Rock & roll is best served raw. And the Golden Pelicans are the rawest there is. They've been bashing it out since 2011, putting out a consistent string of 7-inches and LPs, many self-released on drummer Rich Evans' Total Punk label, and booking several American tours and, recently, a tryst through Europe. And they're flexed for 2016: two 45s and a tour booked for August.
Evans says of their upcoming 7-inch on Third Man Records, "They asked us to come play, and I knew about their live series. ... They said we'd talk about [a release] after the show." They didn't. Then, about a month ago, the Pelicans received an email with a set of contract agreements. They handled it, and after a bit more silence across the wires came a set of four rough mixes. Recorded March 25, 2016, these are four of the band's strongest cuts, their raw power unhampered by studio perfection and spiced up with intermittent, abrasive banter.
Third Man is Jack White's record label and mega-studio based in Nashville. Of the studio, Evans jokes, "There was as many sound guys as there was us. If we'd gotten in a fight, it would have been a fair fight. They had three different boards. There were two guys up top ... one guy, we had no idea where he was, just this voice we would hear, and another guy in the booth next to us."
Vocalist Eric Grincewicz adds, "It was just like Europe. It's amazing. The hospitality there was incredible." Evans continues, "On top of the way they treat you, the place was just fucking incredible. It's a wonderland." Bassist Sammy Meneses interjects a crucial detail: "There's taxidermy." Grincewicz expands on the point: "Yeah. Dead animals everywhere." Evans takes up the thread: "Everyone that works there is dressed in black suits with yellow ties. It's very old-school. Jack White's office looks like a classic detective office – cool blinds and a brick wall on the other side. It's elevated above everything else." (We're picturing something between the Maltese Falcon and Inspector Gadget. Just a hunch.
Fans can expect the Third Man 7-inch to be available within the three to six months. Next on the Golden Pelicans' slate is a 7-inch on Wild Wax records.
"It's the guys that booked our European tour. They had us go into this really nice studio in Germany. They took us to Hamburg. Two of the tracks [recorded in that session] are on there," Evans says. "It should be out in time for our tour." The European tour occurred in August of 2015, spanning Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. The upcoming tour is a West Coast run.
"It starts in Vancouver and ends in Tijuana. So it's really a North American tour," deadpans Evans through some giggling. Mexico's a first: "We went and hung out in Mexico on tour once, but we never played there."
"The poster [for Tijuana] looks pretty ridiculous. So far I just see our name. I'm kinda thinking it's just us." They commiserate over the possibility of playing for an hour. Grincewicz explains, "You show up and they make you play for an hour. We've got an hour. I don't like doing an hour" – he drags the words out, sounding exhausted – "I like about 25 minutes." When you cut all the fat from a song, as the Pelicans do live, leaving just the muscle, it clocks in pretty brief. Some bands genuinely don't get off on hearing themselves fart.
"We're playing a festival in Seattle, Pizza Fest. Our Oakland and San Francisco shows are pretty awesome. Oakland is with Personal and the Pizzas and Midnight Snaxx. I tried to get as many Total Punk bands on to the shows as possible. Then San Francisco is with Violence Creeps and Life Stinks, who I've done records for," finishes Evans.
West Coast readership: enjoy the rash. The kids back home can catch the Pelicans at Punk on the Patio this Wednesday, June 6. If you can't make it, Evans has good news: "Oh. You can buy our shirts at Walmart. Right next to the Discharge shirts."