LOS ANGELES — First there was the Phantom Planet. Then came Rooney. But the newest pop phenomenon to emerge from the city’s tony West Side schools is the Like, a three-girl band formed by singer-songwriter-guitarist Z (a.k.a. Elizabeth) Berg, drummer Tennessee Thomas and bassist Charlotte Froom.
While every high school rocker dreams of making the big time, this precocious trio has distinct advantages — their professional rocker dads, ARTISTdirect Records A&R exec Tony Berg, who signed Beck while at Geffen Records, drummer Pete Thomas, who has played with Elvis Costello since 1978, and record producer Mitchell Froom, who is married to Suzanne Vega. When the trio, all recently freed from final exams and homework, gathers around Berg’s Brentwood pool, pulling T-shirts and cut-offs over their bathing suits for a meeting with the band manager, Berg says her father didn’t teach her anything about the business. Froom, the wisecracker of the group, says her dad told her, “‘Don’t get f****d over’ and ‘Make sure to eat dinner.’”
But actually, it was their fathers who brought the band together.
“Our dads ran into each other at a barbecue and started bragging about their daughters,” says Froom, who will be a senior next year at Santa Monica High.
“It’s like our dads set us up on a blind date,” says Thomas, 18 and newly graduated from Marymount High School.
Though Thomas and Froom had tried to start a band before, after a few e-mails to Berg, it all clicked.
“I was freaked out at the time because their screen names were BritPopBaby and PinkLAPrincess,” says Berg, who’s in a punchy mood after having taken her last final at Crossroads, where she’ll be a senior next year. “But then they came over and Tennessee had great hair and I was like, ‘Dude, this is gonna work.’”
The group’s instruments were set up in the recording studio behind Berg’s pool where they’ve remained. “I was sitting in my room alone for two years writing angsty songs on my acoustic guitar like a creepy little girl and these sweet young women just fell in my lap,” she concludes.
The Like played to their first audience about a year ago when they hopped on stage at a Phantom Planet show, and their Blondie/The Strokes sound has charmed young — and not so young — fans ever since. This summer promises a gig at the Troubadour June 22 opening for She Said Yeah and a show with Phantom Planet on June 30, though the group hopes to travel to New York, Boston and Philadelphia, too.
At a recent benefit for the Huckleberry Fund, fans like Ben Stiller, Anne Heche and Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs rock out front and center. “Really, these girls are great,” Hoffs says, laughing. “I’d love to work with them.”
The music they’ve grown up with — the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd and Velvet Underground — informs their music as much as that of newer bands like Rilo Kiley and ARE Weapons.
But the Like also really, really likes fashion. For the benefit gig, Berg channels Debbie Harry in her mom’s vintage high-waisted shorts and a vintage Gucci blazer, then styles Froom as Edie Sedgwick and Thomas as a “fab Sixties girl.”
“Getting dressed for our shows is my favorite activity,” Berg says. “I spend hours trying to give each show a theme.”
“I’m usually the Marianne Faithfull type,” says Thomas, who spent her birthday money on a Marc Jacobs coat. Froom is partial to Salvation Army finds and, as a former dancer, ballerina chic.
Of course, they’ve already got their first music video all planned out. “We’ll wear schoolgirl skirts and get hosed down and then all make out!” Berg jokes.
But joking aside, the girls say Peter Getty has been working on getting them a record deal, though they’d like to wait until September to sign. Their single, “(So I’ll Sit Here) Waiting” comes out on the soundtrack of “Thirteen” this fall. Once they’ve all graduated, however, they’ll aim high. “Everyone will take a year off between high school and college, so we’ll see where we go,” says Froom.
For her part, Berg is confident she won’t need a bachelor’s degree. “College,” she sighs, “is so not for me.”