Cashew & Cleary is a duo comprised of Eric “Cashew” Harding and Patrick Cleary, both veterans of the Los Angeles music scene. Cashew was front man of the psych folk band, Eagle Winged Palace and garage band, The Prix while Cleary was lending lead vocals and playing guitar with The Digs, a jangly Americana band and the mellow prog band, Silver Phial. Both had been fans of one another’s music and started getting together for songwriting sessions. The result is Husbands Vol. I, the first entry in a set of forthcoming EPs.
The record is inspired by the music and milieu of LA, The Byrds, Love, The Paisley Underground, X, and modern day minstrel, Beck. From the 1960’s scene of Laurel Canyon and the nearby famous nightclub, The Troubadour to Joshua Tree, CA (then and now), and the present day lively music and arts scene in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park—Husbands Vol. I pull on these influences while remaining current.
Recording with Rob Campanella (Beachwood Sparks, Brian Jonestown Massacre) the duo took their name from the sessions where Campanella had labeled their files, “Cashew & Cleary”. Husbands Vol. I is available digitally and is also being released on cassette by Weiner/Burger Records–Wait a minute did you say cassette? “Alternative formats like cassettes are making a comeback,” explains Cleary, “Ideally, kids will buy a used Walkman, buy our cassette and have new music to enjoy in warm analog sound.”
Explaining their process, Cashew tells us, “All four songs are a true duo collaboration. Lyric by lyric and chord-by-chord, they were tossed around in open sessions between many cervezas and us. The songwriting sessions were fun and the tracking sessions were a blast as well, bringing in orchestral players and conducting is always a good time.” Cleary adds, “It was a new experience collaborating as songwriters and instrumentalists. Cashew acquired a Danelectro 12 string and I had a fuzz box. This influenced the song, ‘When CC Frowns’ and the general orientation. When recording, Cashew would put the basic outlines of the tune down, and then we would build up the arrangements from there.”
“Sha La La (Fadeaway)’ was a song Cashew sang to me in Solano Canyon, with a preface that he wanted to sing it in baritone,” says Cleary, “there were skeptics, but when I heard him sing it through a big Neumann microphone, it was like magic.” Adds Cashew, “It’s very much inspired by Lee Hazelwood and Daniel Lanois, the spaced-out LA Cowboy thing.”
“When Smiling CC Frowns” is a song that Cashew describes as “a cue from The Left Banke (the American baroque pop band) with baroque seeping into pop, rock and country.” As for the mechanics of the song, “When I brought the song to Cashew, I decided I liked the bridge but not the verses, “ explains Cleary. “So we kept the chorus, added another guitar hook, and wrote new words for the bridge, which became the verses. I was reading Errol Flynn’s autobiography, My Wicked Wicked Ways, and it really fit with the idea of our group being a celebration and a bit of a send up of Sunset Strip culture.” “Quiet Desperate Kind of Morning” was the first song Cashew played for me,” Cleary continues. “He heard a second 12-string part and I understood what he wanted right away. The vocal harmonies are some of the highest I sing.”
“I’m an Illusion’ was a magical poem that Patrick wrote to a waltz,” says Cashew, “ We experimented with it and found a way to bridge the gap between Americana and full-blown Ranchero. A welding job like that can only be produced in a taqueria and coyote town like LA.”
Recording on a small budget in their studio and in their homes, the record was lent a hand by adding friends and family to the mix: Scott Bassman on bass, Cheryl Lynn Caddick (Cleary’s wife) on drums and percussion, Curt Harding on bass, James Arellano on horns, Darryl Brown on violin and Robert F. Datta on Tuba. Photographs were taken by Cashew’s wife, professional photographer, Rhea Harding and Jon Hunt lent illustrations to the design of the EP.
This DIY ethic is on par with the band’s musical philosophy. “We’re not trying to use music as a springboard to anything, “ states Cleary, “We’re trying to put as much into it as the joy we get out of it. Our playing and singing is often cited as being of another era, and I’m proud of that. We’re an anachronism, but in these times, that seems like a good thing.”
Husbands Vol. I can be purchased digitally at iTunes, Amazon and Google
Cassettes are available at Burger Records, Ameoba Records and independent record stores throughout Southern California
Streaming on Spotify, Rdio, Beats Music