On January 1, 2009, San Diego pop-rockers Crash Encore (nominated for Best New Artist at the SDMAs in 2007) announced that they would post one free song for download every week for the next year. Thirty weeks into the project, keyboardist Bryan Stratman and drummer Mike Cooper split from the group in order to focus on their own ambitions.
“We were going crazy recording every week on top of playing shows and everything else,” front man Jon Bishop tells me over a cup of coffee at Peet’s in Hillcrest. Bishop has gone on to play his songs solo acoustic and with backing band Albatross, featuring members of Gun Runner. His more recent project, Hello Sunshine (with sister Joy, her husband Jeffery, and Stratman), licensed their song “Happy Endings” for the opening credits of romantic comedy My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, starring Alyssa Milano and Beau Bridges. They anticipate an album release in a few months after Joy gives birth to the couple’s first child.
In the meantime, Little Italy–based Cooper and Stratman’s indie-electro project Hyena has been gaining momentum locally, playing at venues such as the Casbah, Voyeur, Fluxx, and House of Blues. In the span of four months, they’d written, recorded (at Stratman’s Capricorn Studios on Tenth and E Street in East Village), and released their debut album, We See You, with a soft-release party at El Dorado last month. Cooper says they are holding off on an iTunes release until they broaden their fan base with a planned tour in England and a string of L.A. summer shows. Cooper recently left Transfer, which he’s been drumming for for the past five years, in order to focus on Hyena.
Having cut their teeth on indie rock, the pair is approaching electro as traditional songwriters emulating the DJ experience. “We were never too into the electro world before,” says Cooper in a phone call. “We kinda just went for it in our own way and then got introduced to the whole indie-electro world and all the DJs.”
They’ve distributed their tracks to remixers and DJs worldwide, which they plan to spin at their “DJ sets.” Hyena will play an acoustic show at the W Hotel on May 20, which, Cooper says, demonstrates their roots as weathered musicians who transcend the laptop.
“Underneath all that dance music there’s still two songwriters.”