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Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Brian Blueskye

The BrosQuitos released the band’s long-awaited debut album, Vinyl Image, back in May—and it’s fantastic. The songs became part of the soundtrack to my summer; this group has a promising future ahead. For more information, visit thebrosquitos.tumblr.com. Drummer Hugo Chavez was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13, and here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first “real” concert I ever attended was for a band called Bad Suns. They played at the Observatory in OC and killed it that night. It was definitely a great experience, being all the way in the front in a packed venue full of fans.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I ever owned was Thriller by Michael Jackson. I remember being so excited to hear it that I ended up playing the whole album about six times in a row nonstop.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Foo Fighters, Walk the Moon, and Avenged Sevenfold. I love to listening to all kinds of genres and not limiting myself to one specific type of music.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I’m really starting to notice everyone jumping on the mumble-rap train, and I just can’t seem to get into it, mainly because I can’t relate to the lyrical topics or understand what they are saying.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

As much as I want to say Michael Jackson, I’m going to say I wished I would have been able to see AC/DC in the 1980 when they had just released the Back in Black album.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

The Weeknd. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something catchy to the choruses and lyrical content he puts out.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. It’s a venue with beautiful views, and being an outside venue makes it even better. It would be a dream to be able to perform there.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock ’n’ Roll.” I think this has been stuck in my head, because it sums up that making it to the top is a long and troubled road—but the end is where the fun really starts.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Two Door Cinema Club. As soon as I heard Tourist History and saw videos of (the band) performing live, it cemented the idea that I want nothing more than to be a professional musician for the rest of my life.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I would ask Dave Grohl about the challenges he faced when transitioning from being the drummer of Nirvana to being the frontman of the Foo Fighters.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay. I want my funeral to be a celebration of the life I lived and not have everyone sad. I want to be remembered for the funny and happy moments in life.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club. Every song on that album drew me in, and I know every word to every song.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“See Right Through” by The BrosQuitos, but the song “When Did Your Heart Go Missing” by Rooney has been on repeat a lot on my playlist lately, so you should check that out, too. (Scroll down to hear them.)

This past spring, Throw the Goat toured the United States and even made it overseas to play in the United Kingdom. The Idyllwild punk outfit seems to have a promising future; catch the band at the Red Barn on Saturday, Sept. 30. For more information, visit www.throwthegoat.net. Recently, guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell answered the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

My dad is a bassist, so my first shows as a kid were usually bands that he was in. But when I was in my teens, we won tickets off the radio and saw The Black Crowes at Glen Helen Amphitheater. That was huge. I think possibly my second concert was at the same place the next year for the second annual Ozzfest.

What was the first album you owned?

Because of my folks, we had pretty much all the necessary classic rock, new wave of British heavy metal and hair-metal albums covered in the household record collection. I started to get into hip hop and new jack swing in the early ’90s at the same time I was getting into grunge. The first time I spent money at a record store, I came home with Kris Kross’ Totally Krossed Out on cassette, plus Pearl Jam’s Ten and Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony on CD.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m loving the new Dead Cross album. I’m a big Mike Patton fan, and everything he does with Dave Lombardo is awesome. The new Bloodclot is really cool. Same with Mutoid Man. And the new Prong. I just heard the new Dale Crover album and loved it. And I’m really looking forward to the next record from The Bronx.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

I have no idea what the fuck happened to alternative music. What is this supposed to be an “alternative” to, other than “good”? Same thing happened to hip hop. I can’t stand that robot voice on everything.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

I’m a hardcore Nine Inch Nails fan. Like, forever. Haven’t seen them live in seven years, and the last one was at a festival. I’d like to see them indoors, maybe a theater show. Other than that, I’m always waiting for the next Snot reunion.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’m a sucker for The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and all my old school goth-boy jams. Tori Amos is my homegirl. None of it makes me feel guilty—only when I listen to whiny emo albums from the 2000s, but that’s rare.

What’s your favorite music venue?

This is a seriously difficult question. After so many tours, you end up with favorites all over the place. I’m gonna keep it California and say the Troubadour in West Hollywood. I’ve had so many great times there, and the sound is always perfect. TTG has yet to play there, actually. That would be incredible!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

Not to plug the band or anything, but the lyric that plays in my head most is usually the chorus to our song “Bullshit.” It really resonates when you’re surrounded by people who seem to gain pleasure from making your life difficult. The line is simply: “I love it, give me more of your bullshit.” Sarcasm is my go-to coping mechanism.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

My music tastes got progressively heavier when I was in middle school. I was listening to a lot of stuff that was supposedly really scary and brutal. I ended up renting The Downward Spiral from the Ontario City Library, already being a fan of the earlier Nine Inch Nails stuff, and it blew my mind. It creeped me out like nothing else had at the time. And it was heavier and grittier than anything I’d ever heard. It was so diverse and musical. I became a mega-fan. From there, I discovered the world of industrial music and IDM (intelligent dance music) by researching bands that influenced NIN, and also bands on his label. It changed everything.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I think I’d ask Dave Grohl to do our next record for us! That would be the raddest thing ever!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Not sure yet what I want done with my remains. If there’s a casket, I’d want them to play Pantera’s version of “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath as it’s being lowered.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

If there was a gun to my head, I wouldn’t have had nearly the same amount of time to come to a conclusion. I’d probably just blurt out something stupid. But after much non-gunpoint consideration, I’ve decided it’s a tie between Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile and Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf. A close (third) would either be Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire or Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Halo of Flies” is Track 1 on Sieg Howdy! an album by Jello Biafra with The Melvins. It’s a cover of an Alice Cooper song. I’ve heard a lot of people cover Cooper before. That’s hallowed ground as far as I’m concerned, so I wouldn’t suggest it unless it was really good. Check it out.

Some of the valley’s best barbecue is being served at … the Red Barn in Palm Desert?

Yep, the Red Barn in Palm Desert.

The only food I’d remembered there was a stale bag of chips that I once bought from a vending machine on the outdoor patio—until I found myself there one night after Stagecoach in late April. I was hungry, and I heard there was barbecue for sale.

After Reggie Martinez, the owner of the California Barbecue Company, gave me my food, the flavors that hit my taste buds were out of this world: The barbecue was sweet, yet spicy, and smoked to perfection.

I recently had the chance to enjoy more of Martinez’s cooking while we chatted at the Red Barn: He typically runs out of his macaroni and cheese rather quickly, but I was able to try some—and it was unlike any macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had.

Martinez, who received his training from a culinary institute in Monterey Bay, has not been doing barbecue for very long.

“I’ve been cooking for over 20 years,” Martinez said. “I was working at Circle K, and I was out of the food industry. … Then I was in management at Del Taco.

“My friend ran the barbecue inside of Neil’s Lounge in Indio. He called me and told me that he had a position for me. I went in there, and I learned how to smoke a little bit from him, but I took it to another level; I was watching YouTube videos at home and filling notebooks full of notes. I did as much research as I could to perfect my craft. I realized there wasn’t much competition (locally) as far as barbecue, so I knew that I had a legitimate chance in succeeding: I learned I could not only compete with what was out here, but surpass what was out here.”

Martinez eventually took over the kitchen at Neil’s Lounge when his friend left for another job. However, he left earlier this year.

“Back in December or January, the contract was offered to me, and I had a helper in the kitchen. He became my partner, and we named it Harley’s,” Martinez said. “We opened up Harley’s, and from the very beginning, we had miscommunication. He was hell-bent on doing Texas barbecue, but I had already developed my own style, my own rubs and my own sauces. I wanted it to be what I call California barbecue, because there’s not a market for it, besides Santa Maria tri-tip. I wanted to create my own style with flavors that represent California—sweet, spicy, and dry chili flavors from Mexico. … I’m Filipino, but I grew up in Mexican culture. Those are the flavors I grew up with, and they represent California to me, so I incorporate them.”

After leaving Neil’s Lounge, he started the California Barbecue Company and began serving at the Red Barn.

“I opened the California Barbecue Company with $45 to my name and my own smoker. That’s where I’m at,” he said. “My strength in the beginning was my tri-tip—and then I started doing ribs, and the popularity took off on the ribs.”

How did he create his famous macaroni and cheese?

“One day, I was outside in the front doing tacos, and my fire went out, and I didn’t have a side dish for my food,” he explained. “I had made my daughter a huge tray of macaroni and cheese, and I called the house and asked (them) to bring me the macaroni and cheese. All of a sudden, the most popular item I sell is macaroni and cheese. People come back just for macaroni and cheese. It never fails, and I hear, ‘This is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.’ It’s really taking off, and everything is happening so fast.”

How did Martinez end up at the Red Barn, of all places?

“I build a rapport with my customers. One of the guys I met, and his wife, they introduced me to John Labrano, the owner of the Red Barn,” Martinez said. “This customer came to me during a time when I was down, because I didn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel or know what I really wanted to do. I was thinking about going back to Del Taco. He was telling me I had something to offer, and he was going to help me. Three days later, I got a phone call from John, and we met the same day. John had already tasted my food, and he was pretty confident that I would succeed here, so he brought me here to the Red Barn.”

Palm Springs Life recently included California Barbecue Company among eight places to taste great barbecue in the Coachella Valley.

“I think that between social media and … word of mouth, people are learning who I am and what I do. I think that I’ve got a really good opportunity to move forward,” Martinez said. “That article ranked me among the top eight places in Palm Springs to get barbecue. I’m not going to say any of those names, but one of the top establishments on that list has been in the valley for more than 15 years. Harley’s was also on the list, which isn’t bad for being open since January, and I’ve only been open since March. It wasn’t a blind taste test. The lady and her husband who wrote the article went to all these places over a span of two weeks and tried them all.

“It built up quick. I did have a lot of bar food on the menu in the beginning, but I learned that people couldn’t get consistently solid good barbecue, so I wiped that menu clean and went to straight barbecue and sides that went with barbecue.”

Martinez plans on opening his own restaurant in Rancho Mirage later this year, but he said he’ll keep cooking at the Red Barn as well.

“Excited isn’t even a word,” he said about his future. “It’s like Christmas Eve. There are all these gifts under the tree, and you just cannot wait. I know there are going to be hurdles, and I know there are going to be trials and tribulations, and I’m going to go through it all, but I’m ready for it. I feel I have so much to offer, and I feel like I’m going to be able to give the valley something that they can’t get anywhere else.”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thecaliforniabarbecueco.

A language barrier has not kept Swedish band Dungen from finding ample success in America.

The band has performed at Bonnaroo and Coachella; played on Late Night With Conan O’Brien; and won the acclaim of American music critics. The band’s psychedelic rock sound has much to like, and at times will head into progressive rock and even free-form jazz.

The band will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Aug. 19.

During a recent phone interview during a tour stop in Northern California, frontman Gustav Ejstes expressed happiness about again touring in the United States.

“It’s amazing, and we’re truly grateful every time we get to play here again,” Ejstes said. “We enjoy being here where it’s super-warm. We were by the coast last night, and it was a little chilly, but it’s very beautiful, and there are a lot of great people here.”

In 2013, the band was asked to compose a score for a film. This led to the band’s latest LP, last year’s Häxan.

“We received a request from the Swedish Film Institute. We got the request in the spring of 2013, and we had a few options of films to pick from,” Ejstes said. “I couldn’t participate much during this period, because I had a new daughter, but the other guys picked this movie, a beautiful animated film from 1926 called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. … They thought (the score) was good, and then we decided to make a record out of it.

“We decided from the beginning not to do it chronologically. We handed over a bag of tapes to the producer and said, ‘Make this into a 40-minute-long LP,’ and he took the material and made it like a collage. It’s the score, and it’s all chopped up.”

Ejstes said it was not that difficult to create the score.

“The film is so beautiful itself,” he said. “It’s a lot of themes for different characters and elements in the film. Every time we play it, it feels like there’s something different, because that’s how play. But in our live sets, we can extend stuff and jam a lot. That happened a lot when we recorded this (too).”

Ejstes at times struggled with his English, and his Swedish accent was quite thick. Even though Dungen sings in Swedish, he said American audiences don’t seem too bothered by the language barrier.

“I try not to think about too much, especially when we’re playing live, and we’re on tour,” he said. “… When we’re playing live, you get used to the fact that it’s working, and there are people we meet who explain to us that the language is a big part of it, and the barrier is (actually) a plus. For me, it’s very important to write good lyrics, and I put a lot of effort into it. When we play in Sweden, there are people who understand what I’m saying, but lyrically, I think music is so much about making your own stories in songs.

“People ask me all the time what the songs are about, and I don’t like to tell them. Some people are like, ‘That song must be about my cat!’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, sure, it’s a cat song.’”

At Pappy and Harriet’s, Dungen will be performing Häxan in its entirety, plus songs from the regular discography.

“I don’t know what to expect. Everything feels like it’s so exotic and far different from the norm that we’re used to. I try to just float down the stream and try not to fall out of the boat.”

Dungen will perform with Shadow Band at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

The 2017 Warped Tour came to a close at the Pomona Fairplex, 80 miles west of Palm Springs, on Sunday, Aug. 6.

A cloud hung over much of the summer tour after The Dickies made some jokes that angered feminist punk band War on Women during a stop in Denver, dividing many fans over questions of free speech and political correctness. On the plus side, tour organizers included many of the old-school punk bands who had played the Warped Tour in the 1990s.

While entering the tour grounds on Sunday, we encountered a significant problem. If there’s one item that is a MUST-HAVE at a festival—an item that every festival I know of allows and even encourages—it’s sunblock. Well, when I walked up to security, a woman working the festival screeched: “NO SUNBLOCK! TAKE IT BACK TO YOUR CAR OR THROW IT AWAY!” I noticed a large trash barrel full of sunblock, into which I threw mine. Upon entering the festival, I found it hard to find sunblock for sale, and I was afraid what the price would be. Luckily, I found a booth selling small bottles of SPF 30 for $2 … but I’d already noticed by 2 p.m. that there were a lot of people getting sunburns. I was asked at one point if I could spare any sunblock for a young kid. What a terrible idea by festival managers.

As for the music: The Hard Rock stage featured performances by Sick of It All, TSOL, Municipal Waste, Adolescents and Strung Out. Jack Grisham, of TSOL—wearing a pink suit that is probably up for auction on the TSOL site by now, with proceeds going to charity—wasn’t shy about giving the finger or offering an amusing anecdote. Tony Reflex of Adolescents look sunburned to a crisp and ready to go home after playing the entire tour, pointing to the mountains in the background and saying, “I live in those mountains!”

At the Skullcandy stage, feminist punk band War on Women performed. Frontwoman Shawna Potter had a tank top on that stated, “I’m a fucking feminist,” and declared that if any woman felt uncomfortable at the Warped Tour, War on Women and their friends at the Safer Scenes were there and “had their back.” She then went on a rant about reproductive rights before singing a song with a chorus during which she screamed “GIVE ME THE PILL! GIVE ME THE PILL!” The song included lines about abortion and rape, and someone pretended to rip a baby out of her stomach. As a gay man in my late 30s who understands and respects the ideals of feminism, I feel that War on Women should write a song: “We Give Feminism a Bad Name.”

For attendees who love everything metal, the two Monster stages, which took up one whole side of the festival, offered delights all day long. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Hatebreed, who praised Sick of It All, TSOL and Adolescents for kicking the door down for bands like them. Hatebreed was returning to the Warped Tour for the first time since 1998.

At the opposite end of the festival, the two Journey stages featured performances in the afternoon by pop-punk band Goldfinger, rap metal band Attila and stoner-rock band CKY.

As the sun went down, it became time for the headliners, and the notorious costumed metal band GWAR took to one of the Monster stages. After the death of Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus) in 2011 and frontman Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) in 2014, GWAR is continuing on with new frontman Blothar (Michael Bishop, who is also a history professor and software engineer; he was the original bass player, Beefcake the Mighty). As soon as GWAR came onstage, the band began spraying blood all over the crowd through hoses … and through all six of the penises on Blothar’s costume. At one point in between songs, Blothar said, “Hey baby, you’re pretty cute!” to one of the female attendees in front of the stage. When she acknowledged him, he said, “No, I wasn’t talking to you!” and then he said, “Yeah, you, hi!”

With all the controversy that surrounded the Dickies, one has to wonder how GWAR was given a free pass. GWAR was pretty misogynistic—but both the men and women who caught the band’s set seemed to be having a hilarious good time.

When Jackass first aired on MTV, it not only made stars out of its cast; it brought attention to the band CKY.

The music of CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) was featured on the show, and the band played the Warped Tour this summer. On the final tour date, yesterday in Pomona, members Matt Deis (bass) and Jess Margera (drums; the brother of Jackass star Bam) sat down with the Independent for a brief interview.

One subject: The release of the new album The Phoenix, which was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree.

“As an East Coast boy who grew up in winters with 4 feet of snow on the ground all the time, being able to go out there where it was almost 120 degrees each day, that was pretty nice,” Deis said. “It was beautiful. There’s this energy that just seems to hang over Joshua Tree and that whole area.”

The album was engineered by Jon Russo; Rancho de la Luna owner David Catching was not on hand for the recording of the album.

“He was out on tour with Eagles of Death Metal,” Margera said. “That was a real bummer, because I’ve heard what a great cook he is.”

CKY is no stranger to the Warped Tour, having played it before. On Sunday, however, I could tell Margera was happy it was finally ending.

“It was awesome to come back, but it was really hot for a lot of it,” he said. “I’m pretty burnt out. I had a real blast, but I’m spent! It’s like a rock ’n’ roll summer camp. You just get to hang out with a ton of cool bands, barbecuing with them, and it’s a cool vibe. You hang out with bands that you might not ever get to hang out with, like American Authors, which is a band my kids love, but I’ve never heard of.”

Deis agreed about the summer-camp vibe.

“You become friends with the least likely of people; 40-something shows in, and we’ve become great friends with Save Ferris, which is a ska band,” he said. “Now we’re all friends for life, and once you’re here living it, you get it. It’s a secret club that you become a member of.”

Margera shared one downside of the Warped Tour.

“We have about 20 years of music to play in about 30 minutes. That’s challenging!” he said. “When it’s 118 in Phoenix, though, 30 minutes is a good amount of time. I probably would have died if it was 40 minutes.”

Deis said the 30 minutes per day of performing leads to challenges.

“The hardest part is the 23 1/2 other hours that happen—trying to not go crazy during that,” he said. “But the 30 minutes onstage? That’s what you look forward to each day.”

It’s been almost two decades since Jackass debuted on MTV in 2000.

“I think it was a perfect storm of events, and I’m really grateful for it,” Margera said. “We built a fan base without going through the traditional routes. We had a video on MTV through Jackass, and we didn’t even have an album in stores. That was different: You had to go find it in a surf or skate shop. Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine took our videos and the Big Brother videos and pitched them to MTV, and they were like, ‘Whatever you want, sir!’”

Right now, CKY is in the midst of promoting The Phoenix, which dropped in June.

“We’re coming back around with the H.I.M. Farewell Tour, and we’re going to be the support for them on the entire North American run,” Deis said. “We’re excited about it. For some reason, we never toured with them before. Sadly, they’re going away, but it’ll be a lot of fun.

“We’re going to be working on a new EP within the next month or two.”

Margera laughed as he explained why they were recording an EP.

“Our new label said (The Phoenix) is great, but it’s only eight songs,” he said. “We’re going to need more than that, so we’re going to get to work right after this. We had years off, so it’s good to be busy again.”

For New York hardcore band Sick of It All, this year’s Warped Tour was a homecoming, of sorts: The band returned 20 years after last playing it in 1997.

Although Sick of It All was the first band to perform on the Hard Rock stage at the Pomona stop, just after noon on Sunday, the band had a great crowd—including many people who were seeing them for the first time.

Later in the afternoon, frontman Lou Koller smiled while discussing this year’s tour experience, which concluded with Pomona’s show.

“Twenty years later,” Koller said. “It had its ups and downs, but it was great. We wanted to stay away from Europe, because last year was our 30-year anniversary, and we toured the shit out of Europe. Our only other option was getting real jobs this summer. But luckily, (tour founder) Kevin Lyman called us and said he was slowly easing older bands into coming back on the tour. Some days, we played last, where we didn’t really have a following, but every show, we got new young fans. I’m not saying it was by the hundreds, and some days it felt like only three people.”

Sick of It All has always been politically minded, and Koller said that with Trump as president, it’s going to be an interesting time for punk music.

“It’s back to the bullshit. Even when Obama was president, we were always watching what he was doing,” he said. “People who I know support Trump are like, ‘Oh, you really think Obama was the greatest president?’ No, he wasn’t the greatest president, but he was a good president. He did a lot of good for this country that Trump supporters ignore. But there were things that he did that I hated, like he was always on the side of Monsanto, that company that rules all the food.

“To be Sick of It All with Trump as president? Just let the anger fly even more.”

Koller expressed his feelings on political correctness—a topic on the forefront of the minds of many after several incidents during this year’s Warped Tour.

“It’s such a hard subject, especially with that whole thing that happened this year on the Warped Tour with the Dickies, but political correctness starts with you,” he said. “You just have to be cool with people. I understand trying to educate people, and we have friends who say, ‘Everybody is so PC.’ Why not? Who cares? You have to be a dick to someone because they’re different? That’s shit my mother taught me not to do when I was fucking 5 years old. It’s really hard, because I don’t like Trump bringing in this whole attitude of, ‘We don’t have to be politically correct anymore, so fuck these people!’ Why? Because religion tells you to do something? Religion is made up; it’s not real!”

Koller told me he hopes Sick of It All will be invited back again, perhaps two years from now for the 25th anniversary of the Warped Tour.

“It’s funny: A lot of the crew guys from every stage come and watch us,” Koller said. “The one thing I want to make sure that everyone knows is that this was exactly like the 1997 Warped Tour, between the Hard Rock stage and the Skullcandy stage: No matter what the bands were, we went and saw each other every night. This guy William Control—who does this, like, new wave, dance goth style of music—he was in the mosh pit this morning. He hates the sun; he always carries an umbrella because he doesn’t want to be in the sun, but he was dancing in the fucking pit during Sick of It All. We were one of the bands he grew up listening to. Last night, every band from the stages was in the pit, and we were all dancing. I’m talking Hatebreed guys, Municipal Waste guys and Valient Thorr were all there dancing like we were in a fucking ’80s new wave club, and it was hilarious. Everyone was supporting each other, and that’s what it was like back then in 1997.

“I’d like to do this again if we could come back and have camaraderie like that. One of the crew guys came up to me and said, ‘The camaraderie that you guys bring and how you’re cool to everyone is really touching, because some of the bands who are more popular, it makes them think.’ … We had my birthday on this tour, and my daughter ran around giving cake to everyone. I said, ‘Make sure you give it to all the crew, because they work the hardest.’ They were all like, ‘You’re giving us cake?’ and I was like, ‘We all work together, man!’”

Sick of It All came out of the New York Hardcore Scene—which Koller said is still very much alive.

“The mainstream is so focused on other things. We’re 30 years old; Agnostic Front is pushing 40 years old,” he said. “But there are still a lot of good clubs and places to play in Brooklyn. Freddy Cricien of Madball started this place called the Black N’ Blue Bowl with a bunch of other guys, and that has really helped to keep the scene alive. It brings back a lot of old bands, and he has a lot of newer bands to play as openers. It’s an all-day thing, and it really helps to keep the scene going.

Sick of It All plans to keep touring, and should have some new music out soon, Koller said.

“The last full length we put out, The Last Act of Defiance, was in 2014, and last year for the anniversary, we did a five-song EP that came in a special photo book that has our history,” he said. “This tour, we just made a run of the EP to sell for $5 so the kids can buy it.

“We’re actually writing right now. When we go home, we have a month off, and we’re going to tour Southeast Asia and Japan, then back home, and then back to Europe again for a week of shows. Then we’re done for a year—and hopefully we get stuff together for early next year to start recording.”

A Joshua Tree musician is receiving some much-deserved national exposure.

For those of you who are unfamiliar … ladies and gentlemen, meet Gene Evaro Jr.

After going on a national tour with Grammy Award-winning band Blues Traveler, and headlining a tour of his own, Gene Jr. and his band will be playing a hometown show at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Aug. 5.

During a recent interview in Yucca Valley, Evaro said his recent tour experience was “great.”

“It started in San Diego, and we went as far as Vermont,” he said. “It was our own tour, which meant we weren’t opening for anyone. It was a lot of driving. The shows were excellent. We did the Firefly Music Festival; the High Sierra Music Festival; and we played in Nashville at the High Watt. It doesn’t end until Pappy’s.”

Evaro is one of a handful of local musicians who has successfully made a living by making music his full-time job.

“I was at a point where I had a job and was working a lot, and I thought I could work and do the music thing. But then I figured out that wasn’t how it wasn’t going to go down, at least for me,” he said. “The job I was in didn’t want me to grow as a musician, and that makes sense. People don’t care about your music if you’re a dishwasher. You’re probably a nice guy, and your music is good, but it doesn’t mean anything (to an employer), though. I thought, ‘I can’t succeed unless I surround myself with people exactly like me.’ Once I took that leap of faith and quit my job, that’s when things started gaining momentum.

“I’m not a financial adviser, and I would never tell anyone, ‘Quit your job and go do this full time.’ For some people, it’s harder than others. … Once the hustle kicks in, and you don’t have that comfort, that’s when you really start to open yourself up for opportunity.”

Evaro has been successful in selling his own music; he explained how.

“There is some trickery involved: The trick is that honest people have to feel like the music is real. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “If I can hear a great song and feel no emotion, I can almost see past it and say, ‘It just needs somebody to deliver the song.’ A good song has to have a connection and be real. It’s got to sell. It’s 2017, and we’re here to be relative, especially when you’re talking about the radio and shit like that. But if you want to be an avant-garde musician for the rest of your life, don’t listen to anything I’m saying. If you want to be relative and influence people in a relative way, you have to pick up what’s around you and be a sponge.

“When it comes to the recordings, it’s so easy to get the tools. Everything I record with is at my house. I grew up in the studio my whole life. My dad, who I was with all the time, was going from Reba McEntire’s studio in Nashville to tons of studios all over. In terms of quality away from the emotional stuff, it has to be good—and sound like everything else. That is where you can’t have any shame in copying people. Led Zeppelin came out with the best drum sound ever, and people were saying, ‘I don’t want to copy it.’ What the fuck kind of world would we be in if every drummer wasn’t like, ‘Wait a minute: They’re on to something, and I want a little bit of that’? Don’t be afraid to be inspired and take the colors of what’s relative and relevant.”

Being from Joshua Tree heavily influences Evaro, he said.

“I love the vibe. Being in the desert feels special to me,” he said. “… I can still say the vibe in Joshua Tree is much different than any other spot. My family has a lot to do with it; I have a lot of family out here. My actual native roots come from my grandmother, who is a Native American from Arizona and Mexico. Her family has been here for at least 150 years. My family is Native American, and this is our spot.”

While Pappy’s may mark the end of his current tour, Evaro plans on keeping busy.

“I have a music video coming out, as well as a new EP. After the EP release, we’re going to promote that a lot, and we’ll be touring again in the fall,” he said. “I’m also trying to work on some licensing and sync stuff. I’m trying to get stuff in some commercials so I can tour better. … You go on tour and see a band that’s been touring for 15 years, and they sound like it and they’re good—but they have 100 people in a crowd. You have someone who has a song in a commercial, and you have 2,000 people in the crowd and have only been touring for a month. Licensing is just filling in that gap—it’s called publicity. That’s what I’m trying to get more of. I’m just trying to get more songs in the public arena versus, ‘Oh, let’s play 300 shows a year and hope someone in the industry likes it.’”

I asked Evaro about the ethical side of licensing music to businesses and commercials.

“Morals always have to come into question. You always have to wonder, ‘Do I want my song to be played in a machine gun ad?’ Hell no; don’t do it!” he said with a laugh. “You have that option. My only experience is I had a song on the Discovery Channel. I was working with the music supervisor at the time, and they said, ‘Hey, I need a song that sounds like this. Rip the song off; make it your own; and the song needs to sound like this.’ I did that, and it got placed on something on the Discovery Channel. I got something like 30,000 to 40,000 views in one night on a YouTube video, and I was making money off the single online. The whole world saw it, and I get royalty checks from that still—not enough to buy a house, but it’s a good foot in the door. That’s easy, and it’s awesome, but it’s a lottery thing, and you need to have the right people around you who will recognize your talent and push your song. It’s just as rare as anything else. There are a million songwriters, and only 500 of them will be good enough to have a song in a commercial. Ads are a niche, and when you craft songs for ads, they say, ‘This is how it has to be.’ It requires a lot of effort and creativity, and it’s a visual thing. Some people say it’s selling out, but you can sell out arenas doing that.”

Evaro said he has one manta for everything he does in life.

“Put your heart into it,” he said. “If you’re making food, put your heart into it. No matter what you do, put your heart into it; it’s not just music that it applies to. Be a good person, and be an authentic person; otherwise, what the fuck are you doing?”

Gene Evaro Jr. will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15 to $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Lionel Richie made one thing clear on Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Special Event Center: He didn’t like the weather.

“It’s too hot outside to be moving like this inside!” he told the audience at one point.

Sure, it was a scorcher outside, but that didn’t stop a near-sell-out crowd on Friday night from dancing and clapping along with the former Commodores singer and ’80s R&B hit-maker.

There were ample references to the infamous “Hello” meme that has circulated around the Internet—on homemade T-shirts people were wearing, on the video screen during the show, and even on an officially licensed sweatshirt that could be yours for the low, low price of $80 from the merchandise booth in the lobby.

Make no mistake: Richie remains relevant in the music industry today; his most-recent album, Tuskegee, went platinum and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 2012. The crowd was a mixture of people young, old and older.

Before Richie took the stage, the lights went off; thunder sound effects began; and strobe lights flickered as people howled and applauded. With energy like that, one had to expect an epic opening, and that’s exactly what we got: He played “Easy/My Love.” After just the first verse, he stopped the song, stood up from behind the piano, and said, “I need you on this!” When he returned to the piano, the audience sang the lyrics louder than he sang over the sound system.

It was evident from the start that Richie either had a cold, or his vocal chords needed some rest, as he struggled during the first two-thirds of the show. There were times when the guitars and harmonica were louder than he was.

Lionel’s band included a little R&B—and a little ’80s metal. His guitarist let loose and head-banged to some of the solos on the edgier Commodores songs, and the band even channeled Van Halen during the performance of “Dancing on the Ceiling,” playing the riffs to Van Halen’s “Jump” at the end of it.

Richie’s stage banter with the audience fell a little flat after his third complaint about the desert heat and a remark that the crowd “didn’t sound too bad for being from the desert.” There were some entertaining moments, such as when Richie pointed out that there were only five men sitting in the front row (one of whom was Monreaux frontman Giorg Tierez), and he asked one of them sternly, “Why you looking at me like that?” (Tierez later denied looking at Richie funny.)

One very amusing moment came when Richie said that at the meet-and-greet before the show, a big man walked up to him and said, “I’ve made love to your music many times.” Richie laughed and said he told him, “That’s a lie!” He then said the man’s girlfriend or wife replied: “I was there.” Also: Before playing “Brick House,” he told the audience: “Imagine traveling the world and judging ‘Miss Brick House’ competitions in each city.”

The last four songs were the highlight of the show—and his vocals seemed to be just fine as he ended the 80-minute concert with “Hello,” “Say You Say Me,” “We Are the World” and “All Night Long.”

As the Desert Daze festival has continued to grow, so has its profile and, therefore, so has the quality of the lineup. Well, the 2017 lineup was announced today—and it’s downright fantastic.

Desert Daze announced that Iggy Pop would be the festival’s headliner. The Joshua Tree festival will also feature performances by BadBadNotGood, Ty Segall, Sleep (performing the album Holy Mountain in its entirety), The Gories, and Cigarettes After Sex.

This year’s Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15.

These additions to the lineup joined already-announced acts including Spiritualized, John Cale, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Eagles of Death Metal, among many other well-known acts.

Shortly before the announcement, Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone spoke to the Independent. When asked whether booking the festival is getting easier as it grows, he hesitated.

“I don’t know if it’s ever going to be easier,” Pirrone said. “What happens with the headliner search is that whoever is worth headlining, you’re not the only one who wants them. You have to get lucky with schedules and the stars aligning.

“I guess to a certain extent, with every year that we do this festival more and more, people are going to know about it, and agents will want to get their bands on it. In some areas, it will be easier. I think that there will always be some degree of difficulty of getting a headliner like Iggy Pop.”

Desert Daze will also feature a performance by Eagles of Death Metal. The Coachella Valley natives became a worldwide name after the group survived the attack in November 2015 at the Bataclan theater in Paris.

“After all that’s happened to them, this is going to be in Joshua Tree, and that’s going to be a beautiful moment,” Pirrone said. “We’ve been trying to get them to play for the past few years, and we’re glad it’s finally happening.”

In 2016, Desert Daze moved to October from the spring, and changed locations, moving from the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca to the Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree. 

“I guess the short answer as to why is, ‘Lots of reasons,’ Pirrone said. “I guess the most positive answer is that the venue in Joshua Tree is so amazing. We were in Mecca for three years, and we thought it had run its course. We were on the lookout to find a new spot to expand and have more of a workable environment. As soon as we laid eyes on the Institute of Mentalphysics, we knew it would be the perfect place for the festival. We actually found it a couple of years before we moved the festival there. It had kind of been a dream of ours.”

Sunset Ranch Oasis, while nice and scenic, is an out-of-the-way location—with an occasional wind and dust problem.

“It’s night and day. No offense to the Sunset Ranch, but it was pretty rough there,” Pirrone said. “This new venue is beautifully maintained, and there are really lovely walking paths, labyrinths, water features and little ponds, and lots of beautiful prehistoric desert wildlife. It’s a really amazing property. There are indoor spaces, an indoor diner, and two performance halls that were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son … and we use those. There are places to get out of the sun. It’s very different from when it was in Mecca.”

Last year, Desert Daze featured performances from The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Primus, Television, The Sonics, and the Black Angels. The event was a success, even though the mega-event that was Desert Trip was happening down the hill. 

“We didn’t feel any impact from Desert Trip taking place, other than there being a lack of hotels and some other resources like that. I think Desert Trip was this mega, once-in-a-lifetime dream concert, and I wish I could have gone,” Pirrone said with a laugh. “But that thing sold out, and I think there are plenty of people who wanted to go to something like Desert Daze who weren’t going to go to Desert Trip. Desert Daze was traditionally always during Coachella during the spring, and I think they are different enough to where they can do their thing without impacting the other. It goes without saying that we’re a blip on their radar (compared to Goldenvoice’s big festivals). But I found being in the fall has had a lot of benefits, weather-wise. With all that said, I can’t say I’m disappointed there isn’t a Desert Trip this year, because it makes things easier. It’s always nice to have some breathing room.”

I asked Pirrone about his favorite festival-production moment thus far.

“I have to say it’s still Tinariwen back in 2013. That represented a turning point for us: It was the first time we produced the festival outdoors at a ranch, the first time it was like a real project,” he said. “It wasn’t, ‘Let’s do a show at a venue.’ It was the first time we had to get a permit; it was the first time we had to hire security and bring in our own bar company, and catering company, and organize everything. We did it and we got the permit. … We convinced this band from Africa to come over and play, and they got there. They played; people had actually paid to get in to where we had money to pay them; nobody got hurt. … It’s like a family restaurant (had) started with my wife and best friends, and when we succeed, we really feel it. During Tinariwen … nothing will ever top that.

“But who knows? Iggy Pop is playing our festival this year,” he continued. “That’s just going to be unreal.”

Last year, some people had concerns about a large music festival taking place at the Institute of Mentalphysics. Pirrone said attendees left the venue in pristine shape.

“I was very impressed with our audience and their respect for the venue,” he said. “When you’re there, you don’t feel like littering, because of the environment there being so beautiful. I like to think we put a lot of love into it. People cleaned up after themselves and left no trace. The Institute of Mentalphysics was very impressed with the cleanup. We also encourage people to carpool and keep fewer cars on the road. We work with Global Inheritance and ZeroHero to run recycling and green programs during the event, and they helped us divert 10,000 pieces of recycling from the landfill. We’re making a lot of efforts to be a positive festival in that regard.

“We love it in Joshua Tree, and we hope to be there for many years. We’re doing our best to be good neighbors up there.

Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Institute of Mentalphysics, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Passes are $229 to $450. For tickets or more information, visit desertdaze.org.

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