Turn on the magic
Who rocks the classic vibe harder than Lite Brite?
Sacramento, CA 95814
With a self-proclaimed “arena-rock attitude” and a penchant for the anything-goes policy of house shows, Lite Brite strives to awaken the vintage rock sounds of the ’60s and ’70s here in Sacramento. And it’s the band’s respect for early rock ’n’ roll greats—plus its motivation for quality melodies—that has it on local promoters’ radar.
What’s more, even video-game giant Konami Digital Entertainment is interested in its retro, classic-rock vibe.
Lite Brite vocalist Eddie Underwood’s older brother and percussionist Matt Underwood explains. “At 3 o’clock in the morning, when I was in a state of exhausted delirium, I e-mailed a track to this Konami Rock Revolution contest,” he recalls. “The contest was to have your song in this video game, like a Rock Band knockoff.”
Nothing happened for nearly five months—until Konami called Lite Brite, announcing they had won the grand prize and would be flying the band down to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, promises of rock stardom never came to fruition and, according to Matt, Konami ended up disqualifying Lite Brite because the song previously had sold on iTunes. A total of three times.
“They even sent us a contract and everything, and they even set up a date,” Eddie says. “It was just very unprofessional.”
Although Matt still has the contract, the band has since moved on, recently filming its first music video for the song “Space Shuttle,” off its Volkswagen Space Shuttle EP. Lite Brite, as advocates of free music, posts all songs on its website and makes them available for download in hopes of directly reaching new audiences.
“It’s the best way to get [the music] out there for free,” Matt says. “And get it to as many people as possible.” Some of these free online songs will be on Lite Brite’s next album, which the band will begin recording this fall.
Channeling the stage presence and rock ’n’ roll strut of the genre’s best, Lite Brite says bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and even the unorthodox sounds of Sonic Youth provided the foundation of its musical education.
“I think for the most part we just want to write honest rock ’n’ roll that gets under your skin,” says bassist Bob Lander. “When you’re covered in sweat, there’s that awesome feeling of being accomplished. … It’s absolutely addicting.”
To acquire such a classic-rock sound, specifically in the vocal department, Eddie hearkens back to a teenage memory. “When I first started singing,” he says, “I wanted to get my voice to sound like Kurt Cobain’s. So I would go out in the middle of the field and scream for hours.
“It’s actually scarred my voice … but it works really well with our music.”
Now 24, Eddie’s permanently distorted voice is just one layer of Lite Brite’s otherwise melodic-driven style. And while the band has played to big crowds at Harlow’s and Concerts in the Park, it prefers gigging within the intimate quarters of house shows.
“It seems all the good shows I’ve been going to are at houses,” says Lander. “There’s no rules, and people get into it more. It’s just more personal. There’s no security guards saying, ‘Quit having a good time.’”
And the entire band is deep into music. Matt admits that he would probably delve into writing if it weren’t for Lite Brite; he shows up to the interview clutching Stephen King’s On Writing.
Eddie, though, offers a candid two cents:
“I would probably be an alcoholic sleeping in an alley,” he shares. “Music gives me purpose. I create music for myself, really, nobody else. It’s something that makes me feel good. Something that maybe I would want to listen to. I think if you try to write music for other people, the quality is going to suffer a great deal.”