Juke Box Friendly

Get used to this phrase: Psydecar has just released a new CD

by Lee Abraham

Six guys are hanging out. Theyíre all sitting, facing each other in an amoeba shaped circle. The living room is jammed with instruments and amplifiers. A large poster of Bob Marley hangs behind the couch. Other wall art - images of the Stones, Led Zep and Garcia. Switching places with the drummer, the keyboard player picks up the sticks and pops a jazzy, Latin drum beat. Without a word, the bass player locks into a slinky, loping riff that sparks the guitarist into action. Heads start boppiní. Gently swaying, the sax playerís eyes are closed. Listening. He quietly experiments with horn lines, looking for the one that best bolsters the rhythm. Finding it, he wanders off into a melodic solo, then slides right back into the rhythmic phrase as the vocalist, long dread locks now bouncing wildly as he dances around the room, improvises lyrics to the fat groove pulsing all around him.

"Every time we get together we write a song," says Tim Pacheco of Psydecar. "With this band, itís like, we donít even talk... this is what we do. Some people build ships. We make songs. It just happens and we remember it." And the stuff they like most gets recorded. Although -On A Wing- is Psydecarís -second- release, in some ways, itís really the groupís first -album-. "This CD has a lot more to do with the band as a whole," says drummer/keyboard player Ed Fletcher. "Six or seven of the tunes we all wrote together as a band. As opposed to the last one which was a lot of old Soul Power stuff that Tim wrote."

OK, time for a little Psydecar history. Junkie Music was the first band that Pacheco and Psydecar guitarist Scotty Homan played in together. That was Ď94. Then came Overstand, which in addition to Pacheco and Homan, included Psydecarís John Connelly on sax. Soul Power was next. Essentially a Junkie Music reincarnation with different sidemen, Soul Power had a two year run. During that time, Ed Fletcher played drums in a slew of bands. His main gig at the time was Wise Monkey Orchestra, a polytextured funk and groove outfit that had recently relocated from Tempe to Fletcherís home town of Ocean Beach, San Diego. Realizing Pachecoís array of talents on vocals, percussion and trumpet, would compliment WMOís edgy, highly danceable sound, Fletcher lobbied to make a wise monkey out of Pacheco. The band agreed. Slowly Pacheco emerged from the shadows to the limelight.

"They had me in the back, next to the drums, playing congas without a mic.," he says with a laugh. By the time Pacheco left WMO, he was singing and fronting the band about half the time during performances. Even as his role in the band grew, Pacheco had more creative output than WMO needed. Enter Psydecar. A progression from the original Junkie Music lineup, Homan, Fletcher and his bandmate from other groups, bass player Grant Clarkson, jammed, recorded and played live as schedules allowed. Soon Connelly was playing sax. Then multi-instrumentalist Chad Ferrin began alternating with Fletcher on keyboards and drums. "It was the beginning of the end... or was it the end of the beginning?" muses Pacheco. "Wise Monkey was ending and we were hungry for something else."

The usual issues behind a lineup shuffle - creative differences and personality conflicts - took their toll. Pachechoís last show with WMO was Halloween weekend. Fletcher and Homan decided to follow, but chose to finish out the year playing with WMO, enabling the band to meet its obligations while searching for a new drummer and guitar player. The process was incredibly smooth. As of new years day, Psydecar was a full time project. "Weíre going to release about five records this year," proclaims Pacheco. Although it sounds like a boast, Pacheco means business. And the smart money backs him up. Last year Pacheco was a driving force behind six CDs - two with WMO, the Psydecar debut, two with another outfit called the Black Market Disciples, and one with Ed Fletcher on a project called Strictly Family. Add the albums from Fletcher, who has a separate solo CD, and Clarkson, who has released three CDs of his own. Suddenly, the five CD plan seems like a done deal.

"We have over a hundred songs," says Fletcher. "This is one of three albums we could easily release right now." Record company bean counters would never allow a band to flood the market with five releases in one year. Certainly an independent band -can- release however many records it produces, but is there a market for all of it? "Iím not thinking about making records to sell them," says Pacheco. "Iím thinking about making records that people are going to want to -buy-, because they are going to enjoy them. The good thing about it, is that all the songs donít sound the same. You canít say itís one thing. Right when you wanna call it a pop record, a reggae song comes on. And right when you wanna call it reggae, a jazz song comes on."

And if you have the opportunity to invest a little change in juke box stocked with a Psydecar CD, you might just get all of that for one play. Not necessarily in one -song-, but on one track that strings three or four songs together. "Juke Box Friendly," is how Fletcher refers to the production trick. "I remember being in a bar a couple of times when The Wall came on the jukebox," says Fletcher. "Itís so bad because all those songs go right from one song to the other. It works great for juke boxes. You get like three or four songs for a dollar."

Pacheco and crew are intent on being more than just juke box heroes though. The band has built a loyal hometown following and is starting to work its way up and down the California coast. At home or on the road, the storyís the same. These guys just love to play. And people respond. "Even if thereís like five people out there, we rock it," says Pacheco. "This band really plays hard. Itís not just like burning time with songs. We did a show in Ocean Beach the other day at the Farmerís Market. All these little kids came. We had a pretty good crowd, the little kids were all up front and they were dancing. If the little kids are right there, then itís gotta be good."