I had been hearing a lot about Bite Lip Bleed, and I caught a glimpse of them at last year’s Lennon Lives tribute at Boneshakers — I was hooked immediately.
To be fair, that was only a trio version of the septet, but as soon as I heard Jennifer Cavazos nail down a ska version of the Beatles’ “I Should’ve Known Better,” I knew there should be a fourth step on the Great SA Singers podium of Girl in a Coma’s Nina Díaz, Heather Go Psycho’s Jacklyn Alexandra, and Sugar Skulls’ Alyson Alonzo. Cavazos’ voice is clean, powerful, and as a front woman she has a charm that makes you move even if you’re not in the mood. About to graduate with a degree in communications, she could also perfectly host a radio show.
“I’ve been telling her that for ages,” said guitarist and boyfriend Juancho Luna, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, and possessor of a solid right hand. “‘You have a fucking radio show voice!’”
They met Palo Alto College. She was the singer for Kevin Goes 2 College, he, the bassist for Silent Minority. Soon after he quit SM, they hooked up (“I thought he was cute but also talented, which is a lethal combination,” Cavazos said) and, when Kevin Goes 2 College’s guitarist left the band, Luna was asked to play at Kevin’s last gig. It was the start of a collaboration that gave life to Bite Lip Bleed.
“It took a little while for us to gradually mash and make the songs what they are now,” said Cavazos. “We started as a garage band and progressed over time in a natural way.”
The band is now Luna and Cavazos plus Nick Valdez on bass, Jeremy Garza on sax, Gilbert Covarrubias on trombone, Laith Garet Fisk on trumpet, and former Kevin Goes 2 College drummer Robert Binovi. They all sing harmonies and they all can play. Drummer Binovi “is clean as fuck, man,” says Luna, and he’s not exaggerating — his performance last week at Martini Ranch opening for Mrs. Howl’s last show was flawless. And trumpeter Covarrubias doesn’t just play the notes: he flies over the song, each breath a surprise.
Settle for a Funeral, the band’s debut EP, was produced by the person Luna replaced in Kevin Goes 2 College: guitarist Jason Valdez, now with The Lost Project. It’s representative of the band’s range (mostly ska-reggae and garage-punk touches), but their live shows (and Beatles and Nirvana covers) tell me they could come up with a wonderful pop tune at any time.
“That’s why we formed this band — to experiment without limits,” Cavazos said. “Our previous bands had a specific style and you were supposed to follow that. We just want to play whatever comes out.”
Bite Lip Bleed CD release party feat. Rat King Cole, Viet-Ruse, Pop Pistol
Doors at 9, Bite Lip Bleed at 12:45 (night) Fri, June 28
621 E Dewey