The Licks are a five-piece alternative band from Hesperia, CA. We sat down with them at their recent show at the Locker Room in Garden Grove to talk about their musical inspirations, their upcoming headline at the Pomona Valley Music Festival, and their favorite vines.
ALTANGELES: How did you guys meet and start the band?
THOMAS: Jimmy, Paul, Chad, and Chandler all went to high school together, and I just kinda showed up. I met Chad and Chandler through a mutual friend and I went to a choir concert that they were both a part of. Chad and I wanted to record stuff together because he has crazy ridiculous solo music out, and I was a fan. So in order to play our first song “Lavender Kiss” we needed more people.
When did you each start playing music?
CHANDLER: How old am I? I started playing 6 years ago.
CHAD: When I picked up an instrument? like 3.
PAUL: They were like, “Hey, you wanna join a band?” and I was like “Shit, I guess I gotta learn guitar.” I was probably like 17.
THOMAS: Since like 6th grade probably.
JIMMY: I just know how long I’ve been playing bass, it was since junior year.
What are the roles in the band? Who writes the songs?
JIMMY: I play bass and write bass parts.
CHANDLER: We try to write collectively as a band.
THOMAS: We all have our own ideas or a base idea that someone will come forward with.
CHANDLER: One of us will come up with something like a chord progression or a lick… then we’ll end up writing something over it and really liking it or saying “uhhhh no.”
THOMAS: I’m the drummer.
PAUL: I’m the guitarist.
CHAD: I do guitar and I sing.
CHANDLER: I do guitar, I do piano, and I sing.
Where do you get inspiration for new music?
PAUL: All of us listen to so many different things, so all of our own inspirations sorta clash together to make what we make.
CHANDLER: We all have the roots of loving funk and soul, but we all have different facets. I adore indie rock and R&B.
PAUL: I grew up on rap music.
JIMMY: If I need inspiration, I listen to Vulfpeck or Cosmo Sheldrake. Or Chip Skylark.
How did you come up with the name “The Licks”?
THOMAS: We were just texting back and forth and we will argue about who actually came up with the name. I’m gonna go back through the messages one day and find out, but we were trying to think of slang regarding music. Like how you have a guitar lick.
Can you describe each other in one word?
JIMMY: Thomas, “Wow.” Paul “Quiet.” Chad, “Sorry.” Chandler, “Fuck.” Chandler’s the hot one.
CHAD: Chandler’s a stud.
THOMAS: Jimmy, “Thick.” Me, “Dumb.” Paul, “laughing” or “goof.” Chad, “woops.” Chandler, “roommate.”
PAUL: Jimmy, “bassist.” Thomas, “drummer….”
JIMMY: You’re a cheater.
CHAD: Jimmy, “groovy.” Thomas, “groovy high tops, because every time I look down, you’re wearing high tops.” Paul, “ridley.” Me, “zero suit.” Chandler, “Michigan.”
CHANDLER: Jimmy is “slap,” Thomas is “a,” Paul is “dude,” Chad is “what?” and the word for myself is “ahhhdunno”.
Is it hard to make time for the band while being full time students and working?
ALL: Oh hell yeah.
CHANDLER: Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s super hard.
THOMAS: Luckily, weekends tend to be good for us now.
PAUL: Planned out things don’t go as well as last minute things.
CHAD: It’s a lot of adapting and dedication.
The lineup for the Pomona Valley Music Festival was recently released and you guys are headlining! How does it feel to be headlining a local festival?
JIMMY: We found out at Red Robin. We tend to do this thing and we look somewhere crazy and we’ll say like, “We’re gonna play there,” and then in a year we’ll do it.
THOMAS: We would joke like, “see ya at the Troubadour!” and then it ended up happening.
JIMMY: It’s like superstitious, but I saw it coming.
CHANDLER: The first time we played together we played at the Glass House and one of us said we’re gonna play at the Fox next and then it actually happened.
JIMMY: But yeah, it’s wild. It’s so weird to hear.
CHANDLER: To us, it doesn’t matter how small the thing is, it’s just cool that we get to do it and people get to have fun listening.
What is your biggest roadblock as artists?
THOMAS: Communication is key to any relationship.
CHANDLER: Sometimes we’ll have a week where we’re good at it and the rest of the time, we suck.
What has been your favorite venue to play?
THOMAS: Troubadour or the Fox Rooftop.
JIMMY: The Fox Rooftop was the best venue but not the best experience, if that makes sense.
CHAD: C47 is my favorite because it’s a homie fest.
CHANDLER: Yeah, that’s a little venue back home that’s awesome. Because of the names surrounded by the Troubadour, I freaked out. Two weeks before we were gonna play, I saw the trailer for the movie that’s coming out about Elton John and the last shot is of him playing at the Troubadour. And I thought that this was a fucking dream. The Fox and the Troubadour have been the coolest because it’s like, “wow, we’re really doing something.”
What artist would you love to collab with?
THOMAS: Anderson. Paak, if you’re listening. I know it’s a longshot but…
CHANDLER: We know this is gonna happen, but I just wanna collab with Fashion Jackson.
JIMMY: In like three years, we’re gonna collab with Vulfpeck. If we say something, it’ll come true. Hopefully it happens.
If you were a cover band, what band would you cover and what would you call yourselves?
JIMMY: Stevie Wonder.
PAUL: We would call ourselves the Wonder Stevies.
THOMAS: Wevie Sonders.
CHANDLER: No, the Wonder Steves.
JIMMY: We would cover Brockhampton and be called Quinoa Phoenix.
THOMAS: Yeah, we’d be a Brockhampton cover band.
What are you listening to at the moment?
CHAD: I’ve been listening to The Cardigans, but only “Lovefool.”
JIMMY: I know this came out a long ass time ago, but I have been listening to Currents by Tame Impala on repeat for over a week.
CHANDLER: I listen to a lot of The 1975 all the time.
ALL: Standards, County Fair, Juniper Park.
Are there any projects you’re working on that fans can look forward to?
PAUL: Hopefully a song within the next few weeks, but don’t take our word for it.
THOMAS: We’re recording this song called “Secret Scenes”, and it’s like jazzy rock and there’s gonna be a saxophone and a trombone in it, which we’re excited about.
CHANDLER: It’s almost done, it’s the mixing that’s gonna take the most time.
What’s your favorite vine?
THOMAS: There’s this one, I forgot who did it. It’s where he’s like “Hey, have you seen my razor?” and the other guy pulls out a phone but in reality he’s on a razor scooter popping a 360, and then they give each other this death stare even though it’s the same dude acting both parts. It’s a lot funnier when you actually watch it, I promise.
JIMMY: The only one I can think of is “Road work ahead, I sure hope it does.”
PAUL: I have to agree with Jimmy because I can’t think of any at the moment and that was a good one.
CHAD: I enjoy every single vine by Matt Post, but my favorite vine is “What’s worse than a rapist?”
CHANDLER: There’s this vine, I don’t know who it’s by. He’s at a fast food restaurant and he just hits every soda thing and drinks it and looks at the camera and says “Fuck you.” There’s also a vine by Gabriel Gundacker. He’s sitting at a table and he’s looking at the camera like it’s his waiter and he’s like “Excuse me, I ordered a hot dog with no mustard and you just gave me a bottle of mustard on a plate.”
THOMAS: I like “Dick Cheney made money off the Iraq War.”
Anything else you want fans to know?
CHAD: We love our fans so much.
THOMAS: Make sure in your relationships that you communicate.
PAUL: Especially if your relationships consist of five or more people.
CHANDLER: We’ve had a really cool year, it went from playing mostly backyard shows to playing venues where people really recognize us. Like, me and Chad were at the gas station two months ago and the guy there was like, “You’re in a band, right?” and I was like “What the fuck?”
PAUL: Someone took a picture with me in Target.
THOMAS: If I had advice to give to people, I would say to do what you love and do it well.
JIMMY: None of us are ever busy, we’re always bored, please come talk to us if you see us at shows.
CHAD: We’re pretty friendly people, I just know that socially, I’m awkward.
CHANDLER: If we’re awkward, it’s not you, it’s us.
PAUL: I try to be as human being as possible, but sometime the alien shows.