Lee Rocker Set To Storm Orange County Once Again!

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

LEE ROCKER plays The Coach House Oct. 6; press photo

“It goes way back, but I’m from a musical family of classical musicians from New York,” states the legendary Lee Rocker.

“My dad was a solo clarinet for the Philharmonic, my mom was a music teacher at the college there; so, there was music constantly around the house. And I started really playing instruments like the cello around seven years old. It’s kind of a family business, you know?

“Started The Stray Cats in my dad’s garage. And you know, by the time I was seventeen had a record deal in England. So, it started super young.”

Rocker has been a seminal force in music ever since his twenties and shows no signs of slowing down either.

“I gotta say, playing music really is…just a passion,” Rocker explains.

“It’s like breathing, it’s something I gotta do. You know, it’s sort of hard to describe but its part of me and I love doing it. I’ve been on the road and recording for almost forty years, 39 years, and in a way, it just gets better and better. I’m passionate, always pushing myself, always trying to learn more, do things a little differently, and figure new things out. So, it’s a constant growth in a way.”

Lee Rocker

Lee Rocker

Well known for his work with The Stray Cats, he has his own band that plays regularly too.

“It’s a four-piece band I’ve had now for a couple years,” describes Rocker.

“My guitar player is Buzz Campbell, and Buzz I’ve known for god…at least twenty years and we’ve worked together for probably close to that. I’ve got a great drummer, Larry Mitchell, and a wonderful like multi-instrumentalist guy, Joey Eights… like the number. And he plays pianos and guitars and harmonica. The band is a well-oiled machine I gotta say. We have a new record coming out soon, a live record we did at a venue called Daryl’s Place, which is Daryl Hall’s place in New York.”

Their upcoming show at The Coach House is especially momentous for the Orange County native.

“I’m stoked and looking forward to The Coach House,” Rocker excitedly expounds.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. It gives me a chance to not only do the concert but tell some stories, to talk about some things behind the music.”

He further elaborates on the upcoming live show, “I’ve cherry picked songs from throughout my career. Certainly, doing my hits like “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut” and “Sexy And Seventeen” from my Stray Cats years.

“And then things from throughout my career that I’ve written and songs that I’ve done with people – ranging from George Harrison, or Keith Richards, or Carl Perkins – who was a really good friend of mine and wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”. And I definitely have some new stuff, I’ve been in the studio, and I’m gonna bust out a couple brand new songs that I haven’t even had a chance to record yet.

“The audience is what it’s all about. The energy in the room and I gotta say, for me, it doesn’t matter if that room is 500 people or 5,000 people. It’s just that human thing of being in a room, and that transfer of energy between an audience and a musician is just so cool.”

His affection for music is readily apparent, and as a result he has touched numerous people’s lives.

“When you meet people and hear how your music has changed people’s lives, it’s pretty amazing,” Rocker said.

“I spoke to someone a little while back…a man from Japan who said he had seen the Stray Cats in the eighties. He loved the band so much that he learned English and moved to America. It’s really moving stuff…you know, monumental.”

As for the future, it looks as bright as ever.

“We are putting out a new live record I mentioned called the Low Road,” Rocker revealed.

“It’s just a great live concert that is also a DVD, a CD, and also on vinyl. That should be out in December.

“Next year, I will definitely be putting out a new studio record of songs that I’ve written. So, folks should check the website and social media cuz we are gonna be talking about it and things are coming up quick.”

Make sure to catch Lee Rocker and his band as they rock the night away and divulge fascinating stories from his lengthy time as a musician. It all goes down Oct. 6 at The Coach House!

Gary Numan Brings The Future To The Observatory

GARY NUMAN plays the Observatory Sep. 4; press photo

GARY NUMAN plays the Observatory Sep. 4; press photo

Always moving forward, Gary Numan continues to be a pioneer. While first becoming a household name with his futuristic single “Cars” in the early eighties, he has never stood still. Always looking ahead at what’s next, he has constantly molded and transformed his sound: from the synthesizer played through guitar effects in his early work, to experiments with jazz as well as funk, to the industrial style of his more recent output.

As a result of all this, he released his 18th album Savage (Songs from a Broken World) last year and is currently touring around the world behind it. Garnering rave reviews, it further establishes Numan’s desire to keep pushing forward and push the envelope of what music can be. In anticipation of his Sep. 4 show at The Observatory, we caught up with Numan to find out what makes him tick, the concept behind Savage, and what tomorrow holds.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You’re currently on tour. For those who do or don’t know your history, what can we expect from a Gary Numan concert these days?
GARY NUMAN: I have a real problem with nostalgia, I don’t like it at all, so I tend to focus on the new rather than the old. For people coming along hoping to predominantly listen to the early electronic stuff from a lifetime ago, I think they will be disappointed. Most fans are aware of this though. I’ve never wallowed in nostalgia. I do a few songs from the early days but it’s a quarter of the set at best. I’m promoting a new album, Savage; in fact, this is my second North American tour promoting Savage, so that’s where the main thrust of the show comes from.

Gary Numan album cover "Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

Gary Numan album cover “Savage (Songs From A Broken World)

CGL: Tell me a little bit about your last album Savage (Songs from a Broken World). Why did you choose that name for it?
GN: Savage looks at a world in the future that’s been devastated by global warming. However, the global warming element of it is simply the backdrop for the main topic the album looks at, which is the brutality of humankind when survival of the fittest becomes the norm. It is not a happy album, but it does have tiny slivers of hope if you look hard.

CGL: Is there a particular song that sticks out for you from that album?
GN: I like to think it has many stand out songs but the one that really works the best for me is a song called “My Name Is Ruin.” Partly because my daughter Persia sings on it, and appears in the video for it to be honest. She’s also toured with me a number of times, and has sung it live all over the world so it’s become a definite favorite to play live.

CGL: What are some of your favorite songs to play from Savage?
GN: The album was written from the outset to work well when played live. The majority of the songs therefore have huge chorus melodies and are deliberately dynamic sonically. This makes them exciting to play live, but my favorites are “My Name Is Ruin” and “Ghost Nation.”

CGL: Who is in the current tour lineup? Have you guys toured and played together before?
GN: Richard Beasley on drums, Tim Muddiman on bass, Steve Harris on guitar and David Brooks on keyboards. Tim is the new boy, and yet, he’s been with me for nearly 20 years. We are all very close friends and have been touring together for a very long time, so it makes it a very enjoyable experience. Arguments amongst us are almost unheard of, extremely rare. I could never tour with people that I didn’t get on with. Spending months at a time in a bus with the same people could be difficult if the personality mix isn’t right. We have that, with the crew as well actually. I miss everyone when we’re not touring.

GARY NUMAN; photo James Christopher

GARY NUMAN; photo James Christopher

CGL: What is your favorite aspect to playing a live show?
GN: The crowd reaction makes or breaks it. If the crowd is with you, and vocal about it, that lifts you to a state that’s hard to find anywhere else. It is literally ‘uplifting,’ and we all feed on that. A quiet crowd makes it feel more like a job. Luckily, we don’t get too many of that kind. Also though, I love traveling; so beyond the show itself, I really love the process of touring, of constantly moving to new places. Each day becomes a new adventure.

CGL: Which other songs from your history do you especially like to play?
GN: From my history? None really. I’ve played all the older songs a thousand times, so they’ve lost their spark and charm somewhat. Because of that, I do try to pull out some rare things once in a while to keep me interested in back catalogue, or rework them to keep them feeling a bit fresher. That works for a while.

CGL: You have been playing music for 20+ years now. What is your take on the current state of music and its future?
GN: I’ve actually been doing this for over 40 years and I very much do my own thing. I welcome new technologies, be it musical or social, and incorporate those that help and move around those that don’t. But, it’s all about how it can help me. I got sick to death of listening to people whining about the state of the music business, albums sales falling, this is wrong, that’s wrong, always complaining, always worrying. I don’t agree with any of that. These changes are not the death knell of the music business. I’ve loved the way the business has evolved over the last 15, 20 years or so. I’ve embraced every change that I thought would help me and my career. It’s brought artists closer to fans (for those that want that); yes, record sales have fallen but new opportunities have come along. New types of label deals have meant that, for some of us, decreased album sales have not necessarily meant a decrease in income. You just have to really understand what works and what doesn’t. I self-manage for example, that was a huge change, but it’s really worked for me. I don’t sign conventional artist deals with labels, haven’t for a long time. There is so much you can do to combat the down side of change if you keep your eyes open, and there are new opportunities that didn’t exist before.

CGL: What do you like about playing music today compared to the past?
GN: Nothing’s changed as far as I can tell. Playing music today is exciting and rewarding, just as it was before. The only thing I would suggest that is arguably better these days is reliability of equipment. It is true that I have more confidence now compared to when I started, which is understandable, and that brings with it a less stressed attitude at show time. I like that, so that’s an improvement I suppose.

CGL: Is there a new album and/or material in the works?
GN: There is a special edition of Savage with three new songs coming out in November, but I plan to start the next studio album, the follow up to Savage, in February 2019. Looking forward to that very much.

CGL: What inspires you to continue making new music?
GN: I have three children so wanting to make sure I can give them the best chance in life keeps me eager to work harder than ever. Beyond that, I’ve never lost my love for moving forward. I still get very excited by the challenge of finding new sounds, new ways of putting music together, new things to write about. I’m creative by nature, it’s a need as much as a desire, so I’m always surprised when people get in to the latter stages of their career and start writing bland old shit, or repeating themselves musically. Wanting to progress, to create new things, is what gets me up in the morning. It’s never been a problem finding the desire to do that.

CGL: Is there anything else you would like to add?
GN: Just that I am hugely grateful for the support. People taking the time to come to a gig is not something I take for granted, and I am very grateful.

The Clarion Call Of Arise Roots

ARISE ROOTS play HOB/Anaheim Aug. 23; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS play HOB/Anaheim Aug. 23; photo Andy Ortega

Reggae has been around for quite some time now, and over the years it has only gotten more popular. It has been through many changes, from the early days of inception through its exploration in genre-mixing as of late. It is always refreshing to see a band who can pull from its long history while adapting the music to recent changes in the musical landscape; Arise Roots deftly achieves this with their unique take on reggae.

“Root is what our own personal likes and loves were,” according to lead singer Karim Israel. “All our hearts were definitely in Roots, and that’s kinda what brought us together when we first met. We all came together and started jamming on some Dennis Brown and different Roots artists. That comes from my own personal love for that subgenre of Reggae.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Further explaining the band’s desires, he goes on, “One thing we focused on though, in the music, was not just focusing on Roots; like we incorporate other styles and genres of Reggae, and not even just a subgenre itself. We are seeking to not just put ourselves in the box of Roots, but just creativity and music. And so, whatever comes out, we’re not necessarily trying to fit it or keep it into that Roots box. It’s still Reggae definitely, but we’re not just pigeonholing ourselves into just Roots.

“The live show, to me, by far is the most amazing factor/part/whatever you wanna call it in being a musician. That energy. It’s the energy that the crowd brings to the table every night. No two shows are exactly the same; it really depends on each and every individual person that is there, and what they bring to it. When people come, and they are expecting to share in the experience, and they are coming and bringing their energy, bringing their anticipation….it just adds. It’s like cooking a big pot of gumbo, and each show and person brings its own thing to the table. Some nights are great, some nights are just absolutely amazing.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

His passion for music is undeniable, and obvious when one goes to an Arise Roots concert. Elaborating further, “Being able to feed off that energy, and I like to not just feed but also create that energy. So that people can feed off of our energy…and it just keeps going back and forth like an electrical current. It just keeps going back and forth, back and forth, and that’s the best way I can describe it – as a current. It just keeps rotating and rotating, going and going. It’s almost unexplainable being up there and feeling it; and once the people start singing the words and stuff….it’s just amazing!”

Israel is obviously a lyricist with his uncanny ability to put his passion into words the way he does. He describes the songwriting process, “When we write these songs, no one is guaranteeing that somebody is gonna like the song that you write. When we finally write it, and finish second guessing ourselves, and put the words on the paper; and once those words actually come out and you see the people digging it- it’s a relief, it’s a natural high that you feel, and it’s amazing. That’s what we like to bring to the table, a piece of our souls.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Having released a new song recently, “Nice and Slow,” it has become a staple of their live sets. “Our new single, I love playing that,” Israel declares. “It’s got a lot of good energy. Being the newest one, it’s always good to test it out on crowds and see what the response is with people. So as of right now, I gotta say “Nice and Slow” is my favorite to play.”

Israel was raised on Reggae via his parents, especially his dad. And recently had one of his favorite moments in the band: “We were playing in San Francisco, and I was able to have my dad come onstage and sing. Which for me was a dream come true cuz my dad was the one who introduced me to Reggae music from birth.

“He actually emigrated from Jamaica to the States, back in the seventies, to do Reggae music. My mom and dad actually met at a Reggae show, so if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. So, the whole time we have been playing, he has being hearing the stuff and seeing it online but had never been able to make it out to a show. In San Francisco, he not only was able to see us but also come onstage and perform. That was a huge moment for me.”

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

ARISE ROOTS; photo Andy Ortega

Arise Roots is amped and excited for what the future holds, evidenced by their long hours spent on their upcoming new album. Israel explains, “It’s our best album to date. We are extremely excited to get it out. We’ve done some kinds of experimentation with some sounds, and even the writing on some of the tracks has been a little out of the box for us.

“One thing that is different about this album than the others before is that before we would play it live and see what the crowd participation was like. If it works with the crowd, we’ll add that to the list of songs that will most likely be on the album. This time around, we have kept a lot of stuff secret and just kept it amongst ourselves. Not let anybody hear it, not even family members. Just pulsing on creating the vibe, the feel of the album, the mood of the album, the sound of the album. And then release it all together at once.”

But while waiting for the album to drop, Arise Roots shows are the best place to catch the smooth vibes and soul-filled music this band brings to Reggae. Catch them at the House of Blues Anaheim on Aug. 23.

Cash’d Out: Live! Authentic! And in SoCal!

CASH'D OUT

CASH’D OUT (Johnny Cash Tribute); press photo

Sadly, not too long ago we lost the great Johnny Cash. Fortunately, however, we have San Diego based Cash’d Out – a band who continues to bring us the sounds and styles of the legendary artist. Existing for eleven years now, they have traversed the country countless time and earned the praises of fans and critics alike for being “the next best thing to Johnny Cash.”

Currently, Cash’d Out is Douglas Benson on vocals, George Bernardo on drums, and Stephen Rey on bass. But what got this band started in the direction they have taken? “I just like the way he sounds, number one. I like the stories that he tells. I like the man that I’ve learned about and what kind of a man he was. Plus, I can kind of sound like him a little bit”, Benson explains with some humor. ” I put an ad in the San Diego reader, and a few people answered it. One guy I ended up hooking up was Kevin Manuel who became our guitar player. And we formed the band from there. Actually, now I’m the only original member who’s left. But my business partner/drummer/backing vocalist George Bernardo, him and I run it now. And he’s been with me for about ten years now, I guess.”

The first step was like nearly every band, i.e. how long should we play, what songs should we learn, etc. “The first song I learned was “Cry, Cry, Cry” or something like that, it was real simple. We had probably had about fifteen songs to play, maybe, the first time we played. I think it was about a half hour of music,” Benson recalled to the best of his ability. “I remember it was my cousins wedding reception. He got married the same day; we went to dinner, and after dinner he brought the wedding reception party over to the little venue we had booked already. Cuz I didn’t know, that was a last minute thing he did…So it worked out pretty good, we had a pretty good sold-out show.”

As they began to play show after show, Cash’d Out began homing in on exactly what it was they wanted to do. Johnny Cash has an extensive career thus it is not easy for a band to reference all his material in a single show. Thus, the band chose to primarily focus on and combine two areas of the Man in Black’s career: The Sun Records/early Columbia sound and the energetic performances showcased on the prison recordings done at Folsom as well as San Quentin. While these are the most popular eras of Johnny Cash’s music, this was not the reason Benson chose them, “Those are my favorite years. The Sun and Columbia years were my favorite years of Johnny Cash music. So, obviously, that’s where I wanted to start. Why not start from the beginning, as much as possible?”

To date, the oft-quoted number of songs in the bands repertoire is 150, but factors along the way point to a different number according to Benson, “Yea, I probably have learned closer to 300 songs out of the 3600 he wrote and stole. Probably due to, like, personnel changes, and the bass player and guitar player here and there. And the time allotment. Most clubs don’t want you to do a three-hour show anymore. When we first started out, that was what we were doing every time…We try to keep it to 90 minutes and if they want to hear an encore, we have plenty of songs we can do in the encore.”

It is this dedication and authenticity which has garnered them so much praise over the years. Cindy Cash saw Cash’d out and was so moved she gave her father’s locket to Benson; Lou Robin, a longtime Cash manager, stated that closing his eyes at their shows was like “going back in time.” It doesn’t even stop there, since Benson even received the honor of playing one of Cash’s guitars and the official Johnny Cash website endorses them.

One of the most fascinating examples of this was when longtime Cash drummer W.S. Holland sat in with the band for a session. “He was at a show, we did a thing for Bill Miller, owner of JohnnyCash.com…Before he moved to Nashville, he used to live up here in Corona. There was a Fender guitars education center and he used to live kinda close by. And they had room and asked him to do a kind of make-shift Johnny Cash musuem. He set that up in there for awhile, and having us come up and sing at shows, and events, and stuff. And one time, W.S. Holland just happened to be up there working, you know, doing drum classes for kids and stuff like that. And we asked him if he would mind sitting in on a couple songs. After drumming all day, I figured he was gonna be tired. But he sat in and did three hours straight with us after he had been working with the kids all day. He’s got alot of fire still left in his blood, and it was alot of fun. Real pleasure working with him.”

Cash’d Out is still going strong, with ambitious plans for the future. There are tentative plans on going in the studio with musician Jackson Taylor and doing some Smiths’ song, in the spirit of where Cash left off with songs such as his cover of “Hurt.” In addition, they have just recently released a live album of their own as well.

The Musical Glow That Is Al Jardine

AL JARDINE plays The Coach House Jun 16; photo Spud

AL JARDINE plays The Coach House Jun 16; photo by Spud

“My pal, Brian Wilson and I, went to college together,” muses Al Jardine of the legendary Beach Boys. “And we started at El Camino Junior College. He introduced me to his family; I came up with the production money to make our first record – my mother actually gave us the money for it, that first record – a recording called “Surfin’”.”

Al Jardine is now on tour, aptly titled A Postcard from California, From the Very First Song with a Founding Member of The Beach Boys, and it is described as a storytelling tour.

“That’s what my concert is all about, how we generated that first song,” Jardine explains. “And we give a little soliloquy or monologue at the start of the show, bringing people into the living room of the home of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson. Looking through the recording glass window while we are making our very first song. You know what I’m sayin’, right? It’s like a trip through time.

“And then we come out of that recording, there’s an actual tape recording of conversation rehearsing the song. At the conclusion of that, Matthew Jardine my son, Jeff Alan Ross, and I sing the song in its entirety. That’s how the show starts.”

So why a storytelling tour at all, and where did such an idea come from? Jardine has the answer: “To be honest with you, it was a long developing idea an agent brought to my attention some time ago. He came back with it eight years later because he has had success with Peter Asher and Jeremy Clive, a couple of English musicians who were popular at the time. They have combined their forces to do shows here; Peter of course was a producer of great renown, Linda Ronstadt to name one and James Taylor is another. He has his own band now and he is doing it with Jeremy. And it has been such a success story for Peter that it was brought to my attention.”

In 2010, Jardine released his solo album A Postcard From California, which featured a wide variety of musicians.

“It’s people I have grown up with during my Beach Boy years, and we all have shared the stage with,” Jardine said. “We all have fond memories of the sixties and seventies. I just called people and they were generous with their time and ideas.

AL JARDINE; photo Randy Straka

AL JARDINE; photo Randy Straka

“Glen Campbell is featured in a video explaining his involvement with The Beach Boys. And I go on to extend the conversation to his involvement with me and my album. It’s kind of informative and beautiful. He was our sixth Beach Boy at the time, Brian Wilson couldn’t tour at the time and Glen Campbell came in to help us out.”

The tour also features each member displaying their wide range of abilities. Jardine elucidates this aspect: “I play the upright bass, just for fun. On that first record, that’s what I played and on the very first Beach Boys song. We have one of those that I play. I play acoustic and electric guitar. Matthew plays guitar and percussion as well. Jeff Alan Ross does the keyboard orchestration and the video imaging that we have on stage, which is very impressive.

“I’ve always loved singing harmony, I’m a harmony guy,” Jardine continued. “I just love singing with Brian Wilson, and the guys, and my son Matt now. Matt and I both tour with Brian Wilson when he is touring. When we are not with Brian, we go out in our trio, celebrating the stories behind the music.”

Like almost any musician, there are pre-show rituals he likes to engage in.

“We like to get there early and get sharp,” according to Jardine. “We like to get the lighting and the sound right. But with a trio, it’s so easy. It’s so much fun. You don’t have the constraints of so many mixes and challenges, like with the major systems of an arena. We have a jazz club sound, you know. The mixes are tight; they always sound great cuz there is very little that can go wrong.”

Bask in the magic and history of Al Jardine and The Beach Boys when he comes to The Coach House on June 16th.

The Crazy Wonderful Hijinks of the 131ers

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

The 131ers have been creating quite the stir lately. Known for mixing genres and distilling it into their own unique sound, the origin of their name comes from an unlikely source as well. The name itself is an obscure reference to early MP3 tagging technology.

But why reference this to begin with? According to vocalist/guitarist Kaleb Davies, “Actually, I came up with the name when I was like…. eleven years old, because I decided I wanted to be in a band called the 131ers someday.”

“And that day came sooner than he thought!” adds bassist Chris Graue.

“And then I started making music with that name a long time ago,” Davies explains. “And it just stuck throughout every form of the band, until this one which is kind of now the real form. So, I guess the weirdest thing about that is that it’s very old. The name has been around for ten years.

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

“Ryan (Dawson, drums) and I met in high school and started making music then. We were the original two members of the 131ers; and we decided… there was some weird college stuff, dropping out stuff….it was decided we were going to do this band as a duo cuz it was easiest at the time. And Chris got involved by making the music videos. And then he started filling in on some shows, and then kind of just told us he was in the band.”

“I kind of shoehorned my way in,” Graue admitted. “To be fair, they just kept making me play gigs, and then eventually I just said, ‘I am either in this band or…no, I am just in this band cuz you keep calling me’.”

Davies further describes how the drummer came to be in the band as well, “We met Greg (Wilmot, guitar) through a YouTube show that he used to host, and we hit it off. I think the story there is we saw him at a show months later in Anaheim where he lives. I was really, really drunk and he said something like, ‘Are you going to let me play guitar for you?’ and I responded like, ‘Yea, of course!!!’ and now he is our guitar player.”

“Pretty much if you want to be in the 131ers, just show up and tell people you are in the 131ers,” jokes Graue.

What influences a band is often quite diverse, and often rather unexpected.

“I listen to a lot of ska and punk, so I don’t know how much that comes through,” points out Graue. “It probably doesn’t. Especially as a bass player, I’ve always just listened to so much ska growing up. I’m basically just playing ska basslines at different rhythms, no matter what I’m doing.”

THE 131ers; press photo

THE 131ers; press photo

When it comes to playing live shows, Graue remarks, “I like the drink tickets. Those are pretty cool. I like the people that come to them, like the people at the shows, and like hanging out with them afterwards. I like a lot of tension, so I want everyone to look at me for thirty minutes, and then talk to me afterwards personally.”

Davies gives his take on the live experience as well, “I like playing live shows. We were doing another interview and they asked, ‘Why do you play music, what inspires you?’ And my response has always been being able to play live. It feels like the most important thing and I feel creatively I get the best buzz off of that. I don’t think I can pinpoint why but think it just has something to do with the mutual, one-on-one thing you get with somebody when they are liking your band, or you’re watching a band and know what they are going through. Yea, there’s nothing like it.”

The 131ers also love the studio environment, albeit for much different reasons.

“I like it a lot,” Dawson said. “I feel that it’s cool because you learn a lot about the song you’re recording while recording it. You think you might know the song cuz you have played it so many times live, but once you get it down on paper so to speak, there are so many things you can manipulate and do with it. On the other hand, it might change the song completely.”

“You can be way more ambitious too,” adds Graue. “When you’re playing it live, you have to sort of play it the simplest way that you can, to make sure you don’t screw it up.”

“Every show I have ever played, I started playing shows when I was fifteen or whatever, I always have a red bandana tied around my microphone stand,” Davies recalls. “I don’t know why, sometimes I wipe my face with it, but usually I don’t even touch it. But if I don’t have it, I like flip out. We have even had people buy one and bring it to the show.”

“We tried playing without it once and it was like the worst show ever, so he swore he wouldn’t ever do it again,” Dawson chimes in.

Catch the wild antics and intense tension of the 131ers via their upcoming album Nothing’s As It Should Be and catch them live at Los Angeles Ale Works Jun 15 and Pop Obscure Records Jun 16.

The Heavy Thunder Of Uriah Heep Strikes SoCal

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

URIAH HEEP play The Coach House Apr. 19: press photo

As one of the founders of the ‘eavy metal sound, Uriah Heep has paved a road filled with experimentation, progressive ideas, and rich sounds that has garnered them love and praise since their inception in 1969.

For those who are not aware, their name comes from a character in the novel “David Copperfield”. And the origin of their formation went a little like this: “How did the band start? It got started by us playing our instruments,” laughs co-founder/lead guitarist, Mick Box.
“How does any band start? You start in a band, and you form, and change members until you find a combination that you like. And we found that in 1970 and improved on that by about 1972. And that was the one that would be termed the band that had the most success at the time. So, we came out with Heep, Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Zeppelin all at the same time.”

That was over forty years ago and is a testament to their staying power to still be going strong today. According to Box, “We still have the same passion and energy for what we do, mate. Music is our life. And we are lucky enough to have had songs that stood the test of time, that people still like hearing in the live arena, which allows us to tour in 61 countries. It’s marvelous, something that is your job to travel around the world like that, it could be no better. We never forget how lucky we are.”

Having such a long and intense history, it could be hard to narrow a single standout moment. Yet for Box, there is one highlight: “I think of the standout moments it would be that we were the first western rock band to play in Russia, in December 1987. We were invited over there by glasnost; and we went over there and played to 180,000 people. Just a marvelous experience considering what you were taught in school about Russians. We had no idea how big we were over there through our music, which they could only get access through the black market.”

Every band typically has songs that they like to play.

“We leave that to the fans, Box said. “I mean, generally fans let you know exactly what their favorites are. They usually range from “Gypsy” to “July Morning” to “Easy Living” to “Lady in Black” and the list goes on. We let the fans do the choosing, cuz you know, we are playing for the fans, not ourselves.”

There is also a long history of fans giving the band some pretty strange things over the years. Box relates one such occurrence.

“We did a five-week tour of Russia, and the first show was in Yekaterinburg. Someone said there was a guy outside who wants to give you a present and of course I said to give me a few minutes and I will go out and meet him. He actually made – you know the beautiful churches that are all over Russia – well he makes the bells. He’s the actual bell maker. And he gave me a bell with my name on it. Which was very, very heavy and huge. And I had to carry it around for five weeks. It was a hard thing to lug about.

“I think mostly we have been pioneers of the entire industry, by being the first, through our success that everyone else could follow. And now, of course, Russia is on every band’s tour and the European market. Being the first to do something like that, and being pioneers is quite something.”

This love of progressivism and constantly moving forwards is a defining feature of Uriah Heep as a band.

“In January, we recorded a new album called Living the Dream with a great producer by the name of Jay Ruston, that’s getting released in September on Frontier Records,” revealed Box. “And of course, we start a world tour again starting then. Then we’ll do great European things and it’ll go on forever again,” states Box.

Touring is well-known as a grueling ordeal, so how does a band like Uriah Heep get through it over and over again?

“What you do is you look out for your health,” Box explained. “It’s as simple as that. Nobody wants to see someone out on stage drunk or drugged up or anything, you know.

“So, we look after our health. You’re only as good as your last show as far as we are concerned. We give it 110% every time we are on that stage. And to do that, you have to look after yourself. Health first is the answer. We can do an eight-hour day before we hit the stage, and to do that you have to be on top of the game.”

Witness the sound and the glory of Uriah Heep when they hit The Coach House on Apr 19!

The Ramshackle Delight Of Adult Books Hits Costa Mesa

ADULT BOOKS

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Fribourg

Adult Books wrap up their tour with Tracy Bryant, stopping at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa Mar. 29. Nick Winfrey (guitar/vocals) of Adult Books illuminates how this meeting of the minds occurred.

“I’ve been playing in Tracy’s band for like a year now. I play guitar in his band. And Dan (Quintanilla/Adult Books) is going to be playing bass, too. We’re just like good friends, and all of our band members hang out all the time, so it just made sense. Go on tour with your friend, help each other out.”

In fact, the band looks forward to touring, for both the on and off-stage antics which make it so enjoyable. Winfrey describes it like this: “We are getting ready to go on this tour to South By (SXSW). I’ve been thinking of our last national tour when we were at South By. I was actually telling this story – we floated the river between San Antonio and Austin. You rent innertubes and drink beer on the river and get sunburned. And then you get picked up and they take you back to the top of the river. That’s one of my favorite times on a tour. We ended up getting too drunk to play that night, but I like it.”

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Casandra Marquez

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Casandra Marquez

Getting their name from the band X, Adult Books has been rocking their unique brand of rock/punk styles all over SoCal for some time now (much like the band they get their namesake from.)

“It was one of my favorite songs; I liked the sound of it,” Winfrey said.

As a matter of fact, Adult Books has near-future plans for fans to look forward to.

“We just finished recording a new record with Jonny Bell (Crystal Antlers) at Jazzcats Studios in Long Beach,” Winfrey revealed. “And we are finalizing our release plans for that, but it will hopefully be out within the year. We are also gonna have a new single out soon, too.”

Playing live shows is a driving force of Adult Books. “It’s really fun to play to a packed room, and just like, feel like all the good energy coming from people,” Winfrey noted. “And like good energy coming from your friends that you’re playing with. That’s probably what it is, being able to share the kind of collective energy together.

“We are all from Orange County, our drummer Sina still lives in Orange County. But the rest of us now live in L.A.” according to Winfrey. “Myself, Dan, and Sina have been playing in different bands together since we were in high school. And we have been doing Adult Books since 2012. And then we have a group of friends that are all similar from different points that live in LA now and will sometimes play in the band, too. Everyone that plays with us we have been friends with forever.”

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Thomas Kanschat

ADULT BOOKS play The Wayfarer Mar. 29; photo Thomas Kanschat

When it comes to their music, Adult Books is known for their diverse songs and sounds. “Everyone kind of has their own thing,” Winfrey shared. “Our drummer Sina is really into hardcore, and definitely still in the punk world. Me, I listen to a lot of postpunk. And Dan is all over the place. I think we all bring our own influences to the band.

“My favorite song to play from the last record is “Casual Wrecks”. And then um…for a while we were covering The Cleaners from Venus song “Only A Shadow”. I really like doing that cover.”

Adult Books has no pre-show rituals, except for one. “Dan has a habit of getting sick before every show,” claimed Winfrey. “I don’t know if he has that problem anymore, but he used to get really nervous and throw up before shows. But other than that, we don’t have any rituals.”

The Frenetic Vibes Of Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

“TBS! TBS! TBS!” When you hear this, you know Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds is about to take the stage and it’s going to be a wild ride. With diverse sets combining elements of reggae, rock, punk, pop, and more, it is no wonder the high energy performances of TBS attracts so much attention.

“Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds actually started as, you know, a graph crew in Torrance, CA,” according to guitarist Matt McEwan. “Writing graph and skating and hanging out with the homies, and that’s how we met, is through mutual friends.

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Singer Moises (or Mo) Juarez elaborates further, “I used to b-boy a lot and breakdance while he (McEwan) was more of a graffiti artist, like skater and surfer, and we grew up in the same neighborhood. Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds was a graffiti crew that was known around the neighborhood; and as we started getting into thinking about band names, we thought about all these names.”

“We thought about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but that was already taken,” jests Juarez. “So, we couldn’t do that you know? And then we thought Metallica, but that was gone. So, then it was like what do we do next? We thought Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds was the next best thing,”

“We started in 2000-2001. But the band didn’t start trying to play shows until 2003. But we were just jamming in the garage, just doing shows in our local neighborhood,” details Juarez about their garage roots. “Our first show, you could say, was at a venue called the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach for $50 and opening for Too Rude.”

McEwan adds to this that, “Me and this guy (Mo) would be doing acoustic gigs all around town before really performing and writing songs. Playing at the Sacred Grounds, the old acoustic lounge spot in San Pedro.”

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Tomorrows Bad Seeds; photo Andy Garcia

Continuing to think about their journey as a band thus far, the topic of influences came up.

“All kinds. Guaranteed Sublime, Bad Brains, Long Beach Dub, Steel Pulse, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder… love Stevie Wonder. Michael Jackson. Bruno Mars recent stuff, Nirvana, grew up on Pennywise too,” both members chimed back and forth.

“Being able to play music, with this guy (Mo), my best friend is a privilege and a blessing,” explains McEwan.

Further illustrating the sentiment, Juarez goes on, “We’re lucky, man. We’ve been doing this a long time, there’s definitely rollercoasters up and down. But, you know, you take it back to why you do it for the love. We have a new song coming out, called “Yesterdays,” it’ll be out when our album drops in April/May, around that time. There’s a line in it that reminds me of how it all started; cuz it all started with our love of the music, wanting to be like Sublime. That’s why I wanted to be in a band, straight up. I wanted to be like Sublime. And I don’t know if it came across in our music, but everyday you look back and get to feel blessed to do what we do.

“The energy we get from the crowd. And that no matter what, our records sound good and have great production. But the energy you get from any band who is doing their thing can’t compare to the energy that is being produced out of your radio.

“I like playing a song called “Vices.” We have a new song called “Frequency”, as well. And I like playing that song now, too. I like playing a lot of our songs, and like playing cover songs too. We do “Master Blaster”, a Stevie Wonder cover.”

TBS has been around for over a decade, and as a result have gotten to work with many legends of the scene, including Ras MG (who helped produce an upcoming track of theirs called “War Letter”).

“We know people through Ras for years,” Juarez clarifies. “Our good friend Chuckie introduced us to all of them. We’ve been in the scene for a minute so Long Beach/Hermosa is very close. I got tattooed by Opie. So, we just hit up Ras like ‘yo man you interested?’ And he said I love you guys and would love to work with you. He’s just a genius and he’s down to work. I like good working people with good ethics, you know?”

Hard working, energetic, and diverse, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds is fired up and ready for the what the future holds. About to head out on the Illuminate Spring Tour, catch them when they next hit SoCal in early June.

The Whirlwind Excitement of Gogol Bordello Is Hitting SoCal

GOGOL BORDELLO

GOGOL BORDELLO play Observatory/Santa Ana Mar. 2, Observatory/North Park Mar. 3 and The Fonda Theatre Mar. 5; photo Daniel Efram

“Since I was a little baby, I thought I would like to have some kind of Gogol Bordel-lesk type of name; so when I grew up and became a big tall man, I said what could be better than a Gogol Bordel-lesk type of name than Gogol Bordello,” according to Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello.

“We were all winners of an American Idol competition. Except it was from different countries. Like Pedro is the winner of the Latino American Idol competition, Sergei is the winner of the Gypsy Russian American Idol competition. Then a producer put us together and told us all the lines… and here we come. Isn’t it obvious?”

GOGOL BORDELLO

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

Armed with a healthy dose of sarcasm, a nine-piece band, and their gypsy punk sound, Gogol Bordello is heading out on tour in support of their recent album Seekers and Finders. And it is impossible to tell what any given show may be like.

“There are no shows that are alike,” explains Hutz. “The people in the band are spontaneous and playful. The gist of it is the band itself, the organism of the band is an improvising type of entity. We have played shows during earthquakes in Japan, and all over the world in all kinds of settings. From jazz festivals to metal festivals.

GOGOL BORDELLO

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Daniel Efram

“The thing that makes a special show is seeing people’s eyes sparkling. That’s the show – the show is the eye of the audience. And I think the ratio of that in our case is pretty high. You know, there is a cliched saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul; but I think it’s pretty accurate I think. That never gets old.”

Known for their high energy shows for nearly twenty years, Hutz shed some light on how they have gone about this feat.

“There is a figure of speech: How do you capture energy?” mused Hutz “The important thing to understand is we do not capture the energy. We exude the energy. The engineers come and capture the energy. The band can exude energy at any given point in time.

“I like garlic. So like that goes for like everything else in my life. It has to have like that garlic frequency. And it has to remain quite spicy…. Which is why for this record I want to make sure all the spice is there.

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

GOGOL BORDELLO; photo Lauren Ratkowski

“My favorite songs to play are when I get drunk and do entire Jesus Christ Superstar by myself. And karaoke by myself. That’s my favorite songs. I do hip-hop style, mumble hip-hop, medieval-pyscho-mumble-billy.”

As for the pre-show rituals the band engages in, Hutz said they decided to use something he learned in his past.

“When I was in the theater I learned a useful tool. Before the show you get to spend time together for sure.‘Cause it’s eight people with diverse moods and backgrounds. So about an hour before the show we start hanging out and not giving each other personal space. And then we do this kind of cathartic group, I guess you call it pyscho-gypsy gymnastics type of a thing. And then off we go. But really, it’s not even necessary. Give me a microphone and I’m ready.”

Gogol Bordello has never been a static band, constantly mutating since their inception.

“It’s always been transforming,” illustrates Huntz. “It started out as a duo, me and an accordion player. It literally snowballed for three or four years to being an eight piece. In fact, I didn’t want it to be a rock band. I wanted it to be a chamber, Tom Waits kind of a thing. And then it got out of control and became this insane orchestra of transplanted souls. And it’s always been shapeshifting ever since.”

Experience the aural feast that is Gogol Bordello when they come to the Observatory / Santa Ana Mar. 2, the Observatory / North Park Mar. 3 or The Fonda Theatre Mar. 5.