Thee Sacred Souls were named in partial tribute to Chicano rock heroes, Thee Midniters
“Our commitment to analog contrasts the quick-fire nature of many other artists within the increasingly digital industry,” says vintage soul-inspired trio Thee Sacred Souls. The band insists on recording their tracks on vinyl and debuting songs in their physical form, before later releasing on music-streaming platforms and YouTube.
Bassist Sal Samano (Fake Tides) and drummer Alex Garcia were raised in Chula Vista, where they built up an impressive vinyl record collection of favored old funk and soul music associated with Chicano lowrider culture. They began writing instrumental music together in 2018, but a collaborator was needed to complete the mix.
The duo went on Instagram and found City Heights singer Josh Lane, a former Sacramento music student who relocated to San Diego in 2017. Calling themselves Thee Sacred Souls (a partial nod to Chicano rock heroes Thee Midniters), they officially began playing gigs between San Diego and LA in early 2019. Their Casbah debut found them opening for likeminded locals the Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, and they served a Monday night residency at the Soda Bar. They earned a huge boost in local exposure with an opening slot for a sold-out Mac Ayres show at the Music Box, a surprise gig they landed with only two days advance notice.
"When playing live, we have back up singers and a guitarist," says Garcia. "While Sal and I are multi-instrumentalists who write the music, Josh is mainly all about singing." Members are based in southern San Diego. "While I'm from Chula Vista, Sal is from Imperial Beach. We both record in my home studio in Chula Vista."
Daptone Records honcho Gabe Roth, aka Bosco Mann, saw them perform in Fullerton and signed the group to an old-fashioned label contract, one just as inspired by 20th century templates as the band’s music, allowing them to maintain their commitment to analog vinyl releases. The trio has been working out songs at Garcia’s home studio, and then making regular trips up to Riverside to lay down tracks with the label’s production crew.
Those recordings are all being completed in analog formats, to be released direct to vinyl. The old-fashioned process may still be favored by those who disdain digital tweaking, but dedication to analog makes it hard to get the music into the public’s hands until more recording is done. As such, only one vinyl single is so far available, “Can I Call You Rose?” a title said to be inspired by a flower design on a large woven carpet hanging on the wall of Garcia’s home studio.
The single is the debut release from Bosco Mann’s new Riverside-based Penrose Records, an imprint under Mann’s successful Daptone Records. That label’s origins date back to the early 2000s and Mann’s group the Dap-Kings (who backed both Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse), with a catalogue of releases featuring top-selling acts such as Lee Fields, the Budos Band, Antibalas, Charles Bradley, the Sugarman 3, and around a dozen others.
How does a band with less than a year of gigging, which refuses to record or release digitally, get signed as the debut act on a major label spinoff? It helps that Mann, a two-time Grammy winner, has long championed analog over digital. As he once told Sound on Sound magazine, “Show me a computer that sounds as good as a tape machine, and I’ll use it.”