Grand Scovell is not from the Coachella Valley, but the band sure is making a name for itself here.
The San Jacinto punk group won the Battle of the Bands at The Hood Bar and Pizza last year, and they’ll returning to the venue for a show on Saturday, May 23.
Grand Scovell is Daniel Gililland (vocals, bass), Gilbert Espinoza (rhythm guitar, vocals), Eddie Dyer (lead guitar, vocals) and Ricky Adame (drums). During a recent phone interview, Gililland, Espinoza and Adame discussed the band’s history.
“Ricky and Gilbert were actually in another band together,” Gililland said. “It was kind of fell apart due to some different things going on in people’s lives, and I think Gilbert was still wanting to play. He got together with Ricky, who he was in a band with years before, and they started playing, and they needed a bass-player.”
The band placed an ad for a bass-player on Craigslist, in late 2012, but Gililland had known the rest of the band for years. “I wanted to play, but it was just a matter of whether you can get a commitment from your family members to be behind you, because if they’re not behind you, you’re not going to go anywhere at all. I’m not talking about going anywhere in terms of being successful, but just as simple as being behind you in going to practice.”
He decided to respond to the ad—and the rest is history. Of course, there are only so many opportunities for a band in San Jacinto, a town 40 miles from Palm Springs, near Hemet.
“If you want to play dive bars all the time, sure,” Gililland said. “As a matter of getting quality shows or not, yeah, I’d say it’s very difficult.”
On the day we spoke, the band members mentioned they were scheduled to play at a battle of the bands in Los Angeles the following night—at 1 a.m. Of course, the members have to work the following morning, too.
“When we play those kinds of things, our goal is not to win,” Gililland said. “If we win first place, great. That’s awesome, but we do it to get our name out there and for people to see us. As far as our gig tomorrow goes, there’s a possibility we’re going to be playing at 1:30 in the morning. But Palm Desert, it’s a nice cruise back, and it’s not too difficult. None of us mind going out there—but Los Angeles really sucks.”
The first major exposure the band received in the Coachella Valley was at The Hood Bar and Pizza Battle of the Bands (at which I was a judge). Grand Scovell competed against well-known local bands such as The Hive Minds, Burning Bettie, Elektric Lucie, and Right On Right On. The band played a high-energy show during the first round to win a slot in the final—and when the group came back, they played even better. During both shows, the band brought along a loyal fan base.
“I thought it was pretty badass,” Adame said. “It was pretty intense on my part, because we’re from San Jacinto, and I didn’t expect us to get the response that we did in Palm Desert. We got called back right away to do another show at The Hood, and (at) Schmidy’s Tavern. … Going back to Schmidy’s, there were some people I didn’t recognize that were singing along to some of our songs.”
Gililland agreed that the band can now say it has a presence in the valley. “We’ve been back a few times, and I’ve seen more people who live out there, and they’re singing our songs. We have a 14-song demo right now that we don’t charge anything for, and we pass it out. We burn them all ourselves. I know a majority of them end up on the ground, in the trash or whatever. But out of 100, if I can get two people who listen to it and like it, it’s worth it. When you pass out that CD, and you come back and see people singing your songs, that makes the $10 you spent to get some CDs worth it to me.”
Grand Scovell will be performing with Facelift, The Butchery Boys and Bridger at 9 p.m., Saturday, May 23, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-636-5220.