Singer Matt Franks claims that Simon Says was never a "planned" band. A couple of sophomores from southern California high schools went to a party, and were impressed by a few similarly-aged fellows with cool instrumentals. When the party band disbanded, Franks and and the guys got together, and eventually became "this magic trio." Franks, guitarist Zac Diebels, and drummer Mike Johnston worked their magic for three consistent years playing the "captive" and highly responsive high school circuit, as well as Sacramento all-ages clubs, as Simon Says.
After being joined by bass player Mike Arrieta in 1995, the early Simon Says -- named for the the schoolyard game -- felt buoyed enough by their appeal to the teenage set to release two DIY records, "Little Boy" and "Perfect Example," two years later. While the boys were looking for an attorney, they were contacted by Jeff Saltzman, who wanted to develop a production company and management firm. He was looking for promising young bands like Simon Says, who had already demonstrated the ability to be self-winding, and had, of course, plenty of creative musical talent. Saltzman hooked the band up with producer Mark Needham of Cake, who stepped in to oversee new demo recordings. Saltzman then showcased Simon Says in Los Angeles for fifteen labels. In July of 1998 Hollywood Records -- one of the very first labels to hear them, signed them almost on the spot. Under the guiding hand of Hollywood A&R rep Rob Cavallo, "Jump Start" got mixed in the studio with Needham, and hit the radio waves in May of 1999. The rest is a very young American success story. ~ Becky Byrkit