One of Portland’s best new rock bands runs away from a hapless SoCal town.
[GUIDED BY INDIE-ROCK VOICES] Growing up in the quiet, conservative town of Romoland, Calif., (pop. 2,764) Chris and Mike Cantino of the angular indie-rock band Archers knew they didn't really fit in.
"People were most interested in dirt bikes and money," Chris says with a straight face. "We are the only ones out of several generations of our family that moved out of this 30-minute Southern California bubble."
Four years ago the brothers, both songwriters and wicked guitar players, escaped the bubble to move up I-5 to the Pacific Northwest. Chris, 26, and Mike, 24, had each played music in the past, including Chris' outfit Die Radio Die ("We were defined by the use of our U2 delay pedal") that almost signed to Virgin Records, but they had never played in the same band before launching Archers in 2009. While their other projects tend toward the introspective (Chris put out a beautiful record of droney, ambient tunes as Saudade last year, and Mike fronts his own solo project, Orange Jam), Archers is a full-on rock band. The band—Chris and Mike on guitar and vocals, with bassist Brian Yoder, drummer Anthony Frey, and keyboardist Michael Griffith—makes music that's both scrappy and complicated, full of tricky time signatures, jagged blasts of guitar, and a frantic energy that takes equal cues from '90s indie-rock titans Chavez and the sloppy garage pop of the Soft Boys.
"Our songs are dense but also really poppy," Chris says. "We don't want to make people overthink."
Those songs—especially the four included on Archers' self-released EP—are so good that famed U.K. label Heavenly Records (home to Saint Etienne and Doves) signed on to release the band's 7-inch and potentially its upcoming full-length. Tracks like "Brussels Truffles"—inspired by Chris' year living in Belgium—and "Radical Opinion" are jumpy and immediate, with smart lyrics, fantastic harmonies and a special familial bond.
"We're comfortable enough around each other that we don't have to beat around the bush," Mike says. "If one of us writes a song that's total bullshit, we just call the other one out."
SEE IT: Archers plays Thursday, Dec. 2, at Berbati's Pan, with Blood Beach, Sons of Huns, and Nucular Aminals. 9 pm. $5. 21+.