On stage, The After Party are four different people. They resemble a band thrown together on some soulless music-channel reality show. Stoic bassist Stan Campbell could be a Quadrophenia extra without the scooter. Doug Morical's drumming suggests a past or future heavy-metal career. Guitarist David Francis, whose girlfriend dotingly does his make-up before every show, resembles a guy who couldn't make it in goth-rock because he was too affable. And looking even more out of place among the edgy pop-rock is singer Travis Campbell, whose voice and lyrics seem better suited for acoustic singer-songwriter fare.
“Yeah, it seems like we're all coming at it from different perspectives,” says Morical over a beer before a recent gig at Soma. “But when we're onstage, it all comes together.”
It's easy to tell. The After Party are one of the most fulfilling bands in San Diego. Their music invokes an edgier Jimmy Eat World or Built To Spill. Think Bright Eyes if he dropped the pretense and rocked out a little more.
“So many local bands don't have that element of hope,” says Francis. “Our stuff can be dark, but there's always hope in it.”
Listening to their debut, Yes Sir, it's easy to understand why they won Best New Artist at last year's San Diego Music Awards. The After Party makes you feel it, they make you understand, and they give everything they've got.
Campbell had only played solo until he hooked up with Morical while the two lived in Medford, Ore. Francis joined only after Morical's insistence to Campbell that Francis could actually play.
“He used to show up with this crappy amp and just flail around,” Campbell recalls.
Morical nods in agreement. “When he finally did get a decent amp, I looked at Travis and said, ‘I told you so.'”
Having lived in San Diego only a few years now, they've quickly made it on the short-list of top area bands (if you ask them, however, they feel like it took forever to establish themselves here). They managed to squeeze in a last-minute showcase at the South-by-Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas in March, even though they were in the middle of recording their second album. New songs like “So Much Left To Do” and “The Ring” are dark and brooding, while “Veins” and “Dead Dance Ball” seem to dabble in the re-emergence of dance-rock.
They might sell one album or one million, but the four very different guys seem to be in it for the long haul.
“The only way out of this band is in a coffin,” says Morical, the affable goth.
To hear their stuff, check out www.theafterparty.net.