They're not nerds as in Revenge Of the.... They're not really nerds at all. But how else to categorize former symphony wizards who cover "Rhinestone Cowboy," employ an archaic-looking bassist who reads sheet music on stage and have a lead singer who won't take off his cowboy hat?
Maybe goofy is a better word. Either way, the Holiday Adventure Pop Collective don't know they're goofy. And the kind of admirable, passionate abandon that overtakes people who aren't completely self-aware is the fervor that makes the best art.
Holiday's odd, loafing gig has a western vibe and a nice drizzling of studio-polished pop. Same with their personalities. In the first five minutes of knowing co-frontman Louis Caverly, he introduces me to Gary, who's a groupie of some sort.
Gary isn't any Kate Hudson-type Bandaid. He has kids and plays tennis and wears a polo shirt. Gary, and the way he looks, epitomizes the Holiday conundrum: You aren't going to like this band because of their hip faces and trendy clothes; you're going to like them because of their groove, their musicality and their ability to make anything, especially their performance, seem fun.
"We have a good time because this has always been what we wanted to do," Caverly says. "Isn't that what you're supposed to say in interviews? Isn't that what every band says? Well, we mean it."
And above all else, you don't typically hear "classically trained" and "rock band" in the same sentence. In the Holiday world, "classically trained" and "music conservatory" pop up in normal conversation. Trumpets and violins and tubas are all part of their repertoire, or at least it was when they used the instruments to get to college at University of the Pacific on a full scholarship. ("We played crappy local Stockton bars with all U.O.P. students mingling with the locals.")
Holiday's frontmen, Caverly and Derric Oliver, stitched the band's patchwork together in Stockton, and while they've moved around-San Francisco, London, Reno-they kept it together enough to use their Entertainment Management degrees in the real world.
And while Caverly and Oliver are goofs, they link voices like brothers. They have stately voices-some of the best you'll find in this city, as far as staying in tune without Pro Tools. Of the two, Caverly is more business-centered. He has carefully master-planned and engineered a group of strong musicians and savvy business moves to make up his Collective.
"People that come into this project know where they stand and that we run this deal," he says. "We're serious about what we do."
Caverly should know the business by now. As a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony as a young child, he was trained in piano and violin. After apparent burnout with music in the classroom, he ditched his college music major and opted to write pop songs on his own. What came out was, as he puts it, something that people could relate to.
"We're students of music from the performance and listening ends and we appreciated the art at a very young age," Caverly says. "Now, we reference what we love and plug it into the pop-rock sound. We like to call this "slick cowboy pop.'"
Oliver is a brasher counterpart to his songwriting partner.
"We both have the know-how to run our own show with music," Oliver says. "We just take control of the business side of things, which a lot of people give up early on in their careers. This is our reference to great country songs of the past. Adventure Pop just seemed to describe our music: it's not rock, it's not classical. It's just us."
Caverly says he often feels like he's writing movie music-music that isn't normal storytelling fare, but the background for beautiful pictures and compelling plotlines.
"It's not really with a band in mind," he says. "It's just this romantic image of the Old West where a handshake seals the deal. And we put a modern, Holiday spin on it all."
The Holiday Adventure Pop Collective play at Claire de Lune, 8 p.m. on June 19. Free. 619-296-0616.