Hailing from sunny, star-studded Los Angeles it’s no wonder the buoyant pop rock hooks of the 88 found their way to television so easily. But outside their re-occurring role on Fox’s “The O.C.,” singer Keith Slettedahl and his bandmates have made quite a name for themselves as one of many up-and-coming L.A. bands to watch. With their sophomore release, Over and Over, the 88 have managed to improve upon the already infectious melodies that littered 2003’s Kind of Light. Standout tracks like “Nobody Cares” and the album’s first single, “Hide Another Mistake,” jump pleasantly between carefree beats reminiscent of the Beatles circa 1960 and jaunty guitar riffs that embrace synthesizers in the warmest of bear hugs.
Currently, the 88 has taken to the road in support of Over and Over, playing gigs up and down the Pacific coastline and winning over new fans with each performance. Friday, the 88 take to Storke Plaza for a free noon show that is not to be missed. In conversation with Artsweek, Slettedahl discusses touring, the importance of the snazzy sports coat and his newfound obsession with watching “No Direction Home” over and over.
How do you feel about the growing tendency for bands to cross-market their music in other avenues of entertainment?
I mean, it’s important because you take what you’re given in this day and age. Think of how many bands there are and think of how many bands get played on the radio, not many. And some of it I love and some of it… We’ve been very fortunate to use TV to get our music out there. And things like iTunes and MySpace [are helping that]. People can make their own records on their computers now.
With things like iTunes and myspace.com out there now, do you think kids are being exposed to more stuff? Is it helping or hurting the music scene?
We don’t feel like we’ve ever been any part of a music “scene.” That’s the great thing about MySpace; it transcends stuff like that and it allows people who would never hear our music to listen [to the album].
Do you think that forming a band in Los Angeles makes you more cynical to the industry side of things?
I think I’d have to live somewhere else before I [answered that], to gain some perspective. We’ve all grown up here and live here [so we don’t really know anything different].
Art and a specific aesthetic definitely hold a special place to the 88. Which of you guys would be dubbed the fashion mastermind of the band?
Mastermind? I don’t think there’s a mastermind. We’ve been wearing suits for a long time, back before we even sounded anything like we sound now. I mean, we’ve changed a bit. We have nicer, tailored suits now. (Laughs.) Part of it just has to do with taking our music seriously. We don’t want to show up to a show looking like we just got out of bed and crawled on stage [and have that be OK] because we’re rock ‘n’ roll and we don’t care and… that’s just not the type of music we’re playing anyway.
Any local/semi-local bands you’re currently in love with and/or want to plug?
Richard Swift, who’s from Orange County, and there are these two brothers from San Francisco, the Moore Brothers. Those are the only two I can think of right now that are kind of unknown by a lot of people.
Who would you name as some of the band’s most notable influences?
Well me and Adam [Merrin] have known each other since high school. We’ve been influenced a lot by the Beatles, the Stones… mostly the Beatles. I’ve always listened to a lot of ’60s stuff, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, David Bowie…. I almost feel boring or clich