Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 06th
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Why So Serious?

mus featThe Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit makes the leap from party band to dedicated musicians

Chris Doud had no interest in starting a band when the group now known as the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit got together for their first show.

“When we first started, it was almost a joke,” Doud admits. “Before we even became a band, we laid down the ground rules: It’s cool to hang out and play music and not take it seriously. At all. We hated the parts of bands we were in before—where it got too serious and people started having arguments, so we wanted it to be fun.”

What started as a very loose, tongue-in-cheek project was indeed a lot of fun to listen to, and word soon got around. Before they knew it, the Americana and country music sextet had built up a reputation as a good-time party band.

“It’s funny how it evolved, because all of a sudden people were coming out and watching us and we were like, ‘Well, this is weird,’” Doud recalls.

Soon the Oakdale-based group had opportunities to tour throughout California, so they released their debut self-titled album in 2005 and got down to the business of bringing their lively songs to the masses. And then a funny thing happened. Right around the time they were getting ready to make their second album, 2009’s The Ghost of Good Manners, the band’s perspective started to shift.

“That was the turning point of us going from being the party band that didn’t take itself seriously, to, ‘Oh, we can really do something with this unique sound and spread the word that way rather than partying all the time,” Doud laughs. “And then the latest album continued in that direction, trying to be honest and serious with the music.”

The latest album, 2012’s Old Excuses, showcases a band that has really hit its stride. From the confident, fluid country and bluegrass strains that populate the almost eight-minute-long “The Wolfman,” to the true-blue, honky-tonk country of “Little Bit O’ Livin,’” Excuses is filled with tight musicianship and enough musical verve to keep you on your feet throughout.

But it’s not all about having a good time, as the bluegrass number “The Very Best” contains thought-provoking lines like “I’m the very best at missing you,” which hint at deeper issues like love and loneliness. The album is very simply—but not simplistically—and naturally done, but according to Doud, creating the album was not an easy task.

“We had a couple false starts about a year prior to when we earnestly started recording it,” says Doud. “We got this harebrained scheme that we would buy some fancy recording equipment and do it all ourselves, but that fell apart pretty fast.”

But even though their attempts to make an album DIY-style did not pan out, their willingness to think outside the box is in their DNA. This very mentality is partially responsible for bringing some of the band members together. Several of them met through “The 52-Week Club,” which challenges participants to write a new song each week based on a particular theme.

“It’s been the nut of how a lot of the songs got started, that club, especially the older songs,” Doud says. “All the songs on the first album are songs we were playing based on this club, so we give a lot of credit to the club for giving us a wealth of material.”

After three albums and a decade together, the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit is taking its efforts more seriously than ever. Considering how they approached band practices early on, this is quite an evolution.

“The highlight of our practices was practice ending and getting to play poker for the rest of the night,” Doud laughs. “So it was really Poker Night and we just squeezed in practice beforehand.”

The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit will perform at 9 p.m. Friday, April 25, Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12/advance, $15/door. For more information, call 479-1854

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