On Creature Sounds, folk rockers Salt Wizard melodize your subconscience
So much depends on perspective: In courts of law, it’s well understood that two people who witnessed the same event might tell different stories about it later. And that concept in the context of a personal relationship is part of what makes “Back Seat,” the first song on Salt Wizard’s new album, Creature Sounds, so compelling. The voices of Rachel Lomax and Eric Warren intertwine in a round—a style of singing where multiple voices sing the same melody but start at different times—and tell the same overlapping story from separate points of view.
“It’s written in the perspective of two people riding in a car—one in the front seat and one in the back seat—and what they’re both experiencing simultaneously, which is how reality is,” Warren said.
“Eric started writing the song and had that first verse,” Lomax said, “and I wrote the second from that perspective, and then we realized we could sing them at the same time and it sounded awesome.”
Awesome indeed. Salt Wizard is a SAMMIE-award winning local folk-rock band fronted by the married couple of Lomax and Warren. They share vocal and songwriting duties and live together on the Sacramento River with their 1-year-old son, Max, who babbled happily in the background during a recent interview with the SN&R. The group is rounded out by drummer Anthony Ordonez and bassist Steven Cranston, who recently joined the band to help bring the new songs to life in the live setting.
Salt Wizard will play at Sophia’s Thai Bar & Kitchen on Saturday, June 16 as part of Davis Music Fest (June 15-17), in support of Creature Sounds, the follow-up to the band’s full-length debut in 2014.
The album was recorded and partially mixed in a home-built studio in Lomax and Warren’s backyard, usually after they put Max to bed for the night. It’s loaded with surprises like “Noice,” a dark sound collage Warren pieced together with synthesizer plugins, a guitar run through analog tape delay, and his, uh, mouth.
“I just made different sounds and ran them through different guitar effects and recorded that,” he said. “Also, I recorded stuff outside, like the rain outside of our studio and some bird sounds by the river. Later, I tried to mimic the bird sounds with my guitar.”
The song serves as the album’s instrumental centerpiece as well as inspiration for the cover art, which itself is a visual collage created by Lomax. “It’s another example of our dueling subconsciences,” Warren said.
When the mood is right, Salt Wizard also rocks hard. “LSD” is a fuzzed-out psych-rock freakout of the highest order, serving as a heavy-hitting counterbalance to Creature Sounds’ softer indie numbers.
“We like to be unexpected, lyrically and musically,” Warren said.
“We also just enjoy playing different types of music,” Lomax added. “We started playing [“LSD”] and we were stoked because it’s so heavy. It’s so fun.”
Music isn’t the couple’s only focus—far from it. By day, Warren works as a graphic designer, while Lomax works in the mental health field. And, of course, they have their hands full with raising Max. But they are serious about the craft and specifically focus on lyrics written from unique perspectives.
“We appreciate the ability of music to communicate the subconscious or unconscious,” Lomax says. “Our lyrics are not incredibly straightforward, but each person can come up with their own meaning or interpretation of the song and maybe connect with it on a deeper level.”