Their future is so bright they’ve got to wear shorts.
It’s Echo Park. It’s blistering, and the men of Oliver Future have congregated in a semicircle of shorts. Quite comfortable when you compare it to that of the uniform worn by the group’s real-life Civil War counterpart, the primary influence for its glam rocky moniker.
There’s no Oliver in sight or in shorts in Echo Park, just a bunch of laid back Texans by the names of Noah Lit, Josh Lit, Jesse Ingalls and Jordan Richardson. The fifth member, Sam Raver, whose great grandfather was a Civil War officer of a small territory called Oliver, Ky. It’s all fascinating considering that family heritage may have been put aside if the second option on the potential band name list had been selected.
“We wanted to call our band the Male Cheerleaders because they’re always the dumbest or smartest guys on the field,” Noah says.
Amid a myriad of mid-interview jokes and a couple of beers is the story of back-to-back 30-minute showcases, financial resources going down the drain in two months and the painful task for everyone: finding any means necessary to make cash. Originally from Austin, Texas, home to such preeminent musicians as Spoon and Explosions in the Sky, Oliver Future was not so much attached to its scene, but more importantly, wasn’t interested in being consumed by it.
“You get tired of your scene after a while,” Raver says. “You can only go so far in Austin, and then you have to get out and do it yourself. The bands that do stick around in Austin just become Austin-famous and don’t really go anywhere else. We didn’t want to be that band.”
In an opportunity of circumstance, a management company presented the band with the financial assets to move to Los Angeles. Collectively the decision was made, and they embarked to the Hollywood Hills. For two months, it felt like a vacation, almost like Spring Break, Richardson recalls, until it all became perfectly clear once day 60 passed.
“Two months in you realize all of a sudden, ‘wow we’re not getting any help anymore,’” Josh says. “We’ve completed our bank accounts that we’ve saved. Now it’s back to reality and to try to find ways to make money, but still maintain being a band, not necessarily working full time jobs. Next thing you know its five years, and you’re stuck in L.A. “
The band got wrapped into an uncreative scene where not only 30-minute showcase sets existed but pressure by the business to edit one’s songs became too mind-numbing. It took nearly a year until the band landed safely back to reality, returning to their influences (the Beatles, Tom Waits and Marvin Gaye).
“We were trying to write a record called the Pre-Scientology Years,” Noah says. “It was going to be our L.A. quintessential record, and that’s OK to do if you’ve just moved to L.A. and you’re just new. But by the time we made this record we hadn’t just moved to L.A., we had been here a year and a half. We live here. We’re part of the problem.”
Co-produced with Adam Lasus (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), the band that was nearly on the brink of a mid music/metropolis crisis has now spilled its guts of the past by means of Pax Futura, a record on which nothing is short of taboo: apocalyptic nightmare, post 9/11 and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
“In reality Katrina was a metaphor for a bigger problem,” Noah says of the Katrina-themed track “Drowning Parade.”
“We’re making metaphors on a metaphor of a bigger issue,” he continues. “I just think people should write everything they feel about everything.”
Smart? Yes. Endless possibilities? Absolutely.
“If you can survive the first two years in L.A., I think you can pretty much pull off whatever you want to do,” Ingalls assures.
Pax Futura is currently available. The band will perform Aug. 20 on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” and that evening at Spaceland in Silverlake. For more information, visit www.oliverfuture.com.