The Secret Life of Painters
Nicole Girard
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 10, 2005 12:00 AM

MEET THE BAND: John Hofmann, vocals, guitar; Matt Castleberry, drums; Dan Cortez, bass; Aaron Kiley, lead guitar.


HOW THEY GOT THEIR START: Before the guys formed the Secret Life of Painters, they were Pine Wyatt. Cortez was a little green when he auditioned.

"It was clear he was never going to be in the band because he was terrible," Hofmann says. "He couldn't play. He probably shouldn't have come."

Nonetheless, the two hit it off. They spent the evening drinking Tecate and playing Guided by Voices' Motor Away.

Pine Wyatt broke up only a few days later. Hofmann, Cortez and Hofmann's cousin, Kiley, formed a short-lived band called Red Shifter in 1999 with current Reubens Accomplice bassist Ryan Kennedy.

As a highlight of their short reign, Red Shifter toured through the Midwest for five weeks with local legends Jimmy Eat World.

"We played a gig in this kid's barn and after the show Jimmy Eat World's van got stuck in the mud," Hofmann says. "We were all trying to help them get it out. Someone's got that on tape somewhere."

In 2001, as Red Shifter was splitting up, Hofmann and Kiley launched a recording project. Taking a cue from their day jobs as house painters, they named the project the Secret Life of Painters.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: In the late '90s, the band had a side project as a Guided by Voices cover band, the Secret Fox. The lineup included such honorary members as Jimmy Eat World's Jim Adkins and his wife, Amy.

"At some point we'll play another show," Hofmann says. You never know with the Secret Fox."

WHAT THEY SOUND LIKE: After five years of writing and recording, they've got a suitcase of songs waiting to be heard. The band's 11-song debut EP, The Sound of Your Chains, will be available in coming weeks. The short disc is a spacey collection of indie-rock songs with fun, infectious hooks and breezy, atmospheric vocals.

Armed with an instant follow-up, the band has a 15-song album, Careers in Poverty, set for release in April. The sound is more polished and down to earth. Songs such as The Reconstruction of Lacey Jones are reminiscent of R.E.M., while Realize Arizona invokes the gentle spirit of little-known '90s power poppers Material Issue.

"We follow the five Ps," Hofmann says. "Punk, post-punk, psychedelic, prog rock and pop."

THEIR FIRST SHOWS: The Secret Life of Painters perform their first two shows back to back this week: 10 p.m. Thursday night at the Emerald Lounge, 1514 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix, (602) 256-9705. Free; and 9 p.m. Friday at Last Exit Bar & Grill, 1425 W. Southern Ave., Tempe, (480) 557-6656. $5.

Secret Life of Painters
"Hold Your Flashlight" b/w "Magnets & Energy" 7-inch
By Niki D'Andrea
Published: February 23, 2006

Secret no more: "Hold Your Flashlight"

Subject(s): Secret Life of Painters

This melodic indie rock quartet sounds a bit like another local band, radio rulers Jimmy Eat World, whom SLP once joined on a Midwest tour that included a gig in a barn. The A-side, "Hold Your Flashlight," is a chugging, hard-edged pop number full of images of summer camp, canary traps, and cemeteries, and the underlying message seems to be about either love or molestation.

The B-side, "Magnets & Energy," is a tight rock ballad about boozing, with dirge-like guitar solos and lines like "Sharing magnets and energy/Sloppy drunk, sloppy drunk are we." Hints of the band's big influences -- mainly Guided By Voices and early R.E.M. -- are apparent, but overall, SLP sounds like a band that's got its own shit together.

The two tracks on this 7-inch are from the band's upcoming full-length, Careers in Poverty, and incidentally, our copy is hand-numbered #272/300.

From "So Much"

Secret Life of Painters
Tuesday October 04th 2005, 5:29 pm

Secret Life of Painters is a Phoenix-based band that has essentially been together for five years, and has stockpiled enough songs that the guys have their first two full-length albums already mapped out. Impressive.

The group — John Hofmann (vocals, guitar), Aaron Kiley (guitar), Dan Cortez (bass), Matt Castleberry (drums) — released The Sound of Your Chains EP in April, which drew a positive response from the weekly alt-newspaper New Times:

“I like these lo-fi revisits and impressionistic word jumbles, like Guy Bowcock’s Second Coat and Fast Black Rats, the closest thing here to a radio-friendly cut (well, “Redefine your acronym,climb into your bastard skin” is shower singing, anyway).”

A 7-inch single is due shortly, and the guys are wrapping up recording a full-length debut, Careers in Poverty. You can find demos from Careers and even some material from their older bands here. Quite generous they are with mp3s.

What about the name, you ask? Well, Hofmann and Kiley were, in fact, house painters,but they never let on to their co-workers they played in rock band. Hence, Secret Life of Painters. They’ve given up the trade, but the name remains the same.