By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
DeWitt managed to scrounge up a $10,000 advance to help the band stay afloat. Anzalone’s parents bought them a van, which they use solely for touring and a once-a-month visit home to Tucson. Around town they all ride old bikes.
The band, with the exception of 19-year-old drummer Wilson Snyder, all met at Sahuro High, which he says was named after an indigenous Arizona cactus.
“There are two Sahuro Highs in Arizona,” explains Letson, adding theirs was in fact spelled wrong.
Nineteen-year-old guitarist Byron Humbacher played trombone in the school band. Letson taught himself piano one summer at his grandparents’, and Snyder has been playing drums since the sixth grade. Anzalone met Gutierrez after getting beat up during his first week at school.
“After that, I had no friends,” says Anzalone. “I was a wigger totally into hip-hop. Kyle was the only person who was nice to me, so I abandoned everything I believed in to become friends with Kyle.”
That meant dumping N.W.A for Green Day and hanging out at Scrappys, the local all-ages club. The Mean Reds started as a riff on the garage-band trend (the White Stripes, etc.). But, thanks in part to Letson’s “cool keyboard sounds,” they started having a whole lot of fun and taking themselves more seriously.
Anzalone wants you to know that he has “never written a love song.” In fact, he doesn’t write lyrics at all. Each song just has a theme, like the mythological origins of religion, politics or corporate America’s youth-oriented marketing techniques, on which he’ll improvise.
“Like, you know how when they have a new Gatorade, they try and make it all extreme and crazy, and it’s really just a juice?”
All of the Mean Reds’ parents keep their rooms intact.
The LikePretty on the outside: The L.A. Weekly Music Awards–nominated The Like
“The way we all grew up was with a good ’60s and ’70s sort of pop background — the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Elvis Costello, the Velvet Underground . . . I think we have an idea of what good songwriting and playing should be without thinking about it,” says pretty, 17-year-old Z Berg, the lead guitarist and singer/songwriter for The Like.
“We aren’t just playing noise,” she continues. “We aren’t just playing shit. Our songs have the structure of songs.”
Comprised of the daughters of three music-business honchos — former Geffen A&R man/record producer Tony Berg (Z); Elvis Costello and the Attractions’ drummer Pete Thomas (Tennessee Thomas, who has never had a drum lesson, but who would sneak and play her dad’s when her parents were out); and famed producer Mitchell Froom (bass player Charlotte Froom) — The Like have yet to put out an album. The punky-pop, all-girl trio, though, has already been in Teen Vogue, The Face, Interview, the L.A. Times, W, and Nylon magazine.
The band is named after one of their most frequently used colloquialisms: “like” — as in, “We are like, a band.” The girls have lots of band friends, like The O.C. theme song band Phantom Planet, who invited them, two years ago, to play their first gig ever at a Phantom Planet fan club event.
With wrinkled noses and brows, The Like girls recall their two-song coming out as “horrible,” but are grateful for the break.
They rehearse as much as they can, but it’s hard “since Z doesn’t drive,” explains 17-year-old Froom, dressed in a pink Izod and jeans.
Recently bumped from Z’s dad’s home recording studio, the girls now rehearse in a corner of Froom’s dad’s living room, which they share with her step-mom, singer Vonda Shepard.
“She was on Ally McBeal,” says a wide-eyed Froom, sardonically.
Fielding a number of offers for record deals, the girls are looking forward to getting on the road this summer, honing their sound and then recording a real album, a prospect they take, like their songwriting, very seriously. They just have to wait for Froom to graduate from Santa Monica High and Berg (“my real name is Elizabeth but I’ve been called Z since I was born”) to graduate from Crossroads — the same private school that Rooney and Evan from Wires on Fire attended. After that, Thomas, who cites Keith Moon, Charlie Watts and Caroline Corrs from the Corrs as some of her favorite drummers, says she can drop out of USC and save her parents that “30 thousand dollars they are spending each year.”