The Sacred Dice
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The Sacred Dice

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Music

The best kept secret in music

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"Roll Again"

Lindsey Kate Hawkins, keyboard player/vocalist for The Sacred Dice, was embarrassed to admit that she was calling from a Wal-Mart in Puente Hills. She had an excuse: The Honda Civic plastered with U2 stickers that's her main transport had overheated and she needed coolant. "I think it's only the second time I've been in Wal-Mart. It's a bizarre place to be," she said as the store's loudspeaker system announced some hourly special.

Lindsey explained that she and her bandmates covered the Civic with U2 stickers to win tickets to their concert. "And we won. All six of us got to go." It was a gamble that paid off. For Lindsey, life is a serious of such gambles, rolls of the sacred dice. The band's name was not chosen casually.

"I like dice; I like what they stand for," she told me. "Every step of the way in life you have to make choices, what to major in in college, what to do with your life — just what to do next. It sounds corny but you have to choose what your heartstrings tell you. You have to take a gamble, not just play it safe."

Some of the choices she made are not what you might expect from a girl who spent most of her teenage years striving to be one of the "cool kids" in suburban Los Gatos. "I was almost destroyed in high school by coolness. Coolness is so destructive. When you're cool you can't show joy or excitement."

The roll of the dice that took her out of her suburban rut was a trip to Vegas with one Anthony Cristofani. Anthony was a guy with a degree in philosophy who had a record, and not a record album. It seems that, while attending UC Santa Cruz, he got himself arrested for armed robbery. He had accompanied his then-girlfriend, a freshman art student named Emma Freeman (who happened to be a National Merit Scholar) when she waived a semiautomatic Beretta around in a Costco and walked out with a boombox, a Walkman and a telephone. "They were such terrible robbers," said Lindsey. "Anthony was wearing his dance pants; they were doing pirouettes down the aisle of the store."

Anthony ended up doing three years in prison for the crime, spending his time writing a novel, learning French and studying poetry. Not long after he got out, he returned to Los Gatos and started playing music with his brother Louis, one of Lindsey's classmates. When Anthony met Lindsey, the two of them decided to go see Phish play in Vegas. It proved a transforming experience for Lindsey.

"I had a revelation that I wasn't living the way I wanted to," she said. "I decided I wanted to be an artist in some shape or form. Back in school it was a scandal. I refused to play the popular cool game. I became friends with Anthony and his brother, they told me about this band and I joined. It was perfect. Carter (the band's bassist) was in my class, he joined and we all moved to Los Angeles to get things going."

The Sacred Dice play what Lindsey describes as alt. pop, and with their hook-laden tunes and lyrics shot through with philosophic and political imagery it's an apt description, sort of along the lines of The Flaming Lips, or as Lindsey points out, U2 (but much less famous).

"I'd say Bono is my favorite person, not just musically, but because of his thought that rock and roll can change the world for the better," she said. "Youth listen more to pop stars than they do to politicians, so people in the pop world should have something to say. We have a lot to say. A lot of our songs are about the cruel draconian prison system. We talk about the Bush Administration, about AIDS in Africa, things that need to be talked about."

Reconsidering, she thinks pop might not be the perfect word for their music. "We play pop songs in the sense that it's simple chord progressions — but we like to jam out, throw in spoken word and elements of jazz."

The next roll? For one thing she's moving from L.A. to Berkeley so she can finish her degree in comparative lit. Anthony's moving there too, but she says they are no longer a couple. "Basically we love our music and believe in it; we want to share it with as many people as possible. It's not about making money, it's about reaching people. However we can do that without compromise, we'll keep doing it."

The Sacred Dice do what they do at the Pearl Lounge this Saturday, Aug. 12. I'm guessing they'll enjoy Humboldt-style coolness. - North Coast Journal Weekly


Discography

Notes from the Overground (2006)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The Sacred Dice were cast when brothers Louis and Anthony Cristofani began putting together songs in the prison visiting room where Anthony was incarcerated for three years with his ex-wife Emma for robbery committed during their time at UC Santa Cruz. Louis, Anthony, and fellow songwriter Lindsey Kate's goal was to write music that would capture the spirit of risk required for robust love, life, and of course music. Drawing on their respect for bands like U2, The Flaming Lips, Wilco, Phish, Fishbone and Bruce Springsteen, their music is eclectic, epic, catchy and confrontational, and their live shows are designed to thoroughly involve the crowd. One lead singer, Anthony, is a published poet who received his degree in philosophy from UC Riverside. Other lead singer Lindsey Kate Hawkins is a painter and poety with a stage presence like no female since Joplin. With the help of CSUN jazz bassist extraordinaire Carter Wallace and fellow CSUN student Virgile, Lindsey Kate and Anthony have been bringing their unique battling-lead-singer act out on tour more and more. With a dynamic repertoire between them of improvised jams, modern dance training, Italian and French fluency, clothing design, fearless crowd-interaction, Lindsey Kate and Anthony surprise at every show. They play the L.A. Staples: The Mint, Whisky-a-Go-Go, Genghis Cohen, Knitting Factory, Hard Rock Cafe', The Echo, Canter’s, House of Blues Foundation Room, King King; as well as other west coast staples such as Slim’s and Hotel Utah in San Francisco. They played the Los Angeles International Pop Overthrow and in the last year have been touring around the U.S. The Dice are starting to pop up on Indie radio stations across the country. Their self-produced debut album was released in January 2006. Are you ready to roll with the Sacred Dice?