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Yet there's almost always tension in negotiating your way around another artist's creative investments, and the Regulars experience that difficulty. Seymann explains, "Greg is very diplomatic and democratic, and our rehearsals are usually, too, as much as it can be when one person who brings in their own creation has to have some authority about it."
Regulars rehearsals hinge on creative compromise. After all, Simmons prefers to be alone for the initial inspirations of songwriting, Metz digs a spontaneous group effort, and Seymann does a complete demo of a new song at home, keyboard and all, before he even thinks of bringing it to rehearsal. Cooperation doesn't always come easy, but they are making an honest effort. Each band member gets equal time and treatment of his new songs, and they strive to agree with Seymann, who says, "I leave the ideas open to interpretation."
The song "Turtlehead" exemplifies the band at its unified best, with its complicated drumbeat and bass line, testy guitar melody and carefully arranged vocal harmonies. Seymann says of its origin, "We had an instrumental groove going and looked at each other and went, 'Wow! That was cool, we can do something with that,' and I had mentioned something that somebody had told me at work that day, the idea of Turtlehead. It's about poop." Seymann's lyrical idea and the band's accidental tune hatched a new song that reveals a band with an arguably healthy sense of humor about its own music. The chorus bounces, "Turtlehead--got some asshole wrapped around your neck."
The Regulars are a finely tuned engine humming good ol' pop songs. They politely execute cleanly arranged rock tunes in a fairly eclectic repertoire. The crowd-pleasing song "Falling Down," a quirky tune written by Metz, is vaguely reminiscent of Syd Barrett or early Who in its cleanness of melody and playfulness with tempo. With his song "Polyester Preacher," Simmons gets away with an uncharacteristically funky, ska-based rhythm, and lyrics with an interesting narrative and character. "I want to try to write stories. I want to create characters and all that stuff," says Simmons.
With such diverse ingredients, the music still manages to stay simple. The crispness of sound most closely suggests the smell of recently washed clothes, a freshly laundered towel. Stylistically, Simmons' playing is a strange hybrid of Stevie Ray's whining blues notes crossed with a touch of quick rockabilly licks. Aside from Simmons' occasional flash-guitar moments (which happen to be quite amazing), the Regulars are missing the extraneous strumming which commonly clouds well-written songs. "Greg doesn't write songs with a lot of space for gratuitous solos, so we try to throw a couple of jams in here and there so we can show him off," says Metz.
For such a new band, the Regulars have made huge leaps in their music. But they remain virtually undiscovered by Tempe and have yet to establish a solid fan base. With two scheduled slots--Sundays opening for Satellite and Thursdays at Hollywood Alley--and three rehearsals a week, the band's self-promotion activities are almost nonexistent. The Alley graduated the Regulars from Tuesdays to Thursdays recently, hoping to give them more exposure. "We make them so much money at the Alley that they have no choice but to ask us back," Seymann wryly says in reference to the one dollar the band made at a gig in early May.
Soon we may see the Regulars on the big screen. A 15-second spot of them performing their song "The Way" was filmed at Nita's Hideaway for the film Hack, directed by Connie Maverick (singer for the Slims), debuting in October at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival.
It seems likely that buzz on this band will leak out slowly. In the meantime, as the Regulars continue their stealth immersion into Tempe's music scene, don't expect any ticker-tape parades. But the frustration of undeserved obscurity is one of the things that drives them forward. It's hard not to think of his band's plight every time Simmons leans into the mike and croons, "It's a sad condition. It's a fire that sees me through.