They’re always looking out for their fans, unexpectedly self-conscious, and total tea snobs. This is what we learned about local rock outfit The Hundred Days in 90 minutes before the now East Bay (formerly San Francisco) musicians headlined a show at Bottom of the Hill this past Saturday to celebrate their upcoming (and currently untitled) EP.
With help from Eagle Wolf Snake and Clockwise, the medium-sized crowd was moving with vigor before long. Heavy bass and strong percussion throughout the night set the groove for patrons to dance. Dressed formally with bow ties, Eagle Wolf Snake are the band you hire for your wedding; meanwhile, Andy Clockwise was a regular Jack Black in School of Rock, jumping readily and frequently into the crowd.
Clockwise played a tough act to follow, but The Hundred Days absolutely nailed it several songs in with “Hot Stuff,” a catchy tune from their previous EP. Vocalist Jon Smith apologized before the encore for losing his voice (though it didn’t sound like it at all) and we concluded that if one thing has kept the band on their track over the years, it’s Colin Crosskill’s relentless drum pounding.
Crosskill orders good veggie burgers and, according to Smith, bassist Brett Zadio can fix just about anything… here’s more from the pre-show chat:
Your moniker story is that y’all locked yourselves in a house for 100 days and pounded out an album. Exactly 100, or did you round up/down?
Colin: It was about three months.
Jon: It was 99 and 5/8ths.
Have you done anything of the like since?
J: We went up in the mountains for our last recording, up to Marin. You couldn’t see anybody or hear anyone and there was a studio up there that used to be… a guy in the ’60s built it…
C: It was the guy who did… [sings] “c’mon people now / shine on your brother…”
Brett: It’s an iconic ’60s hippie song.
J: Yeah, so we there for about five days, sleeping and recording in this cabin in the middle of the woods. That was really fun. Ideas started to definitely flow there. We did the entire EP then and there.
What about this new one?
J: We just did that one four months ago at Skyline in Oakland with Jeff Saltzman, He did our first EP with us about seven years ago. He did The Killers’ Hot Fuss, so we were really excited getting him. Both times. He’s a local guy; he managed Green Day.
I first heard your music in 2011; you’d just released “Sex U,” the first single off Really?. You were riding off that dance rock thing then with the raunchy guitars, upbeat percussion… Cobra Starship, Maroon 5. You built a really great local fanbase and you’ve maintained it, I’ve noticed — through your socials and whatnot. So what’s the secret there?
J: That’s a good question. We don’t know.
B: I think we change it up a lot.
J: You gotta keep it interesting.
C: But with some consistency.
B: The sound has kinda changed over the years.
C: But there’s something that glues it all together.
J: Really, I think it’s the excitement of the live show. That would be the only thing keeping me coming back to see a band for that long, is knowing that they were going to throw everything they have onstage. I would only go out to see my favourite band so many times unless they were pushing it every single show, so knowing that, we try to do that.
C: We challenge ourselves to do a good live show and follow a policy that it only takes fans one bad show to give up on you. Once I go to a show and it’s bad, that’s it — I don’t really try to give the band another shot. So we think about that.
J: It can get tricky because you want people to have the songs that you’re playing live on recording but the way recording is, you can’t just record all the time. Right now we’re trying to get this EP out there so people can hear the songs that they’ve been hearing live. That’s the main thing… and some stage antics; we’ve been trying to spice up and doing a lot more of those soon. Just making it exciting by asking ourselves, “what reason would I have to keep coming back and seeing this band,” you know?
Tell me about the new EP. Does it have a name?
B: We haven’t decided on that.
J: Do you have any ideas?
For the new EP? I don’t even know what’s on it! Are you giving everyone the physical today?
B: The original plan was physical, but the CDs didn’t make it in time, so we did download cards.
So for the time being, it’s still untitled?
B: It’s untitled, but [when we release it to the public] it’ll definitely have a title because the last one ended up being titled “EP.”
Was that Hot Stuff?
J: Yeah, that [unofficial name] was due to a glitch in iTunes. They won’t let you call something an EP — they make you call it a single — if it’s under four songs. That was the original plan, but one of them got cut, so we had to name it an EP so you’d know it was an EP.
What’s the street date for this new one, then?
J: Probably March. We did Hot Stuff about three years ago, which is about the same time we lost a member. And we gained a member with whom we did this five-song EP.
How is [the new EP] different? Or, [since I really haven’t heard any of it myself,] how would you describe this one?
C: This time we have female vocals from Ash, our new guitarist. It has a more Arcade Fire-iness about it.
J: It’s a little more dreamy and less straight rock.
C: Dreamy? Which one’s dreamy?
J: I think “The Crime” is very dreamy. I mean, it’s a little darker.
Hot Stuff‘s a little darker, even. A little less dance-y, almost Britpop-ish.
J: Yeah, it’s along the lines of Hot Stuff, definitely. It has a dark sweetness to it maybe with some danciness.
C: I don’t agree with him.
B: I think there’s more of an implied danciness to it; it’s not shoved down your throat. You could dance to it if you wanted to it.
J [to Colin]: How would you describe it then?
C: I think it’s pretty high-energy. I can’t think of one song that sounds dreamy to me.
J: Colin’s afraid of being called dreamy… so don’t ever call it dreamy. Or prog. Though I think to accomplish something that is both high-energy and dreamy is amazing ’cause that’s hard to do. Bands I think of are Smashing Pumpkins and M83.
B: Maybe there are more dynamics? People can have really dance-y dreams, too.
So what’s everyone’s personal favourite track on this?
C: For me it’s Track 1.
Okay. Does that have a name or is that unnamed too…?
C: It’s called “This Is Where We Go.”
J: I like the one called “The Beast.”
B: Yeah, either of those. Honestly, when we were recording “The Beast,” I thought it wasn’t gonna work out. It seemed like wasn’t coming together but then we got our first actual mix back, and realized it was a good song.
Late 2013 I was backstage at Rickshaw Stop and saw your signature on one of the walls. What are your favourite venues in the city?
J: Bottom of the Hill is kind of like home, for me. The Rickshaw was another home. I liked playing Café Du Nord, but then they closed. I like the Great American, The Independent.
B: DNA is fun.
What’s the best spot for post-show munchies?
J: Oh, that’s the DNA Lounge, because they have that overpriced pizza. It’s good stuff.
B: We end up at Sparky’s a lot. That’s in the Castro.
J: You know, there aren’t that many clubs here. They can’t afford to stay open.
Oh? I was going to ask about that, because you guys have been around for near 10 years now… even the lyrics on “Famous Overnight” have everything to do with “the struggle.”
J: Absolutely. I’m so glad you noticed that.
B [interrupting]: Actually, favourite post-show munchies is Kansai, on Telegraph in Oakland. It’s a Japanese restaurant open till 2am.
C: We all live in the East Bay now.
J: I guess we’re an East Bay band.
Brett’s still stuck on that last question, eh? But what are some changes (positive or negative) you’ve noticed in the local scene or greater industry?
J: Right, so the song goes, “men with guitars exchange business cards / it’s not what they wanted to do.” It’s kind of heavy-handed, I guess. You walk the line between becoming… the bitterness is something you’re always fighting against, but your ability to overcome that is equal to your ability to still reach people. It’s not easy in San Francisco, but as a band that’s been around as long as we have. We can’t stop; it’s in our blood.
And you’ve said this is your last show in the city for a while? Are you taking a break? Going somewhere?
J: We’re doing two more [shows] here, then taking a little break — probably a few months, to write.
B: We’re taking a break from San Francisco, but we’ll be playing elsewhere.
Who has the most unexpected day-job?
J: Well, I’m a psycho-therapist.
Oh? And how do you feel about that?
J: How long have you got? [pauses, then laughs] That’s a joke, by the way.
Alright. But real talk, how are you going to name this EP?
B: We have a little bit of time.
J: Really? was named because our old manager used to always say that.
J: We’d have these conference calls and we’d always come up with some excuse for why we hadn’t done what she’d asked us to. There’d be a pause, and then an incredulous “… really?”
Article by Joanna Jiang