Adjusting to Format

The Phoenix duo chronicles its scary serendipity on a sublime debut album

Within weeks, local alt-rock station KEDJ-FM began playing "The First Single." Soon after, Zia Record Exchange stores began selling the disc. The subsequent buzz and swing of local popularity caught the attention of Elektra.

Which came with a price. Interventions & Lullabies' "Give It Up," a psychedelic pop gem, deals directly with the drawback of being swept into a small Culver City, California, recording studio for most of six months, namely lost friendships -- "That's where I once belonged/But now I'm gone, I swear I'm long gone."

Ruess was further bothered by the phoniness and the built-up scenester nature of Southern California -- and then there's the fact that his now-ex-girlfriend loved it.

Kicking it Phoenix style: The Format introduces Interventions & Lullabies during the recent Edgefest.
Matt Garcia
Kicking it Phoenix style: The Format introduces Interventions & Lullabies during the recent Edgefest.


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"The person I was with overglorified California as this amazing place that was going to solve everybody's problems," he says. "We had friends who thought it would resolve all of our problems, because of the celebrities and the nice weather and everything. At the time, I was really angry about it, because I thought Arizona was all right."

Moments later, Ruess laments: "Someone decided to become something completely different than what they were." The breakup is documented -- triumphantly, in fact -- on the up-tempo rocker "Sore Thumb."

But Ruess and Means survived their displacement syndrome and are now gauging the response to their new material. The response here in Phoenix, Means says, has been overwhelming. Indeed, KEDJ's program director Nancy Stephens says the station is spinning "Tune Out" 30 times a week.

And Ruess and Means surely aren't shying away from the idolatry in their home base. Near set's end at the Modified show, Ruess led the audience through the tongue-twisting coda to "Career Day," an Interventions & Lullabies standout. Its words captured the moment, and, for that matter, the band's newfound resolve: "In with the outro, and out with the old."

"I don't think we can ask for anything better at this point," Means says. "We're pretty sure we'll be able to make a few people happy in a few states out there."

Got a problem with Kick & Scream? Let's hear it. Contact the author at his online address,, or call 602-407-1715.

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