ELECTRIC GUEST (a.k.a. Asa Taccone & Matthew Compton)
Electric Guest is a Los Angeles based rock band formed in 2010. Their music is a melding of R&B, funk, pop, and classic rock. With meditative lyrics, catchy choruses, and dance inspiring rhythms the band brings a feel-good experience direct to the eardrums. As to the name of the band, singer-songwriter Asa Taccone explains, “When I got kicked out of high school, I started hanging out at a Dunkin Donuts. An older woman who worked there was a weirdo like me, into a lot of new-agey, metaphysical shit and before I left she told me to always remember that I was an electric guest of the universe. For some reason it stuck with me.” Like the titular origin, the band and their music is a collection of people and memories Asa has picked up along the way of his long, circuitous journey towards completion of the band’s first album, “Mondo.” This nomadic quality is felt in their songs that take surprising, symphonic twists and turns that are never jarring as Asa’s rich, R&B-style vocals guide you smoothly, dreamily through their unique chord and movement changes (most notably seen on their first, nearly 9 minute single “Troubleman”).
Electric Guest is comprised of Asa Taccone, from Berkeley, California and Cornbread (unfortunately,legally Matthew Compton), from Danville, Virginia. When they play live, they pick up three friends to fill out the complex instrumentation: Asa plays several instruments, Cornbread nearly a dozen (to be fair, that includes the triangle and tambourine). They both began making music at a very young age. Cornbread began on the drums, recalling life at 13, “I wanted to learn every metal album that I owned: Metallica, Metal Church, Testament. I eventually started taking lessons from this guy that worked in the lumber department of Lowes.” He quickly became adept on the drums and in high school began touring with various bands. This continued all the way through college, taking him around the country until he got tired of his dirty gypsy lifestyle as a tour drummer and settled in Los Angeles to work on music for commercials and movies. Asa’s start was even less conventional – saving money to buy a keyboard from a neighbor while still in elementary school. With it, he started a 3 piece jazz band and wrote his first song recalling only that it was, “something about pancakes.”
While studying various arts at Cornish College, Asa’s focus was always on music. He maintained a strong relationship with his older brother and would play him songs over the phone. His brother then based in Los Angeles, was so impressed with Asa’s compositions, he wanted his friend who worked in music to hear and placed him on the phone one day. This was Asa’s first fortuitous encounter with Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse, famed music producer behind Gnarls Barkley, Gorrillaz, Broken Bells, among many others). Brian liked what he heard and asked Asa to keep sending him stuff, which he wisely did. Over several years, the two formed a strong working relationship, Asa contributing his music production skills to many of Danger Mouse’s projects. Then one day – June 10 of 2007 to be exact (Asa remembers “because it was the last episode of the Sopranos” which he thought was just OK), Danger Mouse asked him to do a record.
Having moved by then to Los Angeles, Asa, as to be expected of an LA-based young artist, moved into a large house with several other musicians (the exact number changing daily… but the guy who slept in the tent out back was a constant). The home provided him the mental and physical space to become extremely prolific, writing over a hundred songs (like Tupac) in his three year stay. During his time there, he met his musical counterpart, Cornbread. The two instantly hit it off and musical collaboration came naturally. Together, with the help of Danger Mouse, they revisited and revised Asa’s many tracks, eventually whittling the number down to a realistic 10 songs that comprise their first album.
One journalist described their music as “a mutant-albeit somewhat cleaned and electronic-60’s garage thing,” likening the sound to The Troggs, The Seeds, and The Zombies. Cornbread admits that those bands were a great influence on them but their inspirations are impossible to nail down as they both appreciate and have worked in every genre of music: both having worked for years on various albums and music for film and television (Asa hides an Emmy somewhere for his work on Saturday Night Live’s “Dick In A Box”). With such an eclectic mix of instruments and influences, it’s hard to nail down the sound of Electric Guest but Asa insists that it’s ultimately pop music, disclosing, “I have a sweet tooth for terrible music so I won’t even say what I’m influenced by.”