Los Angeles

From the Heart of Highland Park: Double Naught Spy Car

L.A rockers Double Naught Spy Car provided the soundtrack to Artbound's documentary on artist Danny Heller and the spirit of preservation in Palm Springs, and they recently stopped by the KCET studios to perform a few songs. Artbound caught up with guitarist Paul Lacques to chat about the band's SoCal sound and the culture that inspired it.

What role has Los Angeles played in your songwriting?

I think that's like asking a fish what role water plays in its direction. I've been here since I first started playing guitar. I've written countless songs about L.A. specifically for various bands, but songs about general life experience are also through a very dense L.A. filter. And Double Naught Spy Car has been heavily influenced by the scores of fantastic musicians and bands we've rubbed shoulders with.

Double Naught Spy Car

Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? Do you think the neighborhood has gotten better or worse?

I grew up in various rural and desert parts of Southern California, as my dad started out as a ranch foreman. Moved to L.A. when I was 12. I've lived all over L.A., was a confirmed Santa Monica/Westsider until I moved to Echo Park in 1987, now I live in Highland Park, which I love. A general trend I've observed is money and hipsterism driving out the Bohemian/artist crowd from many neighborhoods. Santa Monica and Venice used to be dirt cheap to live in, but that ship sailed long ago. The current starving artist diaspora out of Silver Lake and Echo Park is nearly complete, and now I'm afraid the money is coming after Highland Park. Taggers, don't give up, you're the only thing keeping a neighborhood from rapid gentrification.

What Southern California musicians, writers, filmmakers, etc inspire you?

Too many to list. We want to have our own show on KCET that peels back the layers of massive creativity that this area has extruded for generations. Huell Howser with a bad attitude. We're writing a treatment as we speak.

What changes have you seen in the creative community of Los Angeles?

Los Angeles has always had superstars in all art forms, but around 1978 the creativity started being owned by the people, more spread out, less in the hands of big money and corporations. From DIY punk/new wave/roots scenes to thrash, populist and street artists and video makers to the hard to categorize and observe creative movements of today, the banks have overflowed. It's fantastic.

How do you prepare for any given project? What are the themes behind Double Naught spycar?

Anarchy probably best describes our preparatory process. Seriously. We will do a few rehearsals before we record, but oftentimes jam sessions, if we have mics up, turn into finished recordings. There's very good chemistry within the band, so we can anticipate where we're going when we go out on a limb.

Double Naught Spy Car

You've been playing music for 30 years. What do you think of the current state of the music industry? Is it better or worse?

Quite different, but still a challenge, and only a few musicians get the big payday. But it's as fun as ever.

How has Kickstarter changed the way you finance your music?

It was fantastic for one CD, and a great way to interact with fans. But I think you only get one Kickstarter campaign and then Kickstarter fatigue kicks in. We're hoping the culture shifts back to when people paid for music they loved by purchasing CDs (or downloads). Pandora and Spotify are strangling musicians, with a smile on their face.

What would you be doing if you weren't playing music?

Writing more angry letters to various publications and websites.


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About the Author

Drew Tewksbury is Managing Editor and Producer of Artbound. He has come from a diverse media background, having worked as a producer for NPR show News and Notes, a regular music columnist for L.A. Weekly’s West Coast Sound, and Se...
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