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MUSIC: Ventura County | ROCKTALK

A Band of Few Words

Mazzy Star has little to say to the press. Members let their music do the talking.

March 27, 1997|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The stand-out members of Mazzy Star--guitarist David Roback and singer Hope Sandoval--do little or no press, thus forcing rock reviewers to figure out for themselves what the band is about. One can just about total up Mazzy Star interviews on the famous appendages of Captains. Hook and Ahab.

But your chance to figure out what this band is all about comes tonight when it plays Emerald City in Santa Barbara.

Here are some of the adjectives that have been used by reviewers to describe the band: moody, compelling, stark, mesmerizing, reflective, alluring, addictive, atmospheric, vaguely romantic, vaguely eerie, aloof and spacey, darkly psychedelic, otherworldly and dreamlike. Get the picture? Yeah, it's about as clear as mud.

Mazzy Star music is a lot like smoke through a spider web during an acid trip in a dark bar in a David Lynch movie. The songs are mostly slow and fueled by Roback's intricate and surreal guitar work. Sandoval has a voice that could melt the heart of a hangman. The slam pit will be not be going off. This should be a stand-and-stare show as people in black attempt to take good notes. Depending on the degree of singer Sandoval's shyness, the band might play for an hour, probably less.

Roback, you may recall, was the guitar player for Rain Parade, one of the so-called Paisley Underground bands from the early '80s L.A. rock scene. His next project was Opal with singer Kendra Smith. When she left the band in mid-tour, Roback recruited Sandoval. Those two started Mazzy Star in the late '80s. But even the two of them don't seem to spend a lot of time talking to each other. When they're not recording or touring, Roback lives in Berkeley, Sandoval lives in L.A.

The band's third and most recent album is "Among the Swan," which makes about as much sense as the other two album titles, "She Hangs Brightly" and "So Tonight That I Might See." Opacity, it seems, works: They have a lot of fans--the last album mentioned recently went gold.

* Emerald City is located at 110 Santa Barbara St. Call 965-5050 to find out more about this $15 8 p.m. show.

*

Not so far away and easier to figure out is Brad Vs. Eric every Thursday night at Roy, the restaurant named after the owner. Between them, Brad Nack and Eric Eisenberg have been in about half of the bands in Santa Barbara history. To name a few, Nack has been in the Tan, Brad Is Sex and Nothing. Eisenberg has been in myriad variations of Cocktails From Hell. Together, they and have been doing the Roy gig for more than three years.

"We start around 10:15," said Eisenberg. "You watch 'Seinfeld,' then you come down to Roy. That's the deal."

Sometimes solo, sometimes as a duo, Nack and Eisenberg do the acoustic guitar thing. Sometimes they have special guests, such as Spencer Barnitz of Spencer the Gardener, who is sometimes the Roy bartender Thursday nights. Then there's Luis the Chef, or Electric Soul Man Luis as he is known on Wednesdays, but just plain Luis when he does acoustic songs on Thursdays.

"It's kind of like one of those old variety shows," said Eisenberg. "We usually have a fairly good idea of what we want to do, and underneath all the chaos, we try to play some good songs. Between all the banter, Brad and I do have an underlying respect for each other. He's talented, and I think he thinks I am, too."

Brad & Eric have a raffle every Thursday night. Sometimes the winner gets stuff from Smart & Final, money or, better yet, food from Roy. Roy is, after all, a restaurant.

"The food there is as good as we are," Eisenberg said. "Actually, the food is better than we are. It's a great gig for us and a great place to be at."

* Roy is located at 7 W. Carrillo St. in Santa Barbara. Besides all that food and a well-stocked bar, Roy has entertainment nightly and there's no cover. Talk to Roy himself at 966-5636 to find out more.

*

Here is what is rockin' up the coast this weekend:

Tonight: Mazzy Star (Emerald City, Santa Barbara), Brad Nack & Eric Eisenberg (Roy, S.B.).

Friday: Cadillac Angels (Coast Village Grill, Montecito), Summercamp, Jane Jensen, Ridel High (Toes Tavern, S.B.), Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Area 51 (Victoria Hall, S.B.), JT Whitney (Palace Express, S.B.).

Saturday: The Upbeat, Skanic (Emerald City), Mother Hips (Toes Tavern), Harmonica Shorty (Calypso, S.B.), Rice & Beans, Hopscotch Era, 3 Letter Engagement (The Living Room, Goleta).

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