L.A. Band Re-Creating Own ‘Stoned Age Rock’ Sound : I Love You will give its debut performance Friday at the Metro Bay Club in Ventura.
Among those three little words that count are “Pass the spuds,” “Gimme a beer” and “Just shut up,” along with other half-witticisms from when brevity was king. At Geffen records, the important three little words come in triplicate: Guns N’ Roses, Teenage Fan Club and I Love You.
Out of Orlando, Fla., I Love You relocated to L.A. in 1987 and got signed within six months. That’s probably because they’re smarter than most bands. I Love You has toured incessantly, mostly without the benefit of label support.
Their third album, “All of Us,” is out on Geffen. I Love You, who probably should have played on Valentine’s Day, will instead make their Poinsettia City debut Friday night at the Metro Bay Club. Slam Alice will open.
The I Love You boys include singer Chris Palmer, guitarist Jeff Nolan, bassist Mike Kossler and drummer Tom Sweet. Together, they play a lot of songs about smoking illegal substances and getting in touch with those vibes that are near and dear to the groovy among us. The bio calls it “Stoned Age rock for the ‘90s.”
Palmer discussed his favorite band during a recent phone interview.
How’s “All Of Us” doing?
It’s doing OK, I guess. It just came out a few weeks ago.
Is there an L.A. scene these days?
It’s kinda scattered right now. I don’t think there’s really been a scene here since Jane’s Addiction. When we play in L.A., it’s usually for our label, and so the first three rows are industry people staring at us, and talking among themselves about how the earthquake knocked over their computers.
Do you remember your first L.A. gig?
Yeah, we played at Madame Wong’s. We had a couple of different guys in the band then and played a lot of different songs that we don’t do now. I’d try and act like Jim Morrison and be cool and sexy. But really, I’m a writer, then a performer and, last, a singer.
Do you think bands have to play L.A. to get signed?
We did, but I don’t think you have to anymore. I think a band in a smaller city needs to develop their own scene where everyone goes to see each other’s bands.
Does Florida rock?
Well, before we came out here in 1987, we used to call Orlando “Borelando” or “Snorelando.” Florida is actually very strange. There’s a lot of cover bands. We were the only band that didn’t sound like Journey.
How did your musical career get going?
Jeff and I have known each other since seventh grade, or about 16 years. We just started jamming in my garage trying to play Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult songs without freaking out the parents or the neighbors. We were just a total woodshed band, a pretty hard-core thrash band. We thought if it was fast, it was good. At first we were the Sinful Pigeons before we became I Love You. We got both names out of a single Blue Oyster Cult song.
How did I Love you get signed?
We had a song on an SST (label) compilation, a cover of “Burning Love” by Elvis. There was this SST showcase, and one of the bands, Trotsky’s Icepick, couldn’t make it, so they called us. A guy from Geffen was there and six months later, we got signed.
What’s Southern Rock and how does I Love You fit into all that?
We’re psychedelic Southern Rock, I guess, but I’m hoping for the day when music will just be called music again.
You have a song named after a “Star Trek” episode and lots of songs about getting high. Do you guys have that groovy, hippie, peace-love vibe?
There is a new spirituality going on in the ‘90s, but all the terms from the ‘60s like hippies and freaks don’t apply anymore. Someone needs to invent a new term. There’s a gigantic weed leaf on our T-shirts, but my parents don’t think I smoke anymore.
What’s the songwriting process for I Love You?
The guys will improvise something, for example, in the key of E. It’ll have maybe six parts and they’ll arrange it into a song. I write the words and use total wordplay, which probably makes no sense unless you listen to a song about 60 times.
How did you get the Chili Peppers tour?
We heard the Chili Peppers were gonna do this two-week tour and end up in Florida to play spring break. We heard about the tour first and called all the promoters and told them we’d save them money by bringing the equipment. We told them we were great friends of the Chili Peppers and would open for five hundred bucks. We didn’t even know those guys, but it worked with nine out of 10 of the promoters. So every night we kept showing up and they kept using our gear. We just totally scammed the whole thing. We’ve done eight tours and have only been a signed band on one of them.
You guys had a song on a “Married With Children” episode. Did you get to meet Christina Applegate?
Yeah, long story. Back in 1989 or 1990 when she was still underage, one of our friends used to go out with one of her girlfriends who asked us if we wanted her autograph. Instead, Christina ended up with one of our tapes and invited us to the show.
We don’t see her much anymore. Now we just go hang out with Pearl Jam because everyone hangs out with them, too. Winona Ryder and Christina are always there.
You guys used to play with Pearl Jam?
Yeah, lots of times. We were with them on their first tour when they used to play to about 20 people per show, and Eddie (Vedder) used to come up and sing about half our songs. We had to beg Geffen to let us go out with them.
Do a lot of touring, get back on the road.
* WHAT: I Love You, Slam Alice.
* WHERE: Metro Bay Club, 317 E. Main St., Ventura.
* WHEN: Friday, 9:30 p.m.
* HOW MUCH: $5.
* FYI: 652-0100.