The Bottom Feeders’ old-timey groove
How the local band throws back to doo-wop and ’60s soul
Members of Sacramento’s surf-pop band the Bottom Feeders write music reminiscent of a ’60s beach party, or a high school dance where “Come On, Let’s Go” by Ritchie Valens was the absolute jam. The four-piece group intertwines moments of doo-wop, soul, garage- and surf-rock to create songs with hip-swaying melodies and upbeat, catchy vocals that evoke feelings of what singer and guitarist Noah Campos describes as “the-lover-done-me-wrong kind of music.”
“I’ve always been a fan of older sounds and they’re danceable. We want to get the whole room moving and feeling good,” Campos says, citing his love of oldies like Brenton Wood, older R&B and soul from the late ’50s to early ’60s.
The Bottom Feeders formed last November, releasing their debut self-titled EP in February. The group also filmed a music video for the garage-rock revival tune, “Salty Song,” directed by Pedro Diaz for the Sacramento Film & Music Festival’s Sac Music Seen showcase last week.
The guys kept busy all summer long, performing at local cafes, punk-rock venues and even on a creaky, wooden stage outside the snack bar of the West Wind Sacramento 6 Drive-In.
That warm, July evening became the perfect setting for the Bottom Feeders’ modern take on old-school sounds. The band performed surf-rock songs like “Cool Cola,” where catchy melodies are met with the deep and groovy bass lines of Johnny Espinoza and accented by the subtle splash of Benjamin Bliven’s percussion.
“We want to keep a sound that people are grooving to and we want everybody feeling that vibe when they come to see us,” Bliven says. “Our sound expresses the soul and we’re able to put that mood into the music with very melodic tunes and harmonies.”
Even the more melancholy-toned “Stingray Face,” with its howling guitar intro from Reece Espinosa, is laced with upbeat rhythms that transformed the lyrical laments of Campos into an all-out, hip-shaking dance party at a recent Cafe Colonial performance.
The venue was packed with dancers of varied ages. During the chorus, Campos’ falsetto-style vocals revealed memories where he once felt ignored or unappreciated by someone from his past.
“When I write songs, I express what I’m feeling and if someone else feels that, too, then that’s cool because I want people to be able to have something to make life a little easier,” Campos says of his songwriting process.
“Everyone wishes they had a soundtrack to their life like a movie, and Noah’s been writing his soundtrack for the last year or so,” Espinosa adds.
The Cafe Colonial show in August was one of the band’s last scheduled gigs before taking a break to write and record its debut full-length, due for a March 2017 release. Then again, what better way to relive an endless summer of music than with one more exception? The Bottom Feeders are surprise guests at a Naked Lounge show on Friday, September 16.
Meanwhile, band members all agree they plan to not over think the upcoming album and just let it happen to capture the genuine sound their fans seem to gravitate toward.
“I try to get people to have fun and jump around and fill people with the urge to move,” Espinosa says. “It’s not hard to listen to. It’s not confusing. It’s just fun and easy to dance to.”