“Moof!” No one yet knows what that means — not even the band — but it is the title of Double Naught Spy Car’s newest instrumental album, on which they are joined by guest artists and friends such as Woody Aplanalp, Saccharine Trust guitarist Joe Baiza, Nels Cline, FIDLAR guitarist Elvis Kuehn, Mike Ness guitarist Chris Lawrence, Social Distortion keyboardist Danny McGough, and Ben Vaughn. The title’s quirky mystery suits the exploratory music.
“MOOF” was born out of pragmatism: When bassist Marc Doten, guitarist/steel player Paul Lacques and drummer Joe Berardi were planning the next Double Naught Spy Car album, guitarist Marcus Watkins announced imminent fatherhood would make him unavailable. So they invited various friends to “be Marcus.” Recorded and mixed by bassist Marc Doten at his Echo Park studio, the 12 instrumental tracks range from twangy ’60s-style surf and lounge sounds to prog rock, jazz-vibed ambient explorations and — in the case of Joe Baiza’s “Hairsuit” — what Lacques calls “math rock with a baseball bat.”
“Each guest would come over to Marc’s studio in the afternoon, and we’d set up and stare at each other for a minute, and then start playing,” Lacques recalls. “When someone got a good idea going, we’d say, ‘OK, that sounds like a verse, and there’s a chorus.’ Each song evolved from just jamming, basically, but with the intention that it was going to be a song at the end of one or two days. We now believe in deadlines.”
The noir-ish sizzle of “Loose Cannons in Tight Quarters” arose from one “brutally efficient” session with Minutemen co-founder Mike Watt.
“He’s a force of nature,” Lacques says. “Mike walked in, plugged in, and we just started jamming on a funk groove and didn’t stop playing for three hours. Tape doesn’t lie; the ProTools session was almost three hours long. We sliced that up into three different songs. Vince Meghrouni and Carlos Alvidrez did horn parts on top of the jam. Strangely enough, it sounds composed.”
Like Lacques, who plays with at least three or four bands, including I See Hawks in LA, all of Double Naught Spy Car’s members juggle multiple projects. The reward of playing in an instrumental band, he says, is the “chance to do what instrumental writers, from fiddle tunes to Stravinsky, have done forever.
“It’s a piece without lyrical content, so the music can mean whatever [you want], however it hits your own consciousness. It’s kind of freeing. You’re not worrying about ‘what’s my message’ or rewriting another love song. It’s just, ‘Wow, that’s a cool riff, let’s build something around that.’ And it can have an emotional content. …
“We’re all kind of guitar geeks in the band. That’s why I started playing music, not to be a lyricist at all; I wanted to sound like Mississippi John Hurt and then Clapton and then James Burton. I was always driven by the sound of the guitar.”
Double Naught Spy Car and special guests celebrate “MOOF” at Taix, 1911 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, at 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2; free admission. Info: (213) 484-1265. Doublenaughtspycar.com, taixfrench.com