Buzzed Aldrin isn’t really living up to his name just yet, though the room-temperature Coors Light he’s working on is a means to that end.
Holding court in a gear-jammed garage even warmer than the brew he clutches, Aldrin details the litmus test for a Sheiks of Neptune tune.
“My main focus is the butt,” explains the guitarist and songwriter (aka Brian Larsh). “If my butt’s not moving when I listen to it …” he says, his voice trailing off as the bandmate next to him finishes the thought.
“That’s the meter,” continues singer Sheikenstein (Dick Vain). “If we’re working on a song and we’re both standing up from the computer doing a little this (quick pelvis thrust) we’re like, ‘Oh, that’s it.’ ”
And those are the simple origins of The Sheiks’ decidedly more elaborate jams, which comprise a whole mess of potential incongruities that this bunch somehow make work together: metal riffs, punk rock velocity, surf grooves, touches of country-western swing, ska-worthy horns, to name but a few of the moving parts that power The Sheiks’ restless songbook.
Oh, and there are also contributions from a classically trained violinist, Val 9000, who joined the band via a Craigslist ad seeking players for a band that “anyone can join, any instrument, as long as you want to have fun.”
“I was in string quartets and things before this, and I was just kind over classical musicians,” explains the musician in question (Valori Walker). “They’re not fun.”
Fun is the operative word here, the beginning, middle and end of the story of The Sheiks.
They’re easily one of Vegas’ most inimitable bands, one that’s built a reputation for riotous, prop-heavy live gigs, where the band dons matching fez hats and custom shirts, backed by various B-movie trailers projected behind them.
Though The Sheiks’ muses include all manner of science fiction, vintage drive-in flicks and beer, and they started informally over drinks between Larsh and Vain at Frankie’s Tiki Room a few years back, they’re all serious players, as evidenced by their new record, “Come Drink With The Sheiks,” which the band releases Friday with a gig at Dive Bar.
“Drink” is an epic space rager with Vain giving manic, eye-bulging voice to tightly wound jams populated by cat women and worm holes. The songs are dense with samples, double entendre and musical left turns, a wild ride to galaxies unknown, musically or otherwise.
“It’s so unpredictable, and yet everything flows,” says drummer Cosmo Knotts (Ron Carpenter), sitting near his kit, whose bass drum is adorned with a picture of an astronaut Don Knotts.
“I think the reason it all works out is because there’s depth to it,” adds bassist Skeeter O’ Toole (Paul Donnelly). “It’s not just a shallow song that we’re thrown. There’s a story behind it. There’s lots of layers to it.”
Now, this bunch has to figure a way to deliver these songs live, nuances and all, which they’re working on diligently, rehearsing in the space where they currently sit, rounded out by second guitarist Brando Calrissian (Brandon Duffney).
“The last seven days we practiced, what? Nine days?” Larsh quips, before giving some credit to his bandmates. “Ron does a great job. Brandon, ehh.”
The band spent over a year making the new album, leaving dozens of tunes on the cutting-room floor to find the right mix.
“Drink,” then, is a lot to swallow.
“Every little part is fine-tuned,” Vain says, reflecting on how detail-oriented the band’s new record is, with an abundance of little flourishes. “I get bored really easily,” he says by way of explanation. “Beer helps a lot.”
Contact Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.