Every second counts
“Short Hair seems like a name that was the antithesis of baroque excess,” says guitarist Mike Modene.
The historic “gods of rock,” and all those who aspire to their thrones, have, since the 1960s, usually worn their hair long. Short Hair align themselves with the punk spirit that rails against any pretensions of musical divinity. The name also encapsulates the physicality and sly humor of the band. Short Hair play stripped-down, short and concise, noisy rock music.
Singer and occasional keyboardist Troy Ayala is a shrill, shrieking, sarcastic little ball of energy. Modene is a lefty that plays a right-hand-slung guitar upside down, which only partly explains his goofy-footed guitar playing and dreamy Australian gaze. Clint Neuerberg’s fat basslines draw from noise rockers like Shellac and The Jesus Lizard. Drummer Troy Elizres ties it all together: The difference between rocking hard on the verge of chaos and actual unpleasant chaos is a good drummer.
Songs like “Working up a Black Sweat” (a title that references Prince), “Helicopters” and “Onwards and F-Words” are noise-pop tunes carefully structured to sound like they’re on the verge of falling apart.
Skronking, twittering shards of sound suddenly cohere into thick rock riffs. The overall effect is akin to contemporary weirdos like Deerhoof, or no wave, the arty New York version of post-punk (think early Sonic Youth or even very early Talking Heads).
Short Hair have a real knack for song titles: “Poltergash,” is reminiscent of ghosts, chicken and vulgar euphemisms for female anatomy all in one, foul little word.
Since both Modene and Neuerberg also play in local indie rock favorites Think In French, one’s tempted to draw comparisons, but Short Hair is a much leaner and meaner affair. Most Short Hair songs clock in under two minutes. The fan favorite single, “Bill of Rights,” inspired by the popular historical document, is just a second-and-a-half of twangy sonic perfection.
“Well, with the count-in, I think it’s five seconds long,” says Neuerberg.
“Other bands might have shorter songs,” says Modene. “But ours is country.”
“It is the shortest country song ever,” says Neuerberg. “We guarantee it.”
There’s a lot of humor in Short Hair’s music, but it doesn’t comes from joke lyrics or goofy on-stage antics.
“It’s not a dork party,” says Elizres.
Instead, the humor comes from the wit and intelligence of the actual music.
“March of the Bar-Be-Que,” for example, has melodic moments featuring chirping keyboards that sound satiric, but also genuinely pretty and with a well-earned effect of looming dangers.
“Deep Squeak” is a rollicking deconstruction of The Bay City Rollers.
“We’re good friends, and we have the same sense of humor, and that comes through in the music,” says Neuerberg. “And we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Modene has another explanation for why people find humor in their music: “Sometimes, people aren’t sure how to respond to us. So they just try to laugh it off.”
Short Hair will be releasing four 7-inch singles next year, each featuring artwork by a different member of the band.
They are currently planning a record release show at a to-be-announced location on Jan. 2. This show will be a tour kick-off for a jaunt all over California.
They’ll return to town on Jan. 20, with an all-ages show at Studio on 4th with Manacle, Health and I Am a Gymnast.