‘What’s in the barrel doesn’t sour’ is a Dutch saying. Rick Gallego (Cloud Eleven, Jiffipop) recorded many songs with his band The Singles in the early ’80s. The vast majority were only played live and not released as vinyl or cassette. With the Kool Kat Musik release L.O.V.E. From The Santa Cruz Archives ’82-’85, that has now changed. And yes, although the music ‘has been kept in a barrel for a long time’ it didn’t sour. It’s sweet and delicious.
The Singles were active in the early and mid-80s. I don’t think you would have thought then that the songs would still be very special 40 years later, or did you know that something special was going on?
I always thought we were a good band, but we reached our ‘sell by’ date in 1985. The vinyl EP we made in 1983 has kept the band in the public eye, and also last year, two of the songs from the EP were released on a vinyl compilation in France. I think that is what made me decide to dig in the vaults and release this stuff.
Can you tell us something about how The Singles operated then and how the songs came about?
We started in 1982, and I sang and wrote most of the songs. I was influenced by the late ’70s power pop music (The Plimsouls, The Beat, Costello), and that’s where our style came from. Various members came in and out of the band, but in 1984, the final line-up emerged, and we did quite well in our little music community of Santa Cruz, California. We won a battle of the bands that year out of 70 other competing bands, so we thought we were on our way!
If an artist has just released a new album, the question of what that person thinks is the best song cannot be answered. That’s different now, I guess. Would you like to give it a try: which two songs still make you proud and why?
If you are talking about the music I made with The Singles, then I would say the later stuff we recorded, like “LOVE (Spells Trouble)” and “Think It Over”. We were very well rehearsed, and I think it shows in our performance on these tracks. But one of the best tracks The Singles did was a song called “Talkin’ Back”, but we only played it live and never recorded it at the time. I recorded it recently (under the name Cloud Eleven), and it just came out on Kool Kat’s Ukraine benefit CD. It has a simple riff, but it rocks!
How did this release come about?
When I was gathering all the tracks for the release, I asked Ray at Kool Kat Musik if he was interested in putting it out, and he was, and he did!
I would like to label The Singles as a pure Power Pop band, just like The Beat for example, did you want to be that or was that not important at all?
Of course I wanted to align my band with those bands (as I mentioned above), they were the best…and that’s why in the early ’80s we didn’t really sound like other bands at that time with all the keyboards and drum machines, we were a throwback to 5 years earlier! Ironically, I got to work with Paul Collins in the mid ’90s, because he re-released my 1996 Jiffipop CD in Japan on his Wagon Wheel label.
No Wasting Time sounds like a hit to me?! For Huey Lewis, maybe. I hope you take that as a compliment?
That is a compliment, thanks! Our bass player Joe Laub wrote and sang that song; it’s a great one with an irresistible groove!
Any idea how the other band members are doing?
They are all doing well, I was in contact with all of the former members of The Singles during the making of the compilation. They are still musicians and still making music, happy to say.