“It seems like every summer, something else is going on. I guess that’s because our music is so summery,” says Jason Brewer, singer and guitarist for Charleston, S.C.-based rock outfit The Explorers Club.
Indeed, “summery” could be the most apt description of what the Explorers Club does, since buried beneath waves of love and youth-themed harmonies lies some of the most exciting, pre-Vietnam War-inspired rock n’ roll out there. If you close your eyes you can hear the ring of Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys (albeit with a psychedelic edge) resonant in the band’s debut, Freedom Wind (Dead Oceans, 2008), an album whose love of yesteryear is palpable.
But the Explorers Club are not ones for dwelling in summers or sounds past. Hot on the heels of Wind (released just three months ago), band leader Brewer is already champing at the bit to record its follow up.
“I’m ready to make a new record right now,” Brewer says. “I want to release a new record every year. Nobody does that, and it annoys me. Why keep your fans waiting for three years? Is that some strategy to sell more records? If you have fans, write songs and put out another record to keep them happy.”
That immediacy and eagerness to please could be written off as the impulse of an impetuous songwriter keen to make his mark. Brewer’s ambition, however, lies in the desire to craft the perfect pop song.
“I’ve got the second record I’m working on right now,” he says. “It’s still got the harmonies and it’s really experimental. It’s still two-and-a-half-minute pop songs, but it’s stretching our sound a bit more.”
Brewer’s muse for creating the Explorers Club’s three-chord pieces of art isn’t the fashion-conscious, media-darling indie-rock band of the moment, but the classic sounds that serve as the very bedrock of the rock ‘n’ roll tradition. According to Brewer, it was a mixture of oldies radio and a cassette tape belonging to his mother that began his march toward pop perfection.
“The first time I heard ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ I wanted to play guitar, and the first time I heard The Beatles I wanted to learn to write songs,” he says. “I always had that thing where I thought, ‘Those guys are the best, and I want to be like them.’”
He adds, “The older I got, the more that kind of stuff blasted into my head forever and it really stuck.”
In fact, those songs did more than just inspire Brewer’s interest in music. They instilled within him the dos and don’ts of rock, which is what separates the Explorers Club’s musical sensibilities from the rest of the pack. The long and the short of it is this: These guys sound authentic.
In the three years since the formation of the Explorers Club, the band has completed tours, received rave reviews in Europe for both their self-released E.P. and Wind, and have had their music featured on Fox T.V.‘s The O.C. Still, it seems these milestones of success are just the beginning for the band. The road to stability remains a few beats away.
“We’ve worked hard, but we’re not making any money,” Brewer says. “We are still so broke. We still have a lot of things to do to win fans over. But we have a record out, so that helps.”
If the band’s success (and level of musical ability this soon into their existence) is any indication, then the words of the Beach Boys should be a benediction of sorts: “Don’t worry, baby, everything will turn out all right.”
[Jason Bugg is a freelance writer based in Asheville.]
who: The Explorer’s Club with Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers
what: Psychedelic pop-rock
where: The Rocket Club
when: Saturday, July 19 (10 p.m. $8. www.therocketclub.net or 505-2494)