Let’s get the matter of The CMFs’ name out of the way first, so we can move on to the important stuff—the music of the talented Desert Hot Springs-based rock band.
“Originally, we did Classy Mother Fu?kers, and we had really no real intention of shortening it or abbreviating it,” said Jasyn Smith, the band’s drummer. “But obviously, we came into some scheduling issues. Certain people wouldn’t want us on, and we couldn’t play any family events or anything, so we decided to go ahead and abbreviate it to The CMFs—still keeping it the Classy Mother F?ckers, but being more accessible to the world.”
Got it? Good. Let’s now move on to the music, and there’s a lot of that to talk about: After releasing a debut full-length album, Chaka, on Dec. 24, the band announced it would release a new single on the last Friday of every month in 2021—while appearing monthly on 93.7 KCLB, and continuing to release skits and other crazy videos on The CMFs’ YouTube page.
In other words, it’s gonna be a busy 2021 for the trio, which also includes Joseph Vaughan (guitar/vocals) and Matt King (bass). (Full disclosure: Matt King writes for the Independent, which explains why the middle-aged, oft-confused editor is handling this music piece.)
Smith and Vaughan have been playing together for the better part of a decade, although The CMFs didn’t formally become a band until 2014. King became part of the classy crew in early 2019. They said the cancellation of shows and the loss of jobs that hit them in 2020 gave them an opportunity to become better as a band.
“We really learned to become more professional and more business-like in terms of content creation, and schedules, and deadlines—and really learning how to work within ourselves, to push ourselves, both musically and in a business sense,” Smith said.
One of the results of this improvement was, at long last, the release of Chaka.
“It was a very long project. It took us years to find certain recording studios and the sound that we really wanted,” Smith said. “We finally came out with it on Dec. 24, 2020. By the time the album came out, we thought that shows might be back—or at least things would be looking a little clearer or a little more hopeful, but we realized that was not the case. … So, the project of wanting to release a single every month of 2021 is really musical restlessness, and just a way to challenge ourselves, musically and creatively.”
While The CMFs hope they’ll be performing live again sooner rather than later, they said they’re committed to their single-per-month goal.
“We had our first six songs planned out, roughly written, and three of them are fully written. We just have to record,” Smith said. “After that, it does kind of become a no-man’s land, where we do have ideas but don’t really have anything structured or down. But … we should be ahead of schedule, and we’re working on that now.”
The January single was “Afterglow,” and the February single was “Service Man.” As for March’s single … well, as of our chat, it didn’t have a name yet.
“I went into it with the original intention that I wanted to make something that sounded like a Motörhead song, but it didn’t turn out that way,” Vaughan said. “It ended up turning into more of a Primus-sounding thing. So, I decided to turn that around and do the Primus sound with our choruses—with all the verses and the melodies that are in between reminiscent of our other original music.”
Smith said: “With ‘Afterglow,’ it sounded very alternative-based—kind of psychedelic. With ‘Service Man,’ we went for straight Southern rock—kind of country rock. … (The March single), it’s going back to our roots, but kind of unpredictable, with not quite the stereotypical formula for a single. It shows our versatility and our progression as musicians.”
The April song, “I’m Awake,” comes from the band’s demo.
“Three songs off of our demo didn’t quite fit our album that we released, but we do still think they have their place in our discography,” Smith said. “‘I’m Awake’ is a little poppy, but very rudimentary, if you will. It’s just a classic rendition of The CMFs sound; it’s kind of where we started from.”
King said he’s constantly impressed by the storytelling that Vaughan works into the band’s songs. However, Vaughan said the lyrics are the very last thing that he works on with each song.
“When I write a song, it usually comes from just fiddling around on a guitar until I find some kind of riff or melody that I can base the entire song off,” Vaughan said. ‘Then I structure everything around that one little aspect—so I always start with music first. And when it comes to lyric-writing, I don’t really put thought or meaning behind my lyrics. It’s the first thing that comes to my head, and then I play off a melody that comes into my head, and keep improving it until it sticks.”
Added Smith: “I’ve been playing with (Vaughan) since high school in the band class. So if you really look at how he writes his music and dive into the lyrics that he puts out, he does really try to convey a certain emotional feeling. … When we write a song, it’s not about our personal or individual technical abilities or anything. It’s all about writing a great song that we would love to play and also love to hear. It’s about only serving that song and not really thinking about anything else.”
The members of The CMFs said their ultimate goal is to be able to focus on the band full-time.
“The main goal is to make a living off of it—and not to have to work a day job,” Vaughan said. “We want to make this our day job. That’s the goal, really.”
Added Smith: “We know what we love to do. We’ve found that we love to work at it and grind at it every single day as a full-time job. … We’re doing what we love, and if we could turn that into a business that we can make a living off of, that really is the No. 1 goal.”
Between the new album, the new singles and the monthly appearances on 93.7 KCLB, the band has been taking legitimate steps toward goal—and getting some positive attention in the process. That attention included a recent appearance on KESQ News Channel 3’s Eye on the Desert segment—and this brings us back to the band name.
“We were all set to go, and then Patrick Evans came in, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re probably not going to be able to say your name on air,’” King said. “And Jasyn’s like, ‘Well, our name is The CMFs.’ And Patrick Evans is like, ‘Yeah, but everyone knows what it stands for.’” The station ended up using “The CMFs” anyway.
Smith added some final thoughts on the name.
“Most people very much like it, and then there are a few select groups of people who don’t like it at all,” he said. “But I think the name is really about being open and not hiding who you are, and we feel we’re kind of classy, but we’re also, you know, a little Desert Hot Springs. … We are who we are, and we play the music we love, and we hope that people love our music.”
Added King: “They call us the Classy Mother Fu?kers, but onstage—we’re three guys in band T-shirts, you know?”
For more information, visit www.thecmfs.com.