TRIPPY TUNES: The Gentle Cycle celebrate the release of their self-titled debut LP. Photo by Greg Ramar.
Speaking with Derek See and Maxwell Borkenhagen, guitarists for local psych rock quartet The Gentle Cycle, it seems that place may be the chief bonding agent in their music’s winding lysergic chain.
Of course, as retro revivalists and old-school gear fanatics, they’ve always had plenty to talk about when they aren’t busy trading fuzzy, reverberant licks. But scanning their rehearsal studio—from the generations of equipment to the exposed brick and massive, smoke-stained windows overlooking South First Street—a broader aesthetic identity comes into focus.
See, a veteran songwriter and bandleader from San Jose (The Careless Hearts, The Bang), initially connected with Borkenhagen over vinyl. The two are the resident DJs at Café Stritch’s weekly Wax Wednesday party, which finds the pair spinning soul, psychedelia and more—all on LPs, 7-inches and 45s. From there, they moved on to “nerding out over vintage amps and guitars,” Borkenhagen explains. Only upon completion of this elaborate hipster courtship ritual did the two endeavor to jam.
Borkenhagen should know a thing or two about jamming. He grew up surrounded by jazz—an entire genre built upon improvisation and the ability to read the players around you. Now, as artistic director of Café Stritch, he plays an integral part in the family business, booking bands and running sound at the restaurant, bar and venue.
Speaking on the significance of their meeting at Stritch and their enviable downtown rehearsal space and recording studio, See touches upon his and Borkenhagen’s dedication to being a San Jose band. “It’s kind of a musicians sanctuary in an area where there is less and less emphasis on music.”
Tracked mostly live on an analog, reel-to-reel recording console, the energy of the room is palpable on The Gentle Cycle’s self-titled debut LP. “It’s instant vibe when we’re here,” See says. They celebrate the release of the record—a hazy pastiche of blissed-out ’60s psychedelia and soul—with a show next week at Stritch.
The Gentle Cycle is available for purchase on the group’s Bandcamp page and will be on hand at their upcoming show—on vinyl, natch. For those who wish to purchase the album with a good deed, See says he will accept proof of a donation to any number of progressive causes—Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, you name it. He’s not going to be as picky about your good deed as he is about his guitar tone.
The Gentle Cycle
Mar 8, 9pm, Free
Cafe Stritch, San Jose