The fact that Aaron Eisenberg can take my call from the road in the band's tour van is something he appreciates now more than ever.
Eisenberg, who plays guitar and keyboards for the San Francisco rock and soul outfit the Soft White Sixties, feels lucky just to have reliable transportation.
"The morning after our Fillmore show [in San Francisco], it got broken into right outside my house, like right before we were trying to get on the road," he says. "Everyone was up and ready to go. Then we got a knock on the door from these construction workers across the street that had noticed somebody had broken into our van."
As much as it sucks having your car broken into and having your shit stolen, Eisenberg actually sees it in a positive light because fortune smiled on them. For one thing, their van wasn't stolen, so that's huge for a band that's been touring nonstop the past few months and whose current tour with local favorites Electric Six ends with their show at St. Andrew's Hall Friday night.
But that's not all.
"Luckily, no music gear was stolen," he says. "A couple duffel bags of clothes and a camera bag with a laptop and some cameras got stolen, but the more irreplaceable stuff didn't. But it was definitely a bummer. We'd had a great night the night before, so it was like a morning-after pill we had to swallow."
Incidents like this aside, the Soft White Sixties have had a lot to smile about lately. For starters, the swinging rockers got a double-whammy of support last year by playing at the SXSW Festival, after which they were named one of Paste's Top 25 Shows at SXSW 2013. Then fast-forward to this March, when they released their full-length debut album, Get Right, almost three years after putting out a self-titled EP. While a lot of artists release EPs as a way to whet an audience's appetite for an album that's just around the corner, the band didn't have the option to do that because of financial constraints. But Eisenberg says it was a blessing in disguise.
"We would've loved to make one closer to the EP, but if we had tried to do it earlier, there might have been certain songs that made it on the record that we might have outgrown afterward," he says. "[The album] could've been made sooner, but I think the timing was crucial because now we're comfortable with where the band is at and [what] we're trying to be."
Since their debut several years ago, the band has subtly evolved. More of a mainstream alternative rock quintet in the beginning, the group has morphed into a genre-blurring quartet that plays with a little bit of everything — just because they can. "City Lights" marries heavy synths with a pulsating surf rock rhythm, while "Up to the Light" is a bluesy, kooky rock stomper by comparison.
And while "I Ain't Your Mother" is a gritty, Motown-infused rock-and-soul experience that calls to mind the flair and attitude of just about any track off the recent debut from Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, the band counters this with their hip-shaking piano-pop single, "Lemon Squeezer." The song is loaded with double entendres, and the accompanying video is filled with beautiful women and suggestive poses and dialogue, which plays into one side of the band's persona: We're not going to overthink this; what you see is you what you get.
"That song came from being at a bar — which we often are — and is just a song of immediate infatuation with somebody, specifically a bartender," says the band's singer and primary songwriter, Octavio Genera. "It talks about that kind of infatuation where you don't really see a future, but if you can get to know them some in that moment or that evening, it could be beneficial. Or at least entertaining!"
The band is quick to point out that when it comes to the concert experience, entertainment is a two-way street if you know where to look. Eisenberg fondly recalls the band's first show in this part of the state when they played at the Crofoot earlier this year, and how much energy they got just from seeing how amped up the crowd was before the show.
"It was an awesome, energetic crowd just throwing it back," Eisenberg says. "There were people who were out in the parking lot tailgating before our show. That was a wild experience. I haven't been to too many cities where there has been a crowd like that. And the crowd was cheering for the house music before any bands even came on the stage. They were just riled up and ready to party."
There's little mistaking that you go to a Soft White Sixties show to party. The songs are infectious, groovy, and have all the swagger and confidence of a band that knows exactly it wants to do, and knows that you won't be able to resist what they bring to the table. In case there's any doubt about any of this, the guys go absolutely balls-out onstage.
"It's pretty energetic, loud, driving, sweaty," Eisenberg says of a typical show. "We all sweat a lot! We always like to see bands who sweat, so we try to be one of those. I feel like there aren't as many of those nowadays, so we're up there working it out and trying to get the crowd to sweat, too. It's a symbiotic kind of thing."
So despite hiccups like having their van broken into, this is a good time for the Soft White Sixties; a raucous, lively, sweaty good time. But for Eisenberg, at least, it's not simply the fact that they've finally put out this first full-length album that excites him, or even the response that fans have to the live shows. Get Right represents something much deeper that he hopes will continue to propel them forward for the rest of 2014 and for years to come.
"With [Get Right], we were looking to, in one way, close a chapter of the band — our first years of getting together and playing live and everything — while also making songs that [would allow us to explore] more and move forward with the future of the band," he says. "[The release] is the end of an era in some ways, and the beginning of another."
The Soft White Sixties play with Electric Six and Silent Lions Friday, Oct. 17, St. Andrew's Hall. Doors at 7:30 p.m.
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