One moment Brandon Welchez is tearing shirts off of audience members who've come to see his punk band. Next, he's singing about a girl from the U.S.A. amid tender harmonies. And the next he's sitting in the gutter locking lips with his bandmate Andrew Miller.
It's not clear when the show ends and the real Welchez begins, but he certainly knows how to intrigue an audience.
"We pump out songs like we pump out cum," the 20-something vocalist-guitarist says. His mind is, metaphorically and literally, in the gutter-as he sits at the sidewalk's edge outside of The Casbah after a recent gig by his band, The Prayers.
The Prayers is composed of the members of San Diego punk band The Plot to Blow Up the Eiffel Tower minus Charles Rowand, who's been supplanted by Miller for this project. But fans of the Plot or Miller's former band-the screaming punk outfit Gasoline Please-might wrinkle their brows when they see the San Diego musicians known for their thrash and bash succumb to the sounds of Motown. Poppy, longing and at times delicate, The Prayers' music is more suited for making out than breaking down.
If they aren't careful, they might get mistaken for heartthrobs. But they're still pissy enough to appeal to the heartless.
"We were scared to start this band," Welchez admits. "This kind of music is more vulnerable. You can hear what you're saying, and you have to use you're real voice instead of a scream. A scream is somewhat of a copout-you can hide behind noise and obscurity and sound."
"When you're younger, you get obsessed with a band and a genre and just do that," Miller says. "You disregard a lot of your influences that you probably listen to more. You don't realize you can connect the two."
After only seven months of performing locally, The Prayers are already in posh Los Angeles studios with producer Alex Newport (Mars Volta, The Melvins). The six-song EP God Bless The Prayers is set for release on local label Art Fag Records. Flushed out with violins, organ, glockenspiel, trumpets and saxophone, the EP will pay tribute to those inadvertent and lifelong influences, like The Beatles and The Supremes. The only punk element will be the personalities of the band members themselves.
"A lot of bands will only sing about one thing-[as if they're] always mad, intense and serious," Miller says.
"That's the thing with genre," Welchez adds. "Hardcore is mad, but we're not always mad. We're mad at this, but we're happy with this, and we want to have sex with this, and this thing we want to put in our nose, and this thing we want to run over in the van."
They haven't totally traded in their spit and vitriol for boy-band halos. For every sweet nothing in The Prayers' songs, there's a slap to the cheek. Welchez is the first to acknowledge that he and Miller aren't "the young white male Aretha Franklins." Both insist the style change has nothing to do with getting older or even more mature. It's just a chance to explore the sounds of the music they listened to while traveling from punk show to punk show as the Plot.
Just don't call them a '60s band.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with taking from the past, but what I think is gross about retro bands is that they wholeheartedly try to replicate an era," Welchez says. "We're not interested in that. Bands that try and do retro acts come off as silly because they look and sound like they're thinking, It's 1966, or It's 1977 or It's 1984.
"We're fully aware that it's 2006."
The Prayers play at the Kensington Club on Sept. 8. 619-284-2848. www.myspace.com/thefuckingprayers.