Bill Manson 10 a.m., Jan. 22
East of Sweden, Explained
It’s a Monday morning and ex-Syndicate drummer Jeffrey O’Brien is on the phone to pimp his new project. It’s an indie post-punk dance rock trio (his words) called East of Sweden.
East of Sweden? Is this a footnote to John Steinbeck, or, does the band actually have Norwegian ancestry?
“I actually do have a little Swedish heritage,” says O’Brien, “which had nothing to do with how we came up with the name. But I did like it for that, really.”
Rather, he says the band name is more of a play on words inspired by the Steinbeck novel East of Eden. It’s a classic. I read it in college, and I recall that it’s about things like depravity and self-destruction. From the author himself:
We have only one story. All novels, all poetry, are built on the never ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly re- spawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is.
Does any of this hold water with the band? No. Not so much.
“When we were going through hundreds of names, trying to come up with something for the band we each went into our little artistic corners." In the end, he says it was Eric Sellers who came up with East of Sweden.
“He actually has the book. I saw it on his bookshelf.”
Sellers sings and plays guitar. He gets a big airy sound that rings and lingers and almost chimes in the manner of U2’s The Edge. Andrew Loc plays bass. The members come from past local bands the Syndicate and Socket7 (O'Brien thinks that’s how it was spelled.) They started the band in 2010 but O’Brien, who moved to Normal Heights in 2005, says the promo machine began in earnest over this past summer.
E of S have played the usual local television morning shows and gotten spins on the radio programs that are favorable to locals, and they’ve been seen at the Ruby Room, the Whistle Stop in South Park, and North Park’s Bar 11.
“My approach is to not overdo it. If you do one good show a month, you’re more likely to do a great show to a great crowd.”
Look for an album, O’Brien says, sometime this spring. East of Sweden have a demo in the can but will go back into the studio this week in fact to finish up their debut full-length. They’ve been working with Mario Quintero at Black Box Studios on Broadway in Golden Hill. Given that the band all hold down day jobs, will they tour?
“That’s the plan. We’ve been looking into little weekend tours for this spring.”
The idea is first to get product distributed and hopefully land some favorable reviews. “After that, we’ll think bigger.” For now, bigger means hops to venues in Long Beach, L.A., Orange County, even Vegas.
“2012 is looking to be a good year,” says O'Brien. “We’re hoping to keep things moving as much as possible.”
East of Sweden perform at the Soda Bar Feb 10.