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Thursday, March 17 • 8:00pm - 9:00pm
California Wives

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It may get a little confusing, but California Wives, Chicago's newest conglomerate of new wave pop servants to hit the colorful streets of the city's music scene, is making waves in their short existence, under a moniker that would have you expecting something much different. But given that their music has been compared to the recent revival of the new wave genre - think of New Order's synth-pop mixed with guitar riffs reminiscent of The Police - Jayson Kramer (vocals, keys, guitar), Dan Zima (vocals, bass, guitar), Joe O'Connor (drums) and Hans Michel (guitar, keys) don't mind the confusion, as long as they can help breathe new life into music genres that have been around longer than they have. Formed in 2009, after original band members, Zima, O'Connor, and Michel, realized they needed to cover new ground; Kramer brought his love of electronic music into an already talented core of musicianship that completed the foursome, and blended all of their influences into one cohesive idea. As the last addition to California Wives, Jayson Kramer proves that coming in last isn't necessarily a bad thing. A classically trained pianist from a young age, Kramer later taught himself guitar in his early teens, and it wasn't long before he began writing his own music. Crediting his high-school friends with introducing him to computer-generated music, Kramer dove head first into electronic music while attending Boston University, and though he continued to study biology, his hunger for learning more about computer music than chromosomes generated a self-made library of electronic tracks that helped shape his creative style and self-expression. As California Wives' triple-threat (vocals, guitar, keys), Kramer finds himself right where he should be. Though Dan Zima is responsible for California Wives' streaming pulse, bass wasn't his first instrument of choice. Zima began playing guitar in grade school after his mother purchased him a guitar with lessons - but he didn't take it seriously until high school - playing in cover bands, one of which included current band mate, Hans Michel. The union worked out so well, Zima stopped showing up to his other band practices and spent the weekends playing bass for the new band instead. He hasn't put it down since. As co-founder of California Wives, Zima also splits songwriting with Kramer, and continues to sing vocals on tracks like the bittersweet "Guilt." As a child of musician parents, music has always been an imprinted and natural part of Hans Michel's life. Having been influenced by everything from classical and metal to, more recently, new wave and house music, Michel likes to think of his role in the band as not just a guitarist, but as an arranger. He focuses on challenging the band's tendencies to bring forth ideas from more eclectic styles of music, helping to make each song better than the last. At the same time, he always tries to make sure the songs maintain the band's focus and identity. As the hardest hitting drummer in the Midwest, Joe O'Connor has never been able to pick up anything else - and he's just fine with that. In high school, O'Connor spent most of his time obsessed with bands like AC/DC, The Clash, and newer artists like Andrew WK and the Hives. These bands would later go on to personify his loud and fast approach to rock and roll. In his teenage and college years, he branched out into indie mainstays like Wilco, Ted Leo, The Flaming Lips and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In the past few years, he - like the rest of the band - has spent more time listening to musicians who utilize electronics, especially New Order. O'Connor tries to split the difference between the various types of music he's loved his whole life, by playing beats appropriate for new wave songs, with enough volume to stick with the loud and energetic crowd. Beginning as a "side project," the natural chemistry between this unit propelled California Wives to the top of their priorities. Committed to exploring their combined musical backgrounds, the childhood pals continue to mix and match their musical influences as they create a catalog of original tracks that has thus far reawakened a genre with their exciting take on new wave pop. Not to be forgotten in the band's history, the recording process has always been an integral part of California Wives. The band's early basement recordings followed quickly after each writing session; this experience with recording would allow the band to release two early EPs completed entirely on their own. The group also self-recorded the synth-tastic "Twenty Three," which is one of band's hottest single to date. As the band moved forward, the decision was finally made to work with the finest studios and producers that Chicago had to offer. After four hard months of recording, mixing, and mastering, California Wives released their much anticipated EP, Affair, in September 2010, which was recorded at Gravity Studios, and mixed at Chicago's famed Engine Music Studios (whose artists include Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Iron and Wine). Affair displays California Wives' all-around musical dexterity that boasts flanking guitar and glimmering keys, with ever-so-clever lyricism, in tracks "Blood Red Youth,' 'Guilt," 'Photolights," "Purple," and a brand new version of "Twenty Three." And with the Affair EP finally in the hands of the public, it seems that the newest blend of new wave pop has been striking the right chords. With recent write ups in My Old Kentucky Blog, The Chicago Reader, AOL Spinner, radio exposure on Chicago mainstay WXRT, a recording session at the illustrious Daytrotter Sessions, and the addition to Tomorrow Never Knows music festival 2011, California Wives are seeing the hard work pay off. But even with some new found success, California Wives continues to push the creative process even further. In the upcoming months, California Wives will be recording a new single to debut in the spring months and will continue to hit the road to establish solid followings in Midwestern cities, such as St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. California Wives are also planning a trip south to play at one of the largest music festivals in the US, South by Southwest, where they've been invited to play in Billboard's Official showcase. With such a hard work ethic, California Wives are proving to themselves and their audience that this newest formula of indie pop is here to stay. California Wives tour dates: 3/17- Billboard.com Official SXSW Showcase @ Buffalo Billiards, Austin TX

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California Wives


Thursday March 17, 2011 8:00pm - 9:00pm CDT
Billboard Bungalow @ Buffalo Billiards

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