The guys of Roll the Tanks don’t wear straw boater hats and their sound is the complete opposite of a cappella, but the Los Angeles band may be this generation’s ultimate barbershop quartet.
The rock ’n’ roll foursome is marking its Epitaph Records debut of “Broke Til Midnight” on Tuesday with a eight-hour “concert marathon” at four Floyd’s 99 Barbershop locations.
“We’ve played some really weird shows, like we played a Laundromat in Phoenix one time, and odd house parties and stuff, but nothing like this,” said vocalist and guitarist Danny Carney. “It’s all very experimental.”
But the Floyd’s patron hopes it’ll be a fun experiment for everyone.
“I’ve had my hair cut there before and I remember hearing ‘Don’t Change’ by INXS, and all of a sudden I left with it being my favorite song, so I hope to do that for others,” Carney said.
“Broke Til Midnight” is what Carney calls the band’s global debut, as Roll the Tanks released two earlier albums — the first on their own and the other on a smaller label.
“The biggest thing about this record is that we finally arrived as compared to the other albums where we were trying to find our sound,” Carney said. “Lyrically, it’s more story driven.”
Take the title track, for instance. Carney said it’s a tongue-in-cheek story about “where you’re in a bar and can’t close out your tab till after midnight when your check clears, which is totally a first-world problem,” but adds, “There is a greater message about how these days, people are broke one way or another,” living paycheck to paycheck.
The band, which describes itself as an “unpretentious, classic rock-inspired ‘band’s band,’ ” consists of childhood friends Carney and Mike Wakeman (bassist/vocals) as well as Aaron Stuart (guitar/vocals) and drummer Joe Sirois.
While all band members grew up in Massachusetts, they didn’t become Roll the Tanks until 2007 when they were all officially Los Angeles residents. Carney now calls Eagle Rock home, while Wakeman lives in Beachwood Canyon, Stuart in Glendale and Sirois in Pasadena.
The Floyd’s pop-up shows are in advance of Roll the Tanks’ record release party at El Cid in Los Angeles on Wednesday. But Sirois said that while the album is new to fans, “Broke Til Midnight” was originally recorded nearly three years ago.
“We recorded it ourselves with a friend who is an accomplished producer,” Sirois said. “We actually laid it down in his house, but it just took so long for us to find a home for it. Then Epitaph stepped up.
“Having to wait so long really gives us an appreciation for it. We’re really excited, so we’re pulling out all the stops.”
Roll the Tanks got on Floyd’s radar last year when the barbershop chain’s president, Dan McNamee, watched the band open for Social Distortion at the House of Blues in Anaheim. With music being such a big part of Floyd’s business environment, McNamee said the idea to partner with Epitaph and Roll the Tanks was an easy decision.
“This is about the musicians and giving them a platform,” McNamee said. “We’ve had DJs spin in our shops before, but we thought it would be interesting to have live music to enhance our client experience and also expose our clients and staff to up-and-coming bands. It really is unique. They’ll be like the ultimate barbershop quartet.”
So how will the guys of Roll the Tanks do all four shows without running themselves ragged?
“We’re brainstorming a lot to come up with MacGyver troubleshooting solutions,” Carney said, laughing. “We want to get a wheel cart with amps and PAs strapped to it and minimize the drum kit so that we can load in and out in 10 minutes. We’re pretty adamant about not being acoustic. We want to be very electric, but smoky and relaxed. We don’t want to assault people who just want to get a trim, but it’s going to be interesting to lug all that gear.”
Sirois isn’t quite as worried and quipped that he’ll probably start off the day “drinking champagne with OJ for breakfast.”
“No, honestly, I think we’re just going to rehearse a lot and get in the van and go for it,” Sirois said. “You just kind of have to roll the dice and see how things go. We don’t care, we just want to play. Whatever happens, we’re just going to rock out.”
Roll the Tanks Concert Marathon
What: Los Angeles-based band Roll the Tanks will celebrate its release of “Broke Til Midnight” on Epitaph Records at four Floyd’s 99 Barbershop locations in the L.A. area, attempting to pull off an eight-hour concert marathon.
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 27.
Where: First show at 11 a.m., 609 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; second show at 1 p.m., 11431 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles; third show at 4 p.m., 1555 N. Cahuenga Blvd., North Hollywood; last show at 6:30 p.m., 1040 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank.
Roll the Tanks Record Release Party
When: 8 p.m. May 28.
Where: El Cid, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles.
Follow Mariecar Mendoza on Twitter: @LANGMarMendoza