Posted on September 30, 2011 – 6:38 PM | by Admin
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By Tony King  Photo by Laura Curtis

It’s not often that a musician will tell you that they have no interest in landing a deal with a record label – preferring instead to navigate their music career on their own terms. Or even that they actually prefer to give their music away for free online. But musician David Mohr is cut from a different cloth, and his new wave/electronica band, FAVORS, is unlike most bands in Sacramento.

 Mohr, 26, started writing and recording songs 10 years ago on his own with a Tascam 4-track tape deck. While still in high school, he and his friends formed Didley Squat, whose nervy electro-pop once found them opening for Silversun Pickups and releasing a couple of records on the former Sacramento-based label, The Americans Are Coming. After Didley Squat dissolved in 2008, Mohr started 20,000 with his then-girlfriend, Meg Larkin. That band lasted less than a year, ending when the couple broke up. Soon after, Mohr started writing and recording on his own.

“I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to turn into,” recalls the soft-spoken musician. “I was just making music for fun at first. Then I was lucky enough to have friends that wanted to perform these songs live, so we started to play some shows.”

“This is the easiest band I’ve ever been in because we’re all just good friends,” says guitarist and keyboard player Ben Lewis, who along with Crystal McCarthy on drums and Chris Metcalf on keyboard make up the live incarnation of FAVORS. “I think we get along better than most bands.”

While most musicians will work some facsimile of 1980s retro-ness into their music, they still sound fairly modern – as if they have the recipe, yet can’t commit to the meal. FAVORS, on the other hand, dig right in. Mohr’s laser-guided vocals and the band’s techno/synth-driven pop are very reminiscent of Depeche Mode, New Order, The The, and Nitzer Ebb. But FAVORS music isn’t a throwback to ’80s new wave as much as it is a faithful continuation of the genre.

“We’re more like polyrhythmic dance pop,” adds McCarthy. “We just like to make people dance.”

“[David’s] also really good with lyrics,” notes musician and former 20,000 producer Evan Bailey. “In terms of the form, I think he’s able to sing kind of crazy and cool things and not have his lyrics be too abstract.”

“Lyrically and vocally, I always go back to Prince. [He’s] just so awesome,” notes Mohr. “David Byrne and Talking Heads are also a big influence for me.” Of course Mohr’s influences aren’t planted solely in the past. His songwriting also nods to contemporary bands such as Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem and Beck.

In a local music landscape full of indie-rock, twee-pop, psych ward freak folk, etc., finding a niche for FAVORS’ energetic proto-pop in Sacto’s miniature music scene has proven a bit tricky. “It’s always weird booking shows and figuring out what makes sense,” says Mohr, who’s played the handful of FAVORS’ shows so far with the likes of Pets and Black Holes, What? “It makes sense for us to play with bands that are electronic and kind of quirky.”

One such show was last January’s Sacramento Electronic Music Festival that took place at The Townhouse. There, Favors shared a bill that included LA’s Daedelus as well as locals Pregnant, Sister Crayon, Dusty Brown, Paper Pistols, and a host of other electro-based bands. Then there was the all-ages Launch festival, the music/art/fashion/architecture/design event which took place on July 23rd, where FAVORS played alongside the likes of Ganglians, D.A.M.B. and Exquisite Corps.

After months of handing out homemade CD-R EPs, Mohr has released FAVORS’ first 10-song long player, Five Million Years, which is available in MP3 and cassette formats.

“For the past year, I’ve been writing these songs, and they’re all recorded on computer in my home,” reveals Mohr, who also produced, mastered and even did the cover artwork. “There’s just something about recording at home that I really like. It’s totally immediate and it feels really natural.”

“It’s always felt weird for me going into a studio,” Mohr laughs. “It’s like going into someone’s house to do a painting. It doesn’t feel right.”

So, is David Mohr the burgeoning face of modern music-making in a digital age when once-dominant record labels are becoming quaint, and seemingly obsolete? Can musicians really make a feasible career out of virtually giving their songs away for free? It’s probably too early to tell. But one thing’s for certain: Mohr is having fun making music on his own terms.

Ah, sweet freedom.                    

Download FAVORS’ latest LP, Five Million Years, for free at favors.bandcamp.com or purchase the cassette for $5 exclusively at Phono Select.

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