Electric Sister gets its influences from classic, heavy and punk rock, its spirit from the gods and goddesses of old, its power from everything Tesla invented. The Oakland, CA-based band spent more than a year earning a reputation for live shows that were consistently unpredictable and memorable. Up and down the coast, the band was tearing up club stages and ear-banging often unsuspecting audiences into submission; no matter the venue or the bill, Electric Sister was the band people would be talking about.
Last summer, the band self-financed a debut full-length record, The Lost Art Of Rock & Roll, and released it in October. The reviews were excellent, noting the weighty songwriting, skilled performances, and exceptional vocals. The first two singles, the title track and I Want It All, have been on radio and the music videos have amassed thousands and thousands of views. This summer, it all comes full circle as Electric Sister gets back on the road to entertain its growing national (and international) fan base.
And to that end, there is now shared property. “We just bought our own van, so no more rentals!” said guitarist Jason Lucero. For a band that has been proudly and determinedly DIY, financial independence has been both a beauty and a challenge. The beauty comes from the creative freedom and ability to make deliberate choices. But when it comes down to decisions like buy vs. rent, and how to get a record made, “the only challenge was financial. That was the biggest worry, figuring out how to pay for the recording to work with a decent producer and engineer, and stay in L.A. for an extended period of time to make a record,” added Lucero. “We’re strong and confident in our abilities, and with studios, it gives us a more comfortable environment to bring that across. We all decided to pull our money together to get it done.” But eventually, guitarist Nick Hernandez had to pawn two of his guitars. “We pulled together as a team, and as stressful as it was, those were the sacrifices being made. Anytime you ask someone to sacrifice an instrument that’s a pretty big call, and he didn’t hesitate. Whatever it took is what we did.”
The album is highly regarded critically and an exceptional calling card for Electric Sister, but were the sacrifices worth it? “I think we put out a great album. It has been received really well. The album is gonna bring him some better gems as guitars, maybe some endorsements.”
Getting Electric Sister in front of potential business partners has required frequent trips down the 5 to Los Angeles. The band has been in the City of Angels regularly for more than a year, and the city’s influence appears throughout The Lost Art Of Rock & Roll. Vocalist Thadeus Gonzalez explained, “When we play out of town in Los Angeles repetitively, we start to enjoy ourselves more, and see the vibrance of the city, and how different it is from Oakland. It rubbed off on our writing. It’s an awesome place to play. Maybe one day when we’re living in L.A. we can start writing songs about Oakland.”
For me personally, Hollywood has always been one of those places I wanted to be musically.
For Lucero, it’s the history. “For me personally, Hollywood has always been one of those places I wanted to be musically. From my first road trip there at eighteen, and from touring and playing there with different bands, I fell in love with it. I love it. Soaking up the atmosphere translated to The Lost Art, those lyrics came really easy.” Bass player Scott Reategui Richards follows that line of thinking. “We come from the pre-internet age, pre-instant gratification. We were left with liner notes, tape sleeves, and album covers, cultivating our imaginations about what our heroes were like, landing in Hollywood. Being there makes that a realism. This band is writing from that mystique.”
Appreciation for the musical vibe in the southern part of the state has not taken a thing away from serious hometown Oakland pride. Electric Sister shows in the Bay area are epic, so much so that they were recently tapped to support Black Label Society at the famed Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. The video for I Want It All was shot entirely in Oakland, featuring sites that are prominent to the city and endeared by the band. On a shoestring budget, the band self-produced the video at night after work, and got by on uber-creativity and a little help from some friends. “It was a blast! We had the cop car going, and the bucket…” recalled drummer Eddie Colmenares. The video is dark and mythic, part performance and part conceptual, based on the idea of capturing the rock and roll spirit of each of the band members. It incorporates a classic Impala (“Sophia”) and authentic Latin Day of the Dead masks as well as the camera and storycrafting skills of everyone in the band.
Recently, Electric Sister was asked to contribute tracks to two all-star tribute albums. The first, Take Your Whiskey Home (a tribute to Van Halen) releases July 10 on Versailles Records and features Jake E. Lee, Jimmy Crespo, Stephen Pearcy, Frankie Banali, and Vinnie Appice. Electric Sister took on Drop Dead Legs. The second, a tribute to Iron Maiden, is out later in the year. Recalls Richards, “We didn’t get caught up in trying to reproduce the song exactly like the original band did it. We started recording and engineering ourselves, and it blossomed organically.” Adds Lucero, “We put a nice signature to the endings of both of those recordings. You’ll know it’s an Electric Sister recording.”
Electric Sister has been called, more than once, the new face of American rock and roll. With fierce creative independence, combined with unshakeable reverence to those that came before, rock and roll is in good hands with this band.