Music & Clubs

Dirty Deeds

From fuzzy math to misfit soul, the South Bay's Dirty Odd Seven do things differently
PUTTING THE EIGHT IN SEVEN: South Bay soul-rockers Dirty Odd Seven play the Bank in Saratoga on Friday.

THE MEMBERS OF Dirty Odd Seven call themselves an "experimental soul" band, because the grooves are all based in '70s soul and funk, while the instrumentation has a lot of '60s psychedelic and rock influences. The mix of these different and sometimes opposing elements creates a hazy batch of slow grooves that are simple, danceable and yet bizarre.

They fully recognize that what they're playing isn't what everyone else would call soul. But then, the band has eight members, not seven, so their labeling system is clearly a bit unorthodox. "We have our own version of soul," says drummer Curtis Funderburk.

"We have all the parts, but we don't put it together the same way other soul bands do," explains trombonist Justin Rivera.

Keyboardist Juan Soria thinks of it a different way. "It's Silicon Valley soul," he says. Soria knows most people don't normally associate soul music with this area. In fact, he says, they often consider the South Bay's tech landscape the antithesis of soul. But he feels his bandmates are some of the most soulful people he's ever met.

"Soul music is a release. It's a celebration. Soul is the upside of blues—in blues, you're just wallowing," says bassist Kevin Cole.

Joy is not something they've always experienced in their years of playing music. Every member of the Dirty Odd Seven is a veteran in the San Jose music scene—they come from such notable local bands as Horchata, Shovelhead, Squeeze the Dog, INQ, the Flames and others. But they say they got tired of band infighting and the stress of trying to make music their career, so they started Dirty Odd Seven with an entirely different mindset.

"The key factor was to get together with people we can play music with for the rest of our lives, 'cause I'm sick and tired of this bullshit. We've all experienced it. Sometimes it's just a pain in the ass," says Stevie Delaney, the band's harmonica player.

"I love being here. It's like mediation. It's my mass twice a week," says guitarist Sal Gaeta.

Services are the free-form jam sessions they hold in their rehearsal space. There are no rules. They jam out new grooves, or reimagine already written ones. Not all eight members are always available to practice twice a week, but those who show up play whatever makes them feel good and helps them forget about their problems.

"We don't have to play another show for the rest of our lives. I'm OK with that. I just want to play music right here with these guys," says Delaney of their space. "We do our best work here."

"This is definitely the easiest-going band I've ever had," adds vocalist Chris Landon.

The long jams are also how they write new music, or even alter existing songs. The process is rarely quick, but through the months of jamming and experimentation, songs slowly emerge.

"There's no choreography to it. It's just like I'll be thinking of something in my head, and Stevie pretty much has been thinking the same thing. It's always sort of serendipitous when we're grooving," says alto sax player David Penney.

They do like to play their songs in front of an actual audience once and a while, but they recognize that audiences might not appreciate watching them play 20-minute improvised jams.

"When we play shows, we have an obligation to the club to play our songs. We could probably do what we do here, but you're kind of escaping the reason people go to shows," Delaney says.

In contrast to their anything-goes rehearsals, they always play their songs exactly as they've written them at shows. "We're definitely not a jam band, but sometimes we want to sound like one," Penney says.

"We are a jam band," Cole corrects. "But when we play out we're not one."

Dirty Odd Seven

The Bank

Friday, Dec. 2

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