Christmas Island was formed in August 2007. “Lucy [Wehrly] and I had already been dating awhile when we decided to play music together and record some songs,” says Brian Island. Brian’s on guitar; Lucy’s on drums.
Brian says, “We played our first show as a two-piece in April ’08. In June, we tapped our good friend Craig [Oliver] to play guitar and keyboards to help fill in our live sound.”
“Our first show out of town, someone broke into our truck,” says Lucy. “Nothing major was stolen, but we didn’t have a driver’s-side window the rest of the tour.”
As for the band’s name, “I stumbled across it somewhere,” says Brian, “and I liked it because it sounded like a magical place…there’s actually two Christmas Islands. There’s the one off the coast of Australia, and there’s one in the Pacific Ocean that also goes by the name Kiritimati and is the world’s largest atoll. The British tested nukes there in the ’50s and ’60s. That pretty much clinched the band name for me. I liked how a place so innocent sounding could have a darker side. I relate that to our music in some ways.”
That’s the extent of the Christmas connection. “We do not play holiday music,” says Brian.
Christmas Island’s full-length CD, Blackout Summer, is set for release in 2009 from In the Red Records. They perform January 1 at Bar Pink in North Park.
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Brian: “Grauzone, Die Sunrise Tapes. Really great Swiss post-punk from the early ’80s.”
Lucy: “The Wipers, Is This Real? I can’t stop listening to it.”
Craig: “Department of Eagles, In Ear Park. I’m a sucker for the Grizzly Bear baroque-pop thing, and this offshoot band is great. And Satori by Flower Travellin’ Band — great Japanese ’60s psych.”
WHAT SONG HAS BEEN STUCK IN YOUR HEAD?
Brian: “The Ramones, ‘Howling at the Moon (Sha-la-la).’ It makes me want to dance in the street.”
Lucy: “The Anasazis, ‘UFOs.’ It’s really cute and catchy.”
Craig: “Gun Outfit, ‘Dim Light.’ I’ve been going back to the demos on their website quite a bit lately.”
Brian: “Budget Rock. It’s this festival in Oakland. We played with rad bands, got paid well, and drank lots of free beer.”
Lucy: “Last summer, a guerilla show on top of a parking structure at UC Irvine. The sun was setting while we played.”
Craig: “The last couple we played at the Soda Bar and the Whistle Stop were a lot of fun — playing with friends’ bands, feeling comfortable on stage.”
Craig: “The Pharaoh’s Den, this art space in Riverside. It was a dead Monday, and by the time we played nobody was left. We were drunk from the weird sports bar downstairs, though, so we just sort of goofed off with the other bands.”
DIFFICULTIES IN DATING A BANDMATE?
Brian: “Lucy and I are practically married. It wasn’t really that weird starting a band together because we already hung out with each other all the time. Basically, it’s just something else we do together. Every now and then we’ll have an argument at practice but nothing serious that would jeopardize our relationship or our band. Our relationship comes first, and we’d stop doing the band if it ever put too much strain on that.”
MEMORABLE THINGS DONE WHEN DRUNK?
Lucy: “I got a ‘Beavis and Butthead’ tattoo.”
Craig: “Eating or ingesting things I shouldn’t have and having the nerve to say ‘hi’ to certain pretty girls.”
Brian: “I supervised a tree-cutting crew in Julian. The pay was great, but the hours were long, and I had nightmares of trees falling on me. I quit after a week.”
Lucy: “The only job I really hated was being a sign spinner when I was 15. I did it for two weeks and never got paid.”
Craig: “When I was 18 I once went to Labor Ready, which I came to learn meant you were treated like shit on the job because everyone thought you were an ex-con. I spent most of the day turning cement and water with a shovel in a wheelbarrow.”
Brian: “ ‘L’enfer, c’est les autres’ — Jean-Paul Sartre. ‘Hell is other people.’ ”
Craig: “ ‘Smooth move, shitbrick.’ ” — Lucy Wehrly
Lucy: “Yeah, what I said.”