Power pop is music that has a discernible, pleasant structure. There are chords, hooks and singers who can create happening harmonies--in short, power pop is ear candy, or perhaps what Buddy Holly would be up to if he were still around.
To that end, the Ban-Dar in Ventura is hosting a Power Pop Fest on Sunday starring Atticus, Cockeyed Ghost and the Jason Dean Band Experience.
No need to scream a request for "Free Bird"--this is the wrong show for any of that nonsense. Atticus, the only local band on the bill, is fronted by the mellifluous Wendy Johnson and will be plugging its second album, "Coming Around Again." Dean has been a part of the L.A. scene for years--his new band will release its debut album, "Joy in Mudville," soon.
To power pop fans, Cockeyed Ghost is well known. After the obligatory creative differences and personnel changes, the band now features Adam Marsland on vocals and guitars, Kurt Medlin on drums, Robert Ramos on bass and Severo on guitars and vocals.
Cockeyed Ghost was signed to Big Deal Records, but the label--which specialized in power pop bands--folded last year. That event unfortunately coincided with the release of the band's third album. Thus "The Scapegoat Factory" emerged with a thud rather than the intended hoopla, leaving the band in rock 'n' roll limbo.
Today, Cockeyed Ghost stands ready to resume a more rigorous touring schedule as well as release its fourth album. In the meantime, front man Marsland, a part-time legal assistant by day, discussed his night job.
So how's the rock 'n' roll biz?
This year, we've been playing just two or three times a month, but in August, we're going back to playing seven or eight times a month. The collapse of the label with the release of our third album left us with more survival issues than band issues.
Where did the name come from?
We're named after a children's book I used to have; I thought it would be a pretty good name for a band. We started back in '94 in L.A. and it was just one of those things--hey, we have a gig tonight, what do you want to call the band?
With a sound like you have, Cockeyed Ghost would've been like rock gods in 1966, but in the year 2000 . . . well, what do you think?
I think there is a wider question of what is popular right now. There's not anything particularly trendy, and I don't think it really matters much to people what they listen to. Due to corporate influences, every band is pretty much the Monkees--nothing against the Monkees.
Rap and metal seem to be the big thing this week, but you guys definitely don't sound like Limp Bizkit.
Trying to make a living through music can be a big pain. If you want to make a lot of money, there are a lot of easier ways to make a living than music.
So where does Cockeyed Ghost fit in?
Cockeyed Ghost keeps getting better--we write better songs, we play better and we sing better, and the whole thing is more heartfelt, something you can't do when you're 17 but rather when you're 30. If we ever have success, I think it will be more along the lines of Hootie & the Blowfish or Sheryl Crow, bands that worked hard and finally got a break. Just doing this to make dough isn't where it's at.
What do you think your band sounds like?
I think our music is very melodic like the Beach Boys or Elton John. I always liked Elton John because he covered a lot of ground artistically and still sounded like himself. I also think there's some Elvis Costello and Supergrass in there.
So could the band play longer than the Grateful Dead in its prime?
We believe in short, focused sets. We probably have about 25 originals and about 50 covers, including obscure Beach Boys songs. We believe any band can get boring after three hours.
L.A. has a long power pop tradition. What's happening down there now?
A few years ago, it was really great, but now there's kind of a lull. It's probably cyclical. In the past, we played in all the Poptopia festivals, but the promoters of these things have preconceived notions of what the bands should sound like. Some think the songs should be Beatlesque or sound like the Knack. But to a person who just walks into a record store, Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera is pop. I don't think we fit into either category.
Atticus (6:30 p.m.), Cockeyed Ghost (8 p.m.) and the Jason Dean Band Experience (9:30 p.m.), Sunday; Ban-Dar, 3005 E. Main St., Ventura; $3; 643-4420.
Those cheapskates' specials just keep coming to Thousand Oaks, as once again the Conejo Valley Recreation Department hosts a free Sunday concert featuring those '70s popsters, Ambrosia. A few years back, the band induced Bill and Hillary to dance at the Clinton inaugural ball, but expect considerably fewer tuxedos at this Conejo Community Park event.