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Broke-Ass Band Interview: The Range of Light Wilderness (Fri & Sat!)

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Sometimes I really like a band and decide to interview them. When it’s for SFGate, I’m required to be somewhat ladylike. When it’s for Brokeass, I’m required (allowed) to be slightly more irreverent. Thus I have to find ways of making fun of the band, just a little. Some bands make this task easier by being hippies. And as someone with hippie tendencies myself, I know just how to satirize the lifestyle.

That reminds me: I’ve been tweeting Craigslist house-hunting deal-breakers (Twitter plug! while looking for a room in San Francisco. Most of the deal-breakers have to do with cats (I’m allergic) and anthropomorphizing (I’m allergic). For example, “There are three roommates: two human, one feline.” Gross. Other deal-breakers include buzzwords like Burning Man, crystals, goddess, surfer, poetry, etc. Even though I occasionally hear mention of these things at this Broke-Ass Band’s shows, I still love them. That’s how dreamy they are.

Introducing the Range of Light Wilderness (ROLW), a local trio that makes beautiful beachy surfy folk music. With a badass girl drummer (love it!), lush three-part harmonies (my weak spot!), and catchy sing-along-inducing melodies, this is the new shoegaze band to listen to. I don’t actually know what “shoegaze” is, but that adjective sounds fitting. Except for the fact that these three are so good-looking that you’ll probably never take your eyes off the stage. Also, turns out they’re hilarious, so read on!

Finishing up a month-long tour with Yesway (another Broke-Ass Band interviewee), ROLW plays this Friday, July 29, at the Convent (you know, that converted-church hippie-commune place near Alamo Square) and Saturday, July 30, at the Headlands (you know, that nature-reserve hippie-commune right over the Golden Gate Bridge). But in all seriousness, I’ve seen these guys live several times (including once at the Headlands, which is stunningly picturesque) and it’s always good. No, great. No, excellent!

Introduce yourselves!

Tommy: Sing, guitar.
Nick: Sing too, bass.
Jessi: Sing too, drums.

Describe your sound in five words or less.

T: Zip a dee doo da.
N: Jam a lama ding dong.
J: Om shanti shanti.

Tell us about your bandname?

T: I stole it from John Muir.
N: Pass.
J: What he said.

Favorite thing about San Francisco?

T: The people.
N: Bum circles.
J: It’s close to nature stuff.

Favorite SF restaurant?

T: Grub steak at 2am.
N: Nizzzzzzzzzario’s.
J: Burritos!

Favorite SF bar?

T: I’m not much of a bar guy.
N: I’m more of a brown-bagger.
J: The Hemlock, where I first met these two jokers.

How do you prepare for a big show? What will you be doing the night before?

T: Typically the night before i get a message from Jessi telling me we have one.
N: Working on my “moves.”
J: Informing Tommy (via smoke signals) that we have a show and choreographing nick’s “moves.”

What can people expect at your shows?

T: Weightlessness.
N: Pit stains.
J: Tingles in strange places.

What do you do during downtime on tour?

T: Lay low.
N: Gas station push-ups.
J: Needlepointing Harry Nilsson album covers.

What’s next for the band? (i.e. plug your next show!)

N: With the Rustangs in SF mid-August.
T: At the Make-Out Room with Magic Leaves August 22.
J: Check out more upcoming shows at our BANDCAMP page.

Three things you’d take to a desert island?

N: L, S, and D.
T: What nick said, and waterfall, snacks.
J: Toss up between: chips, salsa, and margaritas. Or Nick, Tommy, and Johnny Depp.

What movie can you watch over and over and never get sick of?

T: Groundhogs Day.
N: The Cruise.
J: Dumb and Dumber.

Favorite season or time of year (and why)?

T: Mating season.
N: Memorial day (can’t remember)
J: Fall. I like to watch things die.

Three things that are in your fridge right now?

T: My yurt didn’t come with a fridge.
N: Broken light bulb, a cool breeze, carrot ghosts.
J: Me no have no home. we have a cooler on our tour bus with stains in it.

Anything in your sock drawer besides socks?

T: All my secrets.
N: A box of rocks and some extra clocks.
J: Socks are for jocks.

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty, i.e. money:

T: My mom recently told me I’ve figured out how to live like a millionaire with no money.
N: I like to think of myself as a “big spender.”
J: A certain FBI agent once told me, “Once a day, every day, give yourself a gift. Don’t plan it. Just let it happen.”

(oops, we thought that was one of the questions)

Have any tips for aspiring musicians trying to make it on their craft?

T: Grow perfect hair (see Nick).
N: Learn Blackbird on guitar.
J: Play with other musicians who make you look good.

Best money saving tip in general?

T: Live rent free in the most expensive area of the country.
N: Change your pin number so many times you can never remember it, and hide your tips in your girlfriend’s wallet.
J: This is not my area of expertise.

Where do you live now and what are some good cheap/fun things to do in that area?

T: Big sur. Esalen late night baths, sunrises on Partington Ridge, tripping with friends.
N: Oakland. Work.
J: Oakland. Drunk biking.

What do you refuse to spend money on?

T: American Apparel (they have a “no-chase” policy).
N: Greenpeace.
J: Things I need.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought and how did that feel?

T: When I was 24 I wanted to be taken seriously as a musician, so I spent all my money on a fancy acoustic guitar. The next day I tripped and stepped on it.
N: A banjo. Embarrassing.
J: A used bed frame and mattress. Made me feel kinda itchy.

What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?

T: Two years probation.
N: 1987 Toyota pickup truck (still runs like a dream).
J: I still can’t believe I get to play with my two favorite musicians (awwwww).

What is your favorite free thing to do?

T: Nap.
N: Crap.
J: Slap.

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?

T: Commission a book by Suzanne Vallie, and purchase all of Kyle Fields art… aaaaaand a throne room.
N: Unbroken versions of stuff I already have.
J: A rad pad on the coast of California. Oops, I thought you said billionaire.

What’s one GOOD thing about not having a ton of money?

T: I know my friends love me for me.
N: Whaa?
J: Food stamps.

Any last words?

N: “NOT IT!”

*photos by Kacey Johansing

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Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe - Pennywise Reporter

Chloe's youth was split between California and Kauai, frolicking on a macadamia nut farm in the tropics and landing finally in the Bay Area. Raised by super-Jew hippies, and the youngest of three sisters, Chloe learned early the virtues of thrift, economy, and green living. To the chagrin of her parents (who hoped, of course, for a Jewish doctor or lawyer), Chloe has put her degree from UC Berkeley to great use by becoming a folk singer. As "Chloe Makes Music" she plays shows throughout SF and beyond, donning vintage frocks, selling handmade merch, and pinching pennies as she sings for her supper. Calling Berkeley home for the last six years, you can think of Chloe as the website's East Bay Correspondent, opening your eyes to the hippie-filled, tree-hugging, organic-loving, vegan-eating, but way-overlooked and awesome assets of Berkeley, Oakland, and beyond.


  1. jessie
    August 2, 2011 at 6:25 am

    yay! show at make-out room w/ magic leaves & jeffrey manson & midday veil (josh’s friends touring through) is on the 21st of august actually. xoxo

  2. jessie
    August 1, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    yay! show at make-out room w/ magic leaves & jeffrey manson & midday veil (josh’s friends touring through) is on the 21st of august actually. xoxo

  3. […] The Blank Tapes (who take off for Brazil after this show!) and The Range of Light Wilderness (who I interviewed on here in July) are two of the most entertaining local bands to watch/dance to, and my pals from New […]