Soda Shop

Harry Milburn 26/10/2010

What do you get if you cross Horse Shoes with Selebrities? The kind of idea that would get ITV2's Saturday night schedulers furiously scrolling down their Blackberry phonebooks to try and find a number for Fearne Cotton's agent? Very possibly. An indie pop duo from Brooklyn about to release their first 7” on Shelflife records? Most definitely. GIITV's Harry Milburn caught up with Drew Driver, of Horse Shoes and Maria Usbeck, of Selebrities; to discuss the Housemartins' choreography, parties in New York, and all things Soda Pop.

Hello Soda Shop! Firstly, how did you two become acquainted?

Drew Driver: I was showing some friends around NYC who were visiting and decided to take them to one of my favourite parties called "Mondo" which plays indie-pop and girl group music all night. When we arrived, a mutual Swedish friend of theirs showed up with this girl. I guess she looked interesting enough- so I started talking with her. It turned out she sang and I had been struggling to find a dedicated female vocalist. So I went home, listened to Selebrities, loved her voice and it's all history from there.

Maria Usbeck: I went to see The Embassy play at popfest. Drew happened to be playing bass for them that day. That was the first time I caught a glimpse of him. We met a little while after that. He mentioned Soda Shop and the description of the music got me very interested. I came over one summer afternoon and heard the songs which he played on his guitar. I didn't think about it more than one second and said “YES!”

Who made the first move?...I mean purely musically of course.

DD: I guess I did. I had the music for Farewell done a year ago as well as other fragments of songs when I was living in Ohio. I knew I wanted a girl to sing, I've always loved girl groups and wanted to do one of my own.

Describe your sound in 3 words.

DD: Melodic. Warm. Distant.

'Farewell' is quite unlike your other work (with Horse Shoes and Selebrities respectively.) What inspired the change of sound?

DD: Well, as I said, I've always loved the sound of girl groups as well as the classic 50's "rock n' roll music." I was trained in blues/rockabilly guitar 10 years or so ago when I first picked one (a guitar) up. It's always stuck with me. It's quick, has edge, melody and sticks to the classic pop structure.

Let's talk about 'Farewell' the sound on that one we can expect from other upcoming releases?

DD: Of course!

There's definitely a 50s/60s girl group vibe coming through on it. Were there any conscious influences on it from that era?

DD: Most certainly, classics like Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Brian Setzer and up to more current pop bands like Acid House Kings, The Cardigans, Eggstone, Starflyer 59 and this sort of obscure band from the late 90's called Delta Haymax.
MU: I would add The Shangri-Las and the Beat Girl soundtrack by John Barry.

I really like the way the vocals have been recorded too- they sound kind of....distant? How was that achieved? Was it deliberate? Is it something you both wanted?

DD: Very intended. I think my shyness transcends through the recording and mixing process as well. I love reverb and chorus, I don't know what I would do without those two in life. Maybe working in an office?
MU: The essence of my voice really comes out in the recording. I think Drew did a brilliant job. It was deliberate to have the distant, dreamy sound. It embraces the music and the words very well.

I remember reading that Lennon used to insist George Martin hid his vocals under lots of reverb too. You're in good company. Are there any current artists or bands you're both really into at the moment?

DD: I really like this band Two Wounded Birds on Holiday Records, they make some great classic surf sounding pop songs. I've also been into Golden Glow, he has a very Factory Records feel, simple raw energy.
MU: Golden Glow has occupied most of my listening time as well. Some Jeanette, her early work with Pic-Nic as well; melodic romantic ballads.

I love Two Wounded Birds. I notice you cite The Housemartins as an influence?! They're worryingly for you one of my mum's favourites...

DD: I've always loved this band, their presentation and ideas were fantastic and so much fun. They also maintained their integrity and sincerity to make brilliant pop songs.
MU: I wish that we get to do cool choreographies like them one day. I'll have to get Drew dancing a bit more.

Who would you most like to be compared to musically?

DD: I just want it to be something reminiscent, nostalgic, a sound you know and feel a connection to, but you can't quite put your finger on it.
MU: Currently I would say Cults. In all of music history, Soda Shop embraces many different elements, it's difficult for me to compare it to a specific Band or Group.

Finally, what can we expect in the future from Soda Shop? Are there plans for an album yet?

DD: We've been piecing together more and more songs. I'm not sure if the next release will be an EP or an LP. I guess we'll see what we pull together and what feels natural.
MU: You can expect a lot more romantic ballads...and some serious jams that will make you flip your lid!

Soda Shop's first 7" single, "Farewell", is due for release early next year, via Shelflife Records.