Nancy Miller
November 05, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Killers, Modest Mouse, Interpol, Death Cab for Cutie, the Thrills. Is it the dream lineup for next year’s Coachella? Nah — it’s just a few of the bands blasting from indie rock’s coolest new venue: the editing suite of The O.C.

”Oooh, show us the Killers,” says the show’s creator, Josh Schwartz, who’s parked in front of two monitors with music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. An editor serves up a snippet of the scraggly Vegas quartet performing at the Bait Shop — The O.C. gang’s fictional hangout — for a Dec. 2 episode. The duo watch with groupie awe. ”We’re all obsessed with finding that perfect song,” says Schwartz. ”We’re such music geeks.”

Music geeks who rule. Their knack for unearthing that undiscovered Jem (literally — the Welsh singer’s tunes were featured twice last season) has turned Fox’s sudsy melodrama into a Lollapalooza for the learner’s-permit set, a launching pad for alt-unknowns who’d otherwise be lost in the Nickelback-woods of mainstream America. ”We’re not going to have [the cast] Jamming to Maroon 5,” says Patsavas. ”We dig deeper to find good music that fits the mood of the show.”

And, they hope, will appeal to record-buying fans. They’ve just released two new Music From The O.C. compilations: Mix 2 includes choice cuts by the likes of Death Cab, Interpol, and Beulah, while Mix 3 — Have a Very Merry Chrismukkah boasts original holiday jams by Eels, the Raveonettes, and Low.

But are indie rockers concerned about losing their cred? ”I was wary at first, [but] the exposure it gives a band like us is amazing,” says the Thrills singer Conor Deasy of the group’s upcoming January appearance. There are other perks as well. ”Kevin [our keyboardist] wanted us to do it so he could meet Mischa Barton.”

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