Positive vibes and a deep curiosity for exploring new, unique musical horizons are top priorities for musicians Jenna Cotton, Eliot Ross, Ben Smedley and Craig Schreiber, aka, The Verigolds. The San Diego-based band recently released their debut album and are about to play at The Casbah after four years of finding their sound.
Jenna and Craig recently sat down with DiscoverSD to talk about the process of creating music, their local music community and future plans as they steadily and successfully rise up in San Diego.
Q: How did you guys get started in San Diego?
JC: I’m from Florida originally. When I moved here, I met the guys at OB Noodle House. Eliot worked there and so did Ben. I ended up going to OB Noodle House all the time, and I always knew they wanted to play music. I knew they played guitar. They started living in this place we called “box” behind the noodle house. One night I went over there, and I used to totally have stage fright. Only certain people in Florida knew I could even sing. They kind of made me do it and I did. Our girlfriend Celeste was having her first art show in San Diego and she asked Eliot and Ben to play music at it, and Eliot immediately called me. Since then, it hasn’t stopped.
Q: What was it like releasing your debut album this year?
JC: It was really cool because we recorded it ourselves with the help of others. We recorded it at our house where we have a recording studio. It was really awesome because we learned how to record ourselves and got a lot of good stuff from that. It’s been great because we have gotten the confidence to know how to build things from the bones up. It’s a difficult thing when you go into a studio and they don’t know your music and you’re trying to tell them what you want. You gotta know how to explain it.
Q: Did that album help grow you musically, too?
JC: Yeah, it’s kind of an eclectic journey, our music. Hitting all the genres, you know? You got some ‘70s vibes in there and my weird ‘80s-inner-Madonna-child coming out with synth beats. It’s kind of all over the place. There’s even folk too. We all love good energy and positive vibes.
CS: We are a band that really likes that ‘60s and ‘70s stuff, but we also fuse what’s going on in the festival circuit with like CRSSD Festival. Jenna goes there and it’s all DJs, but that electronic vibe and how they can translate that is cool. We focused on balancing those sounds with ours and not making it a too mainstream, indie-pop thing.
JC: Our whole band was raised on classic rock; it’s our bread. That is really ingrained in all of us, like Pink Floyd - huge influence on us. If any of our stuff sounds like Pink Floyd then we are very, very happy. I also love epic female vocals with groovy beats. Those two vibes mixed are kind of what I want. Our music isn’t following anyone else right now and nothing is the same from song to song.
Q: Where do you see The Verigolds going long-term?
JC: Right now we are playing a bunch of L.A. shows and are planning a tour for the end of the year. From here on out, we will probably have another EP released pretty soon. Those are kind of the three things we are focused on now. The number one reason why music is such a fitting thing in my life is that I love to travel, it’s kind of my addiction, and I thrive off of it. The goal would be to travel.
CS: We all have our jobs and our hustles, but we want to travel and play.
Q: What local bands do you like in San Diego?
JC: Bands that I like to hang out with are Creature and the Woods. They are amazing musicians. I love Dani Bell & The Tarantist, she’s a cool cat and shes weird. I’m into it.
CS: I love the Lulls, I’ve seen them at Soda [Bar] and just love it.
Q: Who is your ultimate music hero?
JC: Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd. In fact, Arcade Fire changed our album. Eliot and I went to Coachella three years ago and saw Arcade Fire and I cried. It was the first time that music has actually broken my aura, like it burst and I was so happy because I felt so much. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen performance-wise.
Q: Do you feel like the San Diego music community has supported you through your album and shows?
JC: Oh yes, definitely. 91X’s Tim Pyles is awesome. SoundDiego is awesome. Even all the bookers for all the local venues are great and have totally supported us. We are playing Casbah on a Friday night and Soda Bar on a Saturday night. It’s nice to randomly become musicians in San Diego because it’s like a little baby. L.A. is overwhelming, and San Diego is one of the best places to start a band because it’s small enough, but big enough.
CS: Every day my mantra has been, it’s a small pond.
JC: That’s your mantra?
CS: Yeah! You gotta keep your ego in check. This is a small pond. You know that you’re only good in San Diego, type of thing. Even if you’re better, just remember you’re still in a small pond.
Upcoming Verigolds shows:
Friday, May 13 at The Casbah
Saturday, May 21 at SDCCU Festival of Arts in North Park
Saturday, May 21 at Harrah’s Resort Southern California