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Naked Soul Revives After Brush With Hereafter : Pop: Members of the Costa Mesa rock band were rattled when their equipment was stolen in a car-jacking, but they're ready to roll again at Bogart's.


Lately, life for Naked Soul has been like the fulfillment of an old Chinese curse: the rock band from Costa Mesa has been living through some interesting times.

On the positive side, "Lonely Me, Lonely You," a catchy song from the trio's 1992 debut EP "Seed," has been getting a good amount of airplay, especially on KQLZ (100.3 FM), and Naked Soul is booked in May to make its first excursion to the Midwest and East (in Atlanta and Cleveland, it will open for the Lemonheads and 10,000 Maniacs).

And, according to front man Mike Conley, the Scotti Bros. label has given the band the go-ahead to record a full-length album in June.

Such bits of good news may help musicians who were shaken after a gig last month when gang-bangers in Fresno hijacked their van. As Conley tells it, drummer Larry Pearson came perilously close during that episode to becoming a Departed Soul. And four prized vintage guitars belonging to Conley and bassist Jeff Sewell are now Departed Instruments. Naked Soul's show Saturday night at Bogart's will be its first with newly bought replacements, following a couple of iffy gigs with borrowed axes.

Conley said he had stopped to gas up the van after a show on Feb. 17 when two hoodlums seized the vehicle at gunpoint and drove off, leaving Conley frantically to phone police from the gas station. In the van were the band's guitars--and its sleeping drummer. When Pearson woke up, the hijackers stopped the van.

"Larry said that one of the guys had a gun to his head and was trying to pull his wedding ring off. (Pearson) had just been married two weeks. He said, 'You can take all my money, please don't take the ring,' and one of the guys started screaming to shoot him immediately.

"One of them took Larry's ring and grabbed his wallet, and told him he'd better have more than $20 or he was going to kill him."

Conley said Pearson was able to flee when the gunman turned his attention away. The robbers then fled, taking the guitars, the band's stereo, some clothing, and Pearson's money and jewelry.


The rattled band canceled the rest of a West Coast tour and took some time off before returning for a couple of uncomfortable performances earlier this month. "We're looking to the show at Bogart's to get us back in the swing," Sewell said.

Conley, who toured extensively during the 1980s with the punk band MIA, said the robbery drove home for him how much things have changed.

"You could hang out in seedy areas and talk to people. Since crack and things like that have infested neighborhoods, it's really scary. Now I'm not going to be as outgoing to people I don't know. The other day my daughter was laughing and playing, and I felt like a ghost for a minute. People will shoot you for anything if you get in their way."

For all that, Conley said he anticipates that the upcoming Naked Soul album "should be a pretty positive record. I'm going to try to make this a feel-good record, kind of upbeat."

* Naked Soul shares a bill with the Peter Case Band and Standard Fruit Saturday at Bogart's in the Marina Pacifica Mall, 6288 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach. Show time: 9:30 p.m. $12.50. (310) 594-8975.

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