Five years and a full circle.
On Friday, Feb. 23 Calgary instrumental surf rock act The 427’s will take the stage of Mikey’s Juke Joint — the very same place where it all began for them a half-decade ago — maybe even to the exact day.
Guitarist Chris van Keir is a little hazy on whether or not it was Feb. 23, 2013, but he does remember a few specifics.
“Rob (Day, fellow guitarist) and I were wearing cardigans and facing our amps when we played instead of the audience,” van Keir says with a laugh.
There’ll be less evasiveness and a lot more style — and, yes, pie! — this time around, when the four-piece pack the room for what should be a memorable evening with one of the city’s best and best-dressed rock bands.
Prior to their fifth anniversary gig, van Keir gave us the list of five things you need to know about The 427’s.
“It’s the Corvette engine. But the one thing that we typically don’t tell people is that it was actually someone else who had booked us into a rehearsal space using that name when Rob (Day) and I were still looking for a bassist and a drummer more than five years ago, when we were first starting out. We met this one dude at a rehearsal space in town and he had booked a space, booked a time for us and he wrote down ‘The 427’s.’ I was like, ‘Oh, that’s kind of funny — the Stingray engine.’ And then once we had the first lineup in place and it came time to name the band … we had a huge list of names, we were throwing out ideas and then one day Rob comes to rehearsal and says, ‘What about The 427’s?’ And we were like, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome! The Corvette engine, that’s wicked.’ And I totally forgot about the rehearsal space, and it wasn’t until after we played our first show at Mikey’s that Rob asked me if I remembered where we got the name from. And I was like, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Remember that guy and the rehearsal space?’ And I was like, ‘Oh. We’re kind of like Metallica.’ ”
The Beach Boys
“We love The Beach Boys … Most trad surf bands you’re either in one of two camps: you love The Beach Boys and The Four Freshmen and those pop harmonies or you love Dick Dale and Link Wray and those dudes who were rock ’n’ roll. And those factions really didn’t cross, they didn’t mesh very well, especially back in the day. And that’s still the case — there are tons of forums where if someone so much as mentions The Beach Boys on a surf music forum they’ll get hissed at and booed at and everything … The traditional (instrumental) surf acts they don’t want to like The Beach Boys, they don’t want to claim they were influenced by The Beach Boys and we’re the opposite. The Beach Boys were great, they wrote tons of hit songs, they were the only American group that could have rivalled the Beatles in the mid-’60s — they’re fantastic.”
They Actually Do Surf
“In fact, Rob and I are going on a surf trip next weekend in L.A. That was the original intent, we were going to see this exotica band (The Tikiyaki Orchestra) celebrate their 10th anniversary at (Huntington Beach venue) Don the Beachcomber when we were there and surf … But Rob may not be able to surf when we’re there simply because he got a booking to get a new tattoo of the Stray Cats logo by the original artist who designed the Stray Cats logo and first tattooed it on Brian Setzer in 1980. Rob got in touch with this guy, he still owns a tattoo shop in Melrose, so he’s going to get ink done the first day he’s down so he won’t be able to surf. So I’m going to catch his waves for him.”
“That all started the last time I was in L.A. Eve (Hell, the band’s bassist) and I were down in Hollywood to see Social Distortion and to go surfing a couple of years ago, and after seeing either Social D or JD McPherson — we saw bands every night — I said, ‘I want some pie.’ It was like midnight and, ‘I want some pie.’ ‘Where the hell are you going to get some pie?’ ‘We’re in Hollywood — anywhere.’ The first place we passed, this little diner that was all lit up with all of these people inside on their MacBooks probably screenwriters or aspiring movie stars because it was Hollywood and I was like, ‘There! I bet they have pie.’ We walked in and, of course, it was exactly how you would picture, this old ’50s diner with all the pies laid out. And I was like, ‘See — night pies.’ And ever since then … we always have pie on hand for any big show.”
New Album, New Influences
“These days, and the new album especially is just as influenced by jazz — most notably the cool jazz like Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker and even before them, Lester Young — as it is by surf music …It’s going to be out this summer. We don’t have a specific date yet because we’re just finishing the mixing, but it’ll be out in the summer.”
(Photo by Melissa Wax, courtesy of KEXP.)
The 427’s perform Friday, Feb. 23 at Mikey’s Juke Joint.