Inspired by that directive, the classic Pet Sounds and Smile Beach Boys sessions, the rhythmic groove of Jan & Dean, and an actual baby blue Schwinn bicycle Zach had owned when the band was going by the name Oregon Bike Trails ten years ago, the brothers began writing new material last fall. Digging up old drum loops, bass lines, and other samples from the personal Cayucas sound archive to pair with newly composed guitar riffs, vintage reverb effects, and other sonic elements, they quickly pieced together a few dozen short song ideas. “Blue Schwinn” was soon retitled “Summer Moon” and would be the first complete tune recorded for a new album, but despite the change its nostalgic Santa Monica/beach cruiser vibe remains. “I love a strong sense of nostalgia in a song, and a vintage baby blue Schwinn just creates the mood for me,” Zach says.
Working completely on their own in their home studio in Highland Park, Los Angeles, over the final weeks of 2019 and the first few months of 2020, they recorded three more similarly themed and toned songs. “From the Rafters” was rebuilt from a 2015-era demo unearthed by Ben that he says was originally a take on “Surfin’ USA.”“Yeah Yeah Yeah,” with its Brian Wilson meets
Beck textures, is about the contradiction of the West LA fantasy rock and roll life—“I’m on a Peugeot in the Palisades”—juxtaposed with their regular guy roots. And the creation of “Malibu 79” perfectly illustrates the brothers’ working dynamic: Zach began by throwing everything he could at the wall, including a theremin track, then stepped aside for Ben to determine what had stuck. At that point an album with a clear identity was beginning to take shape, fueled by their rediscovered sound as well as a consistent work ethic.
“Very rarely do we have major differences,” Ben says. “The songs can be very different but they have to feel cohesive in order to work together conceptually on an album.”
“We work on music every day, slowly chipping away,” Zach adds. “That’s how we feel productive. Plus we’ve gotten a lot better at songwriting over the last five years, so now we feel like we can turn those old demos into better songs. We use what we call our blink reaction while listening to music we write; your ‘blink’ works even better if you’re not as connected to the song. It’s about being honest and asking which section could be better. It can be a hard question to ask because it means it’s not finished.”