The Inversions Forge Their Own Path
If you were the last person on Earth, would you kill yourself? It’s not something you probably mull over too much on an average day, but that’s the big question behind local band the Inversions’ song “Aloha.”
Usually, the word “aloha” makes me cringe. I immediately think American commercialization of Hawaiian culture, i.e., tacky Hawaiian shirts, someone adjusting a plastic lei around my neck and watching the worst adaptations of hula dancing imaginable.
This is why The Inversions’ song “Aloha” is genius. It plays on the meaning of the word in a very unpredictable way. There is not a single reference to sunsets or cheesy faux Hawaiian intonations to be heard. It’s just a rock ‘n’ roll song, pure and simple, using the word “aloha” for its double meaning of “hello” and “goodbye.”
The Inversions lead singer/guitarist Will Comstock is fond of lacing the band’s songs with double meanings, he says during a conversation with Submerge over beers at Pangaea CafÃ©. And “Aloha” is a prime example of just that.
Bassist/vocalist Ryan Offield is also in on this conversation. He explains that “Aloha” is also the title track of the band’s upcoming album because it’s the “most ridiculous” of the songs.
Like the rest of their work, including their full-lengths All Is Well and What’s the Cannon For?, Aloha will be released on their label Penwin Songs in April.
“Aloha is not much of a leap from our other stuff,” says Offield. Like their past albums, they have continued to maintain a groove-oriented melody, Comstock adds.
Though Offield and Comstock have been working together for many years (they met in their former band The Drowners), they have only been working on this project since 2006, starting with Frank French of Cake as their prior drummer.
The Inversions have only existed as The Inversions “proper” since 2008. Previously there were four members–Adam Varona was also on guitar. Now they are just three. Over time, they’ve managed to develop a sound that Offield has been told by fans “feels familiar, but in a new way.”
And since they discovered drummer Scott McConaha at Fox & Goose a while back, the trio seems to have found the right synergy.
For instance, “No Matter,” another song that will be featured on Aloha, is a song that the band has been wanting to record since it was written five to six years ago.
“I have no idea what ‘No Matter’ is about,” Comstock says. “But there is this unspoken understanding that it would be good for the band.”
Still, it’s only now that that the song will be included on an album, because, as Offield puts it, “Scottie got it right.”
Give “No Matter” a listen, and you’ll understand why it feels right. The song carries a steadfast beat under a simple guitar progression, straddling a rollicking, gypsy sound with a Western touch.
That said, it is curious that the band has earned a Brit-pop, indie rock rap.
Perhaps “LMAO,” the third song from Aloha that the Inversions shared with Submerge, bears the closest resemblance to anything of the sort. It’s catchy; it has that fleeting tempo and raucous strum pattern that is trademark of an indie pop song. And, as one might guess from the title, it’s about the Facebook craze, of all things.
Still, Brit-pop is not exactly the sound the Inversions are aiming for, Comstock says.
“It’s more a sound that’s been tagged onto us,” he says. “And any time you play minor chords with reverb, someone says you’re just trying to be Radiohead or something.”
“To me [our music] is rock ‘n’ roll,” he adds.
Certainly, Comstock and Offield are fond of British rock and pop, particularly of the ‘60s era. The band lists The Kinks as one of their top influences.
“I only have five [Kinks] CDs in my car,” Comstock says.
Otherwise, he’s been “geeking out” on the Coasters, jazz and Buddy Holly, he confesses, his black glasses tilted slightly down his nose.
Influences aside, the band doesn’t really look to other bands for their sound.
“We’re not aiming for anything,” Comstock says, “[Other than] does the song sound good, do we like it?”
Different rhythms, weird chords, good chord progressions and a good melody–these are things Comstock says he looks for when he writes a song. And apparently, he’s “prolific as hell” about his songwriting, Offield says.
“He’ll write more songs in a year than I’ll hear,” Offield laughs.
Writing, practicing and performing the songs are arguably the easy parts. They practice anywhere from one to five days a week downstairs in the Victorian where Offield resides. If they just keep up on their sound, the optimistic view is that everything else will fall into place. Yet the rest, producing albums and aggressively marketing, has been the “bugaboo,” Offield admits.
“When you’re on your own, things take a bit longer,” Offield says. “Our intentions are good…the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
After Aloha, the Inversions intend to dive into producing their next album, a full-length.
As they produce material, Sacramento has continued to play a formative role in the band’s progress. The band has played countless times in venues across town, like Fox & Goose, The Blue Lamp, The Press Club, Marilyn’s on K and Naked Lounge. There was a time when they practiced at Sac Rehearsal studios. And in 2009 and 2010, the Inversions were nominated for a Sammie in the outstanding rock band category.
They’ve seen other successes, too. Their music was featured throughout the independent film Jake’s Corner, which played at the Sedona International Film festival in 2008.
After touring throughout the West, including the Bay Area, Portland, Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego and Tucson, Ariz., the guys have embraced an appreciation for Sacramento, the city where “you walk a little slower.”
“As you get older, you get a little more content and a little more satisfied with where you are,” Comstock says.
After all, Comstock only managed to get his hollow body Epiphone, which he uses for recording and shows, for a ridiculously generous price from a local in town.
It’s a city that is uniquely cool, Comstock concludes, and doesn’t deserve to be pissed on.
Now, Sacramento’s surroundings will serve as the background in a music video they are filming for “Aloha.” Director Jeff Weigt, who also filmed the music video for the band’s 2008 hit “Brain Dead Heart,” is currently working with the band members to capture a sense of apocalypse on camera, shooting around the nearby levy and wetlands.
Expect a lot of CGI and sweeping shots, Offield forewarns.
The video will likely be released around the same time as the album. And once the video is out, you can ask yourself what you would do if you were the last person on Earth.
The Inversions will celebrate the release of Aloha on April 14, 2012 at Blue Lamp. The show will get underway at 8:30 p.m. Aloha will be available via iTunes, but you’ll also be able to get yourself a torrent of it, if you’re so inclined, at http://torrentscan.com/, http://www.demonoid.me/, http://thepiratebay.se/ and other torrent sites.