If you've been to the Orange County Social Club, a place heavily peopled with those who have carved out a niche in the local art or music scene, chances are you've met Jenny and Lee Waters, two of your friendly bartenders, and, when they can find the time, the catalysts behind Work Clothes.
The band began sometime after the two started dating back in 2000. Both musicians, they'd talked about making music together when, Jenny says, "one day I grabbed an echo pedal and Lee came into the room and we started jamming."
They put out an EP in 2001 shortly after they got together, later re-released with three additional songs on Ron Liberti and Groves Willer's label Hypno-Vista.
"Next to each of those three songs we wrote 'demo', thinking that the real versions would be on the next record," Lee recalls, but life sort of got in the way, as it sometimes does.
"Jenny became involved in school," Lee says.
"We got married, then we bought a house," Jenny says.
"People died," adds Lee.
People die everyday. But it's also emblematic of how, the further one gets from 25, the more youthful passions take a backseat to life. Jenny and Lee worked on songs in fits and spurts for several years, and finally one summer--neither can really remember how long ago--they joined with producer Brian Paulson, who polished up some of the tracks and helped them record a few new ones.
As a result, their new album, These are the Shoes We Wear, is "less a batch of songs with a similar theme or 'We're in this place in our songwriting,' and more like a time capsule of what we've been doing over the years," Lee says.
"Some of these songs, the older ones, are these massive professions of love," Lee continues. "Some of them are fantasy things that never happened, and some are about the bar. Somehow it seems like a record. And I'm not sure how that happened."
The band, like the Waters' lives, has undergone some growing pains. Once a duo, they're now a quintet. They made the change to mix things up, and create, according to Lee, "a little more heat, a little more texture."
"We were getting frustrated that we couldn't play all the parts on the records, and after every song I'd have to get up and switch instruments. I'd be, 'Keyboard setting? Shit, what is it?'" Jenny recalls.
"Before we were dying to do minimalist, quiet, pretty music," Lee says. "But it's also the kind of thing that if the room got quiet it'd sound OK, but you can't always rely on the room being quiet."
No more than you can rely on things following smoothly, as Work Clothes can attest. But with their new album and new lineup, they look forward to exploring new musical vistas and cataloging life's persistent ebb and flow.
Work Clothes plays a CD release party at Wetlands with Tenement Halls and Bringerer. The show starts at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7.