“I came from NASCAR country,” says singer Brian Clinebell of the Kabbs. In summer 2010, he was living in a North Park duplex with then-bandmates Kyle Whatley (guitar) and Brandon Whatley (drums). “[Kyle and Brandon] came from rodeo country.”
“And I came from Orange County,” said bassist Chase Elliott at the time. “I had to hide my monocle and tuxedo when I got here.”
The Kabbs played their first show (and the first live performance for everybody in the band except Chase) on Halloween 2009, at a North Park house party with the Old In Out. Their set grew out of living room jam sessions between Brian and the Whatleys, who met skateboarding at Mission Beach in 2001.
“We got stoked on a song, recorded it...and all of a sudden we came together into a band,” Red Bluff native Brandon said.
The band has since played nearly every bar in town, including Johnny Rad Fest with the Zeros at Ken Club.
“Everyone says we sound like the Doors because Brian has long hair,” said Chase, half joking. In beyond-shoulder-length hair, beard, and aviators, the southwest Virginia–born singer certainly does recall the Lizard King. His vocals hint at a sound somewhere between Glenn Danzig and a whisky-sodden Morrison. Others have likened the Kabbs (pronounced “cabs”) to the Seeds, Wolf Parade, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
“We want it to be very simple and very natural,” says Kyle of their psychedelic garage rock. Accordingly, Brian’s lyrics tend to focus on timeless rock-and-roll themes of “girls, love, life. Ya know, as you grow older, what the f--- are you gonna do?”
Lyrics such as “I don’t need no redirection, I just want your affection” and “Your love is an uphill battle, my engine’s running hot, I can only take so much, before I fall apart” exemplify the Kabbs’ unassuming yet resolute energy.
In summer 2010, the band released a five-song EP recorded live with Mike Kamoo at Earthling Studios in El Cajon.
Whatley described their worst show at the time. “At the South Park Walkabout, we played in the front yard of a house. We unfortunately overindulged in some alcohol consumption - by the time we were ready to play, we were unable to perform to our best ability. We were basically individually playing our own rhythms! Also, we had some tech issues with our guitar amp being shut-off in the middle of our set. It was a classic experience that we all really would like to avoid in future performances!”
Drummer Brandon Whatley was replaced by Ashley Brus, who left the band in Autumn 2013 to concentrate on a different instrument, violin. By 2015, Tyler Ward was the band's drummer.
A new 7-inch was released in October 2015, featuring the single "Really Don't Know You," with a revised lineup featuring Brian Clinebell, Tyler Ward (Oh, Spirit and Exfriends), and Ryan Combs (Oh, Spirit). Kyle Whatley (Tropical Popsicle) would soon rejoin.
"We've been working on our full length over the past year," reported the band in early 2020, as they released a new single, "Something to Lose," preceding a full-length due that Spring.