For band members who often schlep through low-wage temp jobs just to fund their stupid little music dreams, simply affording guitar strings, drum skins and other minor maintenance costs can be a tough endeavor. When all of your gear gets stolen in the process, it can be damn near devastating.
But such a heist didn't stop shoegazer combo LowCloudCover.
Immediately after adding drummer Brett Swearingen to the line-up, the local trio had almost all of their gear stolen, including a drum set, guitars, pedals and amps.
The thief "broke into our practice space and stole all our stuff," bassist Dario Izarraras explains, sitting in front of a screen flickering Atari 2600 demos in singer-guitarist Greg Russell's North Park apartment. Izarraras names the alleged thief, someone the band was close with, saying that an arrest was made. A police report wasn't available at press time, however, so CityBeat will refrain from naming the suspect amid charges of grand theft.
"Basically, this guy was taking out his anger on us," Russell explains.
"At first I thought, "Oh, this is fun, I get to shop for new gear,'" Izarraras says. "Then I got my credit card bill and I thought, "That asshole!'"
"I felt the same way," Russell says. "I bought everything on credit, so you don't feel it for 30 days."
Yet the band persisted with a fresh batch of instruments and faced an entirely different obstacle: getting the notoriously aloof crowd at the Casbah to enjoy and even dance (god forbid) to their brand of My Bloody Valentine-esque psychedelic rock. LCC's heavy-loud dynamics and oceans of flange and phase effects (with which Russell pummels the audience through two amplifiers) may have difficulty finding a mainstream audience.
Even after choice gigs opening for the likes of Calla, Kinski, Check Engine and The American Analog Set, LCC still runs into its share of unresponsive crowds.
"It's hard to get people's enthusiasm, as a band," Swearingen explains. "It's always easier to be a critic."
"I hear cool comments about us, but I think maybe people are afraid of us," Izarraras says. "I used to think that at The Casbah, until I realized that unless it's a packed house, nobody gets right in front of the stage. People always keep their distance until someone says a band is cool.
"I consider myself somewhat of a shy person. It bums me out when nobody comes up to talk to me. I remember going to the Che [Café] a lot. I'd still be shy but I'd try to go up and talk to the band. Even if I didn't totally like their set, I'd try to compliment them on some aspect of their sound. When nobody approaches me I'm like, "Man, nobody likes the songs.'"
Despite some disappointment with restrained, sometimes uninterested, sometimes shy crowds, the band readily admits that their music appeals to a very specific audience. Swearingen explains: "A friend of mine listened to what we were doing, and he said, "You realize that it'll be difficult for people to enjoy this. It's not the type of thing that people like to go out and see. There's a certain type of music listener that will like you. But most people aren't that listener.'"
"Someone made the comment that, the kind of music we play, people relate to it on their own, late at night," Russell says.
"Not," Swearingen adds, "in a crowded club."
Some, however, offer entirely different, albeit mind-boggling, opinions about the band's sound.
"There are also people who say we sound like James Brown-meets-Slayer," Izarraras explains, at which Swearingen chuckles and proclaims, "That was my favorite."
LowCloudCover's sound, though not anywhere close to the Godfather of Soul or the Huntington Beach speed-metallers, is undoubtedly powerful and unforgettable, which can be empowering, if not disorienting to the band.
"It always freaks me out," Russell says, "that three really shy people are able to go into a bar and be the loudest ones there."