Eureka California: Charmingly Honest and Endearingly Disruptive

Garage rockers Eureka California’s latest record, Versus, could be as infectious to children of the ‘90s as chickenpox is to kindergarteners with boundary issues.  Much of the album rings...

Garage rockers Eureka California’s latest record, Versus, could be as infectious to children of the ‘90s as chickenpox is to kindergarteners with boundary issues.  Much of the album rings of the exact half-way point between the quiet loud quiet college rock of Pixies and the rambunctious power pop of Ash.  However, it also touches on “punk” of a slightly purer nature and also that sloppy, surfery, sunshiney thing that all of the great alt rock revivalists of this generation are doing.  Eureka California are Jake Ward and Marie A. Uhler and Versus is their third album in as many years.  The band resides in Athens, Georgia and, between their press releases and a recent chat, would seem to resemble characters from Eric Bogosian’s subUrbia: part-time intellectuals who know it’s all too hopeless to actually waste time giving a fuck… with a diet comprised entirely of convenience store commodities… This coming Monday, May 23rd, Eureka California will be headlining Kung Fu Necktie, alongside recently-profiled post-punks Witching Waves, Glitter, and Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen.  Jake and Marie recently took some time to tell me about the band.

Izzy Cihak: So I hate to start with such a huge question but, considering Eureka California has been around for a while now, I’m curious what have been some of the highlights for you?

Jake Ward: Playing with Bob Mould at Athens Popfest. Going to England and also playing Indietracks.

Marie A. Uhler: We booked a five-week nationwide tour in 2011 when we and our former bassist, Charles, all lived together in a house in the woods. We were advised against it but we were at a point in life where we could afford to do something kind of dumb. It was amazing to see the country and go on a road trip with two great people. Each record has been very different to make and represents very different phases in our lives. Recording at Suburban Home was a highlight — being in a real studio where someone else was responsible for making things sound good was really unbelievable.

Izzy:  Is there anything you think is particularly important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of creating music or just your aim as artists?

Jake: We are the same onstage as we are offstage. Nothing’s an act. We’re really honest.

Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant non-musical influences?  You seem to have a lot of interesting ones.

Jake: Books, movies. The Last Picture Show. The Civil War: A Narrative by Shelby Foote. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The Third Man, Drinking At The Movies by Julia Wertz, The 90-94 Buffalo Bills.

Izzy: Marie, I understand that you work at an arthouse movie theatre and cinema is totally my favorite thing in the world to talk about, so I have to ask your favorite films, both of all-time and of recent years. Anything you think our readers should definitely check out? (My all-time top 3 are 1. William Klein’s Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? 2. Pasolini’s Salo 3. Godard’s Masculin feminin and, of recent years, I’d say some favorites are Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl and the 5.5-hour cut of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, but not the four-hour, theatrical cut, which is kinda stupid… Feel free to mock me and my selections…)

Marie: I’m a bartender and by no means a movie snob. I’m not sure I have an all-time top three… maybe a top three for certain genres or something. Recently we were all asked to pick three movies we’d like to see on the big screen and I said Miami Connection, Exorcist III, and Ran. I think my favorite movies I saw last year were Jupiter Ascending and Fast & Furious 7. In the past few months I’ve really enjoyed The Witch, Carol, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and Krisha the most. And I really liked the new Captain America. Every few years I think I go through genre phases but most consistently I love ’90s high school movies, horror of pretty much any sub-genre and decade, and action movies.

Izzy: And Jake, I hear you work at a major venue.  Have you seen any super good shows recently, or any bands worth looking into?  I feel like most of the shows I get super excited for these days are childhood heroines reuniting and churning out songs they wrote 20 years ago, like Luscious Jackson and Veruca Salt.

Jake: Lupe Fiasco was just here a few weeks ago and that’s easily the best show I’ve seen in a while. Amazing stage presence and he played for like two-and-a-half hours. Oh, and my first day on the job was when Public Image Ltd played. I got to meet Johnny Rotten backstage and sat with him for a minute. We talked a little bit, he signed a poster for me and he was very sweet. That was the best first day of work I’ve ever had.

Izzy: Okay, so back to your music: Your new album, Versus, came out a few months ago.  How do you feel like it compares to previous releases?  Does it feel like a natural evolution, or were you trying some new things that you hadn’t before… or both?  I heard it’s the first one you recorded in a studio.

Jake: I think it’s a bit of both really. I think you have to continually consciously evolve as an artist and trying new things comes with the territory.  We recorded this one at Suburban Home with MJ so from the get go it was going to at least sound different from the others but as the core I think our writing and playing has progressed since the last record. We’re capable of doing songs that we could have never done on those first two records but we had to do those first two records to get here.

Izzy: I’m pretty sure “Ghosts” just newly became my official favorite song of 2016… It’s like ’77 punk holding hands with ‘90s alt rock (Hopefully that’s not insulting.)  How did that particular track come about?

Jake: First, that’s so nice of you to say that. Second, this is easily the oldest song on Versus. I wrote the skeleton of the song in about 10 minutes on a 12 string acoustic guitar after missing hearing some lyrics on the radio while driving home from work.

Izzy: What are you most excited about in 2016?  How are you hoping to spend the year?

Jake: We want to tour more and play more shows out of town, which we’re already doing. We’re really excited about the Athens Popfest this year. And playing some new cities in America and going back to the UK.

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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.