Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

An alternative-rock band gained success seemingly overnight after winning the first round of CV Weekly’s CV Music Showcase last year—and Empty Seat was soon performing at various venues and winning local awards.

However, these weren’t overnight successes at all: The band has actually been around since 2000.

Empty Seat originally hails from the Los Angeles area. Erin Marie (aka Red, because of her hair) is the frontwoman and lead vocalist, with Anthony Ferrer on guitar, Danny Broussard on bass and Rickey Villalobos on drums. Their take on alternative rock features Marie’s vicious and powerful voice as the driving factor.

The band just released “Won’t Wait,” a new single with an accompanying video that is very pop-punk and grunge-esque. Marie’s attacking vocal lines clash with Ferrer’s guitar chords, creating an all-around rock punch to the face.

“It’s been almost eight years since we’ve written new music,” Marie said during a recent phone interview I had with the band. “We took an eight-year break before we started in the valley last year. We had two old albums that we took off the internet, because our sound changed. It’s important that we get this new music out quickly so we can build some better relationships with venues and people.”

Villalobos said the group recorded “Won’t Wait” last fall, and planned to release it soon after.

“Time started passing, and things started lagging, and we were very eager to get it out as soon as we could,” Villalobos said. “It was planned to be released earlier, but with everything going on in the world, we decided that this would be the earliest we were able to get it out there.”

Added Marie: “We had some issues … that held us back, but it eventually did come out. We wanted to release it alongside the video, so we matched the times up with when the video would be finished. Now we are getting ready to come out with another single. If everything goes OK, our next single and accompanying music video will be out by August.”

The band is planning to adjust its release strategy to stay relevant.

“In the old-school days, you did an album, then tour,” Villalobos said. “Now it’s a single, then a music video, then another single, and repeat. That’s what I’ve seen from other artists nowadays—just dropping singles. You can drop the whole album, but not everyone’s gonna buy the whole album; everyone will just take their favorite tracks and move on.”

Marie added: “In today’s age, dropping an album or EP with six to 13 songs all available right away causes some people to forget about it. People listen to all the tracks, and then within a week, it’s dark. When you do a single at a time, you constantly keep people’s attention. There’s always something new instead of just dropping everything at one time.

“We’ve been a band for almost 20 years now, and we have a lot of songs not even recorded yet. We have a lot in our bag; we can drop one every six months or so for a while.”

Empty Seat admits that some changes need to be made in their merch department, too.

“I still see some physical CDs at shows, but bands that are more advanced have download cards,” Ferrer said. “As we start to play live shows again, I’d love to include those to get our singles out to people. It would also be cool to have vinyl records for sale. When you become more advanced, you need to add to your merch to make things more exciting.”

Ferrer said that the members of Empty Seat are willing to evolve their sound, too.

“I don’t care what genre we play,” Ferrer said. “It could be punk, slow, etc. If it’s good, I’m going to try to get the band to work to make the song. There might be something new coming out of this that is different from our usual sound. It’s going to be interesting to see how we evolve. I can’t wait to kick some ass and play a great show again.”

Marie added: “But it’s mostly about having fun. One of the reasons we’ve been together for so long is because we’ve been having fun. If you look like you’re having fun onstage, the crowd is going to have fun with you.

The beautiful production on “Won’t Wait” is owed to local producer and friend of the band David Williams, of Melrose Music.

“We recorded the song at Modern Fuzz Recording Studios in Pomona, and had David Williams master it,” Marie said. “For the next single, we’ll do the whole process with David Williams. We’re planning to start the first week of July. We met (David) when we first performed at the CV Weekly Music Showcase last year. He was one of the judges, and it was a huge coincidence that he has a studio in both Palm Springs and Los Angeles. We’re previously from L.A., so we had a lot in common that helped sparked up our friendship. He’s been one of the most supportive and nicest guys to us.”

Ferrer added: “He’s in the video, too! He showed up for the taping of the ‘Won’t Wait’ video, which was super awesome. People didn’t have to show up and support us, but he came, and it was such a huge deal.”

The music video is a performance of the song at Little Bar in Palm Desert, with Chelsea Sugarbritches, BB Ingle and other local luminaries spotted in the crowd. Spliced in is footage of Ferrer and Marie cruising the streets of Hollywood.

“We wanted to be really supportive of the valley, and we got so lucky that Little Bar in Palm Desert gave us full control of the bar, with no cost and no strings attached,” Ferrer said. “We wanted to film here and really showcase that this is where we’re from.”

Marie added: “We also have shots of Hollywood. We’re really a part of both scenes, and our drummer still lives out there. The video is really a representation of both sides of us.”

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Coming Soon: AsiaSF Palm Springs, to the Former Hacienda Location

A San Francisco restaurant known for its “Cal-Asian” cuisine and dinner shows featuring transgender performers is opening a Palm Springs location in the space that was once the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, at 1555 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

While no formal announcement has yet been made, the owners of AsiaSF let the figurative cat out of the bag by promoting auditions for the Palm Springs location in four cities (Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Rancho Mirage—at the Desert Rose Playhouse—and San Francisco) on four consecutive nights in mid-July.

AsiaSF opened in 1988 in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, founded by Larry Hashbarger and Skip Young.

“The world-famous restaurant, cabaret and nightclub is an iconic entertainment landmark that has inspired over 1 million people from all over the world with great food and entertainment,” says the AsiaSF website. “AsiaSF has been a visionary pioneer in supporting the transgender community through empowerment by creating a safe space and unique employment opportunities that showcase our beautiful transgender stars, the Ladies of AsiaSF, who not only entertain but also educate and enlighten people about the transgender experience and human diversity.”

We hear that more details about the Palm Springs location will come out shortly. Whatever those details are … it’s fantastic news that the Hacienda space will soon be alive once again. The Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club opened during the summer of 2014, but closed under a cloud of scandal in the fall of 2015, as the owner was indicted and charged in a bribery scheme involving then-Mayor Steve Pougnet. In 2016, Chris Pardo—the driving force behind the ARRIVE Palm Springs hotel—was linked to plans to build a hotel on the Hacienda property, but those plans fell through.

We’ll have more details as they develop. In the meantime, we recommend watching for updates.

New and Popping Up: Ni-Chome Ramen

If you’re a fan of ramen, you need to be keeping your eyes on the Wabi Sabi Japan Living Facebook page at The owners have been taking over local restaurant spaces (like Peabody’s and Evzin Palm Springs) during times when they’re closed to offer a pop-up ramen restaurant that even has its own name: Ni-Chome Ramen.

Recent seatings have included a three-course meal plus sake and Japanese beer for the downright-reasonable price of $33. Who knows … maybe Ni-Chome Ramen will have its own home one day?

The next Ni-Chome pop-ups will take place at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Sunday, July 28, at Evzin Palm Springs, 411 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Visit that aforementioned Facebook page or for tickets and more details.

In Brief

Coming soon to the space next to Heirloom Craft Kitchen, at 49990 Jefferson St., in Indio: Tu Madres Cantina and Grill. It’s the latest venture by Andie Hubka, the chef/owner of Heirloom and her original restaurant, La Quinta’s Cork and Fork. A post on the Cork and Fork says: “Our new concept is fresh, modern chef-driven Mexican fare and an amazing bar with a crazy tequila list and craft beer selection. Vegans and gluten-free guests will find plenty of options, too. We love Baja Mexico and are excited to bring home a taste of the culture and cuisine there.” Watch for updates, and expect a fall opening. … Coming soon to Palm Desert: Little Bar, a speakeasy-style bar and restaurant at 73560 Highway 111. Watch for further developments. … Coming soon to 117 La Plaza, in downtown Palm Springs: Pineapple Express. We know this because we saw the “Public Notice of Application to Sell Alcoholic Beverages” sign in the window of the former Delicatesse space—but that’s all we know for now. Watch this space. … New in the former Greek Islands location at 139 E. Andreas Road, in Palm Springs: The Greek at 13, offering cocktails plus Greek and Italian fare. Learn more at … Returning to the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs: the eighth annual Craft Beer Weekend. Two-dozen-plus craft breweries will be on hand from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4, along with entertainment and all sorts of revelry. A one-day pass is $50; both days will cost you $85. Get tickets and a complete list of participating breweries at

Published in Restaurant & Food News