Upon hearing their band name, the average Jane might wonder if San Francisco's The Sandwitches weren't more than just casually interested in food. That their discography includes albums titled How to Make Ambient Sad Cake and Mrs. Jones' Cookies might reasonably offer her a certain degree of confirmation. And, when wooed by their melodies, most commonly (and aptly) referred to as "hauntingly beautiful," like the songs of Ulysses' sirens with a hard edge, she might discover that their albums were released by the independent Turn Up! Records (say it quickly enough it sounds like a root vegetable), and might deduce--again, quite logically--that indeed, The Sandwitches have food on the brain.
And yet she'd be wrong, as Squid Ink discovered during a recent chat with the band. The female trio insists that the running food theme is entirely coincidental. And while we, the stubbornly food-minded, fought the urge to quote Freud's theories on coincidence, guitarist/singer Grace Cooper humored our devastation and questions from on the road, as she and fellow Sandwitches Heidi Alexander and Roxy Brodeur made their way down the 5 to play a couple of Southern California shows, including one tonight at the echo in Silver Lake.
Squid Ink: We haven't found anything explicitly food-themed in your music, but clearly there's a bit of a preoccupation with food. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The Sandwitches: We didn't really plan to have that be like a theme. It reoccurs in our album titles but it just sort of happened. There's a bunch of different stories--they don't really have anything to do with food.
SI: Would you share a few?
TS: Like Mrs. Jones' Cookies came from Heidi reading my handwriting and thinking and thinking that's what I wrote. And Ambient Sad Cake--it came to me in a dream.
SI: It came to you in a dream?
TS: It really doesn't have anything to do with food.
SI: Okay. Well how did you settle on the name The Sandwitches?
TS: It was a long process; we couldn't decide. We couldn't agree on a name. We thought about hundreds of them, but then we decided to use The Sandwitches.
SI: And hooking up with Turn Up records? That was just coincidence too?
TS: Ummm, yeah. Serendipity.
SI: You just got back from SXSW. How did that go?
TS: It was a lot of fun. It went by really quickly. We got pretty busy and we really enjoyed ourselves.
SI: Are you on the road often?
TS: We haven't been for a while, but we had done a U.S. tour last year and we've been doing a few shows out of town every once in a while.
SI: Do you do any kind of food research before you do a show in a new city? Heidi said that you guys really like Café Tropical, and we're curious about how you found out about it?
TS: Oh yeah we love it there.
SI: Ha ha. Yeah, never been we've heard that it's the "best place to meet fellow 12 steppers." And that they also have really big peanut butter cookies.
TS: Yeah, they have these gigantic cookies. And they have all these cakes that are beautiful and different colors. And Jews, lots of Jews.
Squid Ink: You mean Jewish people? That's cool.
TS: And ham sandwiches. Yeah, they have really good sandwiches.
SI: So other than Café Tropical, where do you eat when you're in town?
TS: We mostly just go there. It's close to our friend's house where we stay when we're in L.A.
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SI: Do any of you cook?
TS: Well Heidi and Roxy are good cooks. I'm not very good in the kitchen. I just started trying, but really I don't know.
SI: Well then maybe the next question would be better suited for one of them. But where are a number of chefs who've started developing play lists to compliment their food. So our question to you is: what would you serve on a menu to compliment your new album, Mrs. Jones' Cookies?
TS: Well, I'm more like a big on steak, Heidi likes rice, and Roxy, what would you like on a menu to go along with our record? (Confers with Roxy and Heidi.) Ok, Heidi has a new favorite food. Chips and salsa, a steak, and mac 'n cheese.