As sure as the needle will drop and urethane wheels roll over concrete, Güero keeps moving. Whether casting drawn-out jams from their city’s breweries or hanging with their friends in the skate community, the Sacramento 4-piece are a product of their surroundings and new album Wednesdays is no exception; extending a warm invitation from their place to yours, it’s a soothing antidote for the hump days. “We want to enhance the atmosphere of your environment whilst transcending a mundane existence,” explains the band’s keyboard player, Shea Ritchie, on why their cosmic swells and dreamy energy transcend expectations of the ‘skate rock’ memento they’re reclaiming as their own.
“The world is so complicated; our music is a vibe to be used however the listener feels; put the record on in the background or dive deep and peel back the layers,” they say. Emerging from the imagination of vocalist/guitarist Rik Krull, Güero’s line-up is completed with Russell Volksen on Bass and Mike Ruiz on Drums. Buds since working in Skate shops, Rik and Shea were separated by the American Canyon winding between them until Rik moved to Sac. They met Russell on the scene and Mike’s bands would provide their party soundtracks.
Growing up in a world of subcultures would later shape Güero’s music with a unique documentary style; a genre-blending evolution from years spent watching kickflips caught on film while being introduced to music that would instantly get put on repeat. “When a skate video came out, we’d check out the music, it ingrained in us the need to keep digging,” Shea recalls. Today, the band’s practice sessions of jazz, psych, and even doo-wop are recorded by their ‘Scribe’, Russell on his phone’s Voice Memos app. Capturing each instinctive moment, the audio files are a permanent reminder of their authentic selves. “We don’t play the same way every time,” Mike explains of their fluid intuition from years playing together. “We take social cues from each other, mix things up to push us in new directions, catch that ride and flow into it.”
That’s precisely what happened whilst recording the forthcoming new album Wednesdays. Named after piling into the living room-turned-rehearsal space of Mike’s house for midweek jamming, the Aladdin’s cave of personal treasures, art, precious stones, crystals and plants is where Güero found their groove. “It’s a rad spot… there’s life in the room already and it feels safe which is so important when you’re putting yourself out there. You need to leave behind any negative energy which might discourage you from opening up.” Concocting expansive soundscapes touched by rainbows of light when the sun shone through stained glass, the band fine-tuned their repertoire led by the fire in their gut. “We don’t want to waste time playing music we’re not hyped on,” Rik says.
Güero’s brotherly camaraderie extends to the company they keep. “Our circle consists of friends and family attempting to build the life they wish to live. The failures might not be the same, but the perseverance is, which inspires us to keep making music.” Accepting the band’s open invitation to enhance the mood, Wednesdays invites you to meet the like-minded souls offering up their own creative expressions. There’s the colorblind artist mysteriously known as Leaveswell whose pastel flowers adorn the artwork on the record sleeve; videographer Paul Bates – the brains behind the twinkling moonlit bokeh dancing about the carnival of Santa Cruz beach boardwalk in the video for ‘Streams of Light.’ Not least, his insidious opening scene of the cinematic video for ‘Scribe’ (those blood splatters? Burst ketchup packets). “Paul’s mind works in ways others’ don’t; a spaghetti western rom-com death revenge plot? We were like WTF? Alright dude! Go do your thing.”
Above all, there’s unofficial fifth member of the extended Güero family; Oakland producer and fellow musician, Akiyoshi Ehara. Whilst the band’s self-titled debut was recorded and mixed by Shea in typical DIY fashion, Wednesdays was recorded live at Pus Cavern Studios in Sacramento with ace recording engineer Joe Johnson and further elevated thanks to Aki’s home studio magic. Amping up and dialing down dynamics, he added greater tones, higher fidelity, heavy delays and string arrangements. “We always incorporate something we haven’t explored before and Aki was the maestro; he took our sound to another level. Nothing stands out as something which shouldn’t be there or what one of us wouldn’t play,” tells Russell.
After appearing on international TV, Bryan Bruchman’s BTR Today Music Digest podcast (twice), tipped by blogs For the Rabbits and The Wild Honeypie, and performing at Johnny “Corndawg” Fritz’s revered haunt Little Saint, Güero – the band – are now manifesting their name’s meaning as a term of endearment on their own terms; “Skating… music… it all comes down to individuality; look around and assess, meet great people, figure out tricks to make things fun, throw up a bunch of high fives and be genuinely stoked for your homies.”