ABOUT THE 88
by Natalie Nichols
1. The 88 is a throwback/modern rock act that mines the past like the
2. Listening to the band’s debut album, Kind of Light, is like
3. The 88’s songs are written by singer-guitarist Keith Slettedahl.
4. He went to Calabasas High School with keyboardist-guitarist-producer
5. With drummer Mark Vasapolli and bassist Carlos Torres, they formed
6. When multi-instrumentalist Brandon Jay joined up, they became the
7. The band’s name comes from a French Kicks song.
8. They thought the title was about a piano (88 keys), but it actually
9. (It’s also the speed that Doc had to reach in Back to the Future:
10. Their clever, odd-yet-melodic tunes are too often compared to the
11. But they evoke multitudes: Beatles, T. Rex, Bowie, XTC, Elliott Smith,
12. So give up playing spot-the-influence and just groove on their quirky
13. “Elbow Blues” is a standout tune: propulsive melody,
14. Hollywood concurs. A video of the song will play on a TV in Get Shorty
15. In fact, the 88 is all over TV and movies these days.
16. “How Good It Can Be” was in an episode of The O.C., and
17. “They played it at the very beginning of the show,” reports
18. That song was also in One Tree Hill.
19. “Coming Home” will be in the Ben Affleck flick Surviving
20. “It’s always weird,” says Slettedahl. “‘No
21. Danny Benair, of music marketing company Natural Energy Lab, hooked
22. (Benair used to be in L.A. psych-pop act the Three O’Clock.)
23. The 88 has also charmed NPR, which included “Kind of Light”
24. And the players are charming indeed in the spiffy suits they always
25. “It makes us look like a band,” Slettedahl says. “Otherwise,
26. Plus, it’s transformational: “You know how Gene Simmons
27. They took their suits with them to Austin for South by Southwest
28. They played, like, two gigs a day there. And about a half-dozen shows
29. Keith and his girlfriend learned to silkscreen so they could make
30. The farthest from home they’ve played is Washington, D.C.,
31. “Seeing ourselves on a giant video screen was very trippy,”
32. Even trippier, the concert was in a park next to the White House.
33. Did W. attend? “Not that I could tell,” says Slettedahl.
34. But they have had famous fans, including Kiefer “24”
35. In fact, they backed Smith on a couple of his gigs last year.
36. Slettedahl had a weird dream before one show, involving a restaurant,
37. Not surprisingly, then, the 88 was among the saddened artists playing
38. They did “Stupidity Tries,” “Can’t Make a
39. “It was just sad,” says Slettedahl, who is friendly with
40. They also played some Johnny Cash tunes during the Getty’s
41. And they also are all members of wacky Silver Lake kids’ group
42. Somehow, the 88’s still managing to write new tunes for another
43. In the meantime, KCRW (89.9 FM) and Indie 103 (103.1 FM) are still
© 2003 Southland Publishing,
by Natalie Nichols
|The 88, Kind of Light (EMK). Local lads make clever, melodic rock that’s oft-compared
to the Kinks but actually sounds very, very now. Yay for “Elbow Blues”!