We Are The West are a convergence of sound and space. Dedicated song-stylists, the Los Angeles-based group has developed a uniquely immersive approach to performance, playing both concert halls and improvised venues, including their acclaimed underground parking garage concert series. On March 30, they’ll release, ‘The Golden Shore,’ their first full-length album.
Brett Hool [voice/guitar] and John Kibler [bass/voice] formed We Are The West in a shipping container on a sheep farm in Holland, and began performing as a duo in an abandoned convent in Brooklyn, before moving back to California. Originally described as “a two-man orchestra of stunning vocals, meditative guitar, and exploratory double bass” [ABQ Journal], the group now includes an extended family of musicians with Elizabeth Goodfellow [drums/voice], Sylvain Carton [clarinet/saxophone], Ben Tolliday [cello], Joe Kennedy [keys], Paul Cox [organ], and Mathias Künzli [percussion].
Often seeking out nontraditional and acoustically inspirational spaces in which to perform and record, their national tours have included performances in natural desert amphitheaters, mine shafts, tow lots, redwood groves, sunset coves, and masonic temples, in addition to traditional theaters and festivals. Onstage they have supported Lord Huron, Pete Yorn, and Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, as well as chamber artists Kinan Azmeh [Silk Road Ensemble] and Real Vocal String Quartet. Their recordings have been featured in compilations for organizations such as Textura, Sound and Motion, and the Surfrider Foundation.
The LA music scene’s best-kept-secret of the past few years, We Are The West’s underground parking garage concert series presents a re-contextualized and genuinely deep musical experience. The Saturday before each full moon, the band transforms an everyday office parking garage into an extraordinary performance space. Different guests open each night, from established artists and acclaimed bands, to chamber groups and avant-garde sound experiments. The garage itself provides an unusually welcoming environment, a perfect setting for We Are The West’s transporting and dynamic sound.
We Are The West have released four EPs, each recorded in a different improvised locale: their LA parking garage, a barn in western New York, the high desert of New Mexico, and a ranch in Sebastopol. For their first full-length album, The Golden Shore, the band went to Grammy winning engineer Husky Höskulds in downtown Los Angeles to record live as a trio with their longtime drummer Beth Goodfellow [Iron & Wine]. Hool and Kibler then spent the next year orchestrating and overdubbing within their large network of musical friends.
In addition to Carton, Cox, Kennedy, Tolliday, and Goodfellow, regular collaborator Michael Bush added guitars, Mark Hart [Crowded House, Supertramp] added piano and organ, Dina Maccabee [Feist, Julia Holter] played viola and violin, Jessica Ivry [Real Vocal String Quartet] played cello, Jesse Olsen Bay [Ramon and Jessica] added various keyboards, Marië Abe [Debo Band] played accordion, Amy Sanchez [LA Philharmonic] played french horn, Sacha Schneider played harp, and Kristen Toedtman [LA Master Chorale] added her voice to the WATW choir. The band then enlisted Aria-winner Jonathan Burnside to mix and master. The resulting sound is lush and fully realized, the songs epic, intricate, and moving, the album a journey from top to bottom, a grand achievement for a true ‘garage band’.
‘Siren’ is the opening track of The Golden Shore, recorded live by Husky Höskulds and featuring the core sound of Brett Hool’s vocal and guitar sailing atop the soundscape of John Kibler’s upright bass, augmented by ghostly accordion played by Jesse Olsen Bay. Jonathan Burnside’s subtle mix enhances the raw acoustics that serve as the base for the transportive journey that lies ahead as The Golden Shore comes into focus.
“Virtuosos.” Santa Monica Daily Press
“Distinct, rich, and full of emotion.” Music Connection
“Feels like the wave of the future.” Los Angeles Magazine
“One of the lifeblood bands of LA’s music scene.” Under The Radar