Today’s Feature, October 24th & 25th: The Friendly Indians

October 28, 2007 at 3:02 am (Today's Feature)

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For more than 15 years, The Friendly Indians have been chartering an inimitable course through sunny Southern California. The OC, a place most people only see through the eyes of MTV may not seem like the proper fit for a bunch of real musicians who are as funny as they are musically talented, but truth be told – the original band actually formed while working at a true landmark within beach covered Cali – Disneyland.

Many stars quickly rise and fade around the OC, but The Friendly Indians have played all over Orange County and Southern California for years while maintaining an ever-expanding fan base as well as the praise of music savvy concert goers who will tell there is nothing quite like a live Indians show. Simply put, the band excels on an audience – they have that knack for connecting with a crowd, realizing just how to reach out to everyone in attendance.

You may be more familiar with the Friendly Indians than you realize – their tune “I Know You Know,” is the current theme song for the hit television show, “Psych.” It’s brought them exposure they more than deserve, and they’re about to expand upon it. Their new album will include a full length version of their popular melody; a collection they hope will match the success of their current record – the aptly named “Pure Genius.” Check out the band that “has a penchant for novelty songs along with the more serious stuff,” and get into their XXQ’s.XXQs: The Friendly Indians

Pen’s Eye View (PEV): How and when did the Friendly Indians first form as a band?
Friendly Indians (FI): The Friendly Indians first formed as a band in 1991.

PEV: Growing up, what kind of music were you listening to?

FI: All kinds – many of the Friendly Indians’ songs reflect the band members’ diverse influences: Cheap Trick, the Beatles, REM, Jellyfish, The Police, the Barenaked Ladies, the Replacements, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers and about a billion other bands of all kinds.

PEV: When and where was the first Friendly Indians performance? Tell us about how it went?

FI: The Friendly Indians first performance was at a Lion’s Club Hall in Stanton, CA for about 30 people and ended with the lead guitarist (that would be me) walking off stage when the rest of the band refused to stop playing the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?

PEV: What is like the first time that The Friendly Indians all stepped into a recording studio for the first time? What was going through your heads?

FI: Good question – our first trip into a professional recording studio came as a result of a relationship we had with a guy who worked there. He would slide us in at off hours whenever he could and it was there that we cut our first cassette demo. After spending years with our four track machines, it was mind-blowing to be somewhere with an engineer and mixing board. We did what every red blooded studio neophyte did – we totally overproduced our four song demo! We had 36 tracks and we were going to use every one. Naturally, we loved the product, and being in the studio is always a great creative shot in the arm. We wrote songs for our next demo in those sessions. All told, the Friendly Indians have cut 3 cassette demos, 2 CDs and a 5 song EP.

PEV: Based out of Southern California, what is the So-Cal music scene like and how has it changed since you first started?

FI: We’re from Orange County, which is the spawning ground of a ton of great bands, and while most of the clubs we played at throughout the 90s are closed now, we had a blast doing it, often because we were playing in the same places bands like the Offspring and No Doubt had played not long before. As for the scene, it hasn’t changed – being in a band then was not unlike being in a band now: you cherish your practice space, you work hard on tunes after getting off your day job. You scratch your car loading gear into it. You hustle your friends to come to shows. You always try to make money, but rarely do.

PEV: What is your take on today’s global music scene?

FI: Overrated. It’s true that the internet, file sharing, and internet radio really presents unprecedented exposure opportunities for bands – however, it hasn’t made anyone more talented. In other words, more bands just means more mediocre bands.

PEV: What kind of atmosphere, venue wise, do you prefer to play; large, small, popular, etc?

FI: Small venues are the best. We like a place where we can stretch out and improvise, and jam, and talk between songs, and invite people onstage.

PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you
surround yourselves in?

FI: We normally write alone, not as a band. One of us will come to a rehearsal with some kind of composition (spare parts, we call them) and then we’ll beat it out until it becomes something.

PEV: Your debut, GREETINGS…FROM LAKE DOLORES, and the more recent PURE GENIUS were huge hits. How is the music different on each album?

FI: We’re proud of both records. DOLORES is the first CD we ever cut, and we pulled out all the stops on it. It’s very crunchy compared to our second release, which sports a great diversity of genres and influences – PURE GENIUS has a song in Spanish, a ballad, and a bunch of mid tempo rockers. The albums are different, sure, but they’re both unmistakably us. Our set lists swell with cuts from both records. After all this time, we still love playing them.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Friendly Indians show?

FI: Can’t say, because the band never knows what to expect – this is why so many of our fans have been fans for so many years. We like to keep it spontaneous: we play a lot of impromptu songs, talk a lot between sets, and regularly change up the tempos and arrangements of our tunes. It keeps things fresh for us and the fans.

PEV: The Friendly Indians did the theme to USA’s Psych. How did that come about and how has that helped your careers?

FI: PSYCH has given us a tremendous amount of exposure, and it’s been great. People from all over the country have visited our websites, and many have told us how much they like the theme song, and that’s what it’s all about, right? Writing a song, and getting it out there. It’s been incredible.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about The Friendly Indians?

FI: The four original members of the band met while working at Disneyland.

PEV: When you are not performing or touring, what can we find The Friendly Indians doing in their spare time?
FI: In our spare time, we think about performing. It’s what we love to do.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band out today that you think we should all be listening to?

FI: Rogue Wave is a great band. So are the Shins.

PEV: What is currently in your CD player now?

FI: Lyle Lovett “It’s not big, it’s large.”

PEV: In one word, what best describes The Friendly Indians?

FI: Hapless.

PEV: So, what is next for The Friendly Indians?

FI: The band is planning on going into the studio to cut their third full-length CD, including a complete version of “I Know You Know,” the PSYCH theme song!

For more information on The Friendly Indians, check out www.friendlyindians.com

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