The Relative Strangers
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The Relative Strangers

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"Santa Ana's the Relative Strangers Possibly Going on Hiatus to 'Make Some Moola'"

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The Relative Strangers are a Santa Ana rock quartet made up of two sets of brothers, Daniel and David Alcala on guitar and keys, and Chris and Craig Garcia on drums and bass. The band has been steady rocking the OC club circuit since May of last year, taking modern anthem rock and jamming it out with extended improvisations. They've been (unsuccessfully) trying to raise money to record an album, which has the group considering a hiatus after this month's run at Detroit Bar.


OC Weekly: So what's the chemistry that results from having two pairs of brothers in a band?
Chris Garcia: Well, brothers will be brothers, so at times it's awesome and the musical chemistry is on point and we get the intention of the song; at other times, well, we can just say differences of opinions arise. It works well with the backbone of our group being me and my brother, and the other two add a whole lot to the environment and flow of the music.

You guys talk about Dave Matthews being a primary influence, and aren't afraid to improvise on stage. I feel like jam bands don't a lot of love here in SoCal. Is that something you've encountered?

Yes. We enjoy music, and we enjoy displaying talent. Some people enjoy that, others don't. But a lot of our fans enjoy when we rock out, so it's worth it. But we can agree that most SoCal fans don't appreciate it.

On "What's the Weapon of Choice," I'm hearing a Muse vibe. Is that deliberate?

We love and appreciate what Muse has done in the music industry, although we do not want to sound like them. We do tend to have a similar vibe because of our musical backgrounds and our desire to have melodic movement in our songs.

How do your songs form? Does everyone bring material to the table?

Sometimes one person writes something, brings it to the group, we each pick apart at it and restructure to add our own flare. Other times, we collectively write at the same time, making sure we are all comfortable. Above all, we make sure that we have a formula to song writing and stick to it, make sure it's universal, danceable and unique.


Is it true that the Detroit residency will be your last shows for a while?

Craig might go on tour with Lucas Rossi, an old-school rock guy. I'm supposed to go on a cruise ship tour for a bit, I'm just waiting on a passport. Sometimes as a musician, you just got to do the gigs that make some moola.

If you could change one thing about the Orange County rock scene, what would it be?

If I could change anything, it would be so there is more support for the other bands. Fans shouldn't just stick around for their friends and leave; they should stick around and support. That said, if we could make the stage set-up quicker, then everyone would have a big crowd for every band.

You have a Kickstarter program to try and raise money for your new album, but it's struggling. What's the problem?

Well, it was executed poorly. Instead of planning a few months ahead, getting people excited and willing on Facebook, or through gigs, and explaining what the deal was, it would have been better. Also, a lot of people are struggling financially right now; people need to eat more so than buy music, which is sad, but a reality.


The Relative Strangers perform at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, www.detroitbar.com. Mondays in August, 9 p.m. Free. 21+ - OC Weekley


"Supporting International efforts"

The Relative Strangers support international efforts and given that their background (for the Garcia brothers) is of Cuban origin and the Alcala brothers, a combination of British, Spanish, Mexican, French and Canadian heritage. They believe in culture, tradition and again, education. - The Immigrant Magazine


"Nominated Best Live Acoustic for Orange County Music Awards"

The Relative Strangers' acoustic side project "Brothers of the Castle" was nominated for the Orange County Music Awards under the category of Best Live Acoutstic - OC Music Awards


"The Relative Strangers supporting Actor Isaiah Washington's Book launch"

Award winning Actor Isaiah Washington, traced his roots all the to Sierra Leone in Africa. His book "A Man from Another Land" has been a driving force to his support in building a school in Sierra Leone and many other projects he funds in Africa.
The Relative Strangers support international efforts and given that their background (for the Garcia brothers) is of Cuban origin and the Alcala brothers, a combination of British, Spanish, Mexican, French and Canadian heritage. They believe in culture, tradition and again, education. - The Africa Channel


"Standing for Education with Hands Across California @ Orange Coast College"

The Relative Strangers are all College graduates and believe education is a treasure that everyone deserves to have and keep. Even those that are not privileged to afford it. So they joined Hands Across California to help raise funds for community colleges across the state. - OC Music Magazine


"Isaiah Washington's Book Launch"

The Relative Strangers main entertainment at the reception - The Africa Channel


"Orange Pop: The Relative Strangers are now regulars - Soundcheck : The Orange County Register"

It’s already proving to be a busy year for the Relative Strangers. Tonight the local quintet will wrap up a month-long residency at the Gypsy Lounge in Lake Forest, and in March it will be the house band for another weekly residency on Mondays at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa.
The almost back-to-back gigs are forcing this group to act quickly, practicing a minimum of two times a week while focusing on writing new material to keep these nights fresh.
“Every show will be different,” says Daniel Alcala (above, right), vocalist and guitarist. “We’re never going to play the same set twice (at Detroit). We’ll be doing some new stuff and some improvised sections. We just want to keep it different and exciting.”
Alcala and his twin brother David (left), who play guitar, keys and split vocal duties in the group, began taking an interest in music while attending Calvary Chapel High School in Santa Ana. Through playing music they met bassist Aaron Stapish and rhythm guitarist Chris Brown. The four would jam together regularly, but the Alcalas say that back then they looked at music as more of a hobby.
It wasn’t until Daniel met drummer Chris Garcia while attending Vanguard University that the lineup was complete. The group decided to go full-throttle into its career early last year by collectively writing material, booking gigs and launching the recording of their first EP in May.
They began work at Drum Addict Recordings in Westminster but hit a roadblock by late summer, when they ran out of money to finish it. Like many struggling local artists, they had to wait a few months before they could pool together enough cash to complete the disc and have it mastered. The Alcalas say one of the nights at Detroit Bar will be the official EP release party.
Just to clarify, I did this interview by phone, and although I thought I was chatting only with Daniel, the brothers admitted to me afterward that they took turns answering questions via speakerphone. They have that twin telepathy thing about them –- and they insist it’s OK to lump their responses in as one.
Creepily, I couldn’t tell the difference between them –- it sounded like the same guy, same pitch, same tone.
Well-played, boys, well-played.
That twin-vocal thing, which they say they practice regularly to keep in sync and build strength, also works out for the Alcalas live. Yet maintaining a strict practice schedule isn’t always easy, they say, as each member holds a steady full-time day job to pay the bills. If one or two of the guys can’t quite swing a rehearsal, the rest will still meet up in the Alcalas’ garage in Santa Ana to keep working.
“We turned our garage into a little studio,” the twins (one of ‘em anyway) say. “We put up some insulation and some drywall, and everybody asks us if our neighbors hate us, but we just kinda keep it down. It’s always a battle against the drums. If they are light, then it’s OK, but if they start to get heavy we have to turn everything else up. But we’ve never had any complaints.”
Influenced by artists like the Beatles, Radiohead, Muse and Dave Matthews Band, the Alcalas say they find themselves constantly pushing each other to become better musicians, and to not be afraid to try new things. They’re all open to constrictive criticism; often they’ll spend entire practices just bouncing ideas off one another.
“Garcia, our drummer, he really likes to push our boundaries,” Daniel says. “He’s into all kinds of different rhythms and things … things we wouldn’t even have thought of.”
But the lyrics are left up to the twins. “Sometimes I’ll have a chord progression and we’ll just start practicing off of that, or I’ll say one line and my brother David will take it and two days later he’ll have a whole song written,” Daniel says. “That’s how the song ‘Let Me Save Your Life’ was done. I wrote the chord progression and the music and I was like, ‘I know exactly why you’re here’ – and (David) took that one line and wrote the rest of the song. It switches between us, which is really good.”
The Relative Strangers have set a few goals for 2010, including attending the annual South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, while either recording at least another EP or a full-blown album. For now, however, the band remains focused on making its next residency unique.
Especially because it’s at Detroit Bar: “I remember, about three years ago, me and my brother played an open mic night at the Gypsy Den,” Daniel recalls, “and I remember seeing one of the Detroit Bar flyers for a residency and I remember thinking, ‘Oh, that would be cool.’ And now it’s happening. It’s cool how it’s all kind of come back around.”
-KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER - The Orange County Register


"Soundcheck: The Relative Strangers"

Take five guys from the OC who share a passion for making great music and what do you have? The Relative Strangers. Band members David Alcala (keys/vocals), Daniel Alcala (lead guitar/vocals), Aaron Stapish (bass guitar/backup vocals), Chris Brown (rhythm guitar), and Chris Garcia (drums) make up this exciting alternative group! Combining both a love of classic rock and a need for musical experimentation, the sound of The Relative Strangers’ melodic tunes will have you tapping your feet and humming to yourself in no time. David Alcala took some time to answer a few questions about the band.
Andrea Domoslai: What made you decide to start a band?
David Alcala: We enjoy playing music and writing songs. We want to entertain and show our creativity to as many people as we can.
AD: How long have you been together?
DA: We met Aaron and Browny way back in Jr. High and have been friends ever since. We played music together growing up. In this last year though, Dano, Garcy and I finished college and with it out of the way, we decided to make a set line up and kind of “go for it” and see what we could do.
AD: What do you think of OC’s music scene?
DA: There are a lot of really local bands. It’s fun to be a part of; just last night there was the first OCMA showcase at the Detroit Bar. We are friends with all of the bands that played and were able to get most of them to commit to play with us for our residency there in March. Sometimes I notice that when there is a show, the band’s fans will show up for just their set and not stick around for the whole show, or not be there for the opening act which is, often times, just as good as the headliners. It would be great if there was there was more cross-pollination of fans.
AD: How has being from Orange County shaped your music?
DA: I don’t really know. I would say how we grew up was shaped partly by our location. Dano and I were born in Mission Viejo and spent our childhood there, I love that city. We later moved to Tustin and then Santa Ana, the time we spent in each of the cities had an impact on us whether we see it or not. In high school we were all really into skateboarding, so the pursuit of good skate spots took us all over the place. We would also do a lot of surfing down at Newport Beach. I’d say the different things that we are able to do base on where we live helped shape who we are, what we play and how we play together.
AD: What’s your song writing process?
DA: Daniel or I will write songs and then present them to the band. We all arrange the songs together.
AD: What is your dream venue?
DA: The Hollywood Bowl!
AD: How did the band name come about?
DA: I was writing down a long list of names that were possibilities. I was writing down anything that came to mind, and I had written down “The Relatives” and then wrote down “The Strangers.” I went down the list and read it aloud. I read “The Relatives” and the “The Strangers” and Aaron’s brother Adam said that would be a good name: The Relative Strangers. At the time I didn’t think much of it, but he showed it to the rest of the guys and they liked it so we went with it.
AD: Where’s your favorite OC hangout?
DA: We don’t have a favorite place. We find that we’re often going to a lot of free shows. The Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa is cool because it’s free on Mondays, and The Gypsy Lounge is free on Thursdays. We actually are the resident band at The Gypsy Lounge for Thursdays this month (January).
AD: When can we expect your first album?
DA: Our first EP is in the final mixing and mastering phase. So it should be out pretty soon, early 2010.
-Andrea Domoslai OC Arts & Culture - OC Arts & Culture


"Relative Strangers Things Have Happened"

Relative Strangers Things Have Happened
[Locals Only] The Santa Ana twin-fronted psych-rock quintet takes up residency at Detroit Bar
Comments (3) By DANIELLE BACHER Thursday, Apr 1 2010
Wrapped in echoing keyboards and harmony-soaked vocals, Relative Strangers’ sound melds ’70s classic rock and psych pop with jangly guitar-driven spaciness—earning the group frequent comparisons to British rockers Muse. Santa Ana-native twins/co-vocalists Daniel and David Alcala’s lyrics convey joy, pain and nostalgia for teenage kicks and heartaches. (“Just let me, let me catch your eyes/We will meet and never be the same/I am now your friend, why do you wake me again and again?”) The vivacious band started when the Alcala boys were in high school and got together with rhythm guitarist Chris Brown and bassist Aaron Stapish; drummer Chris Garcia joined up in 2008. Relative Strangers’ catchy hooks and explosive arrangements snap and crackle all over their new five-song EP, From the Westwood, which they will unleash on April 19 during their month-long residency at Detroit Bar.

OC Weekly:Who was the lucky lady the song “Early Morning” was about?

Chris Garcia: It was about a maiden who broke David’s heart.

David Alcala: No. Actually, it was about this girl whom I had no feelings for. When I started dating another girl, I changed the lyrics and almost the entire song to fit our relationship and how we felt about each other.

You sing a lot about women. Do you foresee yourselves working with any female musicians?

Chris Brown: Five is enough, and we are all pretty tight. Adding a woman might change who we are. But if she were phenomenal and added a great thing to our band, I wouldn’t be against it.

David Alcala: I’m 100 percent against it. I think it would be too much drama.

Daniel Alcala: She has to play the glockenspiel.

How do you guys let loose before or after playing a show?

Aaron Stapish: I’ve actually walked up to Chris while he was playing before the show and slapped him across the face. You know, tried to wake him up.
Daniel Alcala: That’s how Aaron lets loose: He hits his band mates.

Stapish: I’m not even joking. Sometimes we’ll do the Running Man dance for a whole song to loosen up and not be so serious.

Garcia: We also have a team talk, pray with one another, sing psalms. Light a candle with incense, sit in the van, hold hands, do ’shrooms . . . just kidding. [Laughs]

What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you while playing in concert?

Daniel Alcala: At Avalon once, every time I would touch the microphone with my hand or lips, it shocked me.

Aaron Stapish: I looked over, and I could see the electricity—his hair stood straight up.

Daniel Alcala: I went to sing something [in the microphone], and I was like, “My heart is . . . ah, FUCKING BITCH!” But the best part was that Pee Wee’s Big Adventure was playing in the background.

At one of your shows at Detroit Bar, you mentioned your dog and mascot, Miko, is very sick. Is he feeling okay these days?

Daniel Alcala: I have to get his chest leaked four times a week. He has something called chylothorax, which means he has fluid around his lungs that constricts his breathing.

Brown: He will die if we don’t raise enough money to get the surgery. We have to raise about four grand total. We are dedicating our shows to Miko. By Saturday, we’ll have $1,200.

Daniel Alcala: Basically, he can live until my credit cards give out. It’s really sad.

What are your goals?

Daniel Alcala: Everyone is trying to get famous. The idea is to spread our creativity and music to as many people as we can.

Garcia: No, no we just want to be famous. I’m kidding, but not really. I’d like to get paid for doing something I love doing.

David Alcala: We just want to live our dreams.

Relative Strangers perform with Stacy Clark, Stereofix, Beta Wolf, We Are the Pilots, BLOK, I Hate You Just Kidding and Brother Cecil at the Yost Theater, 307 N. Spurgeon St., Santa Ana, (888) 862-9573; www.yosttheater.com. Fri., 7 p.m. $8. All ages; and with Two Guns at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Mon., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.

Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: localsonly@ocweekly.com.
This column appeared in print as "Special Relativity." - OC Weekly


Discography

"From The Westwood" EP

Photos

Bio

Twin brothers Daniel and David Alcala got into playing music through learning guitar in high school. By teaching each other they figured out how to play the music of their favorite bands; The Beatles and Dave Matthews Band. In no time they branched out, learning other instruments such as drums, bass and keyboards. Graduation came and it was at Vanguard University that Daniel met Craig and Chris Garcia, another set of brothers who shared a common passion for making music.
With college behind them, Daniel and David have come together with Craig and Chris to make music. Reflective of the many influences in their lives this music is ear catching yet distinct with a presentation that only these four friends can give. Reminiscent of the John and Paul duo, the twins take turns singing lead or come together for harmony. At the same time, they take control of the stage with a presence that will politely command your attention. The dynamics of the live show is an important part of The Relative Strangers. From hard driven rock, to moody melodies to dance pop and sing alongs the show setlist will always keep you on your toes wondering what will come next. And with a knack for improvisation the guys are never afraid to try something new and unexpected. Their chemistry on stage is contagious and this is evident in how each show always ends with everyone in smiles. As The Relative Strangers this band of brothers will take their passion for music to the rest of the world.