The term “vintage sound” no longer holds the same weight it did ten years ago when those “the bands” were popping up by the Redwalls to the Vines, rocking mop tops and garage riffs. With the return of synth pop and banjos into every Coachella band's arsenal, vintage "rock" is no longer dominant. Enter Venice Beach’s Terraplane Sun who define raw vintage with a compelling mix of psych blues which spawn a modern take on the Doors while honing an edgy organic rock flair that bonds Teva and Chuck Taylor wearers.With instruments that include mandolin, lap steel, trombone, harmonica along with gritty guitars, soulful keys and ominous vocals, its obvious why the band has created such a tight relationship between the fans and band, as evidenced by its successful residency in July at LA’s Satellite.
The five-piece recently released its new EP, Friends on October 16th which was produced by Dave Trumfio (Wilco, My Morning Jacket). The album features “Get Me Golden,” which has graced the likes of a national television ad campaign, feature films, 21 Jump Street and What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Glide recently spoke with Terraplane’s Ben Rothbard (vocals, guitar, harmonica, tambourine) and Johnny Zambetti (guitar, mandolin) about the new EP and rocking out to Father John Misty,
Congratulations on the release of your Friends EP, do these songs serve in any way as a precursor for your third full length?
BR: I think it’s only natural that these songs are an indication of what’s to come. We’re constantly trying to push the limits of where we can take our sound without compromising who we are as a band. A new song can open the gates to a feel or vibe that we hadn’t previously explored, which is cool and we try to capitalize on that when it happens.
How do you feel your sound has most changed since your debut and how would you describe your sound now verse when the band was first recording/playing?
BR: I think it’s more of an evolution than an actual change. Our sound still has that bluesy/folky element to it at it’s core, it’s just a little less apparent than on the first record, or the second for that matter. Our goal as a band is to be able to weave in and out, from one style to the next all the while maintaining our identity. As long as every song we write has a soulful/bluesy undertone, it will make sense on our records. As far as performing is concerned, we’ve never been tighter. I’ve never been in a situation, whether in the studio or on stage, where the collective energy between musicians is as strong as it is with this band. Everyone adds a key component to the overall sound and I feel that’s only become more apparent over time.
What have been the biggest challenges and triumphs for the band since you formed in 2009 – do you feel you’ve been accepted by the industry and fans quicker than you would have anticipated?
BR: We’ve been very fortunate with this band in that we all blend amazingly well musically and personally. The biggest challenge with any band is getting multiple egos, musical styles and personalities to be on the same page. We’d all experienced those setbacks in other projects and understand how rare it is to have a group of guys so in synch with one another. One thing that we noticed early on, was that people we’re very receptive to what we were doing. The response was almost always positive and there became this collective feel among us, that people genuinely liked our sound. From there, it’s been this continuous building process, sometimes moving faster than others, but never in the wrong direction and fans continue to have our back. The industry is it’s own animal and something that’s out of our control. When we started, there was never this idea that the industry is gonna go nuts over us. It’s all about putting on a good show for the generous people that take the time out of their lives to come and watch you perform, especially in the early stages. If enough people like you, then the industry will have no choice but to get on board. We’re fortunate to have the team that we have and thoroughly enjoy the path that we’re on.
What song of yours feels best represents Terraplane Sun and why?
BR: That’s a tough one. “Ya Never Know” is a pretty strong representation of who we are. It’s got a laid back groove, but one that will make you move. Has a pretty strong hook and pop element to it, but with that bluesy/soulful undertone that gives it an edge, I hope. Our goal is to make you move and to take your mind out of it’s present state. If we can accomplish that, then I think we’re doing all right.
Your album Coyote, yielded TV synchs such as Showtime’s The Big C, A&E’s Relapse theme song, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie and FX’s Damages – how does a young band get such placement and what do you credit that to? Did these types of placements help in any sort of way in terms of gaining a following?
BR: We’ve been beyond lucky with the amount of placements we’ve received. Friends or fans would come across our records, dig what they heard and pass it onto someone in the business. The fact that our songs were received commercially to the point where companies were willing to pay money to use them was beyond flattering and something that we never anticipated. These placements have definitely given us a level of exposure that would have not been there otherwise and helped to create a fan base outside of Southern California. Keep’m coming!!!
What type of local and national following do you have? I know you held a residency at the Satellite in LA – did that grow each week?
JZ: It’s always hard to gauge our “following” but I do know that people are listening to the music and then coming to see us play based on the conversations I have with them at shows and so forth, which means we’re doing something right. We’re definitely fortunate enough to be playing to great crowds every night, which is humbling. The Satellite residency was an amazing experience, and it was incredible watching it grow every week in ways that we couldn’t have even imagined. We also had a residency in Las Vegas at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas which exposed us to people from all over the world, and with the music synchs we’ve landed, people have been reaching out to us everywhere from Iceland to Brazil which is wild. Been really fun getting feedback from fans and seeing how music really does transcend all language barriers.
You worked with producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, My Morning Jacket) on this EP – what did he bring to the recording sessions and is there anything in particular that he brought out of your sound that you are particularly surprised and proud of?
JZ: What Dave brought to the recording sessions was usually spicy Cheetos and club soda from Pepe’s hah. Being that it was our first time in a proper recording studio working with a name producer we definitely were excited and nervous, but Dave but any concerns to bed right from the beginning. He really made sure he got the best takes out of us as individual players and members of a band, and you can really hear that on the final cuts. We did most of the tracking at Kingsize Soundlabs which is his home base but also did vocals and some overdubs at his house, so needless to say it was a very comfortable environment which I think is crucial to getting great recordings. Dave really listened and knew our music prior to the sessions, and we mapped out where we wanted the sound to go and what we wanted the final product to sound like/represent. It’s one thing to say that and another to do it, and we couldn’t be happier with the final outcome.
Terraplane Sun is from Venice, California how does your hometown fit into the overall sound of your music? Do you get tired of California nods? What bands or scenes from rocks past or modern most inspire you?
JZ: With four of us being born and raised in southern California, it’s hard for our environment to not subliminally affect our music. There are “surf” elements, we’re not afraid of reverb, but don’t forget CA is home to a lot more styles of music than just surf/beach sounding records. Jane’s Addiction is a big influence for many of us, as is Queens of the Stone Age in addition to obviously The Doors and the Beach Boys. I personally don’t get tired of the California nods because we’re in amazing company. I think it’s more of a privilege and flattering to get considered as a California sounding band.
You’ve shared the stage with Foster the People, Alabama Shakes and Fitz and the Tantrums – which shows in particular stand out as being defining in terms of reception and acclaim?
JZ: Far and away the Alabama Shakes show we did at the Belly Up a few months back. Our bands are definitely in the same wheelhouse musically and they worked really well together. The Shakes’ buzz was still really underground but growing rapidly so I feel like people were still on the “this is our secret gem” tip and overall really excited to be there. We hit it off really well with the band, still in touch with a couple of them and are psyched to see them bring great music to the masses. Still to this day that show is one of the best nights in terms of selling merch (CD’s, shirts) we’ve ever done.
What artists do you currently most admire and what type of albums do you hope to put out going down the road?
JZ: Lately we’ve been rocking the Father John Misty record pretty regularly in the van. It’s also been fun watching our friends’ bands in LA start to make moves as well as great records such as The Diamond Light, The Mowglis and Tijuana Tears. As far as future records go, I hope that with each new album we continue tapping into what makes this band unique and keep making music that people want to share with other and enjoy together.