A STAR IS REBORN MAZZY STAR SINGER HOPE SANDOVAL ROUNDS UP HER FAVORITE MUSICIANS TO SPREAD SOME WARMTH.
IT BECOMES APPARENT that Mazzy Star lead singer Hope Sandoval is definitely a cat person when a faint mewing comes through the phone during an interview from her Bay Area home.
The iconic, famously shy singer who found indie stardom in 1993 when the single ``Fade Into You'' off the band's second album became a hit, is touring behind her solo project's first full-length record.
But like the territorial half-Siamese cat making its presence known during a conversation with a reporter, Sandoval has always set public and private boundaries in her career, limiting reporters' access and - most notably - going on record with her tolerance for live shows as something of a necessary evil.
Fans will get a semi-rare chance to see Sandoval face her demons live with the Warm Inventions, featuring ex-My Bloody Valentine guitarist Colm O'Ciosoig, Wednesday at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles.
``I think it's hard to be in front of an audience,'' says Sandoval. ``I think it's that way for anybody, even people who play in front of way more people than I do; I think it's still difficult for them.''
A Los Angeles native who cut her teeth on blues and classic rock from the Rolling Stones, Sandoval first found her footing in the neo-psychedelic so-called Paisley Underground music scene of the 1980s. It was a genre typified by the bands Dream Syndicate and the Rain Parade, whose guitarist David Roback had bigger plans. He worked with Sandoval on early acoustic tracks, meanwhile forming a band called Opal, with ex-Dream Syndicate musician and vocalist Kendra Smith.
``We wanted to play soft music,'' David Roback told interviewer Nigel Cross in 1984, arguably the Rain Parade's zenith. ``We all loved punk rock, but we were into doing something different.'' This desire hasn't changed.
When Smith left Opal after two critically acclaimed albums, Sandoval got the call to step in and the band changed its name to Mazzy Star, releasing its first of three records, ``She Hangs Brightly,'' in 1990. Mazzy Star has completed just two follow-ups in the years since, but current plans are for the band to complete some unfinished studio recordings and release a new disc later this year or early 2003.
``David (Roback) and I have been in touch and we've done a lot of work together during the making of this (Warm Inventions) record,'' Sandoval says. ``And at the same time he and I have been writing songs. It's very natural and very exciting. We're really happy about our songs.''
No matter who Sandoval works with, her bands sound remarkably similar - offering an often-languid, sometimes fuzzed-out guitar-based sound that might be easy listening were it not for certain Goth and psychedelic overtones. She says her influences follow her, an obvious truth given that a tune by the Jesus and Mary Chain's William Reid (ex-Mazzy Star tour mates) is on the new Warm Inventions disc.
``I think other people's music is bound to come to play in your own music, because it's what you play, what you've been listening to,'' says Sandoval, who has been listening to singer-songwriter Bert Jansch, jazz vocalist Nina Simone, rocker Ian Dury's son Baxter, and L.A. alternative band Acetone, whose guitarist Mark Lightcap is currently a Warm Inventions member. (The Warm Inventions also feature Raymond Richards on guitar, Nicole Presley on keyboards and bassist Al Browne.)
``I think Nina Simone is a brilliant singer. Baxter Dury, I think he's got a beautiful voice, and his songs are great,'' Sandoval says. ``Bert Jansch is a brilliant guitarist, and he's written some beautiful songs.'' Not surprisingly, Jansch also offers guitar work on the Warm Inventions' ``Butterfly Mornings,'' a recording that at times blends untraceably into the Rain Parade-Opal-Mazzy Star triumvirate.
Says Sandoval: ``It's impossible for it to be so different because I come from Mazzy Star and I'm one of the writers and one of the singers.''
HOPE SANDOVAL & THE WARM INVENTIONS
Where: El Rey Theater, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Tickets: $20. Call (213) 480-3232 or go to www.ticketmaster.com.
no caption (Hope Sandoval)