THE EMBROOKS as part of Kaleidoscope with DJs Christian Hamilton, FLIPPED OUT, GAVEN DIANDA and David Brock at Rancho Relaxo (300 College), Saturday (June 1), 9 pm. $6. 416-920-0366. email@example.com
The Embrooks have every right to be pissed off. For years, the snappy-dressing freakbeat trio have been bashing around Britain with their own slightly psychedelicized version of fuzzed-up UK garage rock, and everyone shrugs.Then suddenly the White Stripes pop up from Detroit, pushing a similar 60s throwback sound, and they're hailed as the saviours of all things rock 'n' roll. While Brit music mags try to top each other with more cloying cover features, the Embrooks rate not so much as a thumbnail photo in the music listings. Strange.
The White Stripes probably wouldn't even have come up in conversation had I not asked for the Embrooks' take on the puzzling lack of UK press coverage they've received at a time when the British appetite for garage-y rock seems insatiable.
They've long since resigned themselves to toiling in obscurity at home even though they're celebrated within the scooter scene and regularly headline key festivals like the Mod Chicago Weekender (www.modchicago.com) running this year June 6 to 8.
"I think being English is part of our appeal in the States," surmises Embrooks bassist Mole from his seaside home outside Dover. "That and the fact that there aren't many U.S. groups playing in a freakbeat style.
"Here, most people are happy with a diluted version of a style of music, and we tend to be fairly purist in our approach. I think they see our clothes and groan, "Oh, it's retro, why bother?' If we tried to be more contemporary we'd probably do a lot better, but I can't see it happening, because it's against everything this band stands for."
If they really wanted to be popular they'd also be choosing less obscure songs to cover than Children Of Tomorrow by Leviathan precursor group the Mike Stuart Span. They've just done a scorching version of it for their forthcoming Back In My Mind EP that shows them leaving behind freakbeat and adopting a heavier, pounding attack that's only one haberdashery removed from progressive rock. So far, there have been no elf sightings.
"We've moved on from that 66 freakbeat style and we're now going for more of a mod-psych crossover thing. It's not quite full-blown psychedelia -- there's still that basic R&B element present -- but it's definitely well beyond straightforward beat. And, yeah, it is a bit heavier, too.
"There really aren't any labels in the UK that would be even vaguely interested in what we're doing now. I'd like to get a copy of the new EP to Alan McGee at Poptones just to hear what he thinks, but we'll probably have a better chance of finding a label in the U.S."
A U.S. label deal would require the band members to book more time off work for overseas touring, which could be difficult coordinating since they all hold down full-time jobs. There's no telling when the AIDS research team with which guitarist Alessandro Cozzi-Lepri (formerly of Head and the Hares) works will need him to jet to a crucial conference.
"We had this incredible tour of Japan scheduled, and then, just a few days before we were supposed to leave, Alessandro called to say he couldn't make it. He was, like, "I'm sorry, I forgot I had to go to Monte Carlo to present a paper.'
"Since we cancelled out of those shows at the last minute, we haven't heard a thing from that Japanese promoter. We suspect he may have had no choice but to do himself in because of the shame it brought to his family name."firstname.lastname@example.org