Not since Rhino Records reissued the quintessential '60s rock Nuggets compilation has such a raw and energetic display of influences been as lovingly flaunted as in the sounds of the Selmanaires. Bassist Tommy Chung and twin brothers, guitarist Herb and drummer Jason Harris honed their skills while working as a karaoke band, regurgitating a diet of mod and punk rock standards.
Perfecting numbers by everyone from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to the Stooges and the Ramones, party-goers would sign up to belt out roguish anthems at early shows. "We taught ourselves how to play by learning other people's songs," says Jason. Chung adds, "What we did was like the live metal karaoke band at the 10 High on Metal-Some Mondays -- except we played better music."
In August 2003, they transcended the karaoke circuit and became the Selmanaires. All three members occasionally moonlight with Anna Kramer, while Herb and Jason also play in the indie outfit Licentious 5.
Earlier this year the group circulated a four-song CDR to be released by local label International Hits. Rich melodies and three-part vocal harmonies waft over jangling guitars and unswerving drum rolls on songs like "Images," "In the Direction of Yes" and "High Tide."
An enthusiastic local response prompted I-Hits to expand the EP to an album-length effort. As a result, the group's debut, Here Come the Selmanaires, is slated to hit the streets in August.
The show at the Earl on Fri., Aug. 12, will be an acoustic performance. "It's a chance to spread our wings," Herb adds. "We have several songs we don't play during our electric shows, but we might play some acoustic versions of our rock songs, too."
Experimenting with the basics, covering even its own songs, the Selmanaires' journey from karaoke to a sharp and stylish rock band is forever making progress by nodding at the past.
The Selmanaires play the Earl, with Anna Kramer and Scout Niblett, Fri., Aug. 12. 9:30 p.m. $8. 488 Flat Shoals Ave. 404-522-3950. www.badearl.com.