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Flush With Anticipation

New group's history in former Simi Valley bands gives it a built-in fan base.

October 01, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Stop, look and listen. Honk if you agree with the driver's bumper sticker. And Flush, well, whenever appropriate. This option will be available Friday when the new band Flush plays at Schooner Time in Simi Valley. This gig should be a hit because the four Flushers are all veterans of Simi Valley bands of note.

Singer, songwriter and guitar player Tom Kelly used to front April's Motel Room. Drummer Sam Jones came from the Bungee Chords, and guitar player Danny Jones and bassist John Shaw are from Contradiction. But being the most popular band in Simi Valley is sort of like being the smartest guy in jail or the cutest girl during a blackout. It's tough to get recognized, at least according to Shaw.

"There are still a couple of bands that are doing well, but basically, it's been dead in Simi Valley for a long time," he said. "There are still the same places, I guess, the MVP Sports Bar and Schooner Time, and at both of them, you have to bring your own sound system."

April's Motel Room actually got a deal with Epic and recorded an album in 1994, which sold around 40,000 units, but the label eventually dropped the band after the proverbial long goodbye, and the band members split into a number of other groups. They did make a little bit of dough, however, and invested wisely, according to Kelly.

"It took a year for April's to finally fizzle out, and I'm the last survivor. Then it took about a year to get Flush going. With the money we made from April's, we built a studio out of a storage place so we at least got something out of the whole thing."

So what does Flush sound like with a combination of all those bands--maybe an April's Bungee Chord or a Flushradiction? Well, sort of, but Flush definitely sounds like Kelly.

"Tom's voice, well, it's always going to be Tom's voice, the guy from April's," Shaw said. "Being a musician in this area, I've always respected Tom as both a singer and a songwriter. We do three-part harmonies, and I guess we're kind of like the Foo Fighters, but more pop. Our songs are upbeat, happy pop songs. I guess we're starting to get happy even in Simi Valley."

Then again, perhaps not everyone is happy, songwriter Kelly for one.

"I think my guitars sound tougher," he said, "plus there are lots of pissed-off lyrics."

Shaw, the last guy to join Flush, has his perspective on the whole thing.

"I joined the band 2 1/2 months ago. The last bass player wasn't into it--they've been trying to do a show for six months. Right now we have about 15 original songs, and we may do 'Honey,' the last April's song ever written. We're going to go for it."

The going, though, is slow--no one has yet quit their day jobs. But hope burns eternal, as does the light in the new studio.

"We don't do those two-hour practices at all," Shaw said. "We practice three times a week for five or six hours at a time. We all have full-time jobs. After work, we go straight to practice, then straight home, then straight to work again."

Flush played its first gig last weekend in L.A., and the Schooner Time show will be the band's local debut. The group, apparently, isn't intending to wear out its welcome.

"Our main agenda is to keep writing songs, and not to overbook ourselves because we know what that does," Shaw said. "You get your courtesy fans--your friends."

"This should be a fun one," said Kelly. "We get the door and they get the bar. That should work for them because all our friends are lushes."

* Flush, Budget and Wooden Circus at Schooner Time, 5710 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley, Friday, 8 p.m. $5. (805) 526-1488.

None of the predictable jokes in a family newspaper despite the fact the Scrappy Bitch Tour, consisting of three female singers, will perform tonight at NYM in Santa Barbara. The Bitches in question would be Oh Susannah (Suzie Ungerleider), Kinnie Starr and Veda Hille. Imagine a Lilith Fair from hell. And not just a bunch of pushy tourists, the Bitches will have Jennifer Terran, a local musician, opening the festivities.

With a marketing plan as eclectic and strange as her music, Terran has been selling her CDs in clothing stores and juice bars. To make a long story short, it worked. Someone connected to the tour picked up one of Terran's discs at a Santa Barbara clothing store, and she was invited to join in for the evening.

"The Bitches are really excited and said that I would be a great Bitch," Terran said. "They're all really great singers, and this is going to be the start of a great independent women in rock month in Santa Barbara. We've got this show, then Ani DiFranco is coming to town and the Fat Festival will happen later in the month."

* The Scrappy Bitch Tour with Jennifer Terran tonight at NYM, 1117 State St., Santa Barbara, 9 p.m. (805) 965-6281.

*

And all this is just the tip of the ruptured eardrum for music lovers this week in Santa Barbara. Tonight, the always entertaining Brad Nack and Eric Eisenberg will demolish whatever ambience exists at Roy, where eaters dine on the sumptuous fare concocted by Roy himself.

Friday night, it's that swing thing again, featuring Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats playing at the Carrillo Rec Center, for the really well-dressed rug-cutters. A much less well-dressed but far funnier scene will go down at the all-ages Living Room in Goleta, when those goofballs in Nerf Herder sing hilarious songs about Van Halen, nose-ring girls and being sorry.

Saturday, it's singer-songwriter night at NYM with Toni Land, down from the Northwest, and Bryan Kelley, up from Santa Monica. Over at the tree-lined Santa Barbara County Bowl, Shirley Manson and her mates from Garbage will sing songs about being paranoid, a feeling that probably evaporates quickly on their way to the bank. Up at the Living Room again, there's reggae with Mobtown. Rock on.

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