This story was originally posted on the Orange County Register Web site on Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009.
Submarines have been an effective image for music makers, with the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," the Gram Parsons-led International Submarine Band and Thomas Dolby's "One of Our Submarines" among the best-known examples of subs used in the service of song.
But increasingly, music fans identify the word with the Submarines, a compelling indie pop group comprised of John Dragonetti and Blake Hazard. The Los Angeles-based husband-and-wife duo kick off a nationwide tour this week in support of their sophomore effort, "Honeysuckle Weeks," with a show at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009 marking the second night of the trek.
The group has been garnering plenty of local attention since the release of the Submarines' 2006 debut "Declare a New State."
Both that album and 2008's "Honeysuckle Weeks" each received solid airplay on KCRW-89.9/FM, as well as Indie 103.1, and it was the recent demise of the latter station where conversation began in a phone interview with the Submarines on Jan. 19.
"It's such a loss," Hazard said. "We had heard that there were problems going on over there. I'm happy they didn't succumb to this sort of corporate (expletive), which is why they are off the air. It's so incredibly sad that they're gone."
On a happier note, former KCRW music director Nic Harcourt was among the first high-profile voices to champion the Submarines' unique and introspective style.
"They've been fantastic and Jason Bentley (the new music director at the station) is actually doing a really great job with 'Morning Becomes Eclectic'. KCRW is totally going strong and we're fans and supporters," Hazard said.
The Submarines' compelling story has made for an interesting backdrop to the duo's alluring and intoxicating song craft. Originally from Boston, they were introduced by a mutual friend and became romantically involved, even touring together as members of each other's bands.
However, their initial four-year romantic relationship ended when they moved to Los Angeles in 2004. Both continued to write songs, and Hazard still recorded her tracks in Dragonetti's home studio. Listening to each other's music they realized all their songs were pretty much about each other, so they got back together and started the Submarines.
"I think we didn't want it ('Honeysuckle Weeks') to be focused on our relationship (as was the case on the band's 'Declare a New State' album)," Dragonetti said. "We felt like it was time to be a real band and not have so much attention focused on how we started and the breakup and writing songs and all that.
"I think we just tried to make a record like anyone else would, and we also did want to make something that was more enjoyable to play live and I think, comes across as more upbeat. But there are still a lot of dark undertones in there; it's certainly not a happy-go-lucky sort of record. It's just nice to not always be writing about yourself."
Thanks to the addition of drummer J. Stare, the Submarines are expanding their concert presentation in 2009. The duo's version of "Boys Don't Cry" is also available on the newly-released "Just Like Heaven – a Tribute to The Cure" recently issued by American Laundromat Records.
"(With) the first album, we toured just the two of us; we used a lot of computers and stuff and guitars. But on this record we really wanted to kick it up a notch and so we've been playing with Jason (J. Stare) and it's been a great trio, just a fun group to play with and so it's drums and guitars and various little instruments," Dragonetti said.
Added Hazard: "It's been very cool to have the dynamic of the three of us as we tour around. It's so nice not to just be the two of us. It diffuses some of those tensions that a couple might have traveling together."
For more information on the Submarines, visit www.thesubmarines.com.