Times Staff Writer

For a group whose debut record is scheduled to hit the stores next Friday, the three members of Children’s Day sounded remarkably down-to-earth during an interview earlier this week.

Discussing the trio’s six-song mini-LP on Vodka Records, entitled “A Message to Pretty,” lead singer and guitarist Russell Scott said: “It’s not a be-all and end-all. It’s just our first record. It’s like pictures at the high school prom--there are mistakes, but there are also good things about it.”

Scott, drummer Pat Young and bassist Ron Russell will celebrate the release of the record, which was recorded almost a year ago, with a performance Saturday at Safari Sam’s in Huntington Beach.

But instead of being the first in a series of shows promoting the record, it will be the band’s last local performance for a few months. They’ll be going back into the studio for preliminary work on their next record, which they hope to release by the end of the year, and then will head to San Francisco for their first tour outside Southern California.

Children’s Day evolved out of Young’s and Russell’s previous band, Saint Vitus Dance, which dissolved in 1984 when one member moved out of the area. But even before Saint Vitus Dance broke up, Russell, Scott and Young frequently rehearsed together, and “we had a feeling we’d eventually end up in the same place,” said Young, who was seated on a couch with Russell and Scott in Russell’s apartment in Orange.


Although Children’s Day started out as a rather ordinary entry in Southern California’s psychedelic revival movement, the group has since developed a more powerful, focused style that is evident on the new record.

Even as a threesome, Children’s Day works up sufficient muscle in “Bad Train Ride” to elicit comparisons with the Clash, circa 1980. The musicians’ fascination with late ‘60s Los Angeles bands--including the Doors and Love--as well as with post-punk rock groups such as R.E.M. can be felt in the moody yet propulsive “Hanging Tree.”

“We feel that variety is one of our strong suits,” Scott said. “The styles and the moods change a lot, but the feeling is still there. There’s a very strong feeling of sentiment put out in all our music. That’s why I wanted to play music because it touched me when I was growing up. I really identified with certain artists and certain records, and those are the ones that are still in my record box.”

Added Russell: “One of the reasons I think people like us live so much is because so many bands’ songs sound so much the same live. “Our set has a real variety to it.”

The group is anxious to get another record out--a full album--that will reflect its current sound; difficulties organizing artwork and other technical problems delayed the release of the EP for nearly a year. “In our shows we’re exhibiting more of a rock influence, and that will be reflected in our next record,” said Scott.

Although Children’s Day has moved away from the late ‘60s sound that once permeated its music, Scott said, “we really like the ‘60s and the energy of the ‘60s.”

Russell added: “I’d like to see the attitude of the ‘60s come back. Groups like Love and the Doors could do songs like ‘A Message to Pretty’ or ‘The End,’ which were just long, rambling stories. That (‘The End’) was one of the songs of the ‘60s. But they could also do a pop song like ‘Touch Me.’ ”

Children’s Day already has one video to its credit, but it was done strictly as a college project for a friend of the band.

“As far as Children’s Day and video go, we agree with the Replacements’ idea,” Russell said. “I guess they were forced to do a video, so they just pointed a camera at a speaker that was playing one of their songs.”

Consequently, they consider it good news that MTV’s Nielsen ratings have been slipping. But combined with the instability of the local club scene in recent months, Scott said: “Everything seems to be dying. I don’t know what people are doing now. They aren’t going to clubs, and they aren’t watching videos--they’re doing something.”

Young said: “We all work in record stores and see people come in every night and check out two or three movies. That’s six hours of their life.

“We get to actually watch with our own eyes people walk into a record store and not buy independent records because they’ve never heard of them,” Scott said.

Children’s Day has been doing its part to rebuild the sense of community in local music that they feel has been missing recently by sharing bills and cross-promoting other Orange County bands such as Exobiota, Penguin Slept and DIN. It’s an approach they believe will benefit all parties.

“We made a deal with Exobiota,” Young said, “that whoever made it first would pull the other one up with them.”

LIVE ACTION: The Eurythmics will play the Pacific Amphitheatre on Aug. 9. Tickets go on sale Sunday. . . . Jack Mack & the Heart Attack will replace X at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on May 30. . . . The Tail Gators, composed of former members of the Leroi Brothers and the Fabulous Thunderbirds, will play Safari Sam’s in Huntington Beach on May 31. . . . The Untouchables will play Garfield’s Nite Spot in Huntington Beach on May 30. Former Wall of Voodoo lead singer Stan Ridgeway will be at Garfield’s on June 18 and at the Coach House on June 19. . . . The Kingston Trio will return to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on June 9.