What's up with you, Mang? Inquiring minds (at least those with an interest in live local rock) want to know. This four-piece, 50/50, girl/boy rock crew sprang into existence here almost two years ago out of the remnants of various other local projects. Together, they've made a formidable dent in the scene psyche with sonics and lyrics inspired by a fortnight of fever dreams, starring the Breeders covering Sabbath at a roadhouse owned by the members of L7. Sign up for the Mang express this Saturday night at the Quarterhorse with Sasshole, Slim Pickins and Tri-State Bender.
Mang's two front women -- guitarist/vocalist Missy Kamberline and bassist/vocalist Laylah Gibford -- walk the line between tuff and sex-ay without shirking the task at hand: pounding out fun, original, hard rock fuzz with a punk rock kick (rounded out by guitarist Rick Warriener's vaguely metallic Les Paul crunch). The women may seize most of the attention, but no one up there ever looks like they're having as much fun as drummer Bill Gibford (yep, Laylah's husband), who flails away precisely and resolutely, all the while sporting a big-ass grin.
The news of the week is that the band just returned from their first date with Seattle -- at a club called Zak's.
"We had a great time," reports Kamberline. "I loved the intimacy of it -- playing on the floor. The people really got into it. They even asked us back. I was kind of surprised because Seattle's known for being a little bit, um, more reserved."
Seattle crowds -- spoiled rotten through constant exposure to top-shelf acts -- have a tendency to stand there with their arms crossed and stare. (If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere?)
"Exactly. I didn't want to be mean, but, yeah, that's what I've heard. But they went off. It was a great show."
Back in the 'Kan, Mang is making tracks to get their second CD out by the end of this summer (adding to 2002's turbocharged document, Mangled).
"Hopefully," says Kamberline, who defines the new batch of songs as "definitely more rocking."
"You know," she laughs, "you record something, and then a year later, it's like, 'Oh God, I've got to play those songs still' or, you know, 'I can't even handle listening to them.' The things that we're doing now just seem so much better to me. We were really happy with the first album. And I still am -- as far as the recording quality. But our style is evolving, and we have a new guitar player [Warriener replaced original Mang guitarist Bruce Schulte last year]. In a way, it almost feels like a whole new band."
Evolving. From what to what?
"That's a good question. I would say we're moving from more of a pop sound to more rock. We're tuning a little bit harder and faster. It's a little bit Rick and a little bit us growing as musicians and a little bit of our influences changing. I listen to everything from Stevie Wonder to the Melvins to Johnny Cash to Ween. I'm all over the board."
Yet Kamberline stresses that all four members of the band contribute more or less equally to the final product.
"It's not like one person comes to the table with a song and then we all add our little bits. Literally, someone will come up with a riff and then another person will add a riff and the other person will say, 'Hey, let's try this arrangement' and another person will put the vocals in. We switch it up all the time."
Whatever strange and beautiful beast is unleashed on the next album, and wherever the band's fortunes take them, Mang's heavy reliance on rock's friends and family plan is their assurance that if all else fails and falls to dust, they'll still have fun -- and each other.
"Really, I've never been in a band before where we got along so well and all mesh so well," Kamberline agrees. "There are no egos. It's real supportive and, as it turns out, pretty productive."
Not Jam, Django! -- This Seattle quintet may have chosen a name that vaguely recalls another, more notorious, Northwest band (one with a decidedly electric edge), but fortunately Pearl Django's acoustic "Gypsy swing" is about as far from a Vedder sulkathon as puppies are from kittens. KPBX Spokane Public Radio is bringing the string jazz group to the Met next Thursday night. They'll also make a stop at Sandpoint's Di Luna's Caf & eacute; on Friday night.
Pearl Django's music recalls the legacy of Django Reinhardt, arguably the most influential jazz figure ever to emerge from Europe and the musician responsible for (in the early days of the 20th century) propelling the humble acoustic guitar into the front line of the jazz combo. His innovations greatly inspired Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Les Paul and many others, directly impacting not only American jazz but Western swing and country as well.
Guitarists Neil Andersson, Dudley Hill and Greg Ruby, together with violinist Michael Gray and bassist Rick Leppanen, weave a lively yet sophisticated sound that emphasizes rhythm as well as melody, and which reaches into the future even as it reveres the past.