Serendipity is a funny thing. Sometimes it bonks you on the head, and other times, only exists if you’re keen enough to recognize it. Luckily, L.A. drummer Josh Conway experienced both of those scenarios a few years ago when he was asked last minute to run sound at a local gig.
What Conway believed was going to be just another night moonlighting for a few extra bucks quickly turned into a career-changing moment. That is, after he saw the mononymous Maria perform a stunning, solo acoustic set.
“I went up to her and said I had fallen in love with her voice,” Conway recently told PACIFIC from his Los Angeles home. “I asked her if she wanted to write and record sometime, and she was down. We just started hanging out and writing together. It was friendly at first. There was no real intention to start a band.”
Things soon became romantic between Conway and the Puerto Rican-born, Atlanta-bred singer, and the extra time spent together equated to more time for music.
But even when the pair uploaded their first single, I Don’t Know You, to SoundCloud two years ago, they had no real expectations. It wasn’t until legendary Santa Monica-based indie radio station KCRW started playing the song that they really decided to take it seriously.
Add guitarist Jesse Perlman, a friend of Conway’s since preschool, keyboardist Eddie James, a mutual friend of both since junior high, and bassist Carter Lee, and you have the psychedelic-pop quartet known as The Marias.
Yet, even after things were set as a band moving forward, there was no real rush to capitalize on the band’s initial success.
“We rehearsed a lot in the early days,” said Conway. “We didn’t want to play a show without being fully ready. We wanted to make it perfect. And that’s how we are to this day. We’re very detail-oriented and want to make sure it’s just right.”
The band has released two EPs to date, 2017’s Superclean, Vol. I and last year’s Superclean, Vol. II. Each 6-song collection features songs in English and Spanish, and Conway says the band feels equally comfortable with both.
“We’ll continue to have English and Spanish songs on our records,” he said. “From the first moment that Maria sang in Spanish, we knew it was something that we wanted to do and wanted embedded in our DNA. The three songs we have right now in Spanish were very organically made. The first lyric we put on a melody will continue to determine that.”
The bilingual band has already cultivated a solid fan base in California and beyond, while collecting praise from the likes of NPR and Rolling Stone — the latter calling their music “sultry” and “smoldering.”
The Marias are set to tour in the U.S. and Mexico through May, and while a debut album in the near future is possible, the band likes to keep their options every bit as open as the music.
“We don’t ever try to force it,” said Conway. “We’re definitely thinking about doing a short full-length — maybe something like eight or nine songs. We just got back from Joshua Tree where we went to relax, and also start the writing and recording process. But who knows? We’re just going to keep working until we have a body of work we’re ready to release.”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 15
Where: The Irenic, 3090 Polk Ave., San Diego
Cost: Sold out