Origins is a recurring new music feature which offers an artist or band the chance to examine some of the specific influences behind their latest track.
Surfing is more than just a lifestyle for the members of Clean Spill, who are either descendants of surf pros or catch waves on the regular. The Santa Barbara-based outfit also fold in plenty of elements of the throwback rock genre, updating its ’50s and ’60s sound for the modern-day listener. On their forthcoming Nothing’s On My Mind EP, Clean Spill mined that era with the help of one of its most dedicated fans: singer-songwriter and vintage rock master Hanni El Khatib. El Khatib produced the entire project, helping to pick just the right guitar layers, amps, and pedals to achieve Clean Spill’s desired ambiance, which is often a fusion of peppy, beach-ready surf rock offset by somber lyrics.
Fans can hear this duality on the group’s latest EP offering, “Rolling”, where buoyant guitars accompany a tale of summer disappointment. “‘Rolling’ is a surfy, melodramatic breakup song,” Clean Spill tell Consequence of Sound. “This song masks the heartbreak and feelings of loneliness with lighthearted guitar and an uptempo surf beat.”
“The song was one of the first songs Pat and Cam wrote together as a Clean Spill song, the chorus was developed about four or five years ago in the same old backyard cabin most of our initial material was written in,” they add. “This song is the essence of Clean Spill, a happy song with sad lyrics that emulates the paradox of our band name. If all the lyrics were happy, the song would be cheesy.”
Check it out below via the track’s official music video, which follows frontman Pat Curren as he deals with the aftermath of a split. Nothing’s On My Mind is due out sometime this summer.
Speaking further to CoS, Clean Spill reveal a few of the sources of inspiration that helped bring “Rolling” to life, including the famed “Cabin” where they held many early writing sessions, the garage rock of The Strokes, and a couple crisp, cold Modelo beers.
This song was initially written by Pat and I (Cam) in the early stages of our formation as a band. We wrote a lot of these songs in this backyard shed that I lived in, which we commonly referred to as “The Cabin”. “Montezuma” and other of our earliest works were written there. The song embodies the kind of carefree energy of our immaturity at the time, Pat being 17 and me 20, and essentially having a good time just drinking beer and writing music in the cabin. The drinking could occasionally lead to venting on paper about girls and romantic endeavors, which could also occasionally lead to a song, if we were lucky.
When watching old surf movies we always loved the vibes of the classic surf guitar sounds. We spent a lot of time playing songs by The Ventures (“Sleep Walk” was the first cover we did as a band), and the style of those songs kind of stuck around in alot of our guitar playing. In “Rolling”, we strived to express that classic surf movie feeling with a more modern approach. Dick Dale was also referenced quite a bit during the writing process.
The Strokes — Is This It:
We clearly like The Strokes. At the time, we were listening to alot of garage rock albums, like The Libertines and Whatever People Say I am.. by The Arctic Monkeys. However, Is This It kind of changed our whole writing style. We were pretty inspired by the whole piece of work, and it influenced us into playing faster and incorporating more lead guitar melodies throughout our music among other things. Our newer music has changed quite a bit since then, but a trace of that post punk/garage rock influence always seems to follow us around.
Santa Barbara is our hometown, one that has upsides and downsides like any other place in the world. It’s pretty and usually has good surf and an abundance of quality people, but it definitely feels small. You literally can’t go anywhere without running into 10 people you know. This made playing music that much better, it was something we could do for hours and hours without having to go anywhere. Not that we were outcasts or anything, (or maybe we were who knows), I mean we have a lot of great friends in town that we love seeing. Sometimes though you just want to stay inside and jam for 5 hours instead of walking down the street to grab a fucking smoothie and seeing your whole jr. high school with their family and dogs.
They just had to be in here for obvious reasons.