"We're horny. And we're sad."
We could stop right there. Singer/keyboardist Sarah Rayne makes it abundantly clear that the hormonally charged pop music of Babes is simply an extension of the hormonally charged people who make it – herself, along with birth brothers Aaron and Zach and figurative blood brothers Bryan Harris and JeffreyBaird. And while their music encompasses the past five decades of pop music - from Brill Building to the grimiest Los Angeles punk basements - Babes recognize "horny" and "sad" as the two core impulses from which 99% of all great art is derived. Babes is a locomotive sex drive down a trail of tears.
The story of Babes is likewise populated by the weirdo archetypes of pop – high school dropouts, boho parents, mohawked punk rockers, shady Svengalis, chance meetings at crushing day jobs. Each member is a real life character in this bizarre story. Singer/producer/auteur Aaron styles in a quasi-Pony Boy look, while Zach sports a Freddie Mercury mustache. A member of a university orchestra, Bryan is blessed with encyclopedic knowledge of both aquatic fish and music theory. Meanwhile, drummer Jeffrey's sex appeal amongst both men and women is the source of much pride amongst his heatseeking bandmates. Sarah is the "wild rat" of the group, Jeffrey explains, "We like the female element. I couldn't dedicate my life to only a male voice."
Pop provided a structure in the Leigh household that was otherwise non-existent. They're a family of Los Angeles gypsies, born to ballet dancers and subject to moving literally dozens of times during their high school days – from Hollywood to Venice to Echo Park and back, as they've set up in their Mime School studio, a practice spot that doubles as a crash pad and impromptu movie gallery.
Babes' self-titled EP on Harvest Records is the culmination of these experiences, combining punk irreverence with the kind of gold-standard professionalism you'd get from Oliver: The Musical. Sarah wants to stress, "We don't want to have the 'band' vibe, bands can be so boring." The name itself embodies their joking, but not joking approach: "We just wanted something that fades away quickly and leaves you with just the music and visuals." She muses her ideal crowd would be "1,000 people crying, I want everyone to cry." They consider their fog machine as the sixth Babe, especially after it hazed out the entirety of Portland's Holocene, a club with 35-foot ceilings. Their ambitions for their stage setup range from "300 puppies on stage" to "stuff on fire."
And if you don't believe any of this, the Babes hotline is open (470-Babes-77) – this inspired bit of old school/new school social networking has resulted in many fans texting and calling into the band only to find out they've underestimated Babes' freakiness. Jeffrey claims, "We'll respond, 'hey, come hang with us."
Even though it is clear that they put their blood, sweat, tears, and other bodily fluids into their music, they broadly state "we don't take anything that seriously." Much like Todd Rundgren and Harry Nilsson, Babes are similar studio rats/space cadets who recognize that the absurdity of life is even more pronounced within the strictures and structure of classicist pop. Or, it just comes back to being horny and sad. "We feel like not a lot of people are talking about how life sucks and it's lonely and it hurts …but once you realize that, you can say 'now let's just have fun.'"