Conrad is the sparkling studio project of garage-pop sound catalysts, Matthew Shaw (guitar, bass, vocals, lyrics, other odds and ends) and Nick Andre (percussion, synth, production, occasional lyric and additional instrumentation). The Bakersfield brothers met while in two different high schools, and got caught in the same dirt-weed social milieu. Upon graduation, they got their first apartment together, and then got evicted for terrorizing their neighbors.
Their digitally recorded new release Valley Fever has a recurring sweet nostalgic analog shimmer. It returns these old friends to an emotional territory they discovered while matching troubling lyrics with playful, exquisitely crafted electronic rock, with a bit of trap and soul woven in. "Besides the vintage guitars and amps, we used an MPC2000 for some of the drums, and a Moog sub 37 (as well as the Juno 106) for some of the sub tones and synth sounds," Nick says. "We're really into MPC samplers, analog synths, vintage guitars and amps," Matthew adds, and enthuses, "I love vintage guitars!"
Thus, Conrad The Band sounds like no other, yet its sun-bleached, soul-damaged SoCal dub-noir is irresistibly smart and salaciously funky.
Their story goes, straight outta Bakersfield, Nick had moved to San Francisco while Matthew moved to Seattle: Over ten years they kept in touch, and started sending tracks to each other to play with, till Shaw moved down to SF to join Andre in City Light full time and play in Her Space Holiday.
Conrad The Band kicked off their new and unique direction with the single "Punk Band" backed with a cover of The Clash's "Straight To Hell," a song they loved that inspired their experimentation (which then mutated over time into something of their own). "The outtakes from those sessions are hilarious. Maybe we'll release a comedy electro punk record someday," Matthew suggests.
Nick says, "At the time we recorded 'Punk Band' I think the mindset was just to go into the studio with a 12 pack of beer and not put too much pressure on what we were doing direction-wise ... shit got weird but was fun."
Things getting weird is a major topical subject over the angsty-but-alluring tracks on Valley Fever. Opener "Devil's Gonna Find You" traces the 38 bus in San Francisco, a long route that goes through the whole city, and merges religious fixation with chemically-induced gratification. "I know comparing Jesus to cocaine is a very bad thing in some folks' eyes, but it just sort of came out like that," Matthew explains. "The song is comparing the age old battle of good and evil to the desires of an addict."
The laid-back masochism of "Black and Blue" blurs the extreme moments in a real relationship with fiction; the dreamy "Food For The Fishes" sounds like someone singing along to deconstructing after stepping into a Black Hole; and the autobiographical "One More Smoke" is about smoking and drinking all night, "a snapshot of my brain in the early morning hours," Matthew says, "drunken, nostalgic, and not wanting to let go of the night."
Two character sketches, "Teddy" and "Poor Davy" round out Valley Fever. The former has a murder plot that turns in on itself, full of the kind of grim details one might find in a Jim Thompson novel; "Poor Davy" is about the O.D. death of Matthew's uncle's best friend he shared a band with; a beautiful beloved pal lost to the dying of the light.
Matthew and Nick's previous band City Light opened for Phantogram, Holy Fuck, AC Newman, as well as main support for shared Her Space Holiday. The record release for Valley Fever will be Conrad The Band's first live gig.