Introducing: Stoner Control’s “Hollywood Hills”

Listen to the premiere of the Portland band's new track and read an essay written by its producer, Hutch Harris (The Thermals).

I never set out to produce records, other than my own. But in my fifteen years recording and touring in The Thermals, being in the studio was always, hands down, my favorite part of the whole experience. Life in a recording studio is everything I love about music. The hours are long, but worthwhile, as the time is spent productively—creating, rehearsing, and (occasionally) perfecting songs that will exist forever. Touring, on the other hand, is the opposite. The hours are much longer, much less productive, and the days and weeks blur together until they disintegrate completely. I remember and cherish every hour I spent making a record, while my memories of touring fade quickly. In those fifteen years, I always wondered how I could spend more time in the studio recording, and less time touring on the road.

That question was eventually answered for me, but not due to my own desire. It was the desires of other musicians that brought me to my new occupation. Just as the Thermals were slowing down, a few bands simultaneously approached me about producing their records. One of those bands was Portland’s Stoner Control. I was intrigued by the band before I had even heard a note of their music. I loved their name; it reminded me of the Stoner Electric Group (a Portland based electrical service company) trucks I had seen in my neighborhood for years. I had joked to myself that it would make a great band name, if a bit obvious. But Stoner Control—they figured it out. In Portland we have a glut of Stoners, but like Bad Religion says, we have No Control. When I finally heard Stoner Control’s songs, the deal was clinched. Here was a band after my own heart —young, loud and raucous like Nirvana or the Who, but also sincerely introspective, like Built to Spill or Bright Eyes. They sounded like all of these bands but still had their own take, and I heard just enough of a Thermals influence that I knew I was obligated, perhaps even destined, to join their team and help them make a great record.

The first time I saw Stoner Control play live, they were quite literally falling apart. Frontman Charley Williams was dealing with a crackling amp, broken guitar cables, and a bass-playing sister who was less than an hour away from quitting the band. They made it through their set, but were on such thin ice as to be just a song or two away from falling into the frozen water below. The next time I saw them live, just a few short months later, Stoner Control had their shit together. Charley and the band (Mike Cathcart on drums and new bassist Sam Greenspan) were tight, energetic, and in a great collective mood. They plowed through a half hour of sparkling slacker tunes, a band reborn and ready to conquer.

—Hutch Harris, The Thermals

(Photo Credit: Jason Quigley)

Stoner Control is an alternative rock band based out of Portland, Oregon. They grew out of a temporary side-project to become a powerhouse trio that has been making music since 2013. Taking inspiration from the rich sonic history of the Pacific Northwest, Stoner Control fuses a high-energy pop-punk sound with the unfiltered, lo-fi aesthetic of Portland’s thriving underground indie rock scene. Lead singer and guitarist Charley Williams infuses his lyrics with an honesty that is both playful and raw, creating driving melodies that echo the Thermals, Built to Spill, Superchunk, and Death Cab for Cutie.