Scott Anderson is in crisis. His arms are flapping, his voice is flatulating and his body is doing some sort of wet-noodle-sea-urchin thing. He is currently a one-man dance emergency and even his three bandmates in This Holiday Life don't know what his problem is.
"She bangs! She bangs!!" he screeches in the middle of Encinitas coffeehouse The Pannikin, barely able to contain his awkward giggling. "She bangs! She moves! I'm William Hung! Get it? From American Idol? Aw, you probably don't watch the show."
We all do. Not that we'd admit it. He'll have to suffer in silence.
It's not easy being the frontman for one of the most buzzed-about and misunderstood rock bands in San Diego-particularly on days like this, when it's all rehearsal and no play. Anderson estimates that the band spends about six hours per day, outside of their full-time day jobs, working on their music. They're at a crucial stage, as This Holiday Life tries to graduate from popular local giggers to a nationally recognized act.
"We spent March [of 2003] until the new disc [The Fallout] came out in January playing anything and everything we possibly could," Anderson says. "Dancing in the streets, fliers-everything. The key is to get your name out there so that when people see your name they say, "Oh, that band is cool' when, in reality, they have only seen your name."
"It works, though," says bassist Bobby Anderson. "We've sold 1,000 discs in six or seven weeks and we have probably 1,000 people on our e-mail list."
While the Andersons-plus drummer Mark Nagel and guitarist Joseph Freeman-are savvy to the techniques that help bands succeed at larger levels, they aren't exactly cutthroat industry types.
After all, we've already seen the William Hung impression. Then there's the schoolboy demeanors, the spelling out of "s-h-i-t" and the marriage of three out of four members (to three other best friends, no less).
These are church-going lads with God-given good looks-dedicated to Christianity and music, in that order. And while Christian rock has been flourishing in San Diego with P.O.D., Switchfoot and Noise Ratchet, the three-headed monster of God-pop-Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, etc.-hasn't historically been a popular beast.
This Holiday Life have a vision for the future of God-rock, however, as their music avoids the W. Smith syrup and Grant's pat conservatism.
"While we attribute our success to God, we don't make records only for the religious community," Freeman says. "Music is something that everyone can connect to. That is not just a Christian characteristic. When you get a chance to reach people, that's the good stuff."
At the forefront of This Holiday Life's sonic soul is the ferocious falsetto of Brit rock and its current purveyors: Travis, Doves and especially Coldplay. Anderson possesses an eerily Chris Martin-esque vocal range and The Fallout carries the massive splendor of reverb, spiritual affectation and rocking, arena-style qualities.
God only knows where they got it, since three out of the four were plucked straight outta the Ohio-via-Kansas City heartland. (But maybe we're all urban snobs and there's a whole lotta Anglophilic action in the heartland, after all. Guided by Voices has proven that it's not all mullets and Skynyrd.)
"After college in Ohio, me, Mark and Bobby got out a map and put a finger down and it said "Tahiti,' but we didn't know about the music scene there," Anderson says, chuckling again. "Honestly, we knew that the East Coast wasn't what we wanted to do and L.A. is a little too hyper, so we thought that San Diego would be close enough."
Freeman is the only native San Diegan in the band. He claims he knew this band would work the moment he met the others, even if the actual work took a bit longer.
"I'd like to say that it all just clicked and we announced a CD-release party and 850 people showed up and we didn't have to do any work for it," he says. "But we work hard and when it comes down to it, we love what we do and all the hard work that brought in 850 people, anyway."
That album-release party eventually was held Jan. 31 at SOMA; it doubled as a benefit for Father Joe's Toussaint Teen Center. It was slated for the venue's smaller-capacity side stage, but after the show sold out and a 250-person line formed outside, SOMA owner Len Paul moved the band to the larger stage usually reserved for national touring acts.
It's a testament to This Holiday Life's music and their industry naiveté that they're so visibly happy about trivialities like flyering, small club shows and interviews. There's no hint of the eye-rolls you get from a lot of young rockers. Such a disregard for forced aloofness is refreshing; it makes them feel knowable.
When asked about where they will be years from now, however, This Holiday Life aren't quite as certain. Such reluctance to map out the rest of their lives is part of their name, taken from a C.S. Lewis quote.
"It's just our way of saying that we want more out of life than a paycheck and a desk job," Nagel says.
"It's just like Switchfoot says, "We were meant to live for so much more,'" adds Anderson. "We want to live out the holiday that everyone dreams of."
This Holiday Life plays with Scarlet Symphony, The Velvet Teen, Aveo and Operatic at The Epicentre, 7 p.m. on March 14. 858-271-4000.