The number 22 has played a significant role in Gena Olivier’s music career.
Olivier, lead singer of Los Angeles-based shoegaze band Midnight Movies — which opens for the Raveonettes at Cafe Du Nord Saturday — knew there could only be three options: become pregnant, get married or be a musician. She loved music, but didn’t do anything about it — until she was 22.
“After my 22nd birthday, I came to terms and said ‘I have to try this,’” she says. “What started out as an innocent collaborative artistic experience led to the three of us (Larry Schemel and Jason Hammons). It was this instant chemistry and all about making music.”
Her band toured with Luna and tried to record a second album, but unexpected things happened. The label, Emperor Norton, folded. New tracks sounded too similar to ones on the first album. And it became clear Hammons wasn’t fond of change and left the band.
So drummer Sandra Vu and bassist Ryan Wood joined the group on its second album, “Lion the Girl,” freeing Olivier of drum duties and allowing her to focus on vocals.
“Moving out from drums was kind of scary because I’m up there by myself,” she said while trying to parallel park on a Friday afternoon in Los Angeles. “But it also felt liberating and exciting. Now I have nothing to hold me back. I’m more than just fully concentrated on singing.”
Each album represents a significant event in the band’s growth. Its self-titled debut was strictly a creative outlet. The second was an expression of Schemel and Olivier’s faith in making music and a celebration of no longer having limitations. Lyrically, its message is to live day by day, inspired by a Yale professor’s 1968 speech.
For the upcoming third record, the band wants to concentrate on letting the music work. The stress of losing a solid team (a manager, original label and band member) and having to record on deadline were challenging creatively on the latest record.
“We’re not business people … we’re trying to make art together,” Olivier says.
Midnight Movies (opening for The Raveonettes)
Where: Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 861-5016, www.cafedunord.com