dishes."
Cape May plays at the North Park Festival of the Arts, 6 p.m. on May 21. Free. www.northparkmain street.com. Then at 4th & B with Daredevil Jane and Campaign 4 Quiet, 9 p.m. on May 27. $5. 619-231-4343. www.capemayrock.com