By Eddie Jorgensen
Experimental punk rock band The Freak Accident returns to the Cafe Colonial for another round of absurdity, inside jokes and not-so-light listening. Fans of punk, jazz, surf, power pop, and even world music will appreciate the multiple directions any given release takes them.
Led by Victims Family guitarist and singer Ralph Spight, the collective has added yet another new release to its growing catalog, “Outer Space is Boring.’ It is the band’s fourth full-length recording, available directly at https://thefreakaccident.bandcamp.com.
As evidenced by tracks like “I Hate Myself,” even though Spight and the current band take their music seriously, they continue to have themes that border on the utterly silly. Some tracks are always good for a hearty laugh.
Rounding out the upcoming bill at Café Colonial is Alternative Tentacles recording artist The Darts, as well as The Contraptions. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $17 at www.cafecolonial916.com. Cafe Colonial is located at 3520 Stockton Blvd. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts promptly at 8 p.m.
Given that The Freak Accident is still making hilariously fun records and performing them live, SN&R recently caught up with Spight for an interview.
SN&R: The Freak Accident has featured several different line-ups in the past. Was incorporating new members any harder as you got older?
Ralph Spight: No, I don’t think so. The Freak Accident just started with me writing and recording songs in my bedroom on a minimal Pro Tools rig. As I kept working on it I realized I’d need live drums so I recruited a few different drummers to lay down tracks and then several other instrumentalists to do solos, textures, etc., but for the most part I played and sang almost everything, so from the beginning it was more of a solo effort. I’d played in a band with a more or less rotating line-up in Plainfield, which was more like the jazz mentality of whoever can play the gig is in the band that night and a lot of the songs from that first record sort of lent themselves to that sort of approach.
So, the first couple of line-ups were pretty flexible and there was a bit of improv. As time went on, we sort of morphed into the first trio line-up that was some two other Plainfield members; Kimo Ball on bass and Mike Branum on drums. So the second album “Tissue Sample” sounded way more like a punk/indie band and as that line-up progressed though we also branched out into improv territory somewhat (witness the 12-minute Cheech and Chong meets Zappa jam on “Irony Man” from the “Octopus Head” EP) while also playing punk, thrash and power pop textures. After Kimo and I got drafted into Guantanamo School of Medicine we were just simply too busy to pay much attention to the Freak Accident but in 2014 I started working on new Freak songs with a new line-up of Abel Mouton on bass, who’d played in the original live line-ups and helped in the production of the first album and Eric Strand on drums, who I had played with in both Victims Family and Moto-Stillbirth previously.
This line-up made the “Tropical Depression ” EP of surf covers of Joy Division songs and the “Misfortune Teller” album. Abel left and was replaced by Henry Austin Lannan who’d I’d also known for sometime and then when Eric left we auditioned two drummers, the first guy was some dude from Craigslist who didn’t work out and the second one was Stark Raving Brad, who I’d known for years already. So really, I’ve managed to just continue to work with people I’ve already played music with in other projects for the most part.
SN&R: How long did it take to write and record ‘Outer Space Is Boring’ as opposed to earlier records?
Spight: Well, “Beautiful/Ugly” and “Self-Destruct” were songs that I started working on with Abel and Eric as early as 2017 which had made it into the live set already. After Abel left, Austin and Eric and I started working on new songs and there were quite a few riffs, songs, etc that were being bounced around that haven’t seen the light of day yet. “Outer Space Is Boring” came about around that time and some of the other songs were being worked on.
Then COVID hit and we didn’t rehearse much or really stay in touch for a whole year, and as soon as I was ready to pick it up again, Eric decided to leave the band. When Brad came in, we had the outlines of the new record but really started honing-in on the rest of the tunes and playing as many shows as we could to raise money for recording. We recorded basic tracks in late 2021 and I began doing overdubs and vocals after that in our rehearsal room, which took most of the next year and played more shows to afford mixing and mastering costs, then more of the same to afford the pressing. So really about a year and a half for the production but it had started taking shape pretty soon after “Misfortune Teller” was recorded. I usually find that I’ll write a lot after releasing a record, so at the moment we’re working on about seven new songs, so it seems like a good chunk of the next record is coming together and we’re already playing a couple of those songs live. This next set of songs seems to be more punk, more direct and very much sounds like this line-up. I’m pretty excited to see how we can get this one out a lot quicker.
SN&R: You play Sacramento semi-regularly. How did this bill with The Darts come about?
Spight: Chris (Lemos) at Cafe Colonial has been super supportive of The Freak Accident. We’ve played on some cool, unusual bills there, so I stay in touch with him pretty regularly. I was actually trying to book some other dates when the Darts thing came up and I’m pretty stoked for that, what with the Alternative Tentacles connection with them, I think it’ll be a cool show.
SN&R: What advice would you give younger musicians about starting a new, original band in today’s musical climate?
Spight: I don’t know. I think it’s really an interesting time to be in bands. It’s like the DIY model of being in a band is the way the music industry works now. The best advice I can give anyone is to stay focused on creating good music. Think about the music. Right now, The Freak Accident feels to me like being in a band with my friends like it did in my 20s, because that’s what it is. Everyone is really engaged, has ideas and is contributing and putting action into it and we’re having a great time. If I start to think about how long I’ve been doing this and thinking I should be somewhere else now, I’d just get bummed out. But we’re putting out records ourselves and every time we get airplay or get some good press or sell some records or play a good show it feels like a little victory. Little by little more people are becoming aware of us. I think the problem of doing this for a long time is that people think they have you all figured out by the time you make your second record and you never get to move beyond their expectations of what they think you should be. That’s why I keep this band going. People never know what they are going to get when we play. Which version are we going to be tonight?