From loss comes creation.
That's the story of Long Black Veils, a band from Selma that started when singer/songwriter/guitarist/harmonica player Rob Avalos wanted to make an album in honor of a friend who passed away.
Losing a friend made him take the chance, Avalos says. So he recruited Johnny Serpa (drums), Rob Weeks (bass) and Sean Lowrie (flute, mellotron and organ) to form Long Black Veils.
What started as a cathartic experiment turned into a real band with a real album and real shows. Long Black Veils' first album is on iTunes and it has a dusty-road charm to it, thanks to a mixture of folk, roots rock and indie rock.
We talked to Avalos about the band, its origins, name and live show, which you can see tonight at Full Circle Brewing Co., 620 F St. with Not Perfect Humans and Allen Benton. 8 p.m. $5.
How did Long Black Veils get started? I lost one of my best friends, Carlos Santiago, and wanted to make a personal album in memory of him, and losing him along with many others in my life in a three-year period. It was a "life is too short not to take a stab at your dreams" kinda thing. It has snowballed from there.
Describe your style. Who are your influences? Tricky question, we ourselves are still trying to figure that one out. I guess we are indie/singer-songwriter/folk/rock band with flairs of classic country/Americana/punk/noise/prog-rock. Our influences range, but are not limited to: Wilco, The National, Drive By Truckers, The Band, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Uncle Tupelo, and the great FM radio music from the late '70s and '80s.
On the band's bio, it says you guys have a "new sound" in the local scene. What makes you stand out? We're just pulling on much different roots than most musicians around here are, so we're going a totally different direction. Oh, and we have a flute player.
"Long Black Veil" is a song that's been recorded by many great artists. What made you choose it as a name? The Cash version was really important to me and my great-uncle Ray, who passed in that period of my life (along with my mother, grandfather and multiple close friends). He was the biggest influence in picking up a guitar in my youth, separated by age and distance. One day during a funeral or a wedding -- you know how some families are -- before his death, he said "Mijo, I'm gonna play you one of my favorite Cash tunes." It was the last song I ever heard him sing.
Tell us about your recent CD? It is two years behind schedule, and a year behind our ever-growing sound, recorded, mixed, and produced by us at The Otter House, our studio, and mastered by Fast Traxx Studios here in Fresno. It's been getting great reviews from the UK and back on the East Coast, of all places, but it still seems like we're invisible here at home.
What's your favorite song on it? Why? That's hard. It's almost like asking a parent which is their favorite child. I guess it would have to be "Rust." It's the opener. No one we ask seems to know how to categorize it.
In exactly 13 words, tell us what a Long Black Veils live show is like. Loud, subtle. Lots of variety. Shake your end or listen deep. Always honest.
For music and more: Go to facebook.com/ thelongblackveils, twitter.com/TheLBV and reverbnation.com/thelongblackveils.
Know a local musician more people should be familiar with? Send details to Mike Osegueda, email@example.com.