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MUSIC / THE DECLINE OF PAISLEY JOHN SHAVER : Quick and Dirty : The band fills its 2 1/2-minute-long songs with the intensity of a chain saw.

February 18, 1993|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Their name is long, their set is short, and their watches stopped around 1978. The Decline of Paisley John Shaver will perform a musical quickie with buzz-saw efficiency Friday night at the Brewhouse, makers of beer so mean it is capable of making a word of more than one syllable into a full speech.

The Decline of . . . who? I'll bet you didn't even know he was sick. Well, he's not ailing; perhaps just saving rent money, according to guitarist Parry Gripp.

"When we started back in 1989, Toad the Wet Sprocket was playing at Alex's Cantina in Goleta," Gripp says. "We were kinda into them, but we wanted to have a longer name. There's a guy--a real guy--named John Shaver who used to live down the street. He used to come to all our shows, but now he lives in his van or something. When we told him the name of our band, he said 'I have a sweater that goes with that.' None of us wear paisley."

None of them are erasing their fingerprints counting all that cash the band earns, either. Yup, day jobs. Drummer Mike Ramsey works at Castle Music. Bassist and singer Alex Hauschild is a career man at Kinko's so he can make the flyers. Gripp has a relaxing part-time gig at his mom's business, Santa Barbara Orchid Estates. Besides flower power, Gripp is the rock 'n' roll columnist for the local S.B. alternative paper, The Independent. He writes under the pseudonym Andrew Broomhead, a name he got off a business card. The real Broomhead is an accountant in England. But being the S.B. Broomhead is probably more fun than being an accountant.

"I graduated from UCSB with a degree in literature," Gripp said. "When I was there I had a teacher who was editor of the arts section of The Independent. He said, 'You know about bands,' so I started doing the column once a month, now every week. That job helps me know about the other bands. It helps me with my writing, but you have to be careful in a small town. People who know me can tell when I don't like a band; but it doesn't pay to say a band stinks. I like a lot of bands that don't play very well."

Gripp's band plays well, but also sporadically and quickly. They sound sort of like the Ramones, the Buzzcocks and others of the musical chain-saw mentality. No "Stairway to Heaven" for these guys; their average song lasts about 2 1/2 minutes. Their set is an intense half-hour; thus, it's over before anyone can get tired of it. If you go for a brewski, you might miss half the set.

"We've been around four years, and we have like 12 songs," said the guitarist. "We used to have about 20, but we've forgotten a lot. We play poppy punk rock-punk rock from around 1978. We only do one cover, the Ramones' 'Rockaway Beach.'

"With two of us writing, we have two different kinds of songs. Alex's songs are about his screwed-up life. My songs are about my screwed-up life. A lot of the lyrics we make up as we go along.

"When we first started, we used to hang out more. We'd play video games all day, then drive to the gig in the same van. We don't see each other that much now. We don't have a big draw, only our girlfriends go. We really don't push it much."

One gig, even their girlfriends didn't show--which has to be up near the top of the Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare list.

"A couple of years ago we played a gig at La Casa de la Raza with this guy named Charles," said Gripp. "Just Charles, that's it, one name. He was this huge, old black blues dude. He didn't advertise; and we couldn't have anybody on the guest list. I think two people snuck in. After we played, they left. He didn't even play, because no one showed up. It was so sad."

Not advertising ensures a band of NOT becoming the next big thing. But is Santa Barbara the next Seattle, the next big thing, just a little thing, or nothing at all? According to Gripp, Santa Barbara isn't all that happening. An S.B. local, he's had plenty of time to check out the local music scene. Actually, all three band members are 25-year-old locals who once attended Dos Pueblos High in Goleta.

"There's a lot of good bands in Santa Barbara, but I don't think Santa Barbara is so much into bands," Gripp said. "There's probably 150 bands up here, but proportionally, not that many people go to see them. I think the music is more alternative in Isla Vista, but a lot of those bands don't play in Santa Barbara."

Drummer Ramsey co-produced, engineered and mixed "Santa Barbara's Unsigned Heroes," the second recently released compilation of unsigned S.B. bands, of which there are plenty. The Decline band, along with only Kronix and Creature Feature, is on both CDs. Both Decline songs deal with places locals can relate to--"Goin' Downtown" and "Down on Haley." If only the traffic would move as fast as this band plays . . . .

* WHERE AND WHEN

The Decline of Paisley John Shaver, Old Man at the Brewhouse, 202 State St., Santa Barbara, Friday night, 9 p.m., 3 bucks. For more information, call 963-3090.

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