Santa Cruz Good Times

Sunday
Feb 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

At Peace

music MatesOfStateHow to cleanse the mind and body with Kori Gardner of Mates of State

Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, maple syrup, and water sounds like a recipe for disaster, but for Kori Gardner—singer/synth and organ player for Mates of State—it’s all she can think about.

On day four of a 10-day Master Cleanse juice fast, Gardner and her husband, Jason Hammel (drums and vocals), are trying hard to avoid solid food—and not just for nutrition purposes.

“Jason started, and then 12 hours later he’s like, ‘I’m eating!’” Gardner recalls with a laugh. “We’ve done raw food diets before, but this is a little more extreme,” she says. While she admits that it’s been difficult to stay on track, she believes the rewards are too good to pass up.

“You get these rare moments of clarity that I’ve never felt before,” Gardner says of the diet. “Your mind is so clear because of all the toxins that have left your body.” This lucid mindset has aided her in writing music. “I felt like my ideas were completely concise and clear,” she says.

In 1997, long before reaching Master Cleanse nirvana, Gardner and her husband crafted their own sweet and sour cocktail in the form of Mates of State. The band first established itself in 2000 with My Solo Project, an indie pop LP oozing with 12 delightfully discordant duets.

The duo has come a long way since then, and their seventh album, 2011’s Mountaintops, is a reflection of that growth. Inspired by a Buddhist story involving a monk whose maxim is “Aim for Cold Mountain”—or maintain high hopes while traveling—the album is rooted in Zen philosophy.

“We originally were going to call it Aim for Cold Mountain, but then it sounds like that movie,” says Gardner, who is unable to recall much about the 2003 war drama (Cold Mountain) besides Nicole Kidman and Jack White.

Elements of the Buddhist tale weave throughout the album, beginning with the first track, “Palomino,” and its beautifully crafted music video, which features rotoscope animation. The opening lyrics, “you know you’re not in hell,” are visibly depicted as Gardner and Hammel roam through a jungle and up a steep staircase, only to come across another point of ascension: an alluring white staircase guarded by their angelic daughters, Magnolia and June, ages 7 and 4.

Track two, “Maracas,” also alludes to the story, as Hammel brings his drumming down to a light tapping and silences the maracas, in order to join Gardner in singing, “I shoulda noticed that your mind was getting clearer/I woulda noticed that cold summit drawing nearer.” During the song’s climax, Gardner and Hammel encourage one another to take the journey: “Let’s just try to climb/you might not like it when I call you on it.”            

In an effort to explain this outerspace-like track, as well as the rest of the heavily synthesized album, Gardner reveals that Mountaintops, “Made me go explore the synth world a bit more.”

“I use the Juno-G a lot. … People kept saying we’re organ and drums, we’re organ and drums,” she says, referring to every track on Team Boo (2003), besides piano-heavy “Parachutes (Funeral Song).” “Now, songs might not be defined by just that organ.”

This week, the duo returns to California to play at The Catalyst Atrium on July 4, after moving to Connecticut nine years ago to raise their family. “It always felt like we left a bit prematurely,” says Gardner, whose feelings are prevalent on track No. 7, “At Least I Have You.”

“It’s one of those rare songs about each other … when we left San Francisco and were adapting to the East Coast,” she confesses.

The couple—along with John Panos (trumpet/tambourine/keys) and Kenji Shinagawa (guitar)—hopes Santa Cruzans will come down to the show and help them celebrate Independence Day pre-fireworks. But don’t expect Gardner to belt out the national anthem. “The national anthem at a big event can destroy your career or bolster your career,” she says, comparing The Fray’s unconventional folk version at this year’s NCAA men’s basketball championship to Whitney Houston’s beloved rendition at the 1991 Super Bowl. “Hers is the all-time best,” says Gardner.            

Though she adores Houston’s vocals, she prefers duets when it comes to Mates of State. “Vocal harmonies … real staple of what we do,” says Gardner. “We’re more powerful together.”   Photo: Glynis Arban

Mates of State plays at 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, at The Catalyst Atrium, 1011 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $15/adv, $18/door. Call 423-1338.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

On the Run

Is there hope for California’s salmon?

 

Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey

Monday, Feb. 8, is Aquarius new moon (19 degrees) and Chinese New Year of the Red Fire Monkey (an imaginative, intelligent and vigilant creature). Monkey is bright, quick, lively, quite naughty, clever, inquiring, sensible, and reliable. Monkey loves to help others. Often they are teachers, writers and linguists. They are very talented, like renaissance people. Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the year of Monkey. Monkey contains metal (relation to gold) and water (wisdom, danger). 2016 will be a year of finances. For a return on one’s money, invest in monkey’s ideas. Metal is related to wind (change). Therefore events in 2016 will change very quickly. We must ponder with care before making financial, business and relationship changes. Fortune’s path may not be smooth in 2016. Finances and business as usual will be challenged. Although we develop practical goals, the outcomes are different than hoped for. We must be cautious with investments and business partnership. It is most important to cultivate a balanced and harmonious daily life, seeking ways to release tension, pressure and stress to improve health and calmness. Monkey is lively, flexible, quick-witted, and versatile. Their gentle, honest, enchanting yet resourceful nature results often in everlasting love. Monkeys are freedom loving. Without freedom, Monkey becomes dull, sad and very unhappy. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), the Chinese official title of Marquis (noble person) was pronounced ‘Hou,’ the same as the pronunciation of ‘monkey’ in Chinese. Monkey was thereby bestowed with auspicious (favorable, fortunate) meaning. Monkey years are: 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of February 5

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Wine and Chocolate

West Cliff Wines gets its game on, plus a brand new chocolate cafe on Center Street

 

How would you stop people from littering?

Teach them from the time that they’re small that it’s not an appropriate behavior. Juliet Jones, Santa Cruz, Claims Adjuster

 

Dancing Creek Winery

New Zinfandel Port is a ruby beauty

 

Venus Spirits

Changing law could mean new opportunity for local spirits