Skinny Puppy's Sound Inspires Nightmares From Here to Gitmo

Categories: Bands We Like

Emilie Elizabeth & John Kraw
Skinny Puppy pride themselves on being the soundtrack to your nightmares. Since forming in Vancouver in 1982, the legendary band have gained and lost members (one of which was Bill Leeb, whose band Front Line Assembly have joined Skinny Puppy as a main supporting act on their current tour), as well as collaborated with renowned industrial artists such as Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and Al Jourgensen (Ministry). Through it all, though, they have maintained their status as a cutting-edge sonic leviathan.

While many people associate vocalist/lyricist Nivek Ogre (née Kevin Ogilvie) as the face of Skinny Puppy because of his grotesque and surreal performance antics, cEvin Key (born Kevin Crompton) has been behind the keyboards, guitars and drums in the studio and onstage for the past 30 years. In addition to performing with his numerous side projects, he composes music, is a sound designer and audio engineer, and tours the world as a DJ. Plus, he runs his own record label, Subconscious Records.

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Fleetwood Mac's Tearful Tribute to Local Cancer Patient

Fleetwood Mac at Honda Center. Photo by Scott Feinblatt
Fleetwood Mac
Honda Center

If there's one nostalgic rock band the world needed to see reunite this year, it was Fleetwood Mac. And more specifically, it's millenials who seemed to need them the most. Aside from their noted influence on artists of the last decade, they've become one of the top rediscovered acts among the bohemian hipster set over the last couple years. Add that to the sheer brilliance of their performance as the band's immortal members hit the back end of their 60s, and you have a recipe for an amazing show at the Honda Center last night.

The show was a veritable kaleidoscope of entertainment. It consisted of a great set, terrific performances, a narrative thread of song introductions, a very impressive backing film, and the homecoming of Christine McVie. McVie's rejoining of bandmates Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Stevie Nicks, after a 16 year absence, provided the centerpiece of the show's nostalgic feeling.

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Bella Novela Really Believe in the Power of Three

Categories: Bands We Like

Courtesy of Bella Novela
Telemetry, the third record by Long Beach power trio Bella Novela, is a three-part concept record that clocks in at exactly 33 minutes, with each part having three songs.

"Spooky," says guitarist Jacob Heath, the band's auburn-bearded prog-rocker with a Randy Rhoads tone. "Something powerful about the number three." If you hang out around Long Beach, chances are you've seen Bella Novela at least three times in the past three years; Heath, vocalist Jackie Laws, and drummer Jannea McClure have been ubiquitous fixtures on the club scene, rocking Alex's Bar, The Prospector, Que Sera, the Zombie Walk, and everywhere else on a regular basis. 

Lately they've become friendly with Fartbarf and fellow locals Feral Kizzy, sharing bills on club dates. "They are doing something we don't see around here right now," says Kizzy Kirk, Feral Kizzy's sparkplug vocalist. "Jacob is a bearded intergalactic shredder; Jackie is a powerhouse glitter blaster."

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The Abigails' New Album is Coming-of-Age Satanic Outlaw Country

Mike Selsky
In the gritty underbelly of alt-country lurks sometimes-OC locals, The Abigails, a fusion of psych rock and outlaw country lead by front man and eccentric charmer, Warren Thomas. The group's rotating lineup currently includes members from Father John Misty and Douglas and The Furs, and considering Thomas spent time as a member of The Growlers, this is a cast of musicians that know their way around a stage.

The group is set to play at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa on Saturday night, where they'll celebrate the long awaited release of their sophomore effort, Tundra. Thomas makes no bones about purging his personal demons on the album, and even included an eight-page photo booklet of handwritten lyrics on old album sleeves. We caught up with an unusually introspective Thomas to hear about the delayed album release and how the album art came to fruition.

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The Wheeland Brothers and HIRIE Make Cali Reggae With Aloha

Josue Rivas

by David Garcia

This Friday night, Orange County's sand and surf rockers, The Wheeland Brothers, make their return to Santa Ana with a hometown show at The Constellation Room. Joining the beach-and-burrito lovers will be San Diego's female-fronted reggae sensation, HIRIE. Both bands bring a high-energy performance with the occasional mellow acoustic track, which makes for another great showcase of Cali reggae at OC's premier music venue.

Brothers Travis and Nate "Frogg" Wheeland began officially recording music in 2010, following an inspirational trip to the island of Kauai. Living their lives and relating their experiences through music inspired by what seems to be a mixture of a Spicoli-like lifestyle and the chorus of Sublime's "Doin Time" playing endlessly, the duo has found a way to spread their music far beyond their Southern California home base.

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Pop-Punk Band Real Friends Is Getting Big Quick

Categories: Bands We Like

Jered Scott
We cant all be Real Friends

Real Friends are blowing up.

"I don't really like to use that term," says Kyle Fasel, the band's bassist and lyricist. "I mean, we've definitely grown a lot as a band."

Despite the cliché, that's what Real Friends are doing, though. The pop/punk/emo band--one of the last few stalwarts carrying the Jimmy Eat World banner--are driving through Kansas, headed west to Anaheim's Chain Reaction, where they're playing two sold-out nights. Then they'll criss-cross the country to play sold-out dates in New York, Florida and Boston before heading back to the Midwest.

But the real measure of future success is their deal with Fearless Records, an OC label known for developing talent that majors eventually fight over.

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Fortunate Youth Ready To Blaze Up The Santa Ana Stage

Categories: Bands We Like

Josue Rivas
Fortunate Youth's 5th Anniversary party

By David Garcia

The last time Los Angeles' Fortunate Youth took the stage at The Observatory in Santa Ana they were celebrating five years of their existence in proper form. Since then, the smoke trails left behind from their microphone-sized joints have barely faded away as South Bay L.A.'s beloved reggae outfit makes their way back to Orange County nearly five months later.

Known as one of today's most energetic and "HIGHly" animated live performances, Fortunate Youth brings a live show unlike any other. Throughout their sets, frontman Dan Kelly is seen skanking across the stage as his powerful voice echoes throughout any venue with lyrics advocating good times, "Peace, Love and Unity."

At the same time, brothers Corey and Jered Draskovich switch back and forth between keys and bass as the set unfolds and the irie vibes circulate from the stage onto the crowd. Also in the mix is guitarist, Greg Gelb, and signature percussionist, Travi Bongo. According to Jered, "Me, Corey, Greg and Travi all play bass at one point or another."

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Long Live the Enduring, Absurd Glory of GWAR

Categories: Bands We Like


If you call GWAR's Brent Purgason to chat about his band, you're presented with not one potential interview subject but two.

The first is Purgason himself, who has played guitar for the Richmond,Va. thrash metal veterans since 2012, taking over that role after Cory Smoot's 2011 death from coronary thrombosis. The second is Pustulus Maximus, Purgason's GWAR-ified alter ego -- a half-deaf, loin-cloth-sporting freak who has a blue face covered in pustules and has a skull for a helmet.

Pustulus' cousin was Flattus Maximus, a GWAR character last portrayed by Smoot. Born with a guitar in his hand, Pustulus came from outer space in order to solidify Flattus' legacy on Earth, and contribute "a couple of diddly-widdlies" to 2013's Battle Maximus, the outfit's thirteenth record. Then, GWAR vocalist/leader Oderus Urungus sabotaged Pustulus' ship, preventing him from returning home, so now he bides his time among us schmucks.

I choose to interview the latter, of course.

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Hard-Rocking Red Fang's Vulnerability is Scary -- To Them

Categories: Bands We Like

James Rexroad
Red Fang

For a hard-rocking band such as Red Fang, releasing a collection of reworked acoustic tracks can be a challenge. Earlier this year, singer Bryan Giles and guitarist Aaron Beam recorded three acoustic songs in a London studio that bore no resemblance to the group's beefed-up sound. Though supportive of the project, the front man had his doubts over whether he could pull it off.

"It's outside of my comfort zone, but, well, I figured I'd try it," the singer explains. "Acoustic Red Fang? I'm not sure if that's worth any money."

Listening to the tracks, though, Giles realized there was more to the band beyond its hazy blend of psych and stoner rock. Calling the recording "scary," the singer felt an unfamiliar sense of vulnerability in his music.

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Little Dragon Tap Into Their Eclectic Tastes on Nabuma Rubberband

Categories: Bands We Like

Marco van Rijt

Yukimi Nagano, singer of Little Dragon, is kinda, sorta from Orange County.

The vocalist's SoCal roots is a surprising discovery, given the electronic band has been Sweden's pride and joy since its eponymous set came out in 2007. Nagano was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a Japanese father and an American mother, but as a kid, she lived in Orange County for a year with her grandparents in Santa Ana. "I don't really have Swedish blood, but I chose Sweden because that's my home and that's where I was born," she says, "but this is totally home to me, too."

It makes sense, when you consider how it all started for Little Dragon in Southern California. KCRW was the first station to play their breakthrough hit, "Twice," off their debut. It ended up getting TV air time as well, featured on shows such as Grey's Anatomy, Revenge and The Vampire Diaries.

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