Few bands have a theme song. Local heavy alt-rockers Travelling Ills do, but they kind of did it backward, since the song came before the name.
“It wasn’t really intended it to be a theme song,” says singer Cassandra Cronin. “It’s actually how the band got its name. I wanted to write a pop song. I felt like we were getting too sludgy-blues-y. We had a really dumb name before that, Gato Vato. Travelling Ills was part of the song. We were like, ‘why don’t we just call our band Travelling Ills?’”
They made a video for the song, too, so it remains their most recognizable song on the Internet. The tune has elements of pop-punk and ’90s alt-rock in the vein of groups like L7 and the Breeders. But most of their music falls more in the spectrum of groups like Mudhoney and the White Stripes.
The group’s roots go back to a simple conversation between Cronin and her brother Conner, who plays the guitar. They started playing shows when they added drummer Jared Frazier to the band, even though they didn’t have a bass player.
“It felt weird playing without a bass player,” Cronin says. “We thought maybe we could persevere and not have a bass player, but it was just a weird thing and felt too derivative of the ’90s rock thing, and we just wanted a fuller sound.”
Their current bass player, Dan Cato Wilson, was the second person they auditioned. He clicked instantly. Wilson also came armed with recording expertise. While the Traveling Ills have plenty of lo-fi recordings with Wilson’s help they’ve been working on a batch of better-produced tunes for the soon to be released “Out of Luck” EP.
INFO: 9 p.m. Saturday, April 4. Catalyst, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $8/adv, $10/door. 429-4135. Photo: Alexander Posis