Garcia Peoples walk us through their Tweed-powered, triple-guitar indie-rock attack

Garcia Peoples

[from left] Danny Arakaki, Tom Malach and Derek Spaldo (Image credit: Cesar Arakaki)

Garcia Peoples’ adventurous union of indie rock, jam and psychedelia sounds like a dispatch from a '60s Haight Street acid party hosted by Fairport Convention filtered through the downtown New York cool of Television guitarists Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. 

On Nightcap at Wit’s End, the sextet’s fourth release in as many years, the manic interplay of guitarists Tom Malach, Danny Arakaki and Derek Spaldo creates unexpected melodic twists and effects-laden sound collages along a confident, fully baked journey. 

Just a few years ago, Garcia Peoples only knew they wanted to “make loud rock music,” Malach says. But as their rehearsals turned into platforms for improvisation, that spirit followed them to their gigs. When they started to make an impression on jam-friendly bands and fans in New York, it became their signature. 

“When you start off, there’s, like, 10 people max going to your shows, [and] you can do whatever, really – there’s no repercussions,” Arakaki says. “There’s nothing to lose at that point, so why not take it as far as you can?”

All three guitarists are gearheads with an ear for the vintage and esoteric pieces they used to reach the sonic heights on Nightcap. “Everything’s recorded on tweed [Fender] Bassmans,” Arakaki says. “We have a ’59 and a ’60, and that’s what we’ve been using since the first record.”

Although no one claims to be the leader of the band’s triple-guitar front line, they each stake out territory based on their playing styles.

Arakaki explores sounds through his wah and an Electro-Harmonix B9 Organ Machine pedal, while Spaldo manipulates delay and volume to create looping, atmospheric passages.

Lately, they’ve all added R2R Electric treble boosters (which Malach calls “a total game changer”) to their signal chains. “It gives it a grittier sound,” Arakaki says. “It makes me wanna be more like the Stones or something.”

Listeners will have to wait an album or two to hear that influence on record, though. The studio-hound musicians have already wrapped sessions for an as-yet-untitled fifth album, which they recorded with Matt Sweeney of '90s math-rockers Chavez.

“We like the process of recording and working on songs together,” Malach says. “I don’t think about it in terms of, ‘Oh this is coming out now’ – it’ll eventually get out there. With Nightcap, it’s kind of an odd thing because we’ve had it for a while and now people are getting to listen to it.”

  • Garcia People's Nightcap At Wits' End is out now via Beyond Beyond Is Beyond.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jim Beaugez

Jim Beaugez has written about music for Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, Guitar World, Guitar Player and many other publications. He created My Life in Five Riffs, a multimedia documentary series for Guitar Player that traces contemporary artists back to their sources of inspiration, and previously spent a decade in the musical instruments industry.