You are about to be clued in on the best kept open secret out of Athens, Georgia. Duo Jake Ward & Marie A. Uhler are Eureka California, who are readying their third album Versus for release March 25 via HHBTM Records, presenting the premiere of their confetti raining video for “Sign My Name With An X” directed by Jordan St. Martin-Reyes & edited by Thomas Bauer. What first began as Jake’s solo project became expanded to include Marie right before attending Athens Popfest, where the two tapped into a synergistic force wielding the strength and audio force of a band 10, 12 members strong.
Keeping their DIY ethics, aesthetics, and antics properly aligned; the two and a half minute video for “Sign My Name With An X” captures the action and excitement of a Eureka California performance armed & adorned with home made decorations, buckets of confetti, and rolls of streamers. With moments of pause book-ending the start and finish of the video, Jake’s guttural guitars growl initiates the song’s rowdy riffs that trigger the descent of decorative tissue paper, the snow fall of ticker tape, and balloons to mark the occasion. With a minimalist stage set-up further illuminated by a few strings of holiday lights, Eureka California kick out an anthem of anonymity while making a name for themselves with one wondrous racket to remember them by. Jake’s chords churn like pistons in an engine block that are driven by Marie’s percussion axis that throws pails of petrol on the flaming fire that the two have started. Together the two work in tandem the way thunder and lightening co-operate together in conjunctive unison, sparking out bolts of sound perpetuated by drum kit gas tank barrel rumbles of thunder. Right after the following video debut for “Sign My Name With An X”, read our interview session with Eureka California’s Jake Ward & Marie A. Uhler.
Take us back some three albums ago and tell us how you two first formed Eureka California.
Marie: I joined the band in 2010 to fill in for one show and just never left.
Jake: The band started in 2009 as a bedroom project while I was living in Raleigh, NC. At the time I had never been to Eureka and really just thought the name sounded cool so I named the band after that. Marie joined the band about a week before we were due to play Athens Popfest.
As an Athens, Georgia based duo, what sorts of west coast, Pacific gazing connections do you two have with the golden state?
Jake: We don’t really have any to be honest. I love the LA Clippers and Pink’s Hot Dogs though.
Marie: I’ve enjoyed it immensely the times I’ve been lucky enough to visit, but we don’t have any other connection to it.
Please regale us with stories of recording Versus in Leeds with Hookworms’ MJ at Suburban Home Studios, and how you both feel MJ influenced the record.
Jake: Recording with MJ was fantastic. He was so patient and encouraging and really wanted to get the best possible performances from us. I can’t stress enough how much of a pleasure it was to record with him. I had a blast making the record but the off time we spent was just as fun. We got really into going to Morrison’s for lunch everyday and eating wraps. We watching a lot of great British reality TV—”First Dates”, “Ex on The Beach”. We recorded the record relatively quickly too, getting the whole thing done in about four and a half days.
Marie: It was really nice and fancy but he made us feel really comfortable there. We only had five days but we finished with plenty of time. It was all very efficient—friendly and comfortable, but quick to start each day. We went to a show one night but otherwise we just went for walks and then back to where we were staying and ruined Nash’s Netflix account (sorry).
How do you two go about creating that kind of big, bold sound that makes
it seem like there are more than just two of you?
Jake: Between the last record, Crunch, and this one, I started playing my
guitar out of two amps. I’ll run my guitar through a splitter and then into my guitar amp and then I’ll also run it into a bass amp with a fuzz octave pedal so it sounds nice and huge. This also let’s me have multiple guitar tones going at the same time.
Also how do you two go about developing your songs?
Jake: There are a few exceptions but usually this is the order: I’ll write out a rough skeleton of the song on my acoustic guitar (it’s a 12 string guitar but I only put 6 strings on it), then I’ll play it for Marie at practice and we’ll start working on it. From there I might go back and change parts or we’ll edit it as we’re playing together. Then we’ll start playing it live at shows and from there it may change again and then eventually we record it. And it still might change after that.
Describe for us the making of the celebratory video for “Sign My Name With An X”, from Jordan St. Martin-Reyes, and how much confetti & streamers were involved with this shoot?
Marie: We just tried to think of something we could do with as few people as possible that would be inexpensive. We spent about $40 on confetti and streamers and made some of the stuff ourselves and filmed it where I work. We only did the one take. Jordan filmed on a VHS camera and some of our friends threw all the stuff at us—they came up with certain times to do it to make sure they didn’t run out too early.
What’s wonderful right now in Athens? Feels like you all always got cool things happening.
Jake: If I’m going to be completely honest, to me personally, Athens is in a weird state right now. A lot of businesses are closing down or being moved so that we can have more student housing. More bars are opening up along with clothing boutiques which have caused other businesses to move out. I don’t know if it’s as much of a music town as it once was but it’s easy to have a sort of golden age reasoning and think that things aren’t as great as they were. There are a still a lot of great things going on though like Slopfest, Athfest is always fun and we’ve had some killer bands coming through town lately. I work at a local music venue and we just had Dwight Yoakam and Lupe Fiasco, which I thought both performers were amazing. And we’ve still got people in town making great music like Antlered Auntlord, Shehehe, Grand Vapids and Hunger Anthem.
Marie: Ever since I moved here I’ve felt like Athens was a good music scene to try anything you wanted to try in. I think it’s very easy to get involved, if you try. I just played a first show with a new band last month and it had been awhile since I did that—I used to be in a lot of bands—but it was still fun and exciting to try something new. I think that other people feel the same way about it, that it’s easy to try new things, whether it’s because they feel they have a close support network or because here’s kind of low stakes, by which I mean no one’s going to make fun of you or ban you from playing a venue if your first show doesn’t go smoothly. I think that encourages a wide variety of performers. Today, though, the weather is amazing, and I think everyone in town comes alive when it stops being so cold.
Other artists, & media that the rest of the world should know about?
Marie: We just went on a little tour and played with some really great bands — Haybaby, Cool People, Parlor Walls, Soccer Tees. We played with Feather Trade from Athens who I hadn’t seen in a long time and they were great. Bee Terror Thing and Leisure Service. Witching Waves, Cowtown, and Good Grief are all from the UK and have all put out something new recently and they are all great.
Jake: Good Grief, Martha, Cowtown, Soccer Tees, SLUGS, Cool People, Grand Vapids, On The Watchfront, Witching Waves, Kleenex Girl Wonder, T-Shirt Weather, Not Sorry, Mammoth Penguins, Evans The Death and The Spook School are all great and worth your time.