“Everyone talks about rock these days,” Keith Richards once said. “The problem is they forget about the roll.”
Well, local musician Cody White has most certainly not forgotten about the roll.
White and his band, the Easy Ride, are now gigging regularly in the high and low desert, and have started to stand out with a ’70s-inspired rock ’n’ roll sound. During a recent interview in Desert Hot Springs, White seemed laid back and smiled a lot while talking passionately about his music.
“It’s a lot of the old rock ’n’ roll I love,” White said. “I’ve been known to say that I was born in the wrong decade, because ’70s rock ’n’ roll is my bread and butter. Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and that kind of stuff is where I gathered upon when I was a young guitar-player. I’m also a fan of Radiohead, and I draw a little bit from that.
“Most of my lyrics are pretty politically driven, so I hear about something that pisses me off, and I write a song about it as my therapy or whatever you want to call it.”
White played as a duo with drummer David Driver before bassist Samantha Clark recently entered the picture.
“It took us about two years to get a solid rhythm section,” White said. “David has been playing with me forever. Trying to find a bass-player was a nightmare, and we were playing as a two-piece for a few years. I figured I wanted to play more stripped-down than (force) something that was going to sound so-so or (have) people playing in the band that don’t fit what we do.”
White grew up near San Luis Obispo and credits his parents for introducing him to the music that inspired him.
“When I was growing up, I was raised more on rock ’n’ roll and country music, so that all somehow mixed,” he said. “The album I remember listening to the most when I was a kid was The Beatles’ Rubber Soul. That was the rock album I remember listening to over and over when I was a kid. My dad was a huge Frank Zappa fan, so he’d play Zappa albums in his truck when my mom wasn’t around. My mom was a radio DJ and had a folk-music show when I was a kid growing up in the ’80s—James Taylor, Jackson Browne and stuff like that. I got pulled on air a couple of times. It was voluntary and her once-a-week thing.”
When he was just starting as a songwriter, White said he had a problem with believing in himself.
“My biggest thing was always confidence, because I was a guitar-player since the age of 15. I had no problem sitting onstage and playing guitar,” he said. “But when it came time to craft my own stuff, lyrically and musically, there were probably piles of songs that went by the wayside, because I didn’t think they were good enough. It’s part of the whole songwriting process. I had a good friend who told me to write a song everyday just for the discipline, and out of that, you’d end up with a couple of songs that were worth something. It took a look time for me to be confident as a songwriter.
“I think for me … it’s about what you feel the most passionate about. Every person is different. Writing love songs has never been my forte, but whenever political and social-justice issues hit me hard, that’s where I’m passionate and where the good songs come out. Keith Richards said that when he got stumped trying to write a song, he would play a song by someone else, and something comes out of that. Samantha and David are also a huge part of the songwriting process, and the songs are definitely shaped by the rhythms and the bass lines they add in. It’s taught me to play and arrange songs in a whole new way.”
White told me about an interesting show the Easy Ride recently played.
“A friend of mine did this show up in the high desert called Quema del Diablo, which is a South American Catholic traditional festival that’s known as the Burning of the Devil,” White said. “Last year, they did it bigger than before and had two stages; it was an outdoor show in the middle of December in the high desert. That was really fun. But the local shows down in the low desert have also been fun, because there are people who still want to hear rock ’n’ roll. It’s inspiring when you see where the industry is going with rock ’n’ roll these days.”
For more information on Cody White and the Easy Ride, visit www.facebook.com/codywhitemusic.