When you're in an up-and-coming band, being the cousin of a punk stalwart like Rancid's Lars Frederickson has to give you an edge, right?
"I've met Lars a total of twice in my life," says Steven Bradford, vocalist-bassist for San Diego's Get Back Loretta and cousin of the punk icon. "Once when I was a kid at a family reunion and once about two years ago when I had no clue that he was my cousin. I wish I had some story about how he sat me on his lap and taught me music theory or something, but the tragic truth is I'm not cool enough to know Lars.
"But I do know John Tesh, and he sat me on his lap."
Although this admission means Bradford doesn't really have a ticket to ride the nepotism bullet train through the ranks of underground music, Get Back Loretta is making a name for themselves on their own merit-and the merit of Bradford's recently defunct emo band, Waiting for Autumn.
In 2003, Alternative Press featured Waiting for Autumn in its "Low Profile" section of bands to watch. Things looked up. Then girl trouble caused "utter chaos, splitting us down the middle and thus creating the good old "creative differences' story."
Judging by the white-boy piano funk of Get Back Loretta, Waiting for Autumn's implosion may not be a bad thing. With stronger melodies and a less, er, emo, sound, Bradford and company have managed to increase their appeal beyond pining teenagers looking for somebody to whine with.
"I guess when it comes to sitting down and writing, funk slips in there from time to time because funk is just sped up and rocky jazz," explains Bradford, who claims John Coltrane and Miles Davis among his influences, which also include bands like Radiohead and The Beatles (hence, the band name). "Plus, I was born with a black man's ass, so it kinda comes naturally."
Waiting for Autumn was popular with the underage crowds at San Diego venues like Soma and the Epicentre. With Get Back Loretta, they're playing to relative grownups at 21-and-up clubs. Bradford sees advantages in both crowds.
"Teens love to tell their friends about you if they like you, and they love going to big shows," he says. "I would much rather play the shows that get packed-it helps me to feed off the energy of the crowd, and the all-ages shows get packed. Plus I've always feared being a 21-and-up band, 'cause I can't stand the bar scene.
"The bad thing is that there is no beer at all-age shows, and beer is really good."
Get Back Loretta is nominated for "Best New Artist" at this year's San Diego Music Awards. Bradford describes his new band members-Kevin Martin (piano, vocals), Isaac Cass (drums), Ben Johnston (rhythm guitar) and lead guitarist Dalton Harmon-as his "favorite people" with similar musical tastes and senses of humor.
And maybe just a little creative romance.
"Kevin and I write about two or three songs a day and we rarely tire of the music," Bradford says. "Occasionally, we stop practice and just hold each other or slow dance.... We also play Twister on Fridays and Sundays. [It's] like a league kind of thing but with only one team in the league so we always win. I think the dynamic of the group will give us staying power."
The slap-happy vocalist then goes on to honor the time-worn tradition of predicting "world takeover." The music on Get Back Loretta's self-released EP is damn good-with the stars aligned and some pixie dust sprinkled in the right direction, who knows. But they might have to face the beast known as Yoko Ono first.
"If Yoko wants us to change our name, I will tell her that the name of the song is "Get Back,' not "Get Back Loretta,'" Bradford says. "And then I will proceed to spank her mercilessly while making her listen to her own CD. And then I will cry in memory of all the Vietnam vets."
Get Back Loretta plays at The Tavern for "PB & Jam," 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28. $10. 858-272-6066.