Sneeze Attack’s pet sounds
The Sacramento punk band’s approach keeps it raw but chill
At one point, Dino Riccobene lived with 27 pets. There was a hedgehog and a duck. An iguana roamed free. Birdcages were left open.
That was back at her parents’ house. Now, Riccobene has her own pet bunny, Aurora, who has seen 26 states as a tour mate. And a dog, Maxwell. And two cats. And a chameleon. She’s also a pet sitter. Cute animal pictures flood her social media feeds.
The funny part about all of this is that Riccobene is crazy allergic to animals. She takes Benadryl constantly and regularly checks the day’s pollen count, since the outdoors gives her problems, too.
Hence, the name of her band with Hans White: Sneeze Attack.
Riccobene’s past credentials include the pop-punk group Little Medusas, as well as playing bass for Kepi Ghoulie. White, meanwhile, currently plays with the Croissants, Blhans and Charles Albright. He’s also the guy behind the cassette label Pleasant Screams. That’s how White and Riccobene first met, and then started dating, and then formed Sneeze Attack back in 2012 with Riccobene on guitar and White on bass. A ’90s power-pop meets fuzzy garage rock style poured out effortlessly.
“I don’t plan a sound,” Riccobene says. “I just write and it turns into what it turns into.”
They drew up a few songs one night, brought on Patrick Shelley to play drums, practiced one time and turned that iPhone-recorded session into Sneeze Attack’s debut EP, Aurora, named after Riccobene’s bunny.
Now, the band is taking a massive step up with its debut full-length, Maxwell, named after Riccobene’s dog. Sneeze Attack is aiming for an April 15 physical release and will celebrate with an all-ages gig Saturday, April 2, at the Hideaway Bar & Grill as well as a 21-and-up show Thursday, April 7, at Press Club.
Maxwell speeds through 10, quick-hitting punk songs that feel fun, raw and sincere. Riccobene’s smart, charming lyrics come through on the high-quality recording, which was actually produced in a similar fashion to Aurora—in terms of speed, at least.
“We thought, in the spirit of the EP, let’s keep it real and live and who we are,” White says.
With the help of Chris Woodhouse at the Dock Studio, they finished recording and mixing in just 12 hours, from noon to midnight. It speaks to Sneeze Attack’s laissez-faire, chill approach to just about everything.
“It’s gonna be how it’s gonna be,” White says. “You might as well do it how it’s gonna be live, rather than make this pristine, wiped-clean record.”
This way, Maxwell actually sounds like the same Sneeze Attack you’d catch at a show. It’s got the occasional rough edge, sure, but it’s also got personality.
On one song, Riccobene actually forgot some lyrics, and mumbled along to get through. No one noticed, and Sneeze Attack chose not to get neurotic about the details.
Maxwell also features Christine Shelley, on drums and Charles Albright on guitar. But the live lineup has already changed, and now puts Dog Party’s Lucy Giles on drums and G. Green’s Andrew Henderson on guitar. Riccobene hopes to get the new band in the studio soon for another EP.
And no, she doesn’t know which pet will grace the cover yet.