Sometimes it takes two or three listens before an album can truly be appreciated. But when it comes to Scary Little Friendsâ€™ debut LP, From the Beginning, it only takes 15 seconds. At the tail end of track six, â€œDevilâ€™s Heart,â€ Chris Jones has a hair-raising outburst: â€œAnd you never get another chance / there’s no tomorrow.” Far from depressing, the line actually explains why Scary Little Friends formed. Bassist and UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jon Payne, now 34, has been friends with Jones since childhood.
As teens, the two discovered rock â€˜nâ€™ roll togetherâ€”specifically, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrixâ€”and were also exposed to country legends through Jonesâ€™ father. Those influences, plus a mutual appreciation for modern artists, like Wilco and My Morning Jacket, can be heard in Scary Little Friendsâ€™ music. â€œWhatâ€™s rad is weâ€™ve been in a lot of bands where weâ€™ve tried to kind of fit in a mold â€¦ but Chris, when he was creating this stuff, he didnâ€™t have that in mind,â€ says Payne. â€œIt was a period where he had taken a break from music and he was just writing this album for himself.â€ Payne recalls the excitement he and his friends felt upon hearing From the Beginningâ€”30-plus minutes of revitalizing folk/rock, injected with raw realizations and depth (with backup vocals by Woosterâ€™s Caroline Kuspa)â€”for the first time. â€œIt was a band that was sort of based on this album because it got such a great reception from everybody,â€ he says. Since its early 2013 formation, the bandâ€”which also features Patrick Blizinski (keys) and Charlie Knote (drums)â€”has opened for Caravan Palace at The Rio Theatre and shared the stage with Norah Jones at The Crepe Place. Reflecting on the latter experience, Payne says, â€œThat was a totally awesome thing that happened and hopefully thatâ€™s the sign of more things to come.â€
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $8. 429-6994.