I wonder if the Czech 5 year-old who sent an email to his uncle, carefully scribing his english into phonetics, really understood his eponymous action. That earnest phonetic declaration would eventually come to name one of the best post modern bands in Los Angeles.
Gabe Pearlman’s nephew closed his email that night, “bikos i love you” instead of the intended ‘because I love you.’ It was that innocent and earnest declaration, that stuck with Pearlman for seven or so years and it was the word, “bikos” that would later be the clear choice when he was tasked with naming his newfound art-audio ensemble.
Pearlman, from Culver City with it’s duality of green lawned homes and famous arts district, was a self-described athlete. In the late nineties, he went to a particular rock show. “It wasn’t just any rock show, it was Elliott Smith”. As Gabe says, “words can’t describe how I felt after seeing that show.” Gabe knew he wanted to play guitar. Hearing Portland’s Quasi only further fueled him.
Nurtured in an environment of music, where his mother wrote finely crafted songs on piano, that could only be described as ‘mystical,’ Gabe’s mother inadvertently extolled the theoretical value of the structure of songs, and immersed him in language, it’s context, even the lyrical sound of words themselves. Later, taken with the allegorical quality of Joanna Newsom’s lyrics and the unmistakeable polyrthymic quality of her music, Gabe learned to play guitar and kept adding to a book of collected poetry. His first explorations into voice training found him signed up for a class “…with a bunch of middle school girls who sang in musicals..” Gabe says with a laugh, ” …but I learned a lot, I sang a Rufus Wainwright song for my first recital”
What happened next could only be called a organic machination with a decidedly serendipitous outcome. Over the years, Gabe continued playing and writing; and as he looked around, he noticed that he shared a similar musical taste with some of his best friends. Gabe had met Austin Wester, Jaron Halmy, at the “Culver-Palms Family YMCA Youth & Government program and Daniel Hur had been a high school friend. The tinkering began, and soon the guys were jamming. The next stage in the lineup was found at a mutual friend’s party. Gabe had heard Dave Jones play and worked up the nerve to ask him to join Bikos. A veteran of L.A. Punk, Dave originally carried the bass duties with the illustrious Magnolia Thunderpussy, and later played with El Vez, Josh Haden, That Dog, and Carnage Asada, (whom he still plays with today). Mustering the nerve Gabe asked Dave to join bikos, and Dave jumped at the chance. In a weird turn, it was later found that Dave, who is a bit older than the others, had been a ‘babysitter’ for some of Austin’s friends when they were young; taking them to Jawbreaker shows and the like.
bikos moved from jamming in Gabe’s room to Dave’s garage playing against a backdrop of black flag, husker du, and saccharine trust posters. Soon the space was filled people, found art, strings of pearl lights, the smattering album covers pinned to the walls and ceilings. A homage to the band’s favorite sounds, and letters. Dave played bass, Daniel growled on lead guitar, Austin pounded the drums, Jaron tapped on the keys, while Gabe sang. A summer conference saw a friendship with Michaella (Miki) Burton and during an ad hoc audition during some down time at the conference, Gabe invited Miki to sing for the voice of “Carmen” in a song the band penned called, “Waldo and Carmen Sandiego”… after working on that song with Miki and hearing Miki’s playful yet mysterious voice, the band implored “well? is she in the band??” the answer was clear, her voice belonged.
The true bikos sound is a handmade occurrence, nothing forced, a post- modern-punk inspired sound that is in love with love, dying to be touched. It uses words, in and out of context, double entendres and signature bikos’ solid songwriting. The wordplay and energy wears an earnest nod to Saul Williams, Aceyalone and wears some of it’s hip hop alliteration on it’s sleeve. Vocally, Pearlman’s voice is playful, manic and yet welcoming with a histrionic quality that only serves to intrigue the listener. The music recalls David Byrne, Pere Ubu, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few. The Pearlman /Burton unique vocal entanglement gives cause to wonder if the bikos sound wasn’t what the The Brazilian Girls’ were really aiming for after all!
The first record, “Make your Sound Sound” (released in November of 2011) was mixed by Dean Nelson, known for his work with Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Thurston Moore, amongst others, was completed with a successful Kickstarter project. It extols a diverse roster of songs ranging from the staccato post punk rant “You Want it” to “Silhouette Vase” a smartly written punk song that opens with shades of a jangly Cure song and closes with an unexpected punk vibe.
The Second record an E.P., entitled “Let Down Your Avant Garde” was released on April 3rd of 2012 and carries on that eclectic spirited word play. It is a more focused effort with songwriting that seems more confident, punchy and honed. It includes songs such as post punk anthem
“Y3k which includes a punchy post punk rant and Burton’s perfectly layered vocals.
“…too late to round down.
no documents of stay.
the new fate, its coming ’round. yet I’m still in a haze…
“…In 999 we were neighboring carnations but I gave up before the calendar year
It was much the same for y2k
broke it off fearing the end was near…”
“…what are we gonna do in 2012?
It’s said the world, world, world won’t make it through What are we gonna do in y3k,
if I can’t see my time turns into you?”
Ultimately a deftly written and inquisitive diatribe into the uncertainty of our modern times.
“Disobey The Wand” is a serotonin enhancer effortlessly swinging through several time changes with Pearlman and Burton crooning in tandem, “Yours is my favorite face, Your lips are my favorite taste, your body’s my favorite place, it’s silhouette my favorite trace.”
Songs like, “Fun, Fun, Fun at the MJT (Museum of Jurassic Technology) present a melodious ode to stumbling on love and actually “getting it right.”
“Waldo and Carmen Sandiego” is a tongue in cheek, clearly impossible love-rock duet between the two well known kids characters.
A comedic yet longingly human exchange.
See bikos live they’re fresh from recording their second full length record with Dean Nelson and the first record and E.P. are still available.
bikos live is more fun than watching L.A. hipsters eat hybrid “Pizza-Salads” amidst Melodious Vintage electronica, which by the way, is apparently a super common things to do in L.A. these days…
So Raise your serotonin levels with bikos’ post-modern musical idiosyncracy. It’s the sound of vulnerability, the longing for joy and connection, and…Oh yes…a bit of a glockenspiel.