In November of 2007, riding on a dust-devil out of the high deserts of Arizona, Tyson Oakes Zamora came to San Diego with the stated intention of starting a psychedelic pop band with Brandon Dow, who three years earlier had headed west to start up a recording studio.
“Tyson spent a year in the middle of a desert in Arizona writing and recording several of his own albums,” says George Thornton. After several bass/drum combos, Dow met Thornton while the latter was helping a friend write and record songs for a project at Dow’s studio, Protracks Recording. Thornton brought Clint Disharoon along for the jam. It was instant love — two weeks later they had several of the songs that became a part of the debut album.”
Incomplete Neighbor’s debut album Suspended Electric Coma hit the streets May 9, 2009, featuring ten original pieces of art on the cover and inside the CD sleeve. Each band member painted several canvases which were compiled together “to make something that we felt was original,” says Tyson Zamora, “and express how we felt about the album in general.” The artwork is also featured on T-shirts and bumper stickers.
In late 2009, the band went into the studio to record during some personally turbulent times. After quitting his fast food day job, Brandon Dow ended up living in the studio for around three months. By the time recording was done, he had decided to move to Oregon with his family, a decision the band says they fully supported.
The group carried on as a trio to do a West coast tour with the Napoleon Complex. In 2010, with the band based in Chula Vista and El Cajon, they recorded Where the Penguins Live. “I quit my fast-food day-job and moved into Brandon’s studio while we recorded our second album," says guitarist Tyson Zamora. “It was surreal to be homeless, sleeping on the studio couch.”
Zamora says he’s turning depression into art. “Kurt Cobain’s suicide inspired me to pick up the guitar for myself,” he notes. “You could ridicule [our new] album as being a bit morose and introverted at times. I can’t really defend myself, except to say that music has always been a process of personal transformation — I can confront holographic demons and turn pain into bright, shiny butterfly sensations.”
Bassist-keyboardist George Thornton says, “Where the Penguins Live is a loose reference to the ‘laughing place,’ from Disney’s Song of the South, a place you want to be, but it also has its dark side, in that life will always get in the way. The album ended up mirroring our personal lives through that whole time period for us.... It was a cleansing process. We went in with dreams of the other side, got lost in the process, and discovered that where the penguins live is not like we pictured it, but we still want to go there.
“We tried to mimic the vinyl-listening experience, so there are two sides to the album. You know when side A is through; your ear’s palate is cleansed by the scratching silence. Then, side B finishes the point off with a new perspective.”
Based in Chula Vista and University Heights, the trio released a new 5-song EP in March 2012, Flowers and Dinosaurs. “We believe it’s just the beginning of our future sound as a psyche trio. We included a bunch of scribbles I made in my notebook and some pics that have been taken throughout the year.”
As for the EP title, “Flowers and Dinosaurs does have a little story. I used to have these apocalyptic conversations over the phone about reptilian politics and Earth-changes with a close friend back when I first moved out here. We would always end the conversation laughing as we reminded each other to think about 'purple dinosaurs and flowers.' Just a line that I kept writing down in my poetry after that. I kinda forgot it had something to do with Barney.”
A northwest tour for Flowers and Dinosaurs started in early April 2012. Zamora says the new three-piece Neighbors have already racked up one of the best gigs he can recall the band ever playing. “There was a Tin Can Alehouse show that had me teary-eyed. Besides the people and energy just flowing great, I remember it was the first time I noticed that many people singing along to the songs. And, most importantly, screaming animal noises during our song 'Hall of Mirrors.'”
“Seeing that many people let down their cool to hoot, screech, and chirp like birds is the reason I play music, for sure.”
In early 2013, Tyson Zamora tolf the Reader “We’re currently recording a next LP, which should be a blend between Bleeding Rainbow and the Gorillaz.”
Around the same time, the band’s song “Hall of Mirrors” was included in the documentary movie Craigslist Joe. “It was a great present for us after so many months without even playing a show,” says Zamora. The hand-clapping folk tune had been picked up in early 2012 by Lady Danville (the L.A. band soundtracking the film), who heard it via a friend of Zamora’s at UCLA. “It was all a rush of excitement, especially when we heard Zach Galifianakis was the executive producer. Next thing we know, we’re signing the paperwork, which basically stated there’d be no payment, just extra-juicy exposure.”
A year passed with no further word, and the band — based in Chula Vista and University Heights — got busy promoting a new EP. “Without hearing from any Hollywood people, we basically forgot the soundtrack thing ever happened.”
Zamora sees parallels to his own life in Craigslist Joe, which chronicles Joseph Garner’s month-long attempt to give up everything he owned, including his home, to instead solicit Craigslist users for virtually all his daily needs, for everything from transportation to companionship.
“I experienced homelessness while trying to make the band work in San Diego,” Zamora says of the period that resulted in temporarily relocating to Arizona, where preproduction on the band’s second full-length took place in the remote High Northern Plateau. “Nameless Nowhere Studios is a solar-powered studio near my family’s home, 13 miles off the freeway,” says Zamora. “Entirely off-grid, man!
“It has organic gardening, a greenhouse, and even a Native American sweat lodge that helps me shed the hipster persona, so that I can better get to know myself.” He described the album as “more poppy than before, but also more experimental. I’m kinda obsessed with trying to make electronic music that retains a punk and jazz ethic and isn’t so bent on pleasing everybody.”