Gold Handcuffs, the debut EP from Los Angeles trio Raw Fabrics, is a short but solid collection of actual rock tunes. While it makes for an exciting introduction to the band, it doesn't give listeners a true taste of Raw Fabrics' genre-blending abilities.
The trio — singer/guitarist Jack Franco, drummer Jon Fredrik and bassist/synth player Justus Dixon — recorded Gold Handcuffs with producer Stephen Street (the Smiths, Blur).
Franco, who praised Street's rock-oriented style in an email, decided to take the lead as producer on Plastic Joy, the band's second EP, which was released in August.
"It really gave me creative freedom to do what I wanted, and play with sounds and inspirations from different genres," Franco says.
With Franco at the helm, plus a little help from Joe Chiccarelli (Manchester Orchestra, Morrissey), with whom the band recorded for one day, Plastic Joy is a raucous mix of rock, hip-hop, pop and electronic influences.
The EP opens with "Beast," an anthemic song about facing and overcoming the negative voice inside.
Over a stark chant of "Beast, beast, beast," Franco sings, "There's a beast inside that never dies / Until the day you decide / To try and try to win the fight / You just can't leave the past behind."
"I really put my feelings into the lyrics in hopes that other people can relate to the feeling," he explains. "There are all sorts of internal struggles that happen with everyone."
On the title track, Franco chastises those looking for temporary happiness.
"The way our culture is today is that there [are] a lot of people searching for instant gratification," he says. "Nowadays you can get most things delivered to you with a push of a button on your phone. That's nice, but I think that happiness doesn't come from having stuff or success.
"You can have happiness anywhere you are, as long as you look for it in yourself."
For Raw Fabrics, that happiness comes from a primarily DIY attitude toward just about every aspect of the band. They plan and execute pop art-inspired visuals, and as evidenced on Plastic Joy, have begun to take more control over their sound. It's all about pushing boundaries as far as they can.
"The hardest thing for bands today is to stand out and stay relevant in an industry that is constantly changing," Franco says. "I would like to see people push their creative boundaries and not feel stuck doing the same thing they did five, 10, or even one year ago. I know personally, I am always pushing myself and trying to be more open." ♦
Raw Fabrics with the Bight and Boat Race Weekend • Fri, Dec. 4, at 7:30 pm • $7 • All-ages • The Big Dipper • 171 S. Washington • bigdipperevents.com • 863-8098