Treasure Island Music Festival
At Treasure Island Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 17. $65-$249.99; www.treasureislandfestival.com.
Eric Victorino spent the better part of a decade as the lead singer of Strata, a South Bay nü-metal alt-rock outfit formed around a shared love of the Deftones and Tool. But after developing an "allergy" to guitars, he found every ounce of enjoyment drained from the experience. The divide between him and his bandmates deepened during the recording of 2007's Strata Presents the End of the World in southwestern England, but instead of wallowing in frustration in the studio, he decided to hop online. He struck up a musical relationship with Giovanni Giusti, who had impressed Victorino with his Jay-Z remixes. Exit distorted guitars, enter catchy electropop.
"I started becoming really unhappy with not just the music I was making, but the whole system of having three other people to run ideas by," says Victorino, who also writes poems and short stories and has published two books via his own Orchard City Books & Noise imprint. "I got vetoed on a really important song that I dug really deep to write — it was about my mom being sick — and I felt really insulted." He started instant-messaging with Giusti, an acquaintance through a mutual friend, which led to Giusti sending MP3s of music and Victorino adding vocals.
Though Victorino finally left Strata in early 2008, he and Giusti's collaboration, dubbed the Limousines, didn't become a fully functional band until earlier this year. The project was cemented around the time that the single "Very Busy People" — a modern slacker anthem that includes the lines, "We'll stay up late making mix tapes/Photoshopping pictures of ourselves/While we masturbate to these pixelated videos of strangers fucking themselves" — started making waves. With its bumping beat, choreographed synths, and infectiously smooth chorus, the song has impressed people in high places, including Universal Republic Records (which signed them for the single) and Perez Hilton.
"The last few months have been really strange," Victorino admits. "Normally if someone said, 'Hey, Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan both like your band,' I'd be like, 'What? That's cool, but how did they even hear it?' And then today Butch Walker was on Twitter talking about how much he loves us."
Despite the whirlwind atmosphere, the Limousines are moving at their own pace, which means they're still working on their debut album. They don't have any music to hold ("Very Busy People" is on iTunes, and their MySpace page includes various demos and remixes), but they hope to have a limited-edition vinyl EP of early material ready for their Treasure Island Music Festival appearance. They made a deal with Universal only for their single, so for now they're free agents exploring whatever feels right.
"The first song that we did together was so soft and glitchy, like a Postal Service sort of thing," Victorino says. "But after playing a few live shows with Gio, getting some energy back in there is good. While we're still finishing the first album, it's nice to have the foresight to not do a superdowner album. We're kind of adding a bounciness to everything right now."
And everyone who arrives early enough on the first day of Treasure Island can bounce right along. Victorino acknowledges that going first at a festival has its challenges: "I would love if Passion Pit watched our set, or if MGMT came and watched us, but those guys are probably still going to be sleeping when we play."
Victorino may be allergic to his past, but he's got a fever for the Limousines' future, and the only prescription is more dancey, computer-generated pop for the folks described in "Very Busy People." And as he says in that song, "We've always got time for new friends."