Down West

Steve Stanard and Theo Waddell were Northeast L.A. neighbors first, friends second, and Down West third.

They developed their stripped down acoustic sound playing Los Angeles street festivals, and later local bars. Theo Waddell's cajon-plus percussion setup was the perfect match for Steve Stanard's hard-played guitar-driven songs, punctuated with harmonica melodies. The locals approved.

Now, with their debut EP, Down West is putting to rest the idea that acoustic music is somehow synonymous with "mellow."

"We definitely have our ballad-y side," says Steve (check out Illinois), "but we both have rock band backgrounds. Even with just the two of us, our live shows can get pretty raucous. Theo's a big John Bonham fan, and I can always hear a little Zep in his cajon playing."

The title track is a good example of a catchy folk song backed by Waddell's driving acoustic percussion. A wailing harp floats over an infectious percussion groove, which later surprises with rock-style "drum" breaks. Lyrically, the song is deceptively simple. "I actually wrote the song 2015 a few years back," says Steve. "Back then it was a song about a possibly dystopian near future. But now I feel like it's more about how we could lose everything at any time, but still be ok if we have someone."

Another Second Chance follows, a Bo Diddley-esque rhythm defining a rock song about starting over yet again. Country ballad Illinois is almost too sad, until the almost-cumbia opening riff of Arroyo Grande sends you on a central California road trip.

Steve's vocals have been compared to Neil Young, and his harmonica playing style only adds to the comparison. But his songwriting has a more pop-hook sensibility, even as the unplugged vibe keeps everything grounded and raw.

The EP was recorded at Atwater's own Prime Rib Studios, by engineer/proprietor Phil Rohr, who also played bass on the tracks. Michael Marquez added piano on Illinois, and Theo and Steve tracked the rest.

Videos are in the works, as are more recordings of their large catalog of original material. "We're finding different studios and production partners around our neck of town, and recording one song here, two songs there," says Theo. "So our album follow-up should be interesting and fun to do."
Read more… close
  1. 1 2015 03:52 Info Buy
  2. 2 Another Second Chance 03:48 Info Buy
  3. 3 Illinois 04:08 Info Buy
  4. 4 Arroyo Grande 03:41 Info Buy