Babes: Horniness and Sadness, Harnessed by “The Power of Five”

LA babes are cool. LA’s Babes are also a cool group of musicians.  Their rallying cry is, “We’re horny. And we’re sad,” the two emotional states that they find...

LA babes are cool. LA’s Babes are also a cool group of musicians.  Their rallying cry is, “We’re horny. And we’re sad,” the two emotional states that they find to produce the most profound works of art.  They are comprised of siblings Zack Leigh, Aaron Leigh, and Sarah Rayne Leigh, in addition to Jeff Baird and Bryan Harris.  Their collective background is comprised of a radical juxtaposition of “high” and “low” art: heady hippies, postmodern performance artists, crusty punks, and lofty academics.  In addition, they seem more than happy to hand their minds over to their crassest sexual cravings… which seems to inspire their general sonic aesthetic.  They’re signed to Harvest Records (most recently in the news for sacking the Mozzer… after he, well, kind of asked for it.)  They released their self-titled debut EP this spring.  Their sound blends the primal emotions associated with the rawest Rock’N’Roll and the most disenfranchised crooners with delightfully sugar-coated intellectual pop music that knows the fucking history of intellectual pop music.  This October Babes will be embarking on a tour alongside PHILTHY-luved Russian Red, which includes an October 29th stop at World Café Live.  I’m quite anxious to see how this will play out at the hyper-sterile, NPR-supported space, because apparently their ideal stage sets include scenarios such as “300 puppies onstage” and “stuff on fire.”  Additionally, Babes are hoping to have an LP out early in 2015.  Zach Leigh recently took some time to chat with me about all of this… in addition to Belle & Sebastian and cheesesteaks…

Izzy Cihak: First of all, you’re signed to Harvest Records, so I have to ask: How fucking amazing was it to be signed to the same label as Morrissey (Even if just for like five minutes)? (Haha, I’m totally one of those guys.)  It would seem to be perfectly in line with your assessment that the state of being “horny” and/or “sad” has, historically, led to the creation of the greatest works of art.

Zach Leigh: Yeah, we’ve been into Morrissey since we were pups. He is the master of sadness but, unlike him, we have the power of five.

Izzy: But seriously, what are your thoughts on the label and your labelmates?

Zach: They’ve been doing a lot of cool stuff lately. They all really believe in what we are doing, they think it is very special. And, that’s a cool place to be.

Izzy: And what have been the highlights of being a band together, so far?  I realize you were all still very close long before the group came about.

Zach: When someone says our music made them cry, when people dance with us while we play. We’ve got hammocks in our van.

Izzy: I understand your LP will be out in early 2015.  What can we expect of  it?  How does it compare to your recently released EP?

Zach: Thanks for your understanding. It’s sick, totally pumped up. It’s got jams about extreme loneliness, love, and emotional places that I am still trying to figure out. Both releases were written within the same era for us, so it will have a similar vibe but next level.

Izzy: Have people been telling you that your recent single, “Isn’t It Love,” is really reminiscent of middle-era Belle & Sebastian?  How do you respond to that?  Are you fans of the twee-est band in the world?  Any favorite works of theirs? (I realize that your upcoming touring partner is a buddy of theirs.)

Zach: We actually have not gotten that before but we appreciate the comparison. Definitely was part of the music that we listened to and absorbed while growing up. The Life Pursuit is pretty rad.


Izzy: And how would you characterize your process of writing and recording together?

Zach: The process is that life fucks you up or every now and then shows you something beautiful. We take that and put it through a song. We record and produce it all ourselves, so we get to go over it and over it and over it until the lyrics and the melody and arrangements are dancing and flowing. We do it ‘cause we feel sad and it makes us feel good. We do it ‘cause we have to do it.

Izzy: So I hear you have a hotline and that you actually respond to it.  Have you gotten any particularly amusing questions or requests from fans?

Zach: We’ve gotten it all, from people asking to see our buttholes, to people wanting to talk, or just calling to check if the hotline is real. It is. We try to make all their dreams come true. We’re here for you.

Izzy: In October and November you’re going to be touring with Red Russian, who we’re also a big fan of.  How did that come about?  Were you previously fans of hers?

Zach: We played together at their first Los Angeles show last year and again in March. We dig each other’s music and vibe and have become good friends. Come to the show and you might see us play a song or two together.

Izzy: And what can be expected of the live experience?  I understand you’re quite ambitious in terms of live performances and enjoy “quirk” and danger to a great degree.

Zach: We want people to feel like they’re part of it and have as much fun as we have. When the whole room is buzzing and moving with the rhythm it creates a really rad energy that we feed off of. It swirls synergistically and that’s what we always shoot for. Oh also, we’d love to have 300 doggies on stage at some point in our show.

Izzy: Actually your local date is at this really sterile dinner theatre venue that’s entirely seated and generally caters to white people from the suburbs who enjoy NPR and singer/songwriters, so if you wanted to do something to freak them out, I think it could be really amusing… although don’t tell them I told you to do it…

Zach: It all depends on what they’re serving for dinner that night.

Izzy: In addition to your LP, what are you hoping and planning for in 2015?

Zach: We are doing a music video for each song, tons of shows, kissing, party time excellent. Eating at Geno’s and then Pat’s on the same night.

Izzy: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?  Anything you think is especially important to know about you, as a band? “No” is a perfectly good answer.

Zach: Call us. The possibilities are endless. You can do anything you want or be anything you want to be. If you wanna die, you can die. If you wanna live, you can live.  We believe in you. (470) BABES-77

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.