Updated: Mar 23, 2019
Story by Sergio Portela
Photography by Nathan Pillow
November 22, 2018
Like a curry bowl it takes a variety of ingredients to make something special. For indie surf band, Animals in the Attic, they take from their diverse musical backgrounds to cook up their sleepy melodic sound they’ve dubbed 'Half Asleep Surf' after their 2016 album.
“Half Asleep Surf, our first album,” guitarist and vocalist Spencer Rakela says. “I guess we’re always trying to build our own sound based on what we called it, you know? Half Asleep Surf keeps developing, we’re trying to make our own genre but we have a lot of influences from indie surf rock. "
The Sacramento band consists of three members, who met in high school; drummer Geoff Luoma, keyboardist Clay LaFlamme and Rakela. For the past five-and-a-half years the trio have been making music and growing their soothing sound while gaining a solid following in the process. All while creating a new genre of music. The band goes wherever the road takes them, whether that be throughout the Pacific Northwest to refine their music or back home in Sacramento to record ‘Half Asleep Surf’.
“We just tried writing songs together like crazy our whole senior year of high school, then we moved together to Seattle for a year,” Rakela recalls. “And we’ve lived in the same town ever since and came back to Sac for awhile, went to Portland and just kept writing music going wherever it takes us.”
The band's multiple influences help shape their sound. LaFlamme comes from a Jazz background. First playing classical piano, quickly transitioning in his first year at Cornish School of Arts in Seattle where he made Jazz top band. Luoma has always been a classic rocker at heart thanks to his father, being inspired by the spacey drumming of Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason. Rakela’s influences are essentially anything that’s out right now, keeping the band on a modern pace. The best way the band can describe their music would be to relate it to food.
“It’s kind of like this curry bowl it’s like everything mixed in,” Luoma says while pointing at a menu for the Veggie Cafe.
“You see we got seasoned veggies, creamed cashew curry served with spiced rice and lentils, now that is definitely Half Asleep Surf,” LaFlamme jokes. “Everything is just all blended in, it goes to the same place.”
“It’s how you digest it,” Luoma adds.
This year the band has been releasing a new album in three parts so far they’ve released Naked in Public 1 & 2, with part 3 well on it’s way. For Rakela, he wants the band to become profitable and he works hard everyday to make that a reality. He just needs more people to hear them.
“Our music is exactly how I want it,” he says. “I just want people to hear it. It’s hard to get people to hear it without a big record label or a lot of promotion. So, we’re trying to find a way for people to hear our music. I figure people like what we’re putting out now, and we all like our music. I think if more people could just be exposed to our vision than we’d be good.”
There will be changes coming for the band’s sound soon as they prepare for the departure of Luoma who has plans to head to Nicaragua to do some volunteer work.
“There’s a little bit of a fork in the road I guess for me, where I’m following another passion so I’m going to take time and do that,” Luoma says. “I guess the ultimate goal is to be happy. Whether it’s making a living playing music with these guys or doing something else, that’s the ultimate goal is to be happy.”
While Luoma embarks on another journey the rest of the band will begin to use drum machines, to create a new indie hip-hop project. “We’re going to record some music with drum machines. It’s something we’ve wanted to do,” Rakela says. “He (LaFlamme) plays a lot of hip-hop chords so we’re going to be working on an indie hip-hop project with drum machines. It’s just going to be another fusion into the curry bowl.”
Much like with eating good food, music is supposed to make one feel good and full. Like Luoma said before, the main goal in life is to find happiness. Animals in the Attic hope that their music is able to make at least one person feel that way.
“I just hope that our music speaks to someone, whether it’s a song that got you through a gnarly time in your life or every time you hear it it resonates with you,” Luoma says. “If our music has reached that in someone, just one person that’s the goal.”