Up-and-coming electro-infused rockers chat with The Chronicle

By HermineBloom

Since January of this year, the four members of the unsigned, indie-electro band, California Wives, have had New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” echoing in their ears along with many of New Order’s other dance-y, electronic hits from the ’80s. As a result, the quality of California Wives’ sound can only be described as shimmering, synth-heavy dance pop with some indie-rock vocals and guitar parts. Think Broken Social Scene meets New Order with definite M83 moments.

California Wives comprises Joe O’Connor on drums, Hans Michel on guitar and keyboard, Dan Zima with lead vocals and guitar and Jayson Kramer with vocals, keys, programming and guitars. Playing shows all over the Midwest and recording their newest No. 8 EP, Chicago-based California Wives are currently rehearsing for their up-coming gig at Cole’s, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Nov. 13.

The Chronicle talked to the members of California Wives to get a better idea of how they met, stories from touring around the Midwest and the music they’ve been producing as of late.

The Chronicle: How did you meet and ultimately form California Wives?

Joe O’Connor: Dan and Hans and I had been in a band that we did off-and-on through college that we started in high school. The three of us really started to get into dance-y tracks and new-wave stuff. I think that was the instance where we were all over New Order for about two months. This was going some place but we needed a fourth member. We needed somebody who could actually play the keys and not just sort of make noise on them.

Hans Michel: When our old band fell apart due to personal issues with our former singer, we formed a band with Jay and it went in a completely different direction because we were kind of sick of what we’d been doing for the past six years.

The Chronicle: What funny or interesting stories can you share about traveling with the band?

HM: I would say our best stories come from the couple of times we actually took the show on the road—I have a propensity for sleeping in weird places.

JK: Yeah [laughs].

HM: I fell asleep in the car in Omaha, which was a terrible idea because it meant that I spent at least 24 hours in a car. One of the other times we were out, I fell asleep on the floor next to the bed.

JO: You fell asleep on the couch and then when I woke up in the morning, you were on the floor.

HM: How? I don’t know. Hipsters sleep where they want.

[Everybody laughs]

JK: I think also because we record, we mix, we produce and we master all the recordings ourselves—everything that you hear, we’ve done ourselves without a studio. We definitely spend a lot of time together.

The Chronicle: What have you been working on recently?

JK: We just recorded that EP, the No. 8 EP. We had some songs that we really wanted to record that didn’t make it onto [that] EP for whatever reason. We put them on a CD single. “Twenty Three” would be that single. You feel [like] you’re sitting on something really exciting and you want to put it out there. Since we know how to record ourselves, we can fortunately do that.

The Chronicle: Does anyone else feel like the song “Twenty Three” sounds a lot like Broken Social Scene’s “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”?

JK: Well, that’s awesome. We were talking about that the other day. That repetition is something that’s found in that song that you mentioned. I think it’s something that we really like to work with. It’s pretty present in a lot of the recordings we like. New Order does that quite a bit. I think repetition, if it’s done well, [is] really effective.

To hear more California Wives music visit, MySpace.com/CaliforniaWives. California Wives is playing at Cole’s, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Nov. 13 at 9 p.m.