A convergence of sound and space, experimental folk collective We Are The West are dedicated song-stylists who have developed a uniquely immersive approach to performance, playing both concert halls and improvised venues, including their preeminent underground parking garage concert series.
On March 30th We Are The West released their first full-length album, The Golden Shore. Opening the mythical expedition is contemplative lead track, “Siren,” which was recorded live, and features the core sound of Brett Hool's vocal/guitar sailing atop the soundscape of John Kibler's upright bass, and Jesse Olsen Bay's ghostly accordion. With a subtle mix by Jonathan Burnside [Melvins, Red House Painters, The Sleepy Jackson], the raw acoustics serve as the base for the epic journey that lies ahead, bringing The Golden Shore into focus. Acclaimed music discovery outlet, Under The Radar, which bills itself as “The solution to music pollution,” premiered the official music video, which sees Hool and Kibler disassembling an old Lowery organ at sunset, though shown in reverse, so it appears it’s being built at sunrise. Noted the publication, "Low Anthem, Led Zeppelin & Moody Blues all come delightfully to mind."
What is your favorite word to describe Los Angeles?
John: Horizontal. I am originally from NY State, and growing up as a musician I had always assumed I would end up in NYC. Before I did, I traveled to LA for some performances and I was really taken aback by the sky. It was so huge, so blue, and so open. I realized how vertical NYC was. With all the tall buildings you see only a sliver of sky. You don’t see what's coming your way. That’s a big part of why I love LA, especially the beach. There is so much space. To me it's like a metaphor for endless possibilities.
What word best reflects the people of Los Angeles?
Brett: Varied. I’m from here originally, and it never ceases to amaze me that every little while I discover a whole new little pocket to the city with a whole crew of people and sights I never knew existed.
What is the most creative, spiritual or emotional place in Los Angeles?
John: That’s hard to say...I think I would have to say somewhere close to the water. I live by the ocean, I hear the waves at night, and it’s a constant reminder to me that there is something bigger out there. Sometimes it’s inspiring, sometimes is terrifying, but it’s always spiritual. I think the relentless changing energy and newness of each breaking wave helps motivate me to be more creative, positive, and open to new experiences.
Brett: Aside from the ocean and the hills and the canyons, the Self-Realization Centers in Mount Washington and Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades are peaceful respites.
What is your favorite outdoor activity in Los Angeles?
Brett: Probably swimming, since I do it the most. Water is a healer, and it always gets me back in alignment, pool or ocean. The hills are also powerful, so a good walk or hike always does me good.
What is your favorite indoor activity in Los Angeles?
Brett: Just hanging at someone’s house really, hopefully with a good jam going down.
What is your favorite sound or noise in Los Angeles?
John: I guess I hinted at this before, but the sound of the ocean is my favorite sound in LA. The funny thing is it’s not necessarily LA specific, until you mix in the sirens, motorcycles, and helicopters that surround it. I think it's the combination of sounds of a hustling and bustling city directly next to an ocean that seems endless and patient.
Brett: You forgot the coyotes. We featured all of that on Side B of our Regards EP.
What is your favorite smell or taste in Los Angeles?
Brett: Smell? The eucalyptus and sandstone when the marine layer moves in. Taste? I don’t know, maybe a late-night quesadilla from a taco truck.
What drink best reflects Los Angeles?
John: Maybe sparkling water? There’s an appearance of glamour and sophistication with all the fame and fortune associated with LA, but deep down, after the cap has been left off for a few days, it becomes apparent that we’re all the same water.
What song or type of music best reflects Los Angeles?
John: I lived in LA before I moved abroad for a couple of years. Obviously I have since returned to LA, but while I was away I found myself listening to music that reminded me of home. I couldn’t get enough Los Lobos, Gram Parsons, Ry Cooder, etc. These types of artists reminded of my LA experience, but I realize that different strokes for different folks is a real thing! There’s so much good music in LA. It was during my time away that some of the songs on our new record, ‘The Golden Shore’ came to be.
Brett: How about Neil Young’s ‘L.A.’? “City in the smog… don’t you wish that you could be here, too?”
If Heaven were Los Angeles, what would God say to a visitor when they arrive at the Pearly Gates?