Mixing powerpop, hip-hop, new wave, rock and folk, the band has come up with a melodic sound, complete with instantly memorable songs that are big on anthemic choruses. Amid a flurry of activity, Mad Traffic is preparing to tour this summer. But, in the meantime, it will release a new single, “Thunder & Lightning,” on
April 20 with a CD-release show at Mother’s Saloon. Then, on April 28, the band will appear on the FM94.9 program, “The Local Pyle,” with host Tim Pyles. The band will wrap up the month with the release of an EP, “City,” and adjacent release show at the Casbah on April 29.
Mad Traffic was formed in 2008, shortly after singer Blaise Guld moved to California from Philadelphia in search of new inspiration. He soon met drummer Dave Torr. The two ended up renting a house in Clairemont and holding living-room jam sessions and nascent songwriting sessions.
“We tried a couple of different bassists and started with two guitarists, but in the end the group grew into what it is almost organically,” Guld said.
Torr suggested trying out guitarist Brian Fletcher, as well as bassist Chris Murray, who he knew from local reggae band High Tide. Blaise Garza was the last member to join Mad Traffic.
“He had been playing in another local project with Dave and came to one of our band practices one day,” Guld said. “He jumped into some of our songs with his saxophone and we all knew that night that this was going to be our band.”
Though the quintet has been gigging since 2008, it didn’t rush the decision to become Mad Traffic.
“We played many shows nameless and used random names we came up with, like, ‘Tambourine Space Helmet’ and ‘Cabbages and Kings,’” Guld said.
One day, Guld was stuck in traffic on the I-5 on the way to a gig, and explaining why he was running late, told band members that there is “Mad fraffic on the freeway!”
“After that, the name seemed to stick and came to represent the bustling streets and lifestyles of Southern California,” he said.
While the energetic sound the band conjures up is strong on its own, Guld considers lyrics to be a crucial component of the band. “(I started) writing songs, poem and short stories from an early age,” Guld said. “My best friend and I back in Philly wrote a rock opera when we were 15 years old,” he recalled. “From then on I knew I wanted to write lyrics and be able to perform them on stage.”
Brian Fleck also pens lyrics for the band, inspired by the feeling of the words, not just the literal meanings.
“He and I bounce lyrics off each other sometimes for days or weeks until they congeal into something we can all experience,” he continued. “The songs are very visual and sometimes thought provoking, with themes ranging from love to aliens and philosophy.”
The band has survived all the usual ups and downs any band does. After four years of preparation, everything seems to be in place to take the band to the next level, from songs to musicianship. Guld is succinct on the reasons why.
“Every band member has been in multiple projects throughout the years,” he said. “This band is our life, music is what we care about most,” Guld said. “Mad Traffic has stuck together so well because we are all writers, creators and self-innovators. We enjoy the journey of writing a song from start to finish and challenge ourselves and each other to push the envelope of our style.”
He points out that everyone is equally involved in the creative process.
“It is like five fathers and the band is our baby,” Guld said. “We raised it from an infant over four years ago and it is now getting smarter, reasoning and beginning to understand the way the world works.”
Goals for the band this year and next include more touring, recording and releasing new material. Guld said he is happy with what the band has accomplished so far, but he’s hungry for more.
“My favorite thing about being in Mad Traffic is writing and playing music with these guys,” Guld said. “Every time a song comes together and we all leave band practice feeling like we made a difference somehow.”
• Mad Traffic: Saturday, April 20, at Mother’s Saloon, 2228 Bacon St., 8 p.m. 21 and up. For more information, visit motherssaloonob.com