Scrutinizing menus at Filippi's Pizza Grotto in Mission Gorge, the four members of Rayleigh Scattering are having difficulty agreeing-pepperoni, mushrooms, sausage, veggie?
They finally decide to split it in half.
A week prior, the band was more in synch, charging through their opening spot at The Casbah for the release of On the Verge, a compilation album put out by Sdmusicmatters.com-which includes one of the band's songs.
Rayleigh's music is quiet intensity. They don't rock balls, per se, but their music will knock you flat all the same.
Though they'd rather interview the interviewer, the members eventually acquiesce and tell of their lives outside the band. Aren Skalman (guitar, vocals) works at a sign printing company. Kirk Nelson (guitar, vocals), the band's senior member, substitute-teaches by day and tends bar by night. Josh Katz (bass, keyboard), the "kid" of the band, also substitute-teaches. And Matt Pawluk (drums, vocals) drops mad science-literally.
"I'm a scientist," Pawluk says. "The tape recorder would turn itself off if I got into the details."
It was Pawluk's interest in the sciences that led to the name Rayleigh Scattering-a term for the phenomenon of the sun's rays reflecting off the atmosphere, which in turn makes the sky look blue.
Apparently, the process of choosing a name was as difficult for the band as it was to decide between veggies and pepperoni. Some of the earliest proposals, while not as brainy as Rayleigh Scattering, were more amusing-Castro-Turf, Burnit the Log, Madam I'm Adam, Molten Handshake and Gilded Handshake.
"We put all these names through a litmus test and would say, "Alright, make fun of it,'" Matt says.
The songwriting process for Rayleigh Scattering is somewhat more organized-if that's possible, considering everyone in the band writes the music and the lyrics. Everyone in the band also sings, save for Katz.
Skalman admits he does write the majority of the lyrics, however, preferring a lyrical narrative approach, as opposed to drawing heavily from personal experience.
"When I started writing lyrics, they were absurd and random," he says. "I really love Pavement, but I've kind of made a conscious effort to write more story-based lyrics. I try and stay away from clichés. And if I could write about basic human things and make it fresh, I would."
Whatever the approach, the band must have been doing something right, because they attracted the attention of a well-known local hero-Pinback's Zack Smith. Early last year, Smith invited Rayleigh to record a couple songs in his studio. The end result ("Mañana" and "Detritus") can be heard on the band's four-song EP, available at M-Theory Records and the band's shows.
Though the band was able to work with an artist they respect and admire, it hasn't always been that way. Rayleigh Scattering has shared bills with the most ubiquitous and least appealing type of San Diego bands-the pop-punks.
"The hard part is finding bands that you wanna play with," Nelson says. "I don't know when we were starting out how many pop-punk and rap-rock bands we played with."
"It's not even to pass judgment on them, but it's a bad match," Pawluk adds. "People who came to see them aren't going to be interested in us. And people who come to see us aren't going to be interested in them."
A better fit seems to be the bands chosen for On the Verge-indie sorts like Scarlet Symphony and The North Atlantic, increasingly popular names on the local scene that Rayleigh Scattering should soon find themselves accompanying. ©
For tour dates and news, visit www.rayleighscattering.com.