Herman Jollys not just another cute 28-year-old guy with a guitar around his neck and curly locks spilling over his winsome face. Dont hate him because hes beautiful and has the best band in townSunset Valley.
Sounds very California for a band based in Portland, but theres little in the way of Californication in their sound or playing: its not prepackaged, over packaged, trying too hard to be clever/cute or pose as the next anything. No shake-it-up soda pop pseudo angst either. (I know what Courtneys mouth may be good for and it isnt singing.)
Hunkered down in the low slung sixties decor of Kays bar, I bantered with Herman, Eric Furlong and Jonathan Drewsthe founding trio of Sunset Valley. Sure. Theyve got an indie label, Sugar Free out of Chicago, and a CD in the works. Herman has a rock-n-roll wife in Megan Pickerel of Swoon 23. Theyve got management, Revolver, and one of their co-managers handles Everclear. Theyve played coast to coast and have done well in San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Philadelphiabi-coastal success. A European summer tour supporting the spring release of their new CD is in the works. Theyre in the studio with a good recording budget laying down the tracks. Drummer Tony Lash and keyboardist Jeff Saltzman are mixing and producingLash has producing credits with the Dandy Warhols and Elliot Smith. Talk about all your dicks in a row. It would be easy to resent them if their music wasnt so loudly excellent and their egos so mute. Sunset Valley lets their music do the squawking.
So we rambled on about flotsam and jetsam like how it feels for Herman to be married to an up and comer rocker like himself. Every other relationship I ever had ended over music, Herman mused. Its like music versus girlfriend and music always won. (with Megan) Im free to pursue it to the fullest. After some blue humor about comparing conquests when they come off the road (censored), Herman laughed,
Hey, who are we talking about here?
Sunset Valley. Back when they were down in LA, playing the Creeper Lagoon CD release party, getting signed to management and hanging out at Columbia Records, they stumbled upon the infamous Johnny Toxic promo. Toxic is the notorious, big-dicked, bleached blonde porn star who also has high musical aspirations. And there was all his smutty musical promo with the screamingly unoriginal come-on, Size Does Matter, lying around the Columbia office. Which led me to ask them all about the size of their penises (Kidding).
But I did want to know if they have retained all their songwriting rights with Sugar Free in case someone like Columbia picks them up. Some bands give up a huge portion of their songwriting just to get a recording budget and wind up as indentured servants to producers and labels. Or, at the very least, they can never make a buck off their early work because they signed it away. Herman has the answer for all that noise, No. Were going to rape the producers.
Right on. That would be arrogant rock star bullshit coming out of some egomaniac poseur. But its just funny as hell coming from the reticent Herman. Of course, I was told not to print the rape the producers line. I said I would use that as my pull-quote and Eric denuded, At least we know none of our friends are going to read this magazine. Why would they unless theyre homeless scum of the earth pedophiles?
You gotta love these guys! So then I told them Id use that as my pull quote instead.
They were fine with that as long as I buried it in the jump. Because people just read the first page and never bother with the jump anyway. Eric feigned relief, Good. I can see us getting quoted, Theyre calling their fans pedophiles!
This led to jokes about my age and how, since they were playing an all ages club when I saw them, that must have been why I came: to cruise for underage girls.
They lampooned me into their only pedophile fan. I love these guys.
So naturally, I brought up the subject of drug use. Especially since their set seemed somewhat restrained and professionallike I was hearing a live take of a CD. They almost apologized for being in the studio a lot lately, so maybe theyre a bit stilted in their performance; recording demands perfectionism and theres no audience, of course. Then Herman said wryly, We havent mixed actual psychedelic drug use with playing at this point.
Eric bombasted that theyre not a spacey, jamming-out kind of band; their music depends upon intricate musical layers, structures and harmonies. And Herman quipped, Were too anal and professional about playing to jeopardize it with a chemical.
Then they realized they had just given me another juicy pull quote: were too anal . (How about that as the title of your new CD, boys?) So then they asked me how long this thing has to be, anyway; i.e, can we go now and get back to the studio (over at Erics house) so we can be anal and professional? I said, at least a thousand words. Then I showed them the lousy half a page of notes I had scrawled up to that point.
Well, it looks like we still have a long way to go, Eric or Herman said. I cant remember which because I was getting off on the portibella and shitake mushrooms the yupparia put on my foccacio earlier when I was having dinner with the wee lads. Or maybe it was just something in the air.
And when I played that part of the tape back, it was all just munchkin talk because my batteries were getting low in our opposite-of-anal recording session. So I have no permanent record of our further ramblings. I can tell you that they havent quit their day jobs yet. And they think European audiences are more sophisticated listeners, even though theyve never played in Europe. But they did play a local party recently where they met the fabulous Viva Las Vegasrock star, stripper and co-editor of this rag. Viva thinks Herman is just dreamy, and was jealous that I sat next to him in a bar. But I swear, I didnt put my hand between his thighs. Much too old for me.
So then we left and I gave them all copies of the Scum of the Earth Homeless Pedophiles Magazine. And Ive been rocking out to their first CD, The New Speed, ever since, in spite of my advanced years. Think Ill play it again, Sam.
Go check them out before some giant label snarfs them up and turns them into another corporate cash cow. This is not important music. Its just good fucking music that will deliver you to a different place: Sunset Valley. And isnt that what life is all aboutfinding a vehicle to take you the next piece down the road? So stick Sunset Valley in your ears and drive.
Thank you for Super Girl. She cried. I died.