Thumb sucking, microphone stand humping and rip-roaring rock ‘n’ roll: These are all staples of a live show by the Pattern, Lookout! Records’ purveyors of punk rock boogie-woogie. The Oakland, Calif., quintet is bringing their raucous rock show down south this weekend for performances at the Glass House in Pomona tonight and at Spaceland in Los Angeles on Saturday. During the band’s last jaunt to Southern California, Artsweek chatted up lead singer (and Lookout! Records president) Chris Appelgren and guitarist Andy Asp about their live show, life in Oakland and being swept up in garage rock mania.
Despite being an assemblage of musicians from notable East Bay punk bands including the Pee Chees, St. James Infirmary and Nuisance, the members of the Pattern scoff at the idea of being called a supergroup. “We’re super people, we’ve got a super attitude, but we’re not really a supergroup,” Appelgren said with a modest smile. “We’re just a bunch of friends, and we were at a bar in Oakland and we came up with the idea of playing this festive rock ‘n’ roll. Three weeks later, we played our first show.”
Much like the Strokes and the White Stripes display heaps of civic pride for New York City and Detroit, the Pattern is proud to claim Oakland as its hometown. “Yeah, we represent Oakland,” Asp said. “But that’s kind of because Oakland needs all the boosting it can get.”
“It’s a rundown city,” Appelgren added. “It’s broken, but beautiful. There’s a rich history of East Bay music outside of punk rock that people often fail to recognize.” Appelgren and Asp proceeded to rattle off a list of distinguished East Bay musicians that included Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone, Metallica, En Vogue, Tupac Shakur, Tony! Toni! Tone! and Primus. “It’s a rich heritage that we’re proud to be a part of,” Asp said. “But as much as we represent Oakland, I think we represent all of California, as well.”
After spending the last two years touring California and beyond in support of their highly-acclaimed EP Immediately and LP Real Feelness, the Pattern has gained a reputation for putting on a chaotic, yet blazing live show.
“The only thing we’re trying to do right now is tame the bull,” Asp said. “Lately, we’ve kind of been like a bull in a china shop, and that’s worked and got us to where we are. But we’d like to rein it in and tone down the shit falling over and chaos of the live show.”
Despite Appelgren’s penchant for sucking his thumb and humping the microphone stand onstage, the Pattern contends that its raw rock attitude is mostly tongue-in-cheek.
“It’s not like we’re throwing a Molotov cocktail with a dozen dead roses, or lighting a cigarette with a switchblade,” Asp said. “I’ve never hurt a hotel room, and I never would. But I do know that we have fun, and I’d like to think that on any given night there’s people having fun with us. If that’s the only thing that’s taken away from the show, then, in this day and age, that’s substantial.”
The Pattern’s mission to create chaotic, danceable punk in the name of fun is a refreshing change in the world of garage rock posturing. With the Strokes lying dormant and the garage door slowly shutting on the gimmicks of the Hives and the White Stripes, the Pattern is emerging as one of the few real-deal, no-frills bands on the modern rock scene.