OtherStarPeople Sings in Harmony: California Rockers Meld Diverse Genres into a New Sound
VanHorn, Theresa, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Jennifer Finch sounds more like a bona fide history geek than a veritable rock chick when she starts pontificating about how all the great presidents were great compromisers. But it's a philosophy that the former bassist for the precedent-setting all-girl band L7 (after 10 years with the band, she bailed early last year to finish school and snag a degree in American studies) is actually applying to her new musical project, the ferociously sharp pop quartet OtherStarPeople.
Confessing that she's not the easiest person to work with, Miss Finch says OSP is all about collaboration and, thus, compromise. "I've learned that diffusing is a lot better than sparking the flame," she says slyly from her childhood home in Los Angeles, which she shares with her mother.
She says she does feel like the leader of OSP in one capacity, "in that I was the talent finder." Having recruited guitarist Xander Smith, drummer Chris Bratton (formerly of the D.C. hard-core band Wool) and bassist Junko Ito and dusting off her long-forsaken guitar, Miss Finch has put together a well-matched outfit embodying the divergent backgrounds of each of its members. The result is guitar-driven pop-rock, with traces of new wave, punk, hard-core and techno - or what home-state OSP fans have coined "the CaliPhonic Sound." Miss Finch and Mr. Smith sing most vocals in unison - she in a lower register, he in a higher - fusing into one precise, androgynous voice.
A prolific bunch, OSP has written more than 40 songs but has no plans to cut an album until a major label offers a deal. So, with nothing but buzz to rely on, the foursome have hit the road for a national tour, which includes a stop at the Black Cat (202/667-7960) on Saturday to open for Modest Mouse and Most Secret Method.
The reason behind the rush to get signed and to tour is, interestingly enough, Miss Ito's immigration status. A native of Tokyo, she is being deported at the end of the month. "We want her to see the country, so we wanted to tour before she goes," Miss Finch says. "She has to stay in Japan for at least six weeks after that, and then we can kidnap her and bring her back. But her immigration lawyer says she can't stay permanently unless we can prove that she's a good citizen and we're signed to a major label."
Clearly not willing to continue without her, the band is determined to do what needs to be done to make Miss Ito legal. And though they have big plans for OSP, it is obvious that this dilemma has put the members' immediate goal into very basic terms. As Miss Finch puts it, "We just want to be a band. …