Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Korn, Lars Finberg. Bands and musicians from Bakersfield, California have a tendency of doing things their own way. Though he left Bakersfield a while ago, Mr. Lars Aldric Finberg has built a solid reputation as a unique artist and his work in legendary bands A-Frames, The Intelligence and Thee Oh Sees, have helped make him a West Coast elder statesman when it comes to idiosyncratic rock n roll.
Produced and recorded by Ty Segall, his new album Moonlight Over Bakersfield, out December 1 on In the Red, combines post-punk jitters, experimental pop, and deep rhythms. The track "Benevolent Panic," which you can listen to below, features Mikal Cronin on saxophone and Lars taking control.
Noisey: What's it like returning to Bakersfield?
Lars Finberg: I escaped it just after high school so it transports me back to that time when the wind blows through the dirty palms just right and Jane's Addiction's in the background. It's California but it's got a little skuzz on it. After I invented reverb, country music's "Bakersfield Sound" was born here.
Is that Mikal Cronin on sax on "Benevolent Panic"? Did you give him any instruction?
That is the wonderful Mikal "Chromium Dome" Cronin yes. I played him the melody I had hummed into my phone and he took it from there. Then he asked to try and idea he had for the vibrato harmony on the last chorus and we all flipped. I remember he tried this giant dented up baritone sax but it had been kicked in too hard on a Ty tour to make a sound.
What was Ty like to work with? His reputation is that of a chiller but do you have any inside dirt of him losing his mind in fits of rage?
He bent my fingers back for using too many keyboards and I would yank a hefty tuft of his hair out when the headphone mix was too loud. Besides that he does have the eternal relaxed vibe with an endless cup of marshmallow coco sitting in an uncomfortable wooden chair. He adds smart little suggestions like adding the 'Stooges chord' on the Rhodes and when the guitar solo was too wanky shrill he had me triple it in a lower octave. He works quickly and I love the job he did. We laughed so much I think he reversed years off my life.
"I got a little bit weird on this one." When did you realize it was getting weird?
The look they gave me when I was layering the fifth track of vocoder chanting 'universal love/not universal doubt' over no music on "Myopic Blue Heaven."
You've recently been playing shows with Protomartyr. Highlights of these shows?
I was listening to a great interview with Joe just today. I'm so impressed by the amount of care and craft that he puts into the lyrics and is able to be both heavy and funny without being too much of either. It was a joy to watch the players just rip with finesse. It gives you hope to see something be successful simply because it is good. We played a sold out show with them in LA and didn't sell a single thing. Am Tip: People don't want turquoise shirts.
'Moonlight Over Bakersfield' is available December 1 on In the Red.