Los Lonely Boys Playing It New Again

LOS LONELY BOYS

LOS LONELY BOYS play The Coach House May 25, Belly Up May 26, Greek Theatre May 27; press photo

Grammy Award-winning rockers Los Lonely Boys will play The Coach House May 25, Belly Up May 26 and The Greek Theatre May 27. The close-knit trio of brothers, Henry Garza (lead vocals / guitar), Jojo Garza (bass) and Ringo Garza (drums), released their breakthrough single “Heaven” in 2004, which went onto become a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Charts.

“We play anywhere from dive bars and pubs to the greatest stages of today,” Jojo said. “If it’s a small place that won’t let us rock, then we play acoustic. If it’s a small place that wants us to rock then we plug in. We’ve always been versatile and will remain to be so. We won’t solidify ourselves to being only one thing musically.”

On the road, Los Lonely Boys remain one of the more prolific touring rock bands, famously performing nearly 200 shows in front of over 350,000 fans during their 2009-10 tour. Despite the repetitive nature of an exhausting tour schedule, the band finds it quite easy to remain motivated for every live show.

“The idea that each night makes every performance and song new again is how we keep the spark,” Jojo said. “When playing songs like ‘Heaven’ we find that the new ears listening and the new eyes watching are what really make the songs feel new.”

While the band prides itself in its original songs, the trio has also recorded several popular covers of classic rock hits like Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” and John Lennon’s “Whatever Gets You Through The Night.”

“They’ve all been fun,” Jojo said. “Some were challenges because we didn’t grow up listening to them, but for the most part man we can play anything. I mean anything.

“We love writing and creating, but nothing beats paying homage to the greats before us–especially if the tunes rock.”

The brothers experienced a particularly frightening moment several years ago when frontman Henry was hospitalized after taking a fall off stage. The band was ultimately forced to cancel 43 shows due to the seriousness of the injuries Henry sustained.

According to Jojo, two things have remained the same through both critical success and personal tragedy — faith and family.

“The truth is for us no one has your back like your brother or family,” Jojo said. “Respect and appreciation for one another is what keeps us above the rest. Don’t get me wrong, we disagree with each other sometimes, but most of the time we are all on the same page. God first, family second, business and everything else fall in line after that.”

The Griswolds Impress SoCal With Three

THE GRISWOLDS

THE GRISWOLDS play Observatory North Park May 7, Fonda May 10, Observatory Santa Ana May 11; photo Andy Garcia

Australian Indie-rockers The Griswolds return to SoCal for shows at The Observatory North Park May 7, The Observatory Santa Ana May 11 and make a stop at The Fonda in between on May 10. Magic Man will co-headline.

Their debut album Be Impressive, released in August 2014, featured a cocktail of 80’s-inspired synth-pop with crisp guitar lines, catchy choruses and Christopher Whitehall’s soft falsetto vocals.

Concert Guide Live spoke with Whitehall to discuss touring, their active social media presence and the importance of avoiding the sophomore slump.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You guys have risen relatively fast in the music world, from performing at a bar in Sydney as your first gig a few years ago, to headlining your own tour across the U.S. Despite the rapid success, was there ever a low point during your band’s journey?
CHRISTOPHER WHITEHALL: There have been plenty of highs and lows I’d say, but the whole experience has been pretty positive so far. No complaints at all.

CGL: How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together in 2012?
CW: We’ve really started listening to everything and made sure we don’t have any rules when it comes to writing. We just want to write what feels good.

CGL: What is your favorite song to perform live? Why?
CW: “Beware the Dog” always goes down well. The crowd all sings along and it’s always a shit ton of fun.

CGL: What are the most notable differences between an American and Australian crowd at one of your concerts?
CW: To be honest, not a whole lot.

CGL: You guys have a very active social media presence (Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook). How important is it to be able to interact with your fans?
CW: We love it. It’s cool to be able to have a direct line to the fans and interact together.

CGL: Are there any current artists you’d like to collaborate with?
CW: Yeah we’d love to do some writing with Walk The Moon in the near future.

CGL: Your song “16 Years” is featured on the FIFA 15 soundtrack. Have you had the chance to play the game and hear your song?
CW: Yeah for sure. It’s a total spin out and one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to us. We’re all big fans of the game.

CGL: Is there a particular venue or city in the United States that you would still like to play at?
CW: Miami and Hawaii would be awesome.

CGL: The second album for a lot of bands is a letdown, especially after a strong debut album. A few months ago you guys confirmed that once you return to Australia at the end of the tour, you will begin work on the second album. How do you avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?
CW: I think you try and ignore what people expect of you and just have fun with it. You write songs you love which is what we did with album one and that’s what we’ll do again.

Paul Stanley’s Passion Project Has Soul

PAUL STANLEY'S SOUL STATION

PAUL STANLEY’S SOUL STATION plays The Coach House Feb. 26

Following a private show last summer, Paul Stanley’s R&B cover band Soul Station figured it was only a matter of time before they expanded their audience.

“We all looked at each other and wondered when we were going to do it publicly. It’s not just because we want people to hear it, but because we love doing it,” Stanley said. “To be able to faithfully reproduce and recreate those songs is not a science project–it’s a passion project. There’s nothing sterile about it.”

Just a few months later, the 13-piece band found itself doing just that, performing classics like “My Girl,” “O-o-h Child,” and “Let’s Stay Together” onstage at The Roxy in Hollywood. Despite receiving positive reviews, Soul Station haven’t had another show since–until now.

If the first show was any indication of what’s to come, then it seems likely that there won’t be issues with any overzealous fans from Stanley’s other band. For the longtime KISS frontman, it’s a matter of being honest, and somewhat blunt, about what to expect at a Soul Station concert.

“I made sure well in advance that people understood I wouldn’t be playing guitar and that if you were expecting to hear ‘Love Gun’ then you went to the wrong venue,” Stanley said. “Everybody knew what they were going to come and see. It was up to them to decide whether or not they wanted to.”

In other words, don’t expect a modern makeover of soul music’s most memorable hits. There’s no guitar solo added to “Get Ready” by The Temptations or an electronic beat added to The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” And for Stanley, it’s the only way to do it.

“We don’t believe in rearranging these songs or adding too much that veers away from what it is. I’m always terribly disappointed when I hear songs that aren’t done as I know them,” Stanley said. “We try to keep the songs a cohesive set and not be all over the map. Since I’m very secure in my place in the band, I’m happy to turn the spotlight over to our other singers as well which only makes the show that much better.”

Gracing the stage alongside Stanley are a number of different top flight musicians, each of whom bring an extensive musical pedigree to the band. One of the group’s keyboard players, Alex Alessandroni, served as Whitney Houston’s musical director while Sean Hurley, the band’s bassist, has toured with artists such as John Mayer and Ringo Starr.

Surprisingly, forming the band proved to be a rather simple task. It only took a few phone calls.

“Everybody I called said, ‘yes’,” Stanley joked. “It was a very short process. I just called the best people I could think of and everybody said, ‘I’m in.'”

Although the formation of the band took place a little more than a year ago, in many ways, Soul Station can trace its roots even further back–to a young working class Jewish kid from Queens.

Despite suffering from a deformity in his right ear, which left him struggling to hear on that side, Stanley relished in the music of artists across all genres.

“I was not somebody who wanted to be fed one kind of music anymore than I wanted to be given one kind of food. There’s two kinds of music to me–good and bad,” Stanley said. “I love rock music and choose to sing it, but on the other hand, I’ve also starred in Phantom of the Opera and here I am doing Soul Station. There’s just so much great music to be made and I’m too passionate to wear just one hat.”

Soul Station will play three consecutive shows in the SoCal region beginning at The Coach House Feb. 26.

Dwight Yoakam Brings Country Back To The OC

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DWIGHT YOAKAM plays Grove of Anaheim Jan. 24 photo: Emily Joyce

As you peruse through Dwight Yoakam’s endless list of accomplishments, you are bound to ask yourself “what hasn’t he done?”

In addition to recording more than twenty-one albums and compilations, Yoakam has charted dozens of singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and sold over 25 million records. He has two Grammy Awards on his resume as well as 15 nominations.

If you aren’t a fan of his music, you’ll at least recognize him from his numerous film and television roles, most notably as the quick-tempered, abusive Doyle Hargraves in “Sling Blade.” He even has his own brand of frozen foods called Bakersfield Biscuits.

But in the meantime, Yoakam has a few gigs to play.

Beginning Jan. 20, Yoakam will kick-off on a nearly six-month long cross-country tour that will bring him to the Grove in Anaheim just a few days later on Sunday, Jan. 24.

Yoakam’s most recent album, Second Hand Heart, became his highest-charting album since Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room in 1988. Featuring his trademark vocal twang and brilliant guitar playing, Second Hand Heart provides fans with a concoction of different musical elements, including the use of electric guitar and even a bit of rockabilly sound.

However, the distinctive sound appreciated by fans across America today was initially met with a bit of skepticism.

After his brand of honky-tonk music was deemed non-marketable in Nashville, Yoakam made the move to Los Angeles where he went the alternative route to promoting his music by playing rock and punk rock clubs throughout the city. Performing with both roots rock and punk rock acts, such as Los Lobos and The Blasters, Yoakam’s music was exposed to a diverse audience not typically prone to tapping their foot along to nasally vocals sung by a singer-songwriter from middle America.

When Yoakam’s first single “Honky Tonk Man” was released in 1986 off his debut LP Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. he achieved national recognition and he soon became a household name. His next two albums achieved equal success, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Country Album chart.

In addition to writing a number of original hits, Yoakam has also released covers of dozens of songs from legendary artists such as The Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, The Beatles and The Clash.

If Yoakam’s schedule over the next six months is any indication, the country music pioneer certainly shows no signs of slowing down.

NOBUNNY No Rules

nobunny

NOBUNNY play The Constellation Room Jan. 12: James Christopher

NOBUNNY (Justin Champlin) will bring his wild garage-rock sound and, of course, the trademark bunny mask, to The Constellation Room Jan. 12.

Although NOBUNNY began performing in 2001, he didn’t release an official album for nearly seven years. His debut album, Love Visions, featured handclaps, toilet-bowl guitars, whisky bottles of urine used as maracas, and broken pianos.

In addition to his distinct bunny mask, NOBUNNY is also known to don nothing more than a pair of leather panties during his live shows.

Concert Guide Live caught up with NOBUNNY to discuss what attracts him to the idea of releasing music on a cassette tape, the craziest thing that ever happened at one of his shows and his dream venue to play.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: You were one of the first bands to agree to release music through Burger Records in Fullerton. Why did you take this leap of faith with what was a brand new and unknown label/record store?
NOBUNNY: I was a huge fan of their old band, Thee Makeout Party. They were my favorite band for a while there. We became friends on the road and still remain friends today.

CGL: What attracts you to the idea of releasing music on a cassette tape?
NB: I always recorded on tapes, had old shitty cars with tape decks in them and before that I purchased music on cassette for most of my formative years as a youth. Plus, cassettes have always been around underground music and touring bands. The only difference I really noticed, was Burger’s tapes looked really pro, as opposed to dubbed one at a time with Xerox covers… not that there’s anything wrong with that.

CGL: Your live performances are quite unique. In your own words, how would you describe a typical NOBUNNY concert?
NB: Good times. Great Oldies!

CGL: What has been the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd during one of your concerts?
NB: Someone once tried to burn the venue and audience down in France by squirting lighter fluid all over everyone and throwing matches around.

CGL: You’ve played at The Observatory several times before. What is your favorite aspect about performing at the venue?
NB: The money.

CGL: What is your dream venue to play at?
NB: The Apollo Theater.

CGL: Your tour schedule over the next two months is absolutely insane with a show nearly every day in more than a dozen different states. How do you bring the same level of energy and passion to a show every night without just going through the motions?
NB: My upcoming schedule is pretty tame to a hardcore road dog like myself. Every performance is unique. NOBUNNY. No rules.

CGL: How do you feel about being compared to other punk rockers like the Ramones or The Quick? Do you find the comparisons to be lazy or flattering?
NB: S’cool. Whatever.

Summer’s Gone But Odesza Heat Up SoCal With Four

ODESZA

ODESZA play the Shrine Auditorium Dec. 12-14 and The Observatory Dec. 29; photo Tonje Thilesen

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since Seattle natives Harrison Mills (CatacombKid) and Clayton Knight (BeachesBeaches), better known as the electronic music duo Odesza, released their breakthrough debut album Summer’s Gone.

Although Mills and Knight originally met during their freshman year at Western Washington University, the two didn’t begin recording together until their senior year in 2012. As a child, Knight was classically trained in piano before picking up the guitar as a teen. The dreamy, melodic sound featured on Summer’s Gone immediately gained buzz online and by the time their debut EP, My Friends Never Die, was released the following year, Odesza had hit 1 million Soundcloud plays.

While Odesza is the Hungarian spelling for the city of Odessa, Ukraine, the band actually took the name from Mills’ uncle’s old sailboat. Mills says he chose his DJ nickname after an Aesop Rock song of the same name while Knight claims his DJ handle came to him one day while he was high on marijuana. As one of the more active electronic music duos on tour, Odesza have performed their hits like “How Did I Get Here”, “Memories That You Call” and “Lights” at festivals such as Coachella, SXSW, Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and Bonnaroo.

When Odesza returned with their second studio album2014’s In Return, they garnered even better reviews than they did for Summer’s Gone. Described by critics as having a tighter, cleaner sound than their previous releases, the duo developed a new live performance to accompany In Return. Time Magazine in particular applauded the work for its unified sound “built on Odesza’s multi-layered melodies, spaced-out beats and cinematic charm.” The album’s use of many guest artists such as up-and-coming vocalists Zyra and Jenni Pots was also widely praised.

Odesza’s music has since been licensed by Adidas, Target, GoPro and Royal Caribbean. Recently, Odesza also released a free app which offers exclusive videos, photos, live streams, merchandise, ticket presale offers as well as all of their music.

Odesza will play three sold-out shows at The Shrine Auditorium Dec. 12-14, followed by a performance at The Observatory Dec. 29.

Cane Hill Brings New Orleans Metal To SoCal

CANE HILL

CANE HILL plays Whisky a Go Go Dec. 16 and Chain Reaction Dec. 18 photo: Emily Bobrowicz

New Orleans heavy metal rockers Cane Hill will perform at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood on Dec. 16 and Chain Reaction in Anaheim on Dec. 18.

Named after an abandoned asylum in the United Kingdom, Cane Hill has steadily gained buzz for their aggressive metal riffs and Elijah Witt’s ferocious vocals.

Prior to releasing their self-titled EP in October, the band supported Blessthefall on the “To Those Left Behind Tour”.

Cane Hill is comprised of Witt, Bemo Barnett (guitar), James Barnett (guitar), Ryan Henriquez (bass) and Devin Clark (drums).

Concert Guide Live caught up with Witt to discuss the music scene in their hometown, recording their first EP and the benefits of being signed to a record label.

CONCERT GUIDE LIVE: How did all five of you originally meet? Were you childhood friends or did you meet later in life?
ELIJAH WITT: We all met through playing music in Louisiana. We picked each other out of other bands to form this one.

CGL: You guys are based out of New Orleans. How would you describe the rock scene in your hometown?
EW: The music scene in general down there has taken a pretty big shift towards EDM and Hip Hop. There’s still solid metal and rock shows, but the amount of venues (especially all ages) is disappearing more every year.

CGL: What would you say makes Cane Hill different from other metal bands?
EW: We aren’t regurgitating the same played out shit. We don’t go into the studio, or on stage for that matter, ever wanting to be “like” somebody else. Our goal is to make metal real again.

CGL: In October 2014, the band was signed by Rise Records. How beneficial has it been being signed to a record label?
EW: We’ve gotten opportunities we never would have been able to get on our own. Being independent in the metal or rock world isn’t as easy as it is in hip hop or pop.

CGL: What was the experience like of recording your first EP?
EW: Incredibly grueling. Over all we spent about a year writing and scrapping songs and then we recorded an entire full length just to scrap it into an EP. To us, we can always do better. We can always improve.

CGL: One aspect of being a front man for a band that I feel often gets overlooked, especially with metal bands, is the preparation that is attached with every show. Do you follow any specific routine or set of vocal exercises when you know you have a show coming up?
EW: Yeah I mean I do about 20-30 minutes of vocal warmups and I have honeys and coconut oils for my throat. I’ve torn my throat up before so making sure it’s taken care of is a must.

CGL: Have you ever received formal vocal training or has everything vocally been primarily self taught?
EW: It’s all be self taught or learned from other vocalists on the road with more experience. You get a certain personal ritual after picking up so many home remedies.

CGL: Can you recall where the band’s first show was and how it went?
EW: Our first show was the first show of the Up Close and Personal Tour with The Acacia Strain last October. It went about as well as a first show could go…

CGL: How have your live shows changed since that first show?
EW: We mesh better. We understand each other on stage more and we play better in general. We’ve all progressed our personal skill levels since that first show and it’s noticeable.

Allie X Sweetens Troubadour

ALLIE X

ALLIE X plays the Troubadour Dec. 9 photo: Logan White

When Katy Perry tweeted her love for a new song called “Catch” in February 2014, Allie X was a relatively unknown artist.

Having moved from her native country of Canada to Los Angeles less than a year before the shout out from the multi-Grammy Award-winning artist, Allie X (Alexandra Hughes) has steadily collected a following of loyal fans. “Catch” would ultimately reach No. 55 on the Canadian Billboard Hot 100 Chart.

Before becoming “Allie X” several years ago, Hughes studied classical piano and voice at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan before graduating from Sheridan College. She started creating music in her hometown of Toronto following college, releasing a few self-released albums as well as performing in a few local indie bands. After dabbling in acting, appearing in a number of different prominent theater productions in Canada, she made the move to SoCal to focus on music.

Her first EP CollXtion I, was released in 2015, featuring seven songs all either written or co-written by Allie X. The EP received positive reviews from major publications such as Time Magazine, who described the song, “Prime” as “an injection of sparkly synth-pop that’s so catchy it reminds you of why pop songs are called infectious in the first place.” Logan White of Billboard magazine said the EP was “an expertly crafted, remarkably vulnerable synth-pop showcase.”

Allie X’s live shows, most notably her soaring operatic soprano vocals, have also been widely praised by critics. One critic noted that the “full throttle vocals were the main attraction- a show of force that revealed something powerful behind those pink-framed shades.” Throughout her live sets, Allie X dons a pair of sunglasses, rarely removing them with the exception of the introspective ballad “Good.”

Allie X will play the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Dec. 9.

Smalldogs Bring Special Force To Smallpools Stage

smallpools

SMALLPOOLS play The Observatory Nov. 4 and the Fonda Theatre Nov. 5 photo: Andy Ortega

It has been more than two years since indie rockers Smallpools made their live debut at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl on July 13, 2013.

Well, sort of.

Under the guise of several different pseudonyms ranging from “Met The President,” “Pop The Culture” and “Buffalo Cauliflower”, the band quietly prepared for the first show in rundown venues across LA during the weeks leading up to their gig in Brooklyn.

“We came out of the gate so fast that we had to play catch up when it came to the live game,” said frontman Sean Scanlon. “It was mostly our friends watching us which made it a little awkward and hard to gauge what our shows would actually be like but, it definitely helped. I couldn’t imagine just going right into the first show.”

To say that Smallpools rise to fame was quick would be an understatement. Within a year of the formation of the band and before they had even played a live set, their breakthrough debut single “Dreaming” was released online. The energetic synth-pop track quickly rose to No.1 on Hype Machine and No. 23 on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart. With the help of Captain Cuts, a multi-platinum selling songwriting and production team, Smallpools released an EP that same year and their first full-length album last March.

The band has since grown accustomed to playing at some of the biggest and best music festivals across the country such as Lollapalooza, SXSW and Rock in Rio USA. Regularly gracing the stage alongside the group are two plastic greyhound dogs, which the band have appropriately dubbed “Smalldogs.” Scanlon originally won the dogs during a game of Hip Hop Bingo at a bar in LA. The pair of statues have since been upgraded to steel versions for their latest tour.

“Every place we walked into with them we would draw a bunch of people who came up to us asking their names,” Scanlon said. “They had this special force so we thought ‘let’s bring them on stage.'”

Despite having played SoCal extensively over the past few years, including both The Observatory and The Fonda Theatre, both venues remain personal favorites for Scanlon.

“We’ve opened so many different shows in this area that the LA shows are all such a blur but I love both venues, especially The Observatory,” Scanlon said.”Their green room is awesome and they have a basketball court in the back. The whole place has this kind of fun family vibe.”

Having been more than two years since their string of incognito shows, Scanlon acknowledged the considerable transformation Smallpools has undergone on stage.

“I feel like during that first show I was a little more reserved,” Scanlon said. “We definitely needed to be more fluid and comfortable. We were lucky enough to serve as openers for some great bands in our genre doing really professional, dialed in shows.

“It made us realize right away that we needed to make our own unique show. Now it feels like were finally doing that.”
Smallpools play The Observatory Nov. 4 and The Fonda Theatre Nov. 5.

Nervous No More Mayday Parade Headline Alternative Press Tour

mayday parade

MAYDAY PARADE play HOB/Anaheim Nov. 12 and SOMA Nov. 13

While it’s been a decade since the formation of Mayday Parade, lead vocalist Derek Sanders still struggles with one important question before every show.

Shoes or no shoes?

As the front man of the veteran pop-rock band from Tallahassee, Florida, Sanders would play every show barefoot if his body allowed for it.

“I hate bringing shoes on tour but I also feel goofy wearing flip flops on stage so I try to go barefoot as much as I can. Recently, I started getting pretty bad shin splints from playing long shows and jumping around. It really depends on how my legs are doing,” said Sanders, who turned 29 earlier this year. “I’m getting a little old I guess.”

The band, comprised of Sanders (lead vocalist), Alex Garcia (lead guitar), Jeremy Lenzo (bass), Brooks Betts (rhythm guitar) and Jake Bundrick (drums), is currently in the midst of headlining the annual Alternative Press Tour with Real Friends, This Wild Life and As It Is.

A staple of Warped Tour, Mayday Parade has garnered a reputation as one of the most prolific touring bands across all genres. After a brutal tour schedule in 2010, Songkick named them as the hardest-working band of that year, with 194 shows and more than 74,000 miles logged. Megastars like Willie Nelson and Lady Gaga ranked No.7 and No. 8 that year.

“I used to be a lot more nervous before each show, especially about what I was going to do on stage,” Sanders said. “I was always second guessing myself. We’re at the point where playing these shows has become second nature. It’s so ingrained in us that it allows a lot more freedom to just have fun and not think so much.”

Since their debut EP in 2006, Mayday Parade have released five studio albums, including their most recent effort Black Lines. A noticeable departure from previous albums, Black Lines features a more aggressive, raw sound than the trademark sing-along anthems and moody ballads that propelled Mayday Parade to massive success. Eager to break away from the formula they were following for years, the band decided to bring in well-known producer Mike Sapone, whose previous work includes Taking Back Sunday and Brand New.

“He was on the same page as us with regard to what we wanted to do on this album,” Sanders said. “It’s always a risky thing to go with someone you haven’t worked with before but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I thought it turned out incredible.”

While Sanders admitted the group grew bored with the blueprint they were following inside the studio, onstage the excitement remains the same.

“Luckily for us the one thing that never gets old or tedious is touring,” Sanders said. “I genuinely have so much fun every night on stage. It’s my favorite part of doing what we do. Even some of the older songs we’ve played over a thousand times are ones I love playing. We’re still able to have a good time with it all and hopefully that translates with the audience.”

Mayday Parade will play at House of Blues in Anaheim Nov. 12 and SOMA in San Diego Nov. 13.