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Music: Mr. And Mrs. 'Universe'

L.A.-based husband/wife team, Wilshire, live and breathe music

By David Simutis · November 25th, 2003 · Music
Marital Pop bliss: Micah and Lori Wilshire moved their eponymous Pop duo act from Nashville to L.A. to find success
Marital Pop bliss: Micah and Lori Wilshire moved their eponymous Pop duo act from Nashville to L.A. to find success "where the real music is."

Lori and Micah Wilshire live, breathe and sleep their band, appropriately called Wilshire. The husband and wife team can't get away from the band (pronounced to rhyme with fire), because they can't get away from each other. And they wouldn't have it any other way. In the midst of rehearsals for their national tour opening for Seal, the pair admit that they don't have a non-band life.

"It's impossible to separate work from anything else because it's all wrapped up together," Lori says.

Micah quickly chimes in, adding, "It's hard because when you're together all the time, you're bound to start arguing at some point. And we do."

"It can be volatile; we're both very stubborn people," laughs Lori. "So add that to it."

"But the stubborn part is what has kept us going for so long," Micah agrees. "We don't give up at any point. Our neighbors get an earful. That's what makes our songs so concise: We weed out the things that don't work very quickly. We're very honest. We just let it fly if something doesn't work. There's no worry about hurting somebody's feelings, because we've been doing this a long time."

The duo's music suggests that they spend a lot of time editing the minutiae out.

A straight-ahead Pop duo, they rely on acoustic guitars and their voices for the melodies, with solid, if sparse, Rock accompaniment. That doesn't mean there isn't room for a handful of string arrangements on their major label debut album, New Universe; it does mean the band follows in the tradition of the intertwined male/female vocals of Fleetwood Mac and fits with contemporary troubadours such as Michelle Branch or Jason Mraz.

The pair met in Nashville, where they had moved to fulfill their musical dreams. Instead, they ended up working as backing musicians. Do a search on the Internet for them, and you'll see that they have two other albums, and what looks like a strong Christian following. They are not, and have not, however, actually ever been a Christian band. In Nashville you can either be a Country musician or a Gospel artist, which is as close to Pop music as it gets there. They worked more for Gospel people, including as backing musicians for Michael W. Smith, who started a label and released the first, very-Pop Wilshire record. Smith's label worked it in the areas where they had contacts -- the Christian world.

Actually, Wilshire worships Satan and bites the heads off of bats in concert. OK, maybe not. But, though they might have the voices of angels, they are very down-to-earth.

After a couple years in Music City, their artistic careers were headed nowhere. So they packed up and moved to Beverly ... Hills, that is.

"We'd been threatening to do it for a long time and finally one night, we were having dinner with a friend and we said, 'That's it. We've got to get out of here and go to where the real music is in L.A.,' " recalls Micah. "A week-and-a-half later we had a yard sale and just moved."

Things picked up immediately. Other singer/songwriters in the Los Angeles coffeehouse circuit were supportive and receptive. Many of the songs on New Universe are about moving to Los Angeles and working hard to make it, but there are more affirmations that they made the right decision, rather than a glum look at struggle.

"We got out here, and we didn't know anybody. We didn't know Hollywood from the Valley. We were just so green, we didn't know anything," says Lori. "We saw that there were open-mic nights every day of the week, so we started playing at those every night after working every day. Those led to us playing our own sets at clubs about once a month."

And that led to their record deal. In the meantime, the duo was still writing and recording songs in their apartment in the San Fernando Valley. Those songs had such a sense of urgency, capturing the immediacy of the freshly written songs, so much that three of the tracks on New Universe were basically recorded at home.

"They had a little more energy and bite to them because there weren't people around," says Micah. "We weren't self-conscious at all. Our favorite thing is to record by ourselves, and not have anybody looking over our shoulders."

"Home recording is what we prefer, because we feel much more in control and free to experiment, and we don't have to worry about the cost of studio time," Lori adds. "We can wake up, eat breakfast, start working and then take a break and not think that we just spent $20,000 on a recording studio."

Plus, they don't have a life outside of Wilshire anyways. Why leave home?

WILSHIRE opens for Seal on Sunday at Bogart's


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