“In less than six months we more than doubled our catalogue,” says Stephen Sams, in between sips from his ambiguous drink in a nondescript Mason jar. He’s currently explaining the next evolution of his raucous psychedelic quartet, the Redlight District. “Plus we’re halfway done with a new E.P.”
When GT last met up with the band earlier this year, the rock ‘n’ roll outfit was working on their Dirty Magazine EP (released last June), but a lot has changed in less than a year. For example: half of the band.
“We essentially had three weeks before our first show,” guitarist Ravi Lamb remembers of his and drummer Keoki Thompson’s first show, at the Catalyst in June.
“That was something else,” laughs Sams.
The band also headlined the Blue Lagoon Stage at this year’s Santa Cruz Music Festival in October. They played to a packed audience that couldn’t resist the Redlight District’s infectious music and invaded the stage—to dance—by the end of the set.
“That was probably the most accomplished I’ve felt so far,” Sams says. “Because I felt like we were able to achieve our place [in the music scene].”
Since 2011, the Redlight District has carefully measured a blend of soul, jazz, flamenco and blues into a sound that was reminiscent of the Doors: sultry and mysterious, but not intimidating. However, with the addition of Thompson and Lamb, the band has morphed back into a true rock ‘n’ roll outfit, using every color of the musical palate.
“The cool thing about rock ‘n’ roll: it’s a big umbrella, and within it you can accomplish a lot,” emphasizes Lamb.
“The whole experience has been growth, not just as musicians, but as people,” says keyboardist Dan Leitner.
With little over a month of 2015 left, the Redlight District has big plans to go out with a bang and infuse 2016 with fresh tunes.
On Nov. 24, they are playing their first of two end-of-the-year shows in town, beginning at the Crepe Place with Gentlemen Amateurs (from Berkeley). On Dec. 30, the Redlight District is closing out the year at the Catalyst with the Coo Coo Birds (San Francisco) and folk artist Allen Instead. They’re also halfway done with their new EP, the working title for which is One Hour Motel, set to be released early next year.
INFO: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.