An Interview with My Band Crush: California Wives

Posted by    |    September 21st, 2012 at 4:16 pm

California Wives, Stars, and Diamond Rings will play at the Granada October 13, 2012.

Usually when I go to a show or interview a new band I find them on Spotify and listen to them for a good hour or 2. That’s if I like them. When the relationship goes beyond like, their songs continue to dominate my Spotify in my car, on the treadmill, and the ultimate of all cherished playlist playings: while I’m getting ready to go out. My relationship with California Wives‘ first album, Art History, quickly escalated from like to love so clearly I was thrilled to get to ask their front man, piano man, guitar man Jayson Kramer a few questions before their show in Dallas.


You were on track to go to med school. When was the moment you knew that you wanted to completely change the path you were on?

I distinctly remember the moment when I first thought to myself “this is not what I want to be doing.” I had just finished my MCAT…meaning I had just walked out of the building after taking the exam…and I remember feeling absolutely no enthusiasm to pursue that career anymore. For the first time in a long while, I had no exams to study for and no internships to attend. I felt no pressure to compete for spots in medical school. I could actually think about what I was doing for the first time in a long while and everything inside myself was telling me that this wasn’t the right thing to do. I’m glad I listened to myself. I think a lot of people feel the same things I was feeling that day, but for whatever reason…maybe social pressures, family pressures, economic pressures, whatever…they just keep going down that path. That can’t be good for you.


You just released your first LP, Art History. What’s the most exciting part about putting out that first album?

From the moment we came together, we’ve been talking about making that all-important debut record. Obviously we had a lot of searching to do before we felt ready to get into something like that. We tried a lot of different ideas and explored with a few things until we found a sound we really loved. It was a pretty long and emotional journey. I can definitely feel all of that when I listen to this record. I think what’s most exciting for me is that we kept working on something we believed in and this record is a representation of all that work. We are very proud of this record and are very happy that we can finally share these songs with people.


What was it like seeing your video for ‘Purple’ during the MTV VMA’s? 

It was a pretty surreal experience. We kind of talked ourselves into thinking it wasn’t going to be a big deal. But when we saw the ad go on after a Nicki Minaj commercial, I think we were all shocked. It’s a weird to think that your music is being witnessed by that many people at one time. For so long, we were just a local Chicago band trying to figure out the foundation of our music. There’s still a really long way to go to be the band we aspire to be, but that felt like a pretty large step in the right direction.


In 2 words, how would you describe your music?

California Wives! It’s really tough to describe our music in only two words. I think the blend of influences we’ve come up with is unique, so we’re hoping that one day when people talk about us, they can use our name as the adjective….”you know, it’s just California Wives!”


How do you prepare to go on tour? 

Rehearsing has never felt like a chore for us. It’s actually a pretty normal part of our lives. So in that regard, we don’t do anything differently. I usually wait until the last second to decide what I actually need to bring with me. I waited until the day before to start planning out what I needed for this tour. A few shirts, a few pairs of pants, some books, some music, skateboards…that’s all you really need.


What artists have influenced you most as a group? 

We’ve always loved 80′s new wave groups, but we also love those loud guitars from the 90′s. If I absolutely had to pick only a few bands that pushed California Wives down this road, I would probably pick New Order, The Stone Roses, and maybe the Smashing Pumpkins. I feel like I’m selling us short by just using those three bands because some people will dig for only those influences in our songs. It’s quite the blend of influences, so what fascinates us is what people pull out of the music on their own. That’s always interesting.


I’m a huge New Order fan, and obviously you are too. How did it feel to find out Peter Hook wanted you to open for his headlining set at Chicago’s Metro Cabaret, especially since that’s where y’all are from?

It was a true honor to open for Peter Hook in Chicago. The greatest part of the whole experience was how nice he was to us when we met him. He was very pleasant and he seemed like a very down-to-earth guy. We did get the chance to watch him sound check and heard one of our favorite New Order songs (“Dreams Never End”). That was pretty incredible. It was also our first time playing the Metro, which is a venue that I’ve been going to for years now. I remember seeing shows there as a kid and wondering if I would ever get to play that stage. It was a pretty special night for us.


Are you excited to come to Dallas?

Very much so! The last time we played SXSW was the first time we had ever been to Texas. I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to get back. The food…so good! And the people…so nice!


Caitlin Clark is the Arts & Entertainment and Style Writer and Social Media Director for YouPlusDallas. Follow her on Twitter at @caitlinclark

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