Howlin Rain Blows Through

Courtesy Kristy Walker

Howlin Rain is a rock ‘n’ roll concept born and raised in Humboldt Country since 1977.

“When I was a little kid growing up in Eureka, my biggest influences were the stuff my dad and mom were listening to,” says singer, guitarist and songwriter Ethan Miller. “Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young — what my dad had dubbed onto cassettes from albums when they came out. My love for a lot of Howlin Rain’s catalogue of classic rock and West Coast folk comes from these early memories. I heard that long before the lost underground hippie jams.”

“We call it fuzz-pedal, hippie music. A lot of hippie music like The Grateful Dead and goodtime rollicking summertime music didn’t blend fuzz pedals or bring that wild out-of-control sound as much as we like to.”
– Ethan Miller

Miller played with Santa Cruz psych-noise rockers Comets on Fire before coming up with the idea for Howlin’ Rain and moving to Oakland.

WATCH the video for the single “Wild Boys”

“I formed the band as an antidote to all the bands that are locked into this cycle of breaking up,” he says. “I thought, ‘I’ll form a band that has a rotating cast. I’m not going to change it up if one person leaves. I’ll write the songs and oversee the aesthetic and when they leave the band, I will have a new chapter and new sound that is still ascetically linked to my fundamental vibe and writing style.’ I feel like that’s happened. The personnel keeps changing and we keep getting a different thing each time that I’m at the heart of.”

Miller is enjoying his current combo of Justin Smith on drums, Jeff McElroy on bass and Daniel Cervantes on guitar.

“At this moment, I feel like we’ve got this great four-person band,” he says. “We were just getting to be that kind of band when we made the new record. I think it’s going really show on tour. We are all really seeing things eye to eye.”

Howlin Rain’s new record, “The Alligator Bride,” is being released on June 8.

The single, “Wild Boys,” starts out with layered guitar arpeggios and harmonics over a melodic bass line, slowly rising through a blue misty morning of drowning space guitars reminiscent of Yo La Tengo. A riff kicks it into a country-rock beat that sounds like a trippier, moodier version of Son Volt before melding into shredding dirty guitar solo from Pink Floyd or The Breeders. It’s passionate, smoky dark barroom music with a hint of early 90s alt-country grunge flavor.

“We call it fuzz-pedal, hippie music,” says Miller. “A lot of hippie music like The Grateful Dead and goodtime rollicking summertime music didn’t blend fuzz pedals or bring that wild out-of-control sound as much as we like to.”

“The Alligator Bride” was recorded at Bauer Mansion in the Chinatown neighborhood of San Francisco by Eric Bauer, who has also worked with Ty Segall, Feral Ohms and Thee Oh Sees.

“I think it’s a quintessential Howlin Rain record,” says Miller. “I always wanted something that we never quite had, which was a studio snapshot of the band in live performance. In the early days, we’d done some fast takes. Sometimes the root of what you hear on the record is a live performance. Often, in production and mixing, it was made with a little more cinematic-feeling. We were getting away from the feel of a live four-piece rock band banging it out. I wanted this album to be eight or nine polaroid pictures of us. There are some overdubs on the records and we added some touches and stuff. I think in spirit it sounds and feels like what you get standing 15 feet in front of Howlin Rain, which was wasn’t something I ever set out to do before.”

June 10 | 8 p.m.
Crystal Bay Casino | Crystal Bay, Nev.

Howlin Rain will be performing in the Red Room of Crystal Bay Casino, along with L.A. duo Mapache. | crystalbaycasino.com