Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
The first hint that Adrianne Verhoeven, Alex deLanda, Josh Adams and Josh Miller were moving in the direction of the current Extra Classic sound was over three years ago, when they made a long drive from Lawrence, Kansas, to Coon Rapids, Iowa, to play on the final day of the inaugural Barnstormer tour. At the time, they were still performing under the name Dri - of which they'd released an incredible album on Range Life Records - but the songs were more in a boozy, Fleetwood Mac-y pop vein. When they arrived at the bottom of a dirt road, in the middle of a driving rain storm, at a barn that Al Capone routinely hid out and partied at while picking up his Templeton Rye during Prohibition time, this was what we were expecting, but it's not what we got.
What they played that night was a Californian version of reggae and dub music that felt tropical and topical. It was loaded with sandy vibrations, leisure organ parts, up-stroked guitars and salt-water grooves about love and peace, about universal understanding and the kind of freedom that doesn't have to be political. With the addition of former Impossible Shapes/Horns of Happiness' Aaron Deer, the band has moved even further into a concerned, but mostly worry-free zone, where the injustices of the world can't get to you if you just make yourself impervious enough, if you grow a thick enough hide.
Sadly, thick enough hides don't grow quickly, never setting fully until old age has punished us enough with knowledge and understanding, or just beaten us down enough to where we'd rather just be ignored. These chilled songs of liquored days and highs, of love as it behaves idyllically are like the messages and lines we'd like to get burned into our skin. We'd take them anywhere, just to have some escape from the jungle and the madness that follows us around wherever we are.