Just because their first major hit was a rollicking romp of a tune about a Mexico bank robbery doesn’t mean The Refreshments aren’t serious songwriters.
And just because they hit the stage with fury and fun on their minds doesn’t mean they aren’t no-nonsense when it comes to their musicianship.
“For us, we never drew a line between being a band that writes serious music and a band that doesn’t take things seriously,” says bassist Buddy Edwards. “We never even thought twice about it.”
A quick look at The Refreshments new album “The Bottle & Fresh Horses” (Mercury) shows that this Arizona foursome can deftly juggle the dual role of charming revelers and inward-looking songsmiths.
From whiskey-soaked rockers set in bars and gambling joints to lovelorn ditties roamed by solitary souls, the album moves the band to a new, more introspective place.
Tonight they bring their brand of renegade pop to a sold-out show at Outback Jack’s.
The Refreshments formed in the Tempe, Ariz., music scene four years ago, following in the steps of their hometown heroes The Gin Blossoms.
“We got together, we drank a 12-pack of beer and had some fun and had some laughs and jammed,” Edwards says. He’s joined by singer/ guitarist Roger Clyne, guitarist Brian Blush and drummer P.H. Naffah.
“We were a little bit disenchanted with the way music was going; everything seemed to be overwhelmingly negative. So, our intent was to make music that was essentially fun before anything else.”
Their major label debut “Fizzy, Fuzzy, Big & Buzzy” did just that, spawning the radio hit “Banditos,” a catchy pop number wrapped in irreverent lines like “I got the pistol, so I get the pesos/Yeah, that seems fair.”
Their second album continues their raucous rock ‘n’ roll tradition as well as their love affair with the wildness of Mexico. The tune “Wanted” appears almost as a sequel to “Banditos.”
“It’s just kind of a liberating feeling to cross the border from the U.S. to Mexico and I think that comes across in a lot of our music,” Edwards says. “It seems rather lawless and you feel just kind of out there in the open and nobody’s gonna mess with ya and if they do they won’t find your body for about six months anyway.”
Still, the band has taken this album for a decidedly more mature turn.
“I think if there was one kind of motivating factor behind it, it’s that most people in the country know us as the band that does ‘Banditos.’ We felt like that wasn’t the whole of what our band was capable of.”
“Sin Nombre” nimbly moves among the mournful moods as it waxes philosophical: “When the candle is burning down and when midnight comes around/you know the best that we can hope for is to be laughing when we finally hit the ground.”
Penned by guitarist Blush during a rough time on the road away from his fiance, “Good Year,” sports signature-biting lines like “It’s been a good year for bad taste or a bad year for good taste.”
(Note: All ended happily between the now-married couple.)
Edwards says the maturation process was only natural when you “go from being a bunch of guys hanging out in a college town and having a few beers on the weekend and playing clubs to a band out there on the road for 15 months, leaving your lives and your families and your girlfriends behind.”
Despite their serious-minded turn, The Refreshments certainly haven’t forgotten how to play for fun.
Their goal when they perform tonight?
“Pretty much to turn the place upside down,” Edwards says with a more than hint of glee in his voice. “We always go out on stage with the intent of just having a blast.”
The show starts at 9 tonight with the Sparklers opening and Geffen recording artist Garrison Starr playing the middle slot.
Speaking of jive
Take your ‘70s funk and your ‘90s sense of daring - take a deep breath of jazz and inhale the free spirit of a good free jam.
This is the sound of the Jive Talkin’ Robots, a five-man band from Eugene, Ore., that opens for BeeCraft tonight at Ichabod’s North.
Spare on lyrics and heavy on instrumental intricacies, theirs are lucid grooves that luxuriate in the squirrel and swerve of hip-wiggling rhythms.
Like Spokane’s BeeCraft, the Robots take a few cues from the likes of Medeski Martin and Wood and then add their own sonic maneuvers.
“I think the sound is definitely based in a lot of ‘70s funk music and also a lot of the ‘90s mentality of pulling in a lot of different influences - both ethnic and different American styles,” says Robots guitarist Gabe Johnson.
Formed two years ago, the Robots have recently been through some serious retooling. They lost their bassist to carpel tunnel syndrome. Sean Foote stepped in. They also added sax man Joe Cunningham, who spent the summer playing and touring with Sponge on the R.O.A.R. Tour.
“The band’s sound is changing a lot right now,” Johnson says. “It’s becoming more articulated by far - all the arrangements, the songs, the writing, the melodies, the grooves. There’s more detail in them; it’s not impressionist, it’s realist.
The band is also adding more vocals while maintaining their jazz roots. “We’re trying to expand the breadth of the emotions in the music,” Johnson says.
The Robots plan to record the followup to their debut album “J.T. Rex” in December and January, to be released next year.
Jive Talkin’ Robots start the show at Ichabod’s North at 9 tonight. BeeCraft follows. Cover is $5.
Look for a seven-song tape due out from BeeCraft in about a month.
A little somethin’ for the kids
Ska, techno, surf - just the thing for a Saturday evening.
Spokane’s own ska band Petting Zulu headlines a show at Area 51 Saturday night. They’re joined by one-man techno wizard known as Pajamazon. He sings, he plays the drums and he works the keyboards into a trippy beat. The Fourth Kind, a young Spokane surf band, opens the evening.
Cover is $5 and the fun begins at 8 p.m.
Keep your eyes open for a six-song EP due out from Petting Zulu in January.
Music at Fast Eddies
Starting tonight, another venue will begin offering live music on the weekends.
Fast Eddies, located at 1 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., plans to bring out the bands every Friday and Saturday night. Blues and classic rock will be the primary genre.
This weekend catch a rockin’ blues quartet from Spokane called the Laffin Bones Blues Band. Show starts at 9 p.m. both tonight and Saturday. Cover is $2.
Treat or trick?
The crew here at Nightwatch is still looking for the best Halloween parties in the Inland Northwest. So, if you own/manage a club and you’re throwing a bash, drop us a note in the mail or fax machine - and please do it by Oct. 24.
Let us know if you’re planning on a costume party (we’ll be sure to dress up), if you’ve got bands or other entertainment (we like to be amused), and how about beer/drink specials (because even the big kids need a treat.)
Oh yeah, and how much will this party cost us to get in the door?
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos
MEMO: Send nightclub news to Winda Benedetti at The Spokesman-Review, 999 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201 or fax it to (509) 459-5098. She can be reached by phone at (509) 459-5089 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline for Friday publication is the previous Friday.