But unlike many bands, Black Party Politics already knows the answer. Until recently, they never had a permanent lineup, relying on a rotating rhythm section that often felt like continual tryouts. Along with that, for the last four years, they had to work harder at booking venues without the benefit of any recorded material in the competitive LA market. That all changed this year.
After a chance meeting with Chris Ramirez at a local trade school, where Eddie Henry (vocals) and Miles Safford (guitar) both work, they invited him to jam with the band for a few weeks. Those weeks paid off. The three of them, along with Bonnie McIntosh (piano/keys), stepped into the studio as a four-member band.
"The cool thing about working in a band like ours is that no one person can do it all alone," says Safford. "What happens most often is someone will come up with a theme and pitch it to the band and if it sticks, it becomes a song."
Sometimes the process has mixed results in that the band hasn't necessarily settled into a sound. The two most prominent tracks on the Hive Mind EP are the rockers, Blue Devils and Vicious Kiss. But then there is MK Ultra, equally strong, but almost feeling like it belongs to a different band, with a pop-soul fusion, until later in the song.
"MK Ultra is definitely a favorite song of ours," Safford said. "On one hand, it's kind of a laid back soul song with a groove and a smooth backbeat. On the other, it's a defiant rock anthem as the chorus kicks in."
The lyrics certainly keep it within the range, but it also lends to the sense they could easily move in any direction. Their live performances are sometimes like that; with pop, funk, and soul all tossed in the mix. They say that is what defines them — the synthesis of different music. There may be some truth to it, but the masterstroke of their work is rock with Henry's voice big, Safford's guitar free, and McIntosh and Ramirez holding it all together.
Immediately following Blue Devils, Vicious Kiss kicks up an even bigger sound packed with anger, payback, and the refusal to take shit. The band says it didn't originally begin that way. The song took shape like many of their songs do; this time from what started out as a simple chromatic riff played at a practice session.
"A lot of what the album represents to us is our attempt to push back against forces that hold us down, that make our lives heavy," Safford said. "Music gives us a way to lighten that load, a sense of control over feelings that might otherwise be overwhelming if we didn't have that creative outlet."
Playing LA can certainly feel heavy at times, with the band estimating as many 50,000 indie acts in the city at any given time. It takes true determination to move beyond playing anywhere and everywhere they were welcome — tiny venues like Joe's Pizza, Old Town Pub, and Zen Sushi.
Still, it's no surprise they kept pushing forward. Safford and Henry have been friends since high school. Even after Henry left for Cal State Los Angeles, they remained friends with Safford visiting for days on end. Somewhere in between smoking, drinking, throwing things off of roofs, and insulting campus police, they always found time to sit down and write a few songs.
Everything they did seemed to have potential. But the band truly took an even more serious turn when McIntosh moved up from San Diego on a soccer scholarship (she played goalie). And that's why their perseverance is no surpise. The band had the right cohesion with a lineup two, three, and now four deep.
Black Party Politics Hive Mind EP Buzzes Up 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Black Party Politics is looking forward to releasing the full album and has several shows booked through October. If you catch them live, there may be one immediately noticeable difference between their studio sound and stage presence. The EP paints the band as having angst. On stage, they come across much more like performers who want to have a good time with the audience.
All three tracks (as the radio edits are optional) off the 5-track EP are worth the download. You can download the Hive Mind EP by Black Party Politics from iTunes. You can also find Hive Mind EP on Amazon.