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Coral Finds That 3 Heads Are Better Than 5 : Band will be in its element when it performs at benefit for surfrider foundation.


There's a fully fun finhead fandango slated for Friday night at Ventura's newest nifty nightspot, the Midnight Hour. A zillion bands will be playing to benefit the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, an organization that opposes further pollution of the blue Pacific, construction that screws up the surf, and making us pay to park at our own beach--noble aims one and all.

This gig sounds like a natural for Coral, two-thirds of whom are actually hard-core surfers. Bassist Keith Miller and guitarist Alex Hansen are full-on finheads while drummer Kevin Jones, apparently, gets enough exercise running from mad dogs as a mailman in Santa Barbara. Miller and Hansen have real jobs too. The former is a MacIntosh technical illustrator and the latter wrenches on Toyotas.

Coral used to be larger, then their Heads fell off, thus decreasing the payroll by 40%. Once a five-piece, the Coral Heads dropped a couple of members and half their name last Christmas, and now the trio fits much better into Miller's basement practice room in scenic La Conchita.

Miller believes the band would fit even better onto some radio station's playlist. And to that end, the band released a three-song tape, "Fish Flowers," and a seven-inch vinyl (right, as in a 45 r.p.m. record) is in the works.

"When I was growing up, FM was cool," Miller said. "But now it's awful, and the only hope for us is college radio. We've already cut the single--one side will be "Seeping," and "Leaves" will be on the other. We're going to send 1,000 copies to college radio stations across the United States."

Even stranger than the fact that the band is making a real record is the fact that the band members are old enough to be dead. Maybe they can't be trusted, but that's what they get for not following the Who's advice in "My Generation" by not dying young. All of the Coral dudes are over 30. More time on the job has given Miller some definite ideas about the local scene.

"There's a couple of bands that have a big draw that really stink," said Miller, not naming names. "I think a lot of the local bands are a little bit lost. We live in this little Shangri-La, and bands seem to lose their edge when they get caught up in the 'get happy' thing, and don't deal with the real world. That won't work. I think music needs a dark side, an edge. We do psychedelic oceanic pop with a slight grunge twist to it. I think you gotta walk the line between being too poppy and too dark. We've got 21 original songs and one cover, 'Black Metallic' by Catherine Wheel."

Actually, there's no dark side to La Conchita, a little wide spot in the road on the Rincon known for waves and a banana plantation, where the only Yellow Peril is frost. La Conchita is so mellow, they probably don't even allow "The Darkside" or "Dark Shadows" on TV there. So, the wise guy reporter must ask: Had any gigs in La Conchita?

"Actually, we played at the La Conchita Banana Festival last Labor Day; and we hope to do it again this year," said Miller, just a slip and slide away from the only seaside banana plantation in La Conchita, or California for that matter. "It's sort of a community potluck barbecue thing; but no free bananas. We hope to play it again this year."

In the meantime, Coral (Corral in Texas?) has played the usual places with the usual results, and even less pay.

"We've played Toes Tavern, Buster's, the Midnight Hour, Bermuda Triangle, and our worst gig ever was at the Mayfair Theatre or the Insomniac," Miller said. "The Mayfair Theater gig was creepy. What was that place before? My bass amp went out, then the monitors went out. We saw weird apparitions. The place has a weird vibe, I think it's haunted. Our best gig was at the Midnight Hour in Ventura, opening for Spirit."

Just as derelicts love the hours, baseball players play for the love of the game, Coral is in this for other reasons than the money.

"We've only been paid once--no, twice," said Miller, getting ready to inspire club owners to cut and paste a memorable quote. "The money is not important to us right now, because we've all got good jobs. We don't even believe in cover charges, we just want to get some exposure. We just want to get somewhere. We want to be the ones to put Ventura on the map."

Also on the bill are Rude Mood, In Between Jobs, Water's Edge and Rock Quarry. The Midnight Hour is at 281 W. Main St., Ventura. The beach is the place with all those parking cops.

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