The Renegade Rip

The Curves play for the girls (and the music)

Amber Garcia

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Who says there’s nothing to do in Bakersfield on the weekends?

There’s always something going on with the local music scene, and there are plenty of bands rising from the depths of obscurity and into the limelight of Bakersfield stardom.

One such band is The Curves, four 18-year-olds (as they put it, “until we feel like turning 19”) who can rock out, tell a good joke and are looking for a good time. Composed of BC students Jeff Gray on guitar and lead vocals, Chris Hunter on guitar and vocals and Brian Boozer (which coincidentally would make a great stage or porn star name) on drums, plus non-student Todd Douglas, the bassist (and what can only be described as the band’s performance artist), these guys are currently making the rounds playing at Jerry’s Pizza, 360 Club, Studio 45 and The Gate.

My advice to you: check these guys out on their Web site at thecurves.webhop.net or check out one of their shows; they can go from punk, to pounding melodies like on their songs “Burning Pages” and “Ocean Side.” They’re planning to release a demo in December, oh and for the ladies, they’re not too bad on the eyes either.

I recently talked with the guys about their music, their shows, and whether or not they want to be big rock stars.

Amber: Who influenced you to play music?

Gray: It wasn’t meant to be this way, but the Smashing Pumpkins influenced me. They weren’t the first band I liked, but that’s when I started getting off, I mean, don’t say getting off, but that’s what got me and (Boozer) actually jamming together. The first song we played together was “Zero” by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Amber: Oh really? Most people are like The Vandals to impress you.

Gray: The Beatles is the hardcore one.

Boozer: That’s the main one. You can write that in the hugest, most boldest letters in the world.

Hunter: I think pretty much all of our moms.

Gray: We’d all like to thank Mom.

Hunter: My mom is like the most amazing musician and she totally inspired me.

Gray: My mom taught me how to play guitar.

Douglas: Yeah, my mom can’t play anything; she sucks. She just yells at me a lot and smacks me around. Calls me stupid.

Gray: You guys are annoying.

Amber: I’ll write that in.

Douglas: Jeff doesn’t like the band.

Hunter: Jeff just thinks he’s too cool and he’s anxious to see his girlfriend.

Gray: Shut up.

Amber: Aw, that’s too bad. Anyway —

ALL: Oohh, busted!

Gray: Single! Capital letters!

Amber: How would you describe your music, because people might be like ‘Oh, a punk band,’ or ‘Are you guys Christian?’

Douglas: We don’t want that because then only Christians will see us.

Amber: Yeah, that’s such a trap.

Hunter: That’s the thing we want to avoid. We are Christians. If you ask me about God, I’ll tell you how I feel about it. As far as this band goes, we’re just in this for fun.

Douglas: We don’t sing about naked girls.

Amber: Well maybe you should. I’d buy it.

Hunter: Christian bands are supposed to have a ministry. Most of their main goals are to go and save people. We don’t feel like we’re in any place to minister people. That’s what we’re really trying to avoid, (but) we’re not gonna deny our faith.

Gray: Especially having people pay a bunch of money to go to that.

Douglas: And get paid for it. Rip them off for what they came for.

Amber: Like stylewise though?

Hunter: We play a lot of rock, we play a lot of punk. We really like to avoid labels.

Amber: So you guys are music mutts.

Gray: That’s part of the whole Christian thing — that’s a classification. Music as a style is a classification.

Amber: I’ll just say “good” band.

Hunter: Oh, we’re just good now, guys.

Douglas: Dang it!

Boozer: We are a rock band though.

Hunter: Some of our songs sound like the Ataris a little bit.

Boozer: Not as poppy as the Ataris though.

Hunter: We hate to say things like the new Fenix TX CD, but that’s kind of true.

Douglas: I like them though, I think they’re pimps.

Boozer: I’ve never heard a band that sounds like us before.

Hunter: I think maybe our equipment more so makes us sound like these bands.

Douglas: ‘Cause if we had crappy equipment, we’d suck. Talent has nothing to do with it. That’s a joke guys, sorry.

Hunter: This must be a little confusing for you. Sorry, we ramble a lot.

Amber: That’s all right.

Douglas: She’s like writing down (in “Peanuts” teacher voice) “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah …”

Amber: Is it hard to balance your life and be in the band? ‘Cause you guys go to school and work.

Douglas: I work full-time, and then play in the band, that’s all.

Hunter: I work full-time, play in the band, and school’s kind of like …

Amber: Do you like to do anything else besides music? Is this your life?

Gray: We do school, we don’t like school. We do work, we don’t like work. We like music, that’s it.

Douglas: I used to skate a lot.

Hunter: I’m into artsy kind of stuff. I like to draw.

Gray: I have a fetish for putting records on my ceiling.

Douglas: Naked. In the nude.

Amber: Pretty image.

Hunter: I would definitely say the band is my number one hobby though. Like, if I have spare time, I want to write music and play with these guys.

Boozer: Or sleep til 12.

Hunter: Or sleep ’til 12, that’s true.

Amber: Oh that’s so sweet. Now I can say you’re a wuss band.

Douglas: Oh no, not wuss rock! That sucks!

Amber: What pumps you up before a show?

Gray: Acid.

Amber: “Massive amounts of drugs.”

Gray: Lots of acid.

Douglas: Lots of chicks. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Boozer: I don’t even know what you asked.

Hunter: We usually practice before a show.

Amber: You do? Sellouts.

Douglas: I know. Man, we suck!

Hunter: I always have to pick up Todd, so we always like to crank the stereo.

Douglas: And we listen to hardcore. Guns N’ Roses. On the way to shows only.

Hunter: Guns N’ Roses …

Amber: Oh, don’t bag on them.

Douglas: We’re not, that’s what pumps us up.

Hunter: No, we’re being totally serious.

Gray: I listen to wussy Latin Jazz on my way. I just got this new guy …

Amber: Trini Lopez.

Hunter: No you don’t.

Douglas: He’s like (imitating artsy feminine snob voice) “I listen to more Latin Jazz.”

Amber: Do you guys get nervous before you go on stage? I know some people who want to throw up right before.

Hunter: Really? We used to, (but) just the healthy kind of nervous.

Douglas: The first time ever, I used to.

Boozer: You only play well if you’re nervous.

Hunter: Our very first show, Jeff didn’t even sing.

Douglas: Oh my God!

Hunter: He just kind of stood there.

Douglas: There were no vocals?

Hunter: Honestly, it depends on who we’re playing with, and how big the crowd is.

Douglas: If the crowd is just standing there being boring, it’s nothing. If the crowd’s into it, it’s more fun.

Hunter: The mood of the crowd also really depends on how the show goes.

Douglas: Bakersfield crowd sucks.

Hunter: If the crowd is in a good mood and you know that they’re totally digging the music, then you’re gonna play that much better.

Gray: Yeah, I’d say probably, like what Todd said, the Bakersfield crowd sucks.

Douglas: They’re getting better.

Gray: No, if we want to see ourselves going somewhere, we’re gonna have to do some playing in other places.

Hunter: There’s no market in town, in Bakersfield, anymore for rock bands.

Gray: Or places (to play) that are really significant.

Amber: What do you think about when you’re onstage?

Douglas: Girls.

Amber: I knew it. I say that’s the only reason to be in a band.

Douglas: That’s why I want to be a rock star, because of girls.

Hunter: I’m paranoid about breaking strings because I break strings all the freakin’ time. I’m worried about being in tune …

Gray: That’s our big thing, “Oh crap, I think I’m out of tune, I think I’m out of tune!”

Hunter: That’s my biggest pet peeve — playing out of tune.

Amber: So you’re just walking out onstage thinking about technical stuff?

Hunter: You know, honestly though, when I’m onstage, I don’t really think.

Gray: Yeah, me either. I’m on autopilot.

Hunter: Yeah, you kind of just go.

Douglas: Yeah, Jeff trips a lot.

Gray: I do. I’m clumsy, but it’s funny. I think it’s entertaining probably.

Douglas: Unless he breaks something.

Amber: Like a bone.

Douglas: He tripped on Chris’ cord …

Hunter: My inputs are busted on the back of my tuner!

Douglas: He pulled them out.

Hunter: Oh, it sucked.

Gray: It was funny though.

Hunter: Yeah, it was funny. We got some stories about Jeff …

Amber: Any memorable moments during a gig?

Douglas: Yeah, Jeff pushed me and I fell off the stage at Jerry’s Pizza. Like I tripped and almost …

Gray: Oh, on that fake stage? Look out!

Amber: Yeah, that stage is like four inches high.

Hunter: We just played Friday night at The Gate and Brian’s drum just busted right before we went. So we had to fix it and the whole night it was like breaking. That was interesting.

Douglas: It was like shaking around.

Hunter: We’ve only played four shows.

Gray: With this band. We’ve played hundreds total.

Hunter: We don’t have a favorite show yet, though.

Douglas: I thought the first one was the best one.

Hunter: The first one was by far the best. The best turn out, the crowd digged it.

Douglas: There were naked girls all over the place.

Hunter: Panties were flying! Put that in there — “Panties were flying everywhere!”

Amber: I wonder if they’ll edit that out …

Hunter: It was one big underwear fest.

Douglas: Man, I got this one …

Hunter: Wasn’t the cleanest thing in the world, but …

Douglas: I saw some jungle panties fly through the air. They were like an American flag, they were so big. Oh, it was scary.

Amber: It could have been a parachute. You don’t know these things.

Hunter: Like on “Road Trip.”

Amber: Who writes the lyrics and the music?

Gray: Well, it’s not all me, but it’s a lot me.

Hunter: It’s the band.

Boozer: (Gray) takes the basis of them, and then he brings them to practice and then we morph it into our own sound.

Gray: Yeah, the lyrics are a lot of work. Like when you said, ‘What do you think about when you’re onstage,’ I’m thinking of portraying something to the audience sometimes, but a lot of the words are so ad-libbed right now. There’s a whole lot of nothing being said.

Hunter: Honestly, like some of our lyrics …

Gray: Suck.

Hunter: We have official lyrics to two songs.

Douglas: The rest of them, we just let him go.

Amber: Total improv?

Gray: They’re gonna be good though.

Amber: I can tell.

Douglas: One of these days, they will be cool.

Gray: They have themes you know.

Hunter: We’ve always prided ourselves on being good musicians, like playing our instruments well.

Douglas: So we don’t care about what we sound like.

Hunter: The vocals have become more of an important part.

Gray: Melodies are the key thing right now, until better lyrics come along. But we’re pretty proud of the lyrics on the two songs we have lyrics on. They’re pretty decent.

Hunter: Extremely decent. I’m very proud of those.

Douglas: The other ones sound good too. We have an idea, but we don’t know exactly what words to sing.

Hunter: We haven’t actually taken the time to sit down and write, that’s our problem.

Amber: So you guys just improv it?

Douglas: Could you tell? You couldn’t tell, could you? Ha, ha!

Amber: Ah, I was fooled.

Douglas: Yeah, we know.

Amber: I wasn’t at all sitting there going, “They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Gray: You remind me of a cooler “Daria.”

Amber: Really?

All: Yeah!

Amber: I always hear that because of the weird montone voice.

Gray: That’s cool though.

Amber: That was my thing in eighth grade. Which song do you like to perform best?

Hunter: I think it’s different for all of us.

Douglas: I like all of them. You have to see us play. It’s like a whole package.

Boozer: You want a song with all of our styles put together, it’s probably “Ocean Side.”

Gray: It’s got surf, and all kinds of stuff (in it).

Boozer: You can probably get any questions answered on our Web site.

Hunter: Like personal questions.

Douglas: I like Britney Spears.

Amber: Do you guys have a bunch of girl groupies?

Douglas: Yes.

Hunter: Not really, actually.

Amber: Well, Todd does, right?

Douglas: You guessed it.

Amber: What’s the longtime goal?

Gray: We want to make it.

Douglas: I want to be on “TRL”!

Boozer: Oh my God, do not say that.

Douglas: I want to be on “TRL” so bad.

Boozer: I will kill you.

Douglas: I love Carson Daly, he’s the hottest guy in the world. I wanna be on “TRL” so bad.

Boozer: That’s just Todd, he’s only been in the band for a few months.

Amber: I’ll say Todd wants to be on “TRL.”

Douglas: Dude, you just don’t know …

Hunter: I want to be able to get out of BC and be able to tour successfully with these guys.

Douglas: I just like “TRL.”

Hunter: When I first started playing, I’ll be the first to admit I was like, “Man, the money’s gonna be bad!”

Douglas: But once you found out we weren’t gonna make any money …

Hunter: Will you let me talk? I’m gonna sock you in the nuts.

Douglas: Sorry.

Hunter: I don’t even want to be on a big label, you know, I just want to be successful.

Douglas: Don’t lie, you do.

Hunter: I don’t. I mean if we are, great. But if not, I’m gonna be perfectly happy.

Amber: Wouldn’t it be nice to be rolling in dough though?

Hunter: It would be amazing, but …

Boozer: The music’s first and if you get a lot of money for it, then that’s cool.

Gary: We like to do what we love. We want to still be creative.

Hunter: And these are my best friends, you know? And we want to move out together.

Douglas: Sometimes girlfriends.

Amber: Whoops. The big secret is out.

Hunter: There’s nothing I want to do more than play music for the rest of my life with these guys.

Douglas: Yeah, me too.

Hunter: That’s exactly what I want to do. I want to be old and wrinkled and gray, with a big, long beard, sitting with my acoustic on the porch.

Douglas: Like ZZ Top! Yeah!

Gray: And then we’ll start arguing, and we’ll beat each other with our canes.

Amber: Do you guys ever get on each other’s nerves?

Douglas: Oh my gosh! (Gray and Hunter) fight so much, it’s not even funny. They almost boxed, and it would have been the biggest girl fight I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

Gray: Shut up!

Hunter: Jeff and I, we spend a lot of time with each other because we both work at Starbucks.

Gray: We’re very different, but that’s a good thing.

Hunter: We’re two different people, and you can totally see that in our playing styles.

Gray: The way we fight is like pushing us. It’s like the whole opposite attraction.

Hunter: Jeff and I challenge each other to become better at what we do. We hate each other sometimes, but I love him at the same time.

Amber: Isn’t that sweet? I think you should change your name to the Brady Bunch.

Gray: That would be bad!

Amber: And you can put little picture squares of you on the flyer. Is anyone else getting all warm and fuzzy?

The bottom line is you should check these guys out; it’s always cool to support local music and you might just have a good time. If you get the chance, ask Hunter about those stories he has of Gray, or see if you can tell they sometimes totally fake their way through their songs. Even if you walk away unimpressed, at least you did something on a Saturday.

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The Curves play for the girls (and the music)