When the sun goes down on the Coachella Valley, hard-working musicians come out and put on shows wherever there’s a power outlet—including many backyards. Yes, an entire scene is living and breathing in the backyards of homes all across the valley—and in my years of frequenting backyard shows, I’ve never come across a group as animated as Israel’s Arcade.
“This is my solo project. It’s me getting out what’s inside of me,” said Israel Pinedo, the frontman of Israel’s Arcade. And his emotions are surely getting out, as his first single, “12 Regrets,” goes from dreamy staccato guitar lines to synth-driven punk in a matter of seconds, with crooning vocals à la Morrissey or Marilyn Manson: “What is this? / It’s a joke / It’s my life / Without you.”
Follow up single “Wimp” keeps the same punk formula—yet cranks it to 11, as an indie-meets-punk backing track supports Pinedo’s groans of, “I know I never cared / My lonely heart was never shared / To have a good day that was rare / And now I sing my soulless prayer.”
I talked to Pinedo ahead of a busy few weeks.
“I come from a family of musicians,” Pinedo said. “My dad plays the drums; my uncle plays guitar; my grandma plays the harmonica; and my mom sings. They always had a band when I was growing up, so I was always around backyard shows. But my first band was actually with Joe Boomer from local band Instigator. I was in the fifth-grade; he was in the sixth-grade, and it was just drums and guitar. We did the talent show at school, and they really liked us, so we played all of the assemblies.”
When Pinedo went to middle school, he began attending the Academy of Musical Performance Camp.
“I went to AMP Camp for three years; I even played Stagecoach with them,” Pinedo said. “AMP did a lot for me, honestly. It really pushed me to start writing music for myself—lyrics that meant a lot to me.”
Thanks to the modern era, Pinedo went to SoundCloud to share his music with the world.
“I started dabbling with GarageBand and uploading tracks to SoundCloud. At first, my artist name was more of a band, named Peace Ogre,” Pinedo said. “It had some poetic meaning behind it, but then I realized how terrible the name was. I realized that I wanted to make more songs like Mac DeMarco or David Bowie, where it’s just the artist himself and not a band.”
How did Pinedo come up with the new name?
“Well, I was watching Wayne’s World, and the name of the arcade was Noah’s Arcade. I thought it would be sick if I inserted my name—Israel’s Arcade,” Pinedo said. “It was also inspired by this artist named Bane’s World. I like the idea of a name and the possessive to something.”
Pinedo earned a degree of popularity on SoundCloud largely thanks to one track.
“There’s a song I wrote called ‘Obsessions of a Romantic,’” Pinedo said. “I wrote that song because I saw a trend of corny, lovey-dovey songs on SoundCloud getting a lot of attention. They’re all super-simple songs with super-simple riffs, so I thought that I could do that—but add more. I was being cocky, but now the song is at over 60,000 listens, which is fucking crazy, but I kind of knew it would happen. I really wanted to use it to gain traction for my other songs, stuff I care about making.”
It did indeed bring traction: “12 Regrets” is sitting at 42,500 listens as of this writing. I was curious to hear more about his recording process, which includes his debut EP, slated to be released on Oct. 31.
“AMP is where I met Will Sturgeon, who produced the album,” Pinedo said. “I was writing and performing songs with AMP, and Will really liked them and offered to record them. We started recording in 2016-2017, and we’ve just been making sure everything can sound as perfect as possible. It’s been ready, but since the process took so long, I didn’t want to force anything out. It’s going to be a self-titled EP to give the people a little taste of what’s to come.”
To celebrate, Pinedo is throwing—what else?—a live-music backyard bash with Enzo Langston, Foreign Andre, The Teddy’s and many others, at a house in Desert Hot Springs on Saturday, Oct. 26. If you want the details, you’ll need to track down Pinedo for an invite.
“There are really no good venues out here, and my dad has a ton of equipment, so we like to make our own shows,” Pinedo said. “Honestly, I just want to party. I love to play music, dance and have fun. I don’t care about the genre; music is just great all the time. It’s going to be a little mini-festival with food and drinks and six hours of music. It’s in DHS at my drummer’s house, and it’s the perfect spot. It’s going to be so much fun!”
Pinedo is making all this happen while still being a 17-year-old high school student.
“It’s hard to juggle music and four A.P. classes at the same time,” Pinedo said. “Being the leader of the band, people look toward me and ask what the plan is for performance days and such. … Sometimes, I have to bail to read some passages or type an essay. If I had it my way, I’d be doing music all the time.
“I think I’ve developed ADHD somehow, because I’m always listening to music. Everywhere I go, there’s an ongoing jam-sesh drumbeat in my head.”