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Inclined Blends Scattered Influences Into Its Debut Album

August 08, 1993|STEVE APPLEFORD | Steve Appleford writes regularly about music for Westside / Valley Calendar.

The music had all sounded just fine to the ears of music industry guests coming to those early shows by the Inclined. And yet something wasn't quite right. Here was this young trio, playing its songs with all the required energy, but jumping jarringly from mellow country rhythms to rap to rock to strange numbers played on the cello.

"It was extreme," singer-guitarist Miles Tackett says now. "Lots of potential," the band heard time and again.

Those days are behind these three childhood friends now with the release of a debut album, "Bright New Day," that blends the Inclined's scattered influences into a coherent, driving groove. The band's current sound often rides along a hard hip-hop beat, but in some ways follows the example set by the mix of traditions played by such veteran eclectic pop acts as Little Feat.

The connection is no accident. Tackett's father is Little Feat guitarist-trumpeter Fred Tackett; he grew up listening to the funk, rock, soul, jazz and blues albums that were always spinning on the turntable at home.

"There's definitely some similarities in the attitude" of the two acts, says the younger Tackett, 24. "Our name, the Inclined, is about going with what you feel. That's something I think Little Feat did. They had country, funk, boogie things, but always incorporated into a strongly written song."

The Inclined's own mix is something Musician magazine has already described as having "jazzy harmonies and slick, supple rhythm work . . . with all the ferocity and twice the chops of the Red Hot Chili Peppers."

The new album, released on Chaos / Columbia Records, is the culmination of an effort begun when Tackett, bassist Gene Perry and drummer Steve Smart began playing music together in 1984 while attending Paul Revere Junior High School in Pacific Palisades. By then, Tackett had learned to play slide-guitar blues, and was studying cello and piano in school. Their influences then tended to be more contemporary than the broader styles incorporated into the Inclined's music now. The focus was more on pop songwriting than musicianship, and so the trio tended to emulate the mid-1980s work of the British modern rock acts the Police, Echo and the Bunnymen, Simple Minds and others.

Their first live professional gig was at the now-defunct Music Machine in West Los Angeles. "We made six bucks, and three of it went to gas," Perry recalls.

The Inclined recently returned from its first national tour and is expected to perform locally again.

"There are times when the music just clicks because of knowing each other so long, because of knowing each other as musicians," says Tackett, who also spends time as a rap record producer for such acts as The Poetess and Urban Prop.

That cohesion has led the band to explore its sound and various musical influences through longer instrumental passages on the album, and through lengthy impromptu jam sessions on stage.

Most of the "Bright New Day" album was actually finished in early 1992 as an independently produced and pressed CD.

The band made 1,000 copies of the disc to sell at its shows and send out in search of interest from the major labels. The nine-song collection interested Chaos / Columbia enough for them to sign the band and then release their independent CD with four additional songs.

But the collection wasn't actually the trio's first professional recording. Just one month after they had begun playing as a band, Tackett's father offered a recording session to make a three-song demo tape.

"I don't know if I told you guys this," Tackett says, turning to his band mates, "but he straightened me out, because I was singing with that British accent on the demo."

Perry leans forward. "Really?"

"He was going to take away the band rehearsal privileges. And he said, 'And you used to play guitar better!' . . . You hear that first three-song demo you can hear this pseudo-British accent. "He definitely promoted being natural."

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