Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Members: Andy Breihan (guitar, bass, vocals), John Fredericks (guitar, bass, vocals, keys) and Chris Trombley (drums)
Album: SACCO (April 22)
For Fans Of: The Growlers, Guards, Grizzly Bear
I went to go see SACCO in a blizzard. The weather had already canceled my flight home and disrupted headliner act Fort Lean’s travel plans to get to South Williamsburg. But that didn’t stop SACCO from starting promptly at 10 p.m. or from brazenly blasting their first song to a nearly empty venue until a few dozen hip, beanied and booted Brooklynites filed onto the floor with their boozy hot ciders and beers.
A colorful array of lights—a bit reminiscent of old car headlights—hangs as the backdrop to the stage at Baby’s All Right, splashing the couple-hundred-person room with hues of purples and blues. The banister surrounding the dance floor serves as a free coat check for the small crowd, run by an inebriated version of the honor system.
On stage, though, SACCO plays with musical precision and situational obliviousness. For just 30 minutes, co-founders and co-frontmen Andy Breihan—longhaired with a mishmash floral shirt and red Converse hightops—and John Fredericks—the most clean-cut of the trio— trade instruments and harmonies over their melody-driven, psyched-out surf rock. Meanwhile, drummer Chris Trombley, with his hunched over physique shadowing his handlebar mustache, hops up from his stool with each seemingly simple snare hit. They interact with the crowd sparingly, except for brief introductions and moments of gratitude when Breihan says, “Thank you for coming out in the blizzard.”
Post-show, Fredericks tells me that as relatively recent transplants to New York, SACCO hasn’t gigged the tri-state area very much. In fact, SACCO hasn’t even been an official entity for that long. Breihan and Fredericks grew up together outside San Diego, Calif., and have played in multiple touring bands over the years—most notably, New York indie band Guards.
“We did a lot of great tours with them and they’re some of our closest friends,” Fredericks says on a call the day before their show. “Andy and I started recording some of our stuff on the side while we were in Guards and once it got finished and we heard it and began to be excited about it, we had to make the decision.”
Breihan continues: “We’ve always written songs together regardless of whether it’s for a band or just for fun. It reached a point where we were like, ‘Let’s just have our own thing.’ So we did.”
Soon after, a mutual friend introduced Fredericks and Trombley, another Californian who relocated to New York. “I asked him to be in the band the day that I met him,” Fredericks recalls with a laugh. “Thank god he was really good at drums.”
SACCO’s self-titled, debut album has been in the can for months, since before they embarked on a month-long tour with their fellow San Diegans in the indie-pop band Cults. “They were kind enough to bring us out and let us cut our teeth. That was our first tour as a band,” Fredericks explains. “We’d really only been playing for less than two months before we did that tour, so that was a good learning experience for this band, figuring out our identity as a live band.”
On April 22, the band’s debut will finally be released via Sensibility Music. Recording the LP at a beach house on Long Island felt like home, Breihan says. “Me and John grew up less than a mile from the beach. We wanted to be able to walk on the beach, go in the water and just have fun while we were doing it.”
And the record captures that feeling of beach dazes and lite-psych hazes. Breihan and Fredericks alternate singing lead and both of them strive to create swooping melodic drones with their tenors. Beneath it, though, they unveil more ominous musical qualities like fuzz-ridden bass riffs, stoically consistent drumming and background howling fit for an experimental noise record. “Sunny Afternoon” is appropriately chipper, but that’s a rarity among tracks like “Driving” that warn and haunt listeners, “it’s all over now.”
Leading up to the album release, the guys hope to keep gigging and creating a name for SACCO. They’re trying to nail a spot at South by Southwest in March and they just got confirmed for three-week run through April and May opening for Band of Skulls.
And as for the band’s name, SACCO was originally conceived in reference to the infamous Italian anarchist duo Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. On the call, Breihan and Fredericks joke that that was a mouthful, though, and that they liked the hard consonants of just SACCO. Fredericks remembers, “We played a show in Nashville and some guy was like, ‘Hey man, are y’all really into that anarchy stuff?’”
His Southern accent is delivered slowly and with comedic diligence until his he reverts to his native Californian stop-go inflection.
“I was like, ‘Uh. No. We’re not. At all.’”