Gold Rush town inspires Little Hurricane’s new album
When listening to Gold Fever—the new album from San Diego duo Little Hurricane, who play the Catalyst on Thursday—there are moments when you cannot help but be transported back to California’s Gold Rush years. The album is rugged and raw, and the songs feel so earthy that you might expect dust to come out of your speakers. But the duo, made up of guitarist-vocalist Tone Catalano and drummer-vocalist CC Spina, didn’t achieve this sound through pure imagination—they went directly to the source.
“We recorded the album in the mountains, in a Gold Rush town,” says Catalano. “I didn’t want to go to a studio, because I’ve been in a lot of recording studios, and there was nothing new there. I wanted to go to a place where no one has recorded before.”
That place was Julian, California, and the town left its mark on the album.
“When I listen to the album, it takes me back to being in that gold mining town, sitting in that apple-packing house, as we created those sounds,” adds Spina, “It’s cool we have this product that represents the time we spent there, and the town we recorded it in.”
Fever is an energetic affair. “Summer Air” is a hip-shaking rock track, while “Boiling Water” puts a bluesy spin on what might otherwise sound like your standard Americana song. “No Man’s Land” is the most blistering rock track on the album, featuring fuzzy, unhinged riffs on the choruses and alternately creepy and cacophonous drumming throughout.
“That allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the process,” Catalano says, “as opposed to the first record, where we were kind of scattered, doing a few songs here, a few songs there.”
“Also, being stuck in that place without a TV or anything, it forced us to do nothing but focus on the songs,” Spina says, “so it gave us a lot of time to focus in on exactly how we wanted them to sound.”
And so it was that Gold Fever’s 12 tracks emerged from the backdrop of their rural surroundings, rather than from any specific plans for how the album would sound. They wanted to get away and find a unique place to create the album, and to let the songs come to life on their own. Similarly, they came in without expectations for what the album’s content would be like. The resulting songs are organic and varied; emanating from the historic land, as well as out of the artists themselves. On the one hand, you have the fictional title track which attempts to visualize what it would have been like living during the Gold Rush—taking the opportunity to draw a parallel between our own money-driven society—but on the other hand, you have “Sorry Son,” which comes straight from Spina’s life experience, and has nothing to do with gold, really.
“That one is written about my younger brother—who suffers from addiction, and goes in and out of being sober—from the viewpoint of my parents, and kind of telling their story,” she says. “That was an interesting way to go about songwriting, to view it from the viewpoint of someone who is close to us, rather than our own.”
And while “Sorry Son”’s point of view is intriguing, creatively, it certainly was not an easy song to write. Sometimes artists write personal material simply as a way to exorcise demons, but in this case, Spina viewed it as a chance to help others as well.
“There was a little bit of worry that [I was sharing something that] was too personal,” Spina admits. “But at the same time, I feel like those are the best kinds of songs, because if I’m going through it, then chances are that other people are going through it, too.”
Little Hurricane will perform at 9 p.m. Thursday, June 5, in the Atrium at the Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. 423.1338.