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Bryan Garza of Scissors for Lefty

SF Singer/Guitarist Bares All

After a few label woes, Scissors for Lefty is ready to release its sophomore LP Underhanded Romance, a noticeably more upbeat and danceable response to its moody debut Bruno. But who could blame the SF-based band for being a little giddy? The group has recently found itself in the lineup at several European festivals, it has toured with the Arctic Monkeys, and it constantly appears at various SF hotspots, including Popscene, the location of their May 31st record release party. Lead vocalist/guitarist Bryan Garza spoke with SF Station during a phone interview while on tour in Los Angeles.

SF Station (SFS): It sounds like you are a lot happier on Underhanded Romance than on Bruno?

Brian Garza (BG): Yeah, I think it is because of the events that transpired after our move from a college town, San Louis Obispo, to San Francisco. We were with a lot of our good friends and we had new adventures. We ended up stumbling across the more playful side of ourselves.

SFS: Why did you decide to move up north from San Louis Obispo, instead of trying your luck in southern California?

BG: I needed to pay off some large credit card debt that I accrued trying to get the band on its feet, so I moved up after a friend of mine got me a job working as a biomedical engineer in Redwood City. After about six months of working there, I convinced Peter and James to move up.

Jamesí parents were really adamantly against him moving to San Francisco because they thought it was a city of sin. It was kind of fun because I was the bad influence and Iím usually the goofball that gets along with parents.

SFS: Why did you record the new album in Silver Lake?

BG: We had no intention of working down there. We were looking to work with someone that we got along with and we found [producer/engineer] Charles Goodan. We liked his demeanor on the phone and he answered our questions. Beyond that, he has worked with the Dust Brothers and he produced Beckís song "Debra". He had a way of making songs with the vocals right out front, yet they had really solid bass and piano parts.

It was a real pleasure to work with him. We gave him a run for his money and he probably wanted to pull out his hair more often than not because we had a lot of debates about how to record. But, he helped with a lot of recording techniques that we were not familiar with.

SFS: That sounds like a good relationship.

BG: Especially for vocals, I felt like he gave an honest opinion. When you are a guy and you are working with another guy, your flamboyant side gets a little squashed and you want to be rough and ready and a little machismo. I didnít want the album to sound that way. I wanted it to be playful and walking an androgynous line because that is our personality. He did a good job in working with me on that.

He didnít get too weirded out when I had to kind of freak out and drop my pants to do a song or something like that. Sometimes you have to do things like that.

SFS: That sounds like a page out of Jim Morrisonís book.

BG: Well, you have to be able to feel comfortable and weird-out in a way that feels right for you. You have to add the eccentric parts instead of just hitting the notes. You want to capture the personality that hopefully comes one-tenth as close to the personality that you have when you play live.

SFS: And you achieved that by dropping your pants in the vocal booth?

BG: Yeah, many times. We usually took one to four takes with all of the parts recorded at the same time. Sometimes we wouldnít be able to nail a part of a song and Iím always one to try extremes to make something work. Sometimes you need to have a little bit of fun in certain environments, especially when you know a lot of money is flying through your hands at a recording studio.

SFS: What has been the biggest turning point for you so far?

BG: I guess, working with our manager Joyce. We went from playing concerts every few months to playing a lot of shows at some places that were a little more high profile. It got to be a challenge because we were burning the candle at both ends working at our jobs 40-50 hours a week, commuting and working 40 hours with the band. We decided to give it our all, shift gears and focus on the band first. We havenít really had a chance to think if we would have done something different, but I think we have definitely gotten better and learned to have more fun and relax.

SFS: Are you still more popular in the UK than in the United States?

BG: I donít know. Weíve played a lot of shows that were really well received in the UK, but we were also opening for bands that were well received. We try our best and try to show our personality without coming off as a UK band. Weíre a complimentary band to a lot of bands over there, but we tell them we are from San Francisco. You gotta represent, yo.

Scissors For Lefty perform at Popscene (330 Ritch) on May 31st with Brakes, Brakes, Brakes. Doors open at 9pm. Tickets are $10 for 21+ and $12 otherwise.