The attrition rate of group disbandment in all genres of popular music seems to be high. U2, Social Distortion, MXPX, Cheap Trick and unfortunately, the Rolling Stones, being some of the exceptions.
But this appears to be the case whether commercial status is gained or never achieved. For most, the revival eventually shuts down, the tents folded up. No hugely successful career to draft behind.
The Odd Numbers defy this. They soldier on after more than three decades of creating and purveying music. The resilient trio from San Jose, California continues to lay a foundation of powerpop below a structure of rhythm and blues while leaving a needed sonic footprint in a musical landscape rife with pretense and unsmiling melody.
As a matter of fact, they released “Oddyssey,” their fifth album and an obvious protologism in reference to the word odyssey, in 2017. A collective of songs that reflect their tastes and influences, much like the Numbers’ earlier work.
“I had a long time to work on it though so it’s pretty thought out,” recounted guitarist and vocalist Dave Baisa via email. “It’s a bit more mature I suppose. I really think it’s the best thing we’ve done! Dave Conrad plays drums on it but he played drums on our third record too.”
And Baisa’s pop sensibilities are ever present on “Oddyssey.” The song “Home” could be a hidden track on All Mod Cons. “Teach Myself,” “This Old Town,” and “Useless Things” deliver messages, penned with lyrical maturation, to the backdrop of strong melodies. Makes sense. He lists his top five powerpop “vinyls” as The Who’s “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy;” The Jam’s aforementioned “All Mod Cons;” Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True;” The Knack’s “Get The Knack;” and Joe Jackson’s Look Sharp.” Though not all of these albums are straight powerpop Baisa’s musical preferences display a common thread woven through pop’s heavier side.
“I love the singer-songwriter thing. I also love the thought of a pop song with balls!” he wrote.
Baisa is the principal songwriter but in essence, an Odd Numbers record is still a collaborative effort.
“I write most of the songs for the Numbers but Miller’s (Dave Miller, bass player) a songwriter too and usually get one or two in there. We all make up our own parts for the most part though,” he added.
Of course, their music wouldn’t be complete without a little help from some friends. The latest album was marinated in R&B before release.
“Grew up on the Motown stuff for sure but I dig West Coast jazz too. I was the perfect age when new wave happened so that’s a big influence too,” he commented.
The Numbers were established right out of high school in 1988 settling into a Silicon Valley music scene that was devoid of any real venues to crush a set at.
“We were terrible students but we were good at having a good time so we formed a band. I’d been playing guitar since I was 12 but the other guys just learned as we went along,” Baisa wrote.
However, consistent access to live music in San Jose became reality as the decade changed over.
“At first we were playing a lot of house parties and the occasional jam night somewhere but there weren’t any clubs really to play back then,” he wrote. “Then in the early 90’s it picked up and there were a bunch of places to play.”
Still basically teenagers, the band recorded their first album, “About Time,” in 1990 and it found success.
Our first record is still our most popular one. I like them all and have made sure over the years that we don’t make a shit record but ‘About Time’ has stood the test of time! Plus the fact that we were still kids when we made it and it turns out we did pretty good!
Listen to About Time via YouTube or Spotify
“The Trials and Tribulations Of The Odd Numbers,” recorded in 2000, was arguably their watershed output in relation to the first four albums, a recording with similar music patterns as prior records but possessed of even greater hooks and better production.
“That was us in the year 2000! We truthfully were kind of running out of steam as a band at that point but I had a killer batch of songs that I wanted to get out,” Baisa explained. “We didn’t have a record label at the time so I just started calling people and Coldfront jumped on us. At the time I was dealing with a lot of crazy girls and stuff so some of the songs might lean that way. I remember ‘A Place in the Sun’ is pretty much about the movie. I haven’t listened to that record for a long time it’s hard to remember.”
The “three Daves” charge on which is a testament to the music The Odd Numbers have developed and constructed since the late 1980s. And anyone down for a change from the dull, seventh chord-less drone of today’s indie hybrid of so-called rock, folk and pop would be highly advised to listen to a Numbers’ album. Who doesn’t want to spend a few minutes being Pete Townshend on the Smothers Brothers show in 1967? And more importantly, who doesn’t want to crack the blind and let a bit of sunshine in?