NGHTMRE Before XMAS Ushers In Heavy Sounds Of The Future

NGHTMRE plays The Shrine Dec. 15; photo Koury Angelo

NGHTMRE plays The Shrine Dec. 15; photo Koury Angelo

Bass music is always in a constant state of flux, constantly evolving and absorbing influences from almost everything. NGHTMRE is no exception; the wide range of styles he has employed along with boundary pushing sound design have earned him the spotlight in electronic music.

“I grew up playing music,” explains Tyler Marenyi of NGHTMRE. “Yea, I mean I went to college in North Carolina and when I graduated, I moved to Los Angeles to write music; that’s what I was passionate about. And after about a year working on music in L.A., I felt finally ready.”

Currently headlining the NGHTMRE Before XMAS tour, Marenyi is excited as ever to be playing shows across the country.

“It’s that moment we have been working on to put all this music together and you get that one hour to share your music,” Marenyi noted. “And the fact that I get to go up there…you know, as much energy as I give out, it’ll get returned. And the harder I go, the more energy I have.

“When I first started, it was when house and electro were crushing it. I made some of that, and also grew up listening to a lot of punk and rock kind of stuff too. I’ve always kinda made a little bit of everything, and definitely still do that now.”

NGHTMRE’s most recent release with The Chainsmokers “Save Yourself” showcases that love of taking risks and twisting genres together.

“I’ve kinda known those guys for a really long time,” Marenyi said. “Not super well, but we’ve shared music for years and years before we got to do this. It was nice to be able to finally work on something.

“Me and Drew (Taggart) had always talked about doing a festival banger, which they traditionally don’t do. And I’ve done crazy dubstep tracks so yea we tried to make the track a little bit of both. And we both really enjoyed it. It’s been great cuz people on that level of fame and busyness in general would be harder to get ahold of or deal with, but everyone’s been really cool.”

Along with this collab, there is also one in the works between NGHTMRE and Big Gigantic as well.

“That’s another one that I feel I grew up watching and I really fell in love with their sound at a show a long time ago,” Marenyi recalled. “I’ve grown to their music and it’s the same kind of thing; we’ve been looking forward to working together for a while.

“There was one specific idea that I wrote… and felt there was some amazing horns and vibes and live instrument swag to like every track they do… you know, they kill it. Really excited for it, I feel it is a good mixture of our sounds. It’s really jammy but really hard too.”

And if that wasn’t enough, there is still the collab with NGHTMRE and ASAP Ferg slated to be released next year.

“The song’s all done, and we just filmed the music video for it last week in New York,” Marenyi revealed. “It’s all set to release early next year. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get ahold of him, but he is really into the music video and really likes the song. I’ve been playing the song at shows, and it’s always one of the best tracks…. so excited for it.

“For me, as a producer, I came more from a background of engineering and producing rather than DJ-ing first. So, I feel every time I work on a song with someone new, I learn something new about mixing, or a tip or a trick or technique that helps me a lot. Even if you’re working with someone who isn’t as experienced as you, there’s always something I end up learning. You know, something I would never have figured out on my own.

“It gives me the excuse to do weirder things too…like I wouldn’t be able to put out a jammy saxophone song myself but with Big Gigantic, it makes sense.”

Hear all the mind-melting sounds and genre-bending grooves NGHTMRE has to offer when the NGHTMRE Before XMAS tour hits the Shrine Dec. 15!

Drum and Bass Invades The OC

COSTA MESA SOUND CLASH Dec. 19 at The Wayfarer

COSTA MESA SOUND CLASH Dec. 19 at The Wayfarer

As the OC Drum and Bass scene only continues to grow, another show is coming Dec 19 at the Wayfarer. The Costa Mesa Soundclash features a diverse lineup of local DnB talent: Rankin, What??, Ron 2 3, McNutt, and 2Much on the turntables with support from MC’s New Gent, Onemic, Slim, Werd, and Woes.

“That’s what all those old Reggae and Dub shows were, all those dancehall shows,” explains Ron 2 3 of the show’s name. “All those turntable and huge speakers…People would just come up and put on whatever the newest things were. You know, the MC and whole dancehall vibe of drum and bass originates from this or was inspired by it at least. They would use the term ‘soundclash’ cuz it was like a clash, a battle of sounds.”

The night is sure to be full of surprises for newcomers and old school fans alike. “I try my best to try and take the listener on a journey throughout drum and bass,” says McNutt. “I love the highs and lows that drum and bass can offer. I try and give the listener a rollercoaster type experience.

“There’s really so much to love about it but my favorite thing is the energy you get from a good blend/double. DnB gives you the freedom to create something new by combining two songs. Every now and then a good double can make you feel like you just drank a cup of coffee!”

Drum and bass has been thriving in Orange County for some time now. Shows such as this do occur on a regular basis; a major reason for that is due to the support provided by the organization Upgrade DNB, who has remained steadfast in delivering this music to our local area for many years now. There is also a revival of interest in the genre taking place.

“I’m excited to come out of a long DnB hibernation!” declares Rankin, who has been a DJ for over a decade now.

Each DJ and MC on this bill brings their own unique flow to the table and intertwine those styles together to create a vibe that can’t be experienced anywhere else. The desire for this particular lineup has been percolating for a long time amongst the DJ’s as well. It’s this kind of heart and passion, along with the endless stylistic variations of the music that attracts so many to this form of electronic music.

Get it on the fun and excitement when it hits The Wayfarer Wednesday the 19th!

BBB And CAMP TRIP Pave The Way Forward

photo: Regal D

photo: Regal D

“Big Booty Bass (BBB) has always been a unique bass music movement, and now with the record label side of things we strive to push the limits of quality music, from experimental to straight ‘for the dance floor’ music,” states BBB co-founder Rene Moreno of Kronology/Wires.

Established in 2010 with a well-known reputation for throwing some of the best parties around, BBB did just that with their BBB X CAMP TRIP take over event. Along with BBB, CAMP TRIP is a bass music events group who have established themselves through their yearly camp trip event, as well as a unique approach to curating artist lineups.

photo: Regal D

photo: Regal D

“Our attitudes towards music reflects other aspects of our lives,” describes CAMP TRIP co-founder Devan Mardyks. “It’s an insight into how we view our personal worlds. In today’s echo chamber of tribalism, music suffers from the same downfall as politics. We try to bring different musical styles when we come out and play. That’s what BBB and CAMP TRIP are all about. We want to unite the tribes.”

Upon arriving at the event, my ears were instantly filled with the deep sub bass and fragmented sounds pouring from the speakers. Everything was well balanced despite the challenges of the environment, and from the get-go people were dancing like there was no tomorrow. There were two rooms: an outside room filled with the bpm’s of house, breaks, and techno while the beats of Drum and Bass were housed inside.

show flyer

show flyer

Opening the night in the inside room was Reft; using a choice selection of heavy driving tunes, he whipped the dancefloor into a frenzy. In the outside room, Zelduh delivered steady pounding basslines that got people pulsating instantaneously. Following Zelduh came the deep breaks of Chrome Mami. Her builds climbed slowly and methodically, releasing the peaks with deep drops that had a serious thrill factor. Bouncing back inside, I was greeted by the debut set of Wires. A BBB collab between Kronology and Famburglar, the experimental sound explorations coupled with subterranean beat warping’s riled up the crowd and kickstarted the vibe of the party into high gear.

Midnight hit, and Keekz was on deck. Delivering addictive dancefloor beats that morphed into soulful soundscapes, it became obvious the party had hit its stride. A feeling came over me that everyone was united by the music and anything had become possible. Trekking back outside, I arrived just in time to catch Hardknocker dominating the dance floor. The throbbing bass of the beats was the sound of pure fun, with nearly every head and/or body grooving along.

photo: Regal D

photo: Regal D

There was no time to rest as Shleebs took over and started his set with C.R.E.A.M. by the Wu Tang Clan (in honor of the anniversary of the album it hails from). A sure sign we were in store for some eclectic selections, I soon found myself in a sort of “dance trance,” with one single thought roaming through my head: “This vibe I could dance for days to.” Ripping myself out of the trance however, it was time to race inside to catch the rolling basslines of DIP Vertigo. The audience was getting more and more wild as his set continued, with massive cheers as he dropped tracks with sheer precision.

L.A. legend R.A.W./6Blocc continued fueling the energy; demonstrating his prowess in laying down the jungle stylings which make him a crowd favorite, he also sneaked in plenty of surprises for even longtime fans. Continuing the pinball game, I jetted outside for the finely crafted beats of Origin. Expect the unexpected defined this set. There was a moment of pure magic when Origin found a hypnotic angular rhythm that perfectly suited the vocal stylings of Pookie P and MC Dell. As Origin’s set ended, Ekin swooped in with his stylings. Evoking a grimy dubby feel at one point in his set, it was the perfect reminder this party was still in full swing.

Amazed by the true diversity of talent present, it begs the question how did this event happen in the first place?

photo: Regal D

photo: Regal D

“In regard to us working with CAMP TRIP on the takeover, they’ve always supported our artists and team with their events; and we felt the timing was finally right to give back and do the same for them,” explains BBB co-founder Gabriel Barrere, better known to most as Gabriel Habit. “We love what Keekz and the gang have built, and their ethos is very similar to our own,” “Keekz helped choose a few key performers from their team, and we booked the rest of the lineup with the overall flow of the night in mind.”

Back inside, APX1 came hard and heavy. The dancefloor was a sea of pulsing bodies, moving in unison to the growling vibrations and crackling energy pouring from this seminal DJ. After this heated set came the twisting sounds of Johnny V. His uncanny ability for flowing from staggered halftime beats into heavy rollers created explosions in the body and mind, inspiring a new wave of ecstatic dancing. Yet again moving outdoors, Emotional Noise brought their tech house swagger replete with deep melodic grooves.

Mark Lizaola closed out the outside room. Delivering steady hypnotic vibrations of techno for all to enjoy, the patrons kept the momentum even after the music stopped. Meanwhile, Junglist Platoon legend Arkho used classic jungle breaks to satisfy the lust for dance everyone still had inside. Those remaining even got a surprise: a short mix from Gabriel Habit, who threw down heavy hitting tracks for all those not ready for the party to end.

An epic night featuring a diverse cast of DJs. It possessed all the elements of a massive warehouse party while bringing the inclusive communal vibe of an outdoor rave to the mix. Parties such as these are rare, and there was a sensation of something unique occurring.

“For the past decade of my life in Los Angeles, I’ve gone to a lot of great events, lots of big acts, UK headliners, etc.…and those shows were awesome,” notes CAMP TRIP co-founder Keekz. “But last night, we had a full lineup of nothing but local talent, and we were able to pack the venue from start to finish.

“There’s something special happening right now in Los Angeles…crews are coming together, walls are being knocked down, and gaps are getting bridges. It won’t be long until our community creates a launchpad, to propel our local artists into global recognition, and finally bring our scene to a respectable level, on par with our reflections across the pond.”

The Mowgli’s Come Home!

THE MOWGLI'S; press photo

THE MOWGLI’S; press photo

The Mowgli’s stormed The Constellation Room last Sunday, playing to a sold-out crowd, along with support from some of their local friends. A devoted audience was there from start to finish, with plenty of band and audience interactions peppering each band’s set.

First up was The North Morlan group, a laid-back indie band hailing from the city of Orange. Led by the younger brother of Mowgli singer/guitarist Colin Dieden, their songs about love got the crowd rocking and singing along in no time at all.

Elijah Noll took the stage next with his unique brand of soul-tinged alt pop. He was full of nervous energy, it being his first tour and all, and launched into one song after another. Despite admitting the drummer and him had just started playing together, they were a tight duo who demonstrated their ability to communicate through the music. The new track “Poison” got plenty of cheers from the crowd who seemed to already know the lyrics to it.

After this came the infectious sounds of Arms Akimbo. Playing a high energy set full of the catchy melodies people love them for, the audience danced faster with this new pace. And they in turn seemed to get a kind of fuel from this enthusiasm. The group never let up either, perfectly setting the stage for the band that was to follow.

At last, The Mowgli’s stepped up to the plate. The crowd went wild with glee as they launched into their first song, “Bad Dream.” At times, it was impossible to tell who was singing the song; the band, the audience, or both! On tour in support of their new EP I Was Starting To Wonder, their set was comprised of fresh new tunes sprinkled with favorites from their past albums.

THE MOWGLI'S; photo Cortney Armitage

THE MOWGLI’S; photo Cortney Armitage

The inclusive nature of The Mowgli’s music was on full display, as the vibe in the room was as if this was one giant band rather than one performing in front of an audience. The group was even relaxed enough to tell a joke, told by singer Katie Earl, “A peanut was walking down the road and it was assaulted.” While making fun of themselves for such a bad joke, everyone loved it none the less.

Their new song “Real Good Life” received just as warm of a reaction as their more well-known songs as well. When they played “Say It, Just Say It”, the audience exploded into jumping fits while still managing to sing every word along with the band.

Overall, it was a fantastic show showcasing the optimism of the local scene, which The Mowgli’s have been a large influence on. Make sure to scoop up their new release, I Was Starting To Wonder, as well as the music from these up and coming bands.

Jinjer Brings The Melody And The Fury To SoCal

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

JINJER play Whisky A Go Go Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick Nov. 18; press photo

“Well, it (Jinjer) doesn’t mean anything at all,” according to bassist Eugene Kostyuk. “It has no connection with ginger, like hair color or….

“It is another fact that now there is no founding member in the band. And honestly, none of us know how the band was made. I am absolutely sure that it was named Jinjer because people liked the word; maybe they had no idea what it means or care. Just Jinjer, and that’s it.”

Such is the enigma of this Ukrainian band and they are an enigma in all the right ways. The current lineup – in addition to Kostyuk, is comprised of guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov, Vladislav Ulasevish on drums, and vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk – has developed an evolving sound based in progressive death metal, yet absorbing broad influences ranging from jazz to Nu metal. Jinjer has been making waves around the world due to their unique mixture of these sounds.

“Each of us has absolutely, well not quite absolutely, but quite different musical tastes,” Kostyuk explains. “Me personally, I’ve always, well for a really long time, been into progressive metal. Death metal, such as bands like Daath, and the European progressive scene, like Opeth and Gojira. And these bands influenced me a lot along with some Nu Metal bands, especially Mudvayne who is one of my most favorite bands ever.

“Roman, his musical roots come from thrash metal bands like Metallica and Slayer. And later he got into Nu Metal bands like Slipknot. And Vlad, he is a big fan of the death core scene.

“Tatiana, on the other hand, is on the opposite side. Recently she has been getting out of metal, and one of the only metal bands she still listens to is Gojira. But she has been more about jazz, soul, and rhythm and blues. She is a big fan of Amy Winehouse, loves Pink a lot, and No Doubt. Music like that. I could talk about this endlessly. There are so many bands we listen to, got inspired by, and probably borrowed elements from.”

In this way, the musicians in Jinjer share a commonality of interests yet celebrate their differences, deftly illustrated in their music and live shows. But what does this sound like exactly?

“Describing music with words is difficult,” Kostyuk admitted. “Imagine Opus meets Lamb of God. And this mixture describes us more or less okay… is an okay description of a Jinjer live show. On one hand it’s hardcore and heavy; yet on the other, we have a lot of light and easy moments, some kind of jazzy and funky elements – which let people relax and rest between these hardcore blast beats.”

Kostyuk further elaborates, “A good show is a combination of factors. It starts from how I feel physically and mentally, going into the venue and how big it is, how good the sound is, how active the crowd is, and the combination of all of these is what makes a good show. This is how I see it.”

Every band will tell you that different songs sound better live, while others suit the studio environment better.

“I can’t pick any I prefer but there are a couple that I think sound better live than on the record, ‘I Speak Astronomy’ and ‘Pisces’,” Kostyuk conveys.

“And now on this tour with Devildriver, we are playing unreleased songs from the new EP. And I have to say, I really enjoy playing them live. It’s just absolutely incredible. We haven’t had new material in a long time and finally we came up with some stuff, and it is just mind blowing.”

Now on their second tour in America with Devildriver and Raven Black, Jinjer is excited to be on tour, as well as having an opportunity to test out the forthcoming songs on their soon to be released EP.

“We just released the first single, it’s called ‘Ape’,” Kostyuk revealed. “It’s been out online for one week. The EP, if I’m not mistaken, will be out in November. It’s gonna be five tracks of new songs.

“I would love to see all of our American fans on this tour, especially since we are playing the new songs and really look forward to their reactions, cuz no one has listened to them before.”

Catch Jinjer in all their mysterious glory, and get some brand-new aural treats, when they play the Whisky in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 and Brick By Brick in San Diego Nov. 18.

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 (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…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.