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Natalia Rogovin of Social Studies

A SF Class Act

Social Studies have been without a bass player for the last few months, but that hasnít slowed the dynamic SF indie rockers down much. The band recruited a friend to hold down bass duties -- who might end up sticking around for good -- and has recorded most of its first full-length album, a follow-up to the 2006 debut EP The Worldís Biggest Hammer. Social Studies is also preparing for a Bay Area showcase gig at South by Southwest in March, and hoping to arrange a U.S. tour sometime this year. Before they hit the road, Social Studies will debut some new tunes on February 2nd at Hemlock Tavern. Vocalist Natalia Rogovin spoke with SF Station during a break from her daytime office gig in the city.

SF Station (SFS): How has the absence of a permanent bass player affected the band?

Natalia Rogovin (NR): We were all friends, and trying to find a replacement has been really difficult. It has to be someone who is as good at bass as [former bass player] Darren, someone who wants to play the same kind of music and has the same creative directions, and also someone whose personality melds and works with us.

We have interviewed a lot of different people that worked in one way but didnít work in another way. It has been one of the most difficult processes and none of us have ever done it before. Itís a really weird thing to interview people about playing music. There is something really strange about that.

SFS: What personality traits work best with Social Studies, collectively?

NR: We have a lot of fun at practice. We are really motivated and dedicated and we want to get work done, but we were also all friends before we started the band, so we have a lot of history together. We like to joke around and have fun and be playful with our music. We experiment and try new ideas, even if they might not seem typical or good at first.

We also play around with our music and spend a lot of time perfecting it and trying to bring new things to songs. We need someone who likes that atmosphere and can also get along with us. We really spend a lot of time on song writing, and itís super collaborative.

SFS: How long does a typical song take to finish?

NR: Sometimes itís really frustrating because it takes so long. For our first album, it took us about six months to write six songs and we spent a lot of time perfecting them before we even played our first show. We would have a song that would be almost done and then decide we didnít like it and change different parts. It takes us anywhere from two to four months to get a song finished. We are pretty picky.

SFS: You are perfectionists.

NR: We have high standards.

SFS: How do the songs that you are recording for your new album compare to those on your first release?

NR: We definitely maintained some of the same qualities. They are still very upbeat and still sort of epic, big songs with a lot of parts and interesting arrangements. I think our songs have also matured. The EP was kind of a party album; itís really danceable and has disco rhythms. This next album will have a broader range. Some of the songs have gotten weirder and others maintain some of the more poppy, accessible aspects of our former album.

SFS: It seems like with the South by Southwest gig and the new album, 2008 could potentially be a pretty big year for you.

NR: I think it will be. This album is our first full-length, and it has a much higher level of production and we are spending a lot more time on it. Itís going to be really huge for us. We are using this year to talk to labels and figure out how we want to release our album. Once we have released the album, we also want to do a national tour, so we have a lot of things going on this year.

SFS: Where would you like to be at this time in 2009?

NR: Hopefully, we will be working on another release and touring. For me, success is being able to spend the majority of my time working on music, whether it is in the studio, writing material or touring. Hopefully, weíll just be doing more.

SFS: You ready to get rid of that day job?

NR: I wish. That would be pretty awesome. I donít know how realistic that is. The way the music industry is, maybe you could tour for a few months and not work, but I feel like there is almost a new model now. If I could quit my day job and be a full-time rock star, that would be rad.

Social Studies perform at Hemlock Tavern on February 2nd. Tickets are $7 and the show is at 9:30pm.