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MP3 Double Naught Spy Car - Danger High

Cinematic punk jazz surf instrumental originals featuring lap steel guitar. From shimmering to noisy, melodious to dissonant. Brutal yet poetic, challenging but rewarding.

15 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Instrumental Rock, ROCK: Psychedelic


It''s a tall order to encapsulate the city''s diverse musical acts in one night, but the L.A. Weekly Music Awards came close...celebrating the cream of the crop...expansive surf-meisters Double Naught Spy Car.
--Natalie Nichols, L.A. Times

All-instrumental combo Double Naught Spy Car aren''t easy to classify. They''re not simply surf ''n'' drag practitioners or lounge artists -- they''re too freewheeling for that. Nor are they purely jazz-heads -- their songs are too structured. Their music draws from a variety of genres they''ve made seamlessly their own. Danger High is the long-awaited follow-up to their 1998 debut, Comb in Blue Water, and like its predecessor, it shows Spy Car to be the bosses of instrumental music in a "roots noir" vein, but the addition of ace drummer Joe Berardi to the band makes them sound even better.

Spy Car''s music is ever more ambitious and complex, rife with tempo changes and varied textures, yet it''s always down-to-earth and loads of fun, with a humor evidenced by some of their song titles: "Naked Lurch," "Pork Rendr''ns." Spy Car have appeared on the soundtrack of a number of films and TV shows (as well as backing up Los Angeles crime writer James Ellroy on some of his spoken-word appearances), so it''s no surprise that Danger High often has a cinematic feel, evocative of car chases and drag races, tough gumshoes and noirish intrigue. Some of Spy Car''s melodies sound like theme songs to imaginary black-and-white movies or old TV shows that never actually existed.

One such "theme song" is the reggae-tinged "Helicopter," which features an exhilarating guitar duel between Paul Lacques and Marcus Watkins, as well as Marc Doten''s virtuoso bass playing, by turns frantic and lumbering. Other highlights include the ferocious "Marina del Hayride" and the sinuous, resolutely odd "Crosseyed San Paku." Throughout the record, Lacques dazzles on the lap steel. He makes the guitar wail, sing and speak (and occasionally complain and tell jokes), to the point where a vocalist would be superfluous. With its bravura musicianship, questing originality and offbeat wit, Danger High is an inventive work by a group of true originals.
--Gwynne Garfinkle, Los Angeles NEW TIMES

"This L.A. quartet sometimes lends their all-instrumental support to the readings of James Ellroy, that hardest of hard-boiled crime novelists. Like Ellroy''s novels, DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR combines dead-on noir flavor with a modern perspective that''s both brutal and poetic. Many noveau-instrumental combos excel at retro vibe, but few mix the past and present so convincingly."
-- Joe Gore, Guitar Player Magazine

"Double Naught Spy Car rocks, socks, rolls, roils, and sizzles. This is a swinging, raunchy, bluesy, throaty, growling band. Their tunes rock, their musicianship rolls, their overall brainpower sizzles. Double Naught Spy Car rules. Woof."
-- James Ellroy, crime novelist

I''ve written much about my favorite LA band, Double Naught Spy Car, but I think I said it best the first time I wrote about them, "take a ride in a souped up GTO to a place where surf guitar rides shotgun with old smoky westerns and spy movie a go-go meanders through ethereal innuendo in a post-punk glamour world. Don''t miss the magic."
--Teresa Stone, Grooves, Santa Monica Mirror

Playing a gig with my friends DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR is always a sincere pleasure. Their old tunes are now classics and their new ones are soon to be. I love the fact that they never let their musicianship overwhelm the melodic beauty of whatever piece of music they happen to be chewing on at the time. If they would just remix all their material with a goofball corporate extreme sports hip-hop/techno groove they''d be millionaires by tuesday.
--Stew, Stew Says webpage

"Your guitar work is fabulous!" -- Davey Allan

"Just some old fashioned love songs filled Spaceland Saturday night for a tribute to Paul Williams, the man behind such hits as "We''ve Only Just Begun," and of course, "The Love Boat Theme." The house was packed. Williams, who was in the audience, was thrilled by the variety of musicians performing his songs, especially DOUBLE NAUGHT SPY CAR''S surf-rock instrumental on "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song."
-- Lisa Derrick, New Times

"You guys blew my mind. It''s so great to see somebody do something original."
--Paul Williams

"Have you ever wondered what King Crimson would sound like if they were a, oh, let''s say, ''bar band''? Probably not, but that description certainly fits Double Naught Spy Car, a quirky quartet with leanings toward Captain Beefheart, surf music and prog rock. Yes, it''s just as wacked-out as it sounds, but what a sight they are to behold on stage. I saw ''em at Spaceland a few weeks back and the place was packed.
-- Jim Freek, BAM Magazine

"Double Naught Spy Car had the room in a collective jawdrop which is saying a lot since the musicians in many of these bands are hands down the best anywhere playing anything. These guys went out on a limb, then just created more limbs to climb out on ad infinitum. Their influences are all over the place, from like Ellington to Beefheart and beyond--instrumental, jazzy, sometimes throw down rockin, with a lap steel that sounds like it''s from Mars."

Double Naught Spy Car is an eclectic group of guys who perform a bizarre mixture of surf, western, and mod rock. It is no mystery that some of the songs sound as if they are a mixture of early Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa, as the group was formerly known as Pink Floyd The Barber. With their numerous time changes and noir expressions, Double Naught''s songs are expansive, yet tight.
Each member contributes his own spice to this hot act. Tempo plays his drums with an expressive style that has substance and flair. On bass, Marc Doten thumps out box-like patterns that give the instrumentals a solid foundation. The double-edged guitar styles of Watkins and Lacques compliment one another like surf ''n'' turf. Watkins executes confident ability with his Stratocaster while Lacques pulls off clean switches from lap-steel to a Telecaster like a seasoned pro.

What is so entertaining about this band, aside from their fine musicianship, is a personality not seen in many outfits. Doten prowls the stage with spooky and even campy mannerisms. Watkins gets on his knees screaming out his rich solos, while Lacques puts so much raw emotion into his siganture style it''s exhausting to watch. At one point the two guitars and bass were playing the same notes up and down the neck, producing chilling energy. These guys know how important it is to be tight and they certainly look like they''re having a blast.
Seeing Double Naught Spy Car lives proves why they''ve garnered plenty of local attention over the years. From movie soundtracks to theatrical gigs, these guys stay busy and know how to keep an audience attentive.
--Daniel Siwek, Music Connection

L.A. Weekly February 8 - 14, 2002

The Song, Not the Singer
The dangerous twang of Double Naught Spy Car
by Greg Burk

"We don''t pay off for fans of any genre," says Paul Lacques of Double Naught Spy Car. "If you''re a surf fan, we''re really gonna let you down. If you''re a jazz fan, we''re gonna offend you. If you''re a rock fan, good luck. If you''re a country fan . . . well, maybe we''re reaching a country audience. We sort of mock genre, and at the same time we''re trying to create our own genre."
No slot. No singer. What a bunch of stubborn dickheads. Must be musicians or something.

"We''ve never aimed to please," says Lacques. Too bad they can''t even succeed at that - listeners seem to like the mess the Spy guys heap on ''em. And a hellacious wreck it is: James Bond film music bashes up against ska, lounge jazz, reggae, Middle Eastern, Hawaiian, space and blues, with bassist Marc Doten and drummer Joseph Berardi locking into thumps, walks or rumbles; guitarist Marcus Watkins twanging and clean-chopping; and Lacques'' distorted steel guitar skidding all over the place. And surf. Can''t forget that. Spy Car proves Hendrix was wrong when he moaned, "You''ll never hear surf music again."
"He said he really meant S-E-R-F," Watkins suggests, but that was obviously just Hendrix''s joke to deflect cries that he was a hippie elitist. The historically minded Watkins also offers surf guitarist Dick Dale''s claim that Hendrix, when recording "Third Stone From the Sun," added the line in tribute on hearing that Dale was grievously ill.

"So actually," he says, "it was a compliment." Watkins surfed when he was a teenager in Florida. Unlike Dale, he stopped when he started playing music. But you can take the boy out of the surf... Anyway, the Spies are getting sick of all this beach talk. They don''t think there''s a big "Pipeline" element in their songs.
Doten: "They just sound like that ''cause they have a Stratocaster on ''em."
Watkins: "I don''t have reverb on my guitar!"
Berardi: "But Paul has twice as much as he should."
Lacques: "And half as much as I''d like to!"
Turns out that Doten and Lacques both dug the https://www.tradebit.comangy Randy Rhoads, the Ozzy Osbourne guitarist who crashed his plane while trying to buzz Ozzy''s tour bus in 1982.
Lacques: "The day the music died."
Berardi: "No, we''re still killing it on a daily basis."
Hmm. Has the Ozzy connection forged a satanic link in the Spies'' sound?
Lacques: "I can hear Satan listening to music more than God. He has more fun. He has a pad somewhere, and a really good stereo." In fact, Lacques sort of looks like Mephistopheles.
Doten: "It''s the eyebrows."
Lacques demurs: "They''re antennae. They''re what make me sensitive. That''s how you read people''s auras."
Why would he want to? He doesn''t aim to please, remember? Well, one suspects that Lacques'' supposed indifference to popularity is no more than a sham for this deviled ham. Otherwise the Spies would never have taken such care with their pair of CDs, the latest of which, ominously titled Danger High (Pascal), adds further dimensions to their compositional universe with the slow Polynesian slide of "Someone''s Creeping in My Yard," the dark Middle Eastern surf of "Macedonia 6-5000," and the apocalyptic pomp and dissonance of "The Mayor''s Procession." It''s a headphone album, with rad stereophonic panning.
Doten: "We encourage drug use when people listen to the music. I wanted to put that on the label of the record: ''Should be listened to under psychedelics.''"
Lacques: "We cut it live."
Watkins, deadpan: "Except for, like, all the drum machines and synthesizers playing our parts."
Danger High is all short songs, tightly arranged, though much of the material was derived from communal jamming. Could Spy Car cash in on the jam-band craze?
Lacques: "I actually think this is a pretty good jam band . . ."
Doten: "In the sense that we have enough restraint not to do it."
Lacques: "We''re sort of Calvinists, in that we frown on jamming in public."
Watkins: "Well, we could start tapping into that puppy-on-a-rope crowd." Huh? "Those Deadhead types who''ve got ''em on ropes as opposed to leashes."
Lacques: "People with calluses on the bottom of their feet."
Doten: "Like hobbits."
Spy Car missed the Lord of the Rings boat, though. They had a song called "Goblins Riding Wolves," but changed it to "Journey to the Center of Guitar Center (Sherman Oaks)" - the parenthetical serving to distinguish the Valley aesthetic from that of the Hollywood store.
Spy Car: "Or West Covina." "Or Lawndale." "Or Glendale." "Or Glendora."
What kind of audience response are they looking for?
Doten: "You know, the one where they give you money afterward."
Lacques: "Playing live is an adventure, and the crowd reaction is usually very surprising."
Watkins: "I think we''re communicating with the audience if they start laughing, or if they start dancing. If we had a packed dance floor of laughing people . . ."
Lacques: "I think someone needs to sneak us into a rave, right when everyone''s dropped."
Watkins: "It could be really, really awful. We''d be pelted with stuffed animals."
Though Lacques is the only original member of Double Naught Spy Car (the name''s a reference to Jethro''s vehicle in The Beverly Hillbillies, of course), the three stringmen have strung together for five years, with Joseph Berardi kicking in a year and a half ago. All the members have other gigs. Lacques plays in the country band I See Hawks in L.A., for instance, and he and Doten recently flew to Japan to back up the Hawaiian singer-comedian King Kukulele. Watkins plays with French rock stars. Berardi''s activities have ranged from avant (Non Credo) to bent pop (Stan Ridgway). They can pull off practically anything, but they especially enjoy the periodic waves of activity in Spy Car, which Lacques calls a "long-term labor of love."
Pop stardom isn''t the point, and Lacques thinks the Spies don''t need to worry about it: "You look at Rolling Stone''s Top 50 artists of the year - they all look like 18-year-old models. And the average listener is preconditioned to hearing perfect time and kind of sterile musical situations. Everything else sounds like noise."
Strange sounds get under the skin of some people, though. After that happens, the world of pop drops right out of sight and they become music explorers or, God help them, musicians. For Doten, the turning point was Ozzy. For Watkins, it was King Crimson. For Lacques, at age 12, it was Dylan: "He sounded like some insane person. Like any kind of music I would come to love, it was threatening at first."
And who really wants to be Motley Crue? We''ve all seen Behind the Music. If you''re huge, you''ve got to go out on the road for years at a time, and you become drug addicts, and your manager steals your money, and you lose your girlfriends.
Watkins: "But think of all the girlfriends you gain . . ."
Doten: "Yeah, by playing instrumental surf music of a harsh nature."
Berardi: "Well, I think it''s kind of sexy."

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