When psychedelic mod-rock outfit Mei Long decided to go electric, the growing pains ached enough to make the band question whether the transition would work at all.
"Some of our songs translated well from acoustic to electric, but some of them really didn't," recalls lead singer/guitarist Mark Campagna. "Then, of course, when we first started playing shows with the new format, people said they really liked the acoustic stuff better."
Nevertheless, some lineup tinkering and a few creative sparks fed the retro-pop animal that currently stalks the stages of Albuquerque bars with impunity. Now they never have to ask attendees to keep their voices down so the strings of the acoustic guitar can be heard over the late-night clatter and chatter.
"Electric guitar is more conducive to the live show environment," says bassist Josh Williams, who you may remember from the MindySet. "Acoustic can be fun to do but, besides coffee shops, it's hard to get a good draw and get people into the music. There's maybe not enough people who will go out to hear sad, pretty acoustic songs," he says. "Plus, now drunk people love us."
With its lineup and format all figured out, Mei Long's self-titled, five song EP is following suit, giving the local listeners a taste of what this nubile ensemble is all about. Like so many bands searching for a slice of yesteryear, Mei Long used all the analog equipment it could get its hands on. "We just borrowed a bunch of equipment from friends, especially Zac (Webb) from The Foxx," Campagna says. "The more analogue you use, the more semi-authentic it sounds, even though it's digitally recorded." Garage rock's quintessential tin can-ambience on the record speaks to the equipment's effectiveness.
Although the Mei Longers are proud of the work they've done on their own, the band hopes its new CD will lure a producer for something even more fully fledged and enticing. "We want someone who hears us and says, 'I can do something with that,' ” Campagna explains. "We recorded our EP ourselves and it sounds awesome, but we want to see what someone else can do."
For the CD release party at Burt's Tiki Lounge on Friday, Dec. 8, Mei Long has handpicked a selection of bands that, as Campagna points out, all do variations of the same epoch. " The Dirty Novels, The Ashes and us all sound different but we have the same influences," he says. "We'll also have DJ Foxxy Zac, who'll be playing psychedelic, glam and everything in between."