It's only a few blocks to the beach, but no one wants to go. It's just after noon and the guys in Kinch emerge from the cramped aisles of an indie record shop thirsty for more beer. They started drinking an hour ago, washing down a cheese pie at the famed Pizza Port brewpub. The beer brunch is rare occurrence for this bookish indie pop quintet — three Brophy boys who've been playing together since high school and two younger Yuma transplants grafted on over the past two years. But they're in Carlsbad, in North County San Diego, home to some of the best breweries in the world, and they want to soak it up.
Besides, they've seen that beach before. Singer Andrew Junker, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids star Rick Moranis, and his cousin, guitarist Brian Coughlin, who has Kermit the Frog's touch for self-deprecating humor, have been coming here since they were kids. They have fond memories of the record store Coughlin just walked out of holding a rare piece of Gaslight Anthem vinyl as a gift for a local promoter, Junker having tentatively pawed a disc from Polish pop star Basia, more or less her country's Celine Dion, an unironic favorite. The seven siblings in drummer Jake Malone's family, on the other hand, went up to Oceanside, the next town north. The two new guys — bassist Wayne Jones and keyboardist Phillip Hanna — don't have those ties to Carlsbad, but they tramped down to the beach from their Motel 6 room earlier in the morning.
So it's on to the patio at Stone Brewing in Escondido, where they'll honor the band's version of the Epicurean creed with duck tacos and bold IPAs.
"I love to find a cool restaurant or a cool place to get a drink every day. You have to do it, at least for us," Junker says. "No band eats as much as our band — at least not that we've been on tour with . . . There are some bands that are so good at not spending any money on tour — I'm sure you've been on a trip with someone who is so good at not spending any money — and thankfully we're not very good at not spending any money. We don't have a lot of money, and it's not like we're blowing tons of money on tour, but for me it's important to try to have a good time."
For Junker, that means a good beer to sip while poring over the San Diego Reader. For Brian, it's a little ice cream shop — microcreameries, he calls them.
"Being on tour is not like traveling — in any way. It's being in a van for six or eight hours and then being in a club for five hours, then going to a hotel and getting up and finding a place to eat," Coughlin says. "You have to share beds . . . You're not making any money."
"That's why when you get to a town, you try to find a place that isn't an Applebee's, so at least you have that," Junker says. "I'm going to have a decent beer or meal or ice cream, even if that's the only thing that goes right the whole day."
"It may have cost me $900 to get out there and play in front of three people, but at least the ice cream was good," Coughlin says.
They're being modest about the turnout. At least at Silverlake Lounge, where they played last night for a healthy and interested crowd, despite being slotted after a shitty prog-rock band in matching camouflage. The Silverlake is one of three notably cool clubs in the hip L.A. hood from which it takes a name, right across the street from the liquor store where Silversun Pickups got their handle.
Tonight, it's on to Soda Bar in San Diego, a timeless club with soft leather booths, a vintage Battletoads arcade game that people are actually feeding quarters, and a sign above the bar advertising the house special and reading precisely as this: "Shot (well) and beer (domestic) 6$." These California shows are part of an assiduous month-long project that finds Kinch doing weekly residencies at those clubs as well as Scottsdale's Rogue Bar.
The whole concept of a "residency" is a novelty in Phoenix, but buzzing L.A. bands have been doing it for a while. Out there, it's like a victory lap — maybe you get signed and schedule a month of shows to learn a new record and hang out with your friends — which is why their stint initially raised the ire of The 704, an Angelino music blog with fashionably low production values and writing heavily influenced by Hipster Runoff. After seeing their show, the blogger ended up praising them in spite of himself — in the coolest, most detached way he could manage.