Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

A few months back, the band known as The BrosQuitos decided it was time to make some changes.

The Desert Hot Springs-based group went from a quartet to a trio after the departure of guitarist John Clark—and the remaining members decided the band’s name needed an update, in part because they wanted to be taken more seriously.

The band Sleeping Habits was born. On Thursday, Jan. 25, Sleeping Habits will be unveiling a new live set and a new sound at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent interview in DHS, James Johnson (guitar, vocals) explained the changes that he, Max Powell (bass) and Hugo Chavez (drums) recently made.

“The honest word is that we lost a member, so we had to change the position of the band,” Johnson said. “We wanted to go in more of an edgier direction, something that was less high school. Our old name did hold us back from a lot, and … we’ve already been taken more seriously as far as Los Angeles County and outside of here. You say, ‘Yeah, we’re The BrosQuitos,’ and we’re going to be downplayed. ‘The BrosQuitos’ was created when I was 14 years old, and we’re all going on 22 years old now. We had to change it. It got some new songs out of us, as well as a new style.”

Johnson said he could not explain why Clark left the band; Clark stopped communicating with the other members rather suddenly, Johnson said. On a lighter note, Johnson also could not really explain the band’s new sound.

“Our style has definitely changed. I honestly don’t know how to describe it and haven’t found a word for it,” he said. “To me, it sounds a lot more full. … The stage presence is there; the organization is there; the lyrics are there; and if you were to ask me what it sounds like, I couldn’t tell you.

“We have a song that is about prostitution in Hollywood; we have a song about rumors and sex … and an anthem song that leads into a chant. We all feel confident about it. It’s not so much (like) the first songs I wrote as a 13- or 14-year-old. I went through a breakup; I went through the loss of a friendship; and I went through a transitional period with a band. There’s a meaning behind it, and I think a lot of people appreciate it.”

The members are currently putting together an EP that they hope to have out later this winter.

“We will be finishing up our EP shortly,” Johnson said. “Our connections this time around have greatly improved, so I’m working on getting a few producers for the studio. I’ve been talking to Esjay Jones to see what she has to offer, and I know she has a lot going on. I’ve been talking to Will Sturgeon from Brightener, and I’m hoping he’ll be in the studio with us to produce one of these songs. I also have Sean Scanlon from Smallpools who will hopefully come on board. We’re trying to make it more of a learning process this time around, because that’s what we didn’t take advantage of the first time we recorded. We really limited ourselves to letting everyone take a piece into the project who wanted to.”

Johnson said he’s happy that The BrosQuitos record, Vinyl Image, finally came to fruition earlier this year—but that he’s already grown beyond it.

“I love it. It’s my first record,” he said. “As a 13- or 14-year-old writing those pieces and finally seeing them when I’m 18 and 19 being put together in the studio—it’s chilling to me. I mean that in all honesty. It’s amateur, though—the writing style and the chord structures. I’m not going to say I’m embarrassed by it, but I look back on it realizing I could have done so much more. I could have seized more opportunity at that time of my life. But it’s still a good record to me.”

Sleeping Habits will perform with Foxtrax at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Published in Previews

In 2001, the DREAM Act was introduced in Congress. If passed into law, the DREAM Act would grant legal status to undocumented children who were brought to and educated in the United States.

Sixteen years later, the act has never been passed. DREAMers, the young men and women who would be affected by the law, received some help in 2012 when the Obama administration enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy—but in September, the Trump administration announced it was repealing the program. (See “A Nightmare for Dreamers,” Oct. 19, at

As a result, Hugo Chavez, of Desert Hot Springs, fears for his future.

Chavez is well-known in the Coachella Valley music community. He’s the drummer for local band Sleeping Habits (formerly The BrosQuitos), and is one of the many DREAMers across the country who hope to become a legal resident or citizen someday.

“I was brought here from Mexico when I was less than a year old,” Chavez said during a recent interview. “It’s something that has always affected my life in some way or another. It’s hard to explain, because when you’re not in that situation, you are very unaware of how it really is. You have what you want, but you can’t really do anything.

“(DACA) helped out a lot. As a musician, the fear of crossing somewhere or playing somewhere like San Diego—it wasn’t a possibility. You can’t go somewhere like San Diego over the fear of being deported, and (DACA) took that fear away. … It’s like being trapped in a golden cage: You’re where you want to be, but you can’t really do anything.”

Chavez said he lives in Desert Hot Springs for a reason.

“I’ve stayed here in Desert Hot Springs my whole life, because it’s more of a safe haven than anything else,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about Border Patrol coming through here, especially for our families. … It’s a safe haven for them, and they don’t have to worry so much about hiding or going to the local grocery store.”

Chavez said he really started to understand the gravity of his situation when he was in high school.

“You see your friends when they turn 16 going to get their licenses and doing the typical American teenager stuff, and you’re always questioning, ‘Why am I not doing that?’ or, ‘Why can’t I do that?’” he said. “Then it all hits you that you can’t get a license or even an ID card because of your status. It sucks, because I had opportunities to take trips with the marching band or do other extracurricular activities that I couldn’t do.”

Chavez’s parents—like the parents of many DREAMers—came to the United States in search of the American dream.

“It’s the same story that anyone would tell you: It’s the pursuit of a better life,” he said. “When you’re living in Mexico, some people work all week to make 100 pesos, and that’s not even $10 in the United States. They can’t survive, making so little money. Parents want their kids to go to college; they want something bigger for them, or at least some opportunity for their children to pursue a dream. That’s why my mom and dad have to do what they do.”

When we discussed the arguments people opposed to the DREAM Act often make, Chavez said the opponents oversimplify things.

People like to say, ‘If you don’t like your country, you should fix it.’ But it’s not that easy,” he said. “People can vote and start as many petitions as they can in this country, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything. It’s the same thing there. People can speak out, but when you have a government that controls the people as well as they do there, there’s not much you can say or do without fear of repercussions.”

Chavez’s family has been trying to get legal status for several years.

“It’s something people are really misguided about. A lot of people just say, ‘Go get your citizenship!’ It’s not like I can walk into an office and pay to get my citizenship. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “My family has been in the process of getting our citizenship and visas for over 10-plus years. We’ve supposedly been approved, but there’s no actual date to go and do our fingerprints or anything like that. … It’s not simple at all, and you have to go through so many background checks, and they check your health, your status, where you work, and everything before you’re approved. It’s not something that takes 10 minutes, like it’s in and out at the DMV. … If it were so easy, this wouldn’t be such a big deal.”

Despite his legal status, Chavez said he wants to pursue as many of his dreams as he can.

“Now that I have (DACA), it allowed me to get my license, get my ID, and get everything that I needed in order to make that next step into getting citizenship,” he said. “The fear of going somewhere is not there anymore. I can freely go to the courthouse or go somewhere to pay a fee knowing that I’m going to make it home that same night. It’s a liberating feeling.

“Having the option to go to college and do anything that I want to do is something I don’t take for granted. Some people live in this country and have all these opportunities by birthright, and then they blame society for all the things they haven’t done. I’d rather fight for what I got and work my way up.”

I asked Chavez what the repeal of DACA, without a replacement by Congress, would mean for him.

“The basic fear is the fear of having to go back into hiding—the fear of not being accepted in general,” he said. “I have nothing different than my fellow band members or my friends in college; I’m just the same as a person as they are. The fear of having to dwell back and not be able to do the things I do now—it’d be a step in the wrong direction, especially for people like me who have so much to offer, and so much to do, and (our legal status) is the only thing holding us back.”

Published in Local Issues

Remember The BrosQuitos? While the band continues on, the name is no more: Frontman James Johnson recently announced the band’s name has changed to Sleeping Habits. Regardless of what they call themselves, the members of Sleeping Habits are great musicians with a bright future ahead. Stay tuned for more information, as well as new music, at James Johnson agreed to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first concert I ever attended was a Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four. They were really cool. It’s weird that a tribute band was my first concert, but very memorable!

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I owned was something that was “given” to me (I stole it from my grandma): Paul McCartney’s Tug of War. I’ve always been a Paul fan, and I remember popping it in a CD player when I would work on clubhouses with all my friends.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m currently indulging in some Bleachers, AWOLNATION, Glass Animals, and Post Malone—a weird but interesting collection of incredibly amazing and diverse artists!

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

Hoomii Mongolian throat-singing. I mean, the singing itself is quite difficult for most people, and throat-singing is probably not something they would even consider. A throat singer can produce two to four notes at the same time; this gives the effect of a deep sound (bass), a medium sound (guitar) and a high-pitched sound resembling a flute or whistle being played. This genre is definitely extreme; some songs can last three minutes, and depending on how good the singer is, could contain only 10 words. (Words are stretched and sometimes transition into “instrumentals.”) I don’t think this is a musical “trend,” but someone needs to check on it. It’s insane!

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

The Killers came back to life a bit ago, and I would really enjoy seeing them live. They’re a long-time favorite of mine, along with the ’00 era.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Some people judge this, but I love Harry Styles from One Direction—not the band he was in, but his solo career really represents some old British rock genres, like some sort of pub rock.

What’s your favorite music venue?

There is something absolutely amazing about Pappy and Harriet’s. The minute you walk into that place, you know it’s kinda speaking to you. It’s a place with built-in emotion, but gently can welcome you into any act/situation. Seriously, a great place.

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

“Pineapples are in my head, got nobody ’cause I’m brain dead,” Glass Animals, “Pork Soda.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Paul McCartney has changed my life, as a man and icon. He has showed a certain light to creating a band, and has an overall wholesome story of how he took his career along, in every step. He’s a constant inspiration.

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

Alex Trimble, Two Door Cinema Club: Why do you always come back from tour with drastic haircuts? It’s overwhelming.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Revolution 9” by The Beatles, just to really scare people and (make them) wonder what the heck is going on. Maybe it’ll convince someone I’m resurrecting or something.

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

Right now, it’s Glass Animals’ How to Be a Human Being. Give it to me like my last meal, and I’m good.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Go listen to Sleeping Habits’ “Can’t Decide Your Love.” You might end up discovering your new favorite band. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13

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 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 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.)

Published in The Lucky 13

The members of the BrosQuitos have spent the past few years working on their music and performance skills—and all that hard work is paying off: The band will be releasing its first full length album, Vinyl Image, at an album-release party at the Indio Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m., Saturday, May 13. For more information, visit the BrosQuitos’ Facebook page. The BrosQuitos’ bassist, Max Powell, was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

Britney Spears. My dad got tickets to the show and brought the whole family, and my nana slept through the entire performance.

What was the first album you owned?

Probably From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy. It was one of the first modern bands that piqued my interest as a kid, so, of course, I had to go out and buy the album.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Colony House, Coin, and Joywave. Colony House just came out with a new album with some real killer material.

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

A lot of people have been raving about Mac DeMarco, and me and the guys have sat and tried to give him a try, but nothing really clicked.

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

The Virgins. Sadly, they’re not together anymore, but I’ll still be listing to them like they are.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Maroon 5; there’s something about them I’ve always liked.

What’s your favorite music venue?

The Red Rocks Amphitheatre (outside of Denver). It’s the most beautiful scenery a venue could have, and it’s always been my dream to play there.

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

Lyrics from the song “Time to Pretend” by MGMT have always stuck with me since I was a kid: "We’ve got the vision, now let’s have some fun. Yeah it’s overwhelming, but what else can we do? Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?"

What band or artist changed your life? How?

The Shins. They have a lot of songs with meaningful lyrics—and always great music.

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

To the band Bastille, I’d ask how they changed their sound from their first album to their second, because there is a MAJOR difference.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Get Down on It” by Kool and the Gang. It’ll probably be less relevant than it is now, but I think it’s a good funeral song, if that isn’t too morbid.

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

The best album I’ve ever listened to is Torches by Foster the People. The album is loaded with beautiful tunes.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Up 2 U” by Walk the Moon—one of their best songs, hands down. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

During the month of December, there are more than enough events to keep you entertained—whether you’re in the Christmas spirit or not.

The McCallum Theatre has a great list of Christmas-themed events. At 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 5, enjoy a special Christmas presentation from the Vienna Boys Choir. One of the best known boys’ choirs in the world, the group’s various incarnations perform about 300 concerts a year. Fun fact: The boys in the choir are around the ages of 10 to 14. Tickets are $37 to $77. Locals will take the stage at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, in a show being assembled by Best of Coachella Valley radio personality Jim “Fitz” Fitzgerald of CV 104.3 called “A CV Christmas.” The show will feature Kal David and Lauri Bono, Ronnie King, Brightener, John Stanley King and others. Tickets are $27 to $67. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, Johnny Mathis will be bringing his 60th anniversary Christmas tour to the McCallum. You can’t go wrong with Johnny, especially when he’s singing Christmas tunes. Tickets are $67 to $137. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787;

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has some good stuff onstage in December. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, Celtic Woman will be performing a Christmas-themed show as part of the “Home for Christmas: The Symphony Tour.” Celtic Woman has made a name for itself by performing Celtic music that’s mixed with folk and new-age sounds. The group’s Christmas repertoire is very popular and has added to Celtic Woman’s success. Tickets are $49 to $89. If you aren’t in the Christmas music mood … at 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, there will be a performance by ARW (Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman). These three members of YES hadn’t performed together in 25 years, so this is one tour you’ll want to catch if you’re a rock music fan. Rick Wakeman made the Moog what it is today in rock music, and Trevor Rabin’s guitar-playing is legendary in prog rock. Tickets are $39 to $79. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, the Goo Goo Dolls will be returning to the Coachella Valley. I’ve mentioned how annoying it was hearing the song “Iris” over and over during my junior and senior years of high school … and my high school even made the song part of my prom. Ugh! Tickets are $49 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946;

The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has a couple of events worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Penn and Teller will be stopping by. Originally known for magic shows that included comedy, the duo stepped it up for a television show on Showtime called Bullshit!, which featured the duo taking on a variety of subjects, from Sept. 11 conspiracy theories to bottled water and beyond. Tickets are $45 to $65. Looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? At 10:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 31, bring in 2017 with Huey Lewis and the News. Huey is a big part of one of my more tortured childhood Christmas memories: I once asked for a Metallica album … and received his Sports album instead. Boo, Huey! Boo! Tickets are $105 to $125. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29 has a couple of intriguing December offerings. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, former Supertramp vocalist and songwriter Roger Hodgson will be performing. He wrote most of Supertramp’s most well-known hits, which have sold more than 60 million records, so this should be a pretty good show. Tickets are $45 to $65. At 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 91 and 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10; and 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 11, Spotlight 29 will be hosting its Winter Gathering Pow Wow. This Native American custom includes dancing, singing, visiting and the renewing of old friendships. This event is free and family friendly.Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella;

After an epic summer, Morongo Casino Resort Spa’s entertainment schedule has slowed down just a bit—but there are a couple of great December shows worth mentioning. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, Morongo will be opening the Drum Room, a new bar and lounge on the 26th floor of the hotel. The grand opening will feature some great cocktails and appetizers in the venue, which has great leather seating and huge windows offering stunning views of the desert. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, there will be a performance by the Charlie Daniels Band. If you’ve never seen the Charlie Daniels Band, trust me: Mr. Daniels puts on one hell of a show, even though he’s 80 years old and has survived prostate cancer—with a pacemaker installed in his chest to boot. He was a highlight of Stagecoach in 2013. Given this is Christmas, you can expect some Christmas tunes mixed into his Southern-rock set. Tickets are $25 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has some events in December you shan’t miss. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9, Hanni El Khatib (upper right) will be returning to Pappy’s after a stunning sold-out show earlier this year. Hanni El Khatib denied being a blues man when I interviewed him last year, but blues and hard rock are definitely part of his sound. This show is a must-see. Tickets are $15 to $20. At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 22, it’s locals’ night when The BrosQuitos and Yip Yops play Pappy and Harriet’s. This is a much-deserved gig for both local bands—groups with bright futures ahead of them. Admission is free. After the presents have been opened, and the holiday hangover has set in, get yourself to Pappy’s at 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 26, for the Evangenitals. The Evangenitals is one of the best bands to see when you’re sad—because you’ll enjoy a lot of laughs at the no-holds-barred humor. Oh, and be sure to stay until the end when the band does its own personal rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Admission is blessedly free. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Purple Room has a fine December schedule. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 9,and Saturday, Dec. 10, the Kinsey Sicks will be bringing a holiday show, “Oy Vey in a Manger!” to the Purple Room. The Kinsey Sicks is known as “America’s Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet” and is named after the Kinsey scale—with six meaning “exclusively homosexual.” Formed in 1993 in San Francisco, the group has earned a reputation as one of the LGBT community’s most entertaining and hilarious groups. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, the Martini Kings will be performing. Back in October, when I was at Pappy and Harriet’s for Paul McCartney’s show, I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Marsico of the Martini Kings. He was once a sideman for Bob Dylan, and he told me some fascinating stories from those days. The Martini Kings have a sound that modernism fans will love—and the group should turn in a great Christmas show. Tickets are $25. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

The Hood Bar and Pizza has announced a December show you’ll want to mark down on your calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10, Dali’s Llama will be performing, along with other great bands such as Supersonic Dragon Wagon; an old group including Zach Huskey of Dali’s Llama, Hot Beat Pussy Fiend; and Sleazy Cortez. Admission is free! The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220;

The Date Shed has one event in December worth mentioning. At 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 2, there will be a performance by Too Short (below). During the ’90s, when the whole East Coast-West Coast rap thing was going full-force, one man worked with both 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G.—and that was Too Short. While his lyrics are about pimping not being easy (Has it ever been easy?), and “bitch” is nothing but a word to him, he’s a legend of the genre. Tickets are $25. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe Street, Indio; 760-775-6699;

Published in Previews

Desert Hot Springs’ BrosQuitos is going places: Thanks to an indie-rock sound that is as melodic as it is catchy, the band has signed a record deal and will soon be putting out a new record.

During a recent interview at his home in Desert Hot Springs, frontman James Johnson took me into the space where he practices with Max Powell (bass), John Clark (lead guitar) and Hugo Chavez (drummer). It’s a nice spot—but it does not have air conditioning.

“It’s brutal during the summer,” Johnson said.

On the walls are old records by people such as Gordon Lightfoot and Eddie Rabbitt. There’s even a copy of Handel’s Messiah.

“I have Beatles records I will not put up, because they’re from the 1960s, and they’re in really good condition,” Johnson said. “These are some of the records I thought were scratched and couldn’t play anymore. There are some soundtracks for things, like The Amazing Spider-Man, from the first cartoon they ever made. My grandma has gone through each and every one of these records with me, and we sat and listened to them. I got this whole box, and it brought up a lot of nostalgia for me.”

Johnson started the band about four years ago. He conceded that it has not been easy—and that, yes, there has been some drama.

“Our name has been around for about four years,” he said. “We’ve been in and out of members, and that’s something that’s been the story with us. … We feel we have progressed into something that’s going to be decent. I started out in this room and didn’t really have any gear. We didn’t even have a drum set, and now we have two drum sets, and we’re full of gear.

“We started the current formation of the band last year. We realized that the name face of what I was doing was the songwriting—and the way I was writing was something I really wanted to stick to.”

The BrosQuitos have gone through the Tachevah contest twice now—and finished as the runners-up to Brightener this year.

“The first competition we went through was bad,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t bad as far as how the competition went and how they organized it, but for us, it was a major loss. … At the time, we had a lead guitarist who wasn’t working out, and the music was just not harmonizing well with what we were doing. We had to force him and all of that energy into a competition. It was something where we thought we had it all and went into it egotistically—and we lost.

“We went home that night and pretty much reevaluated our careers. We asked ourselves what we really wanted: ‘Do you want to have nights like this every other night?’ We dropped a couple of members after that. One member got engaged and went in that direction, and we went in this direction—and came back again and won second place behind Brightener.”

Johnson offered some words of advice for any musicians who are considering entering Tachevah.

“If you want to get your band into it, you need to make sure you’re ready. It’s going to be something that’s very brutal, anxiety-driven, and you need to make sure your music is ready, unless you want to get offended,” he said. “You can easily just disappear with all of those acts you play those shows with.”

I asked Johnson whether he felt that losing Tachevah—or any other contest—reflected negatively on a band.

“I feel like at times, it can be,” he said. “As much as people are going to get pissed at me for saying that, and saying, ‘It doesn’t matter if you win or lose,’ it does matter. If you lose, you need to re-evaluate what you’re doing and why you lost. In a sense, losing can be better than winning, because you can reprogram yourself to what you need to focus on, and what your drive is. If you win, it could pump your ego too much, and the next time around, you could be too pumped up and ready to go. I think you need to have an equal balance of winning and losing, and that goes both ways. I’m sure Justin Bieber feels like he’s a winner.”

The BrosQuitos recently released a single, “Here or Anywhere,” from the upcoming album.

“We recorded our album at LunchBox Studios with David Franklin. … He has a beautiful studio in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere,” Johnson said. “Hugo (Chavez), our drummer, got into a horrible fire accident and had to record the album with gauze all over his hands.

“When we release this, it’s going to mean a whole lot to us.”

That aforementioned new album will soon be released on DownPour Records. After talking about the messy breakup that the Yip-Yops have dealt with over the past year after signing with and then breaking from Hood and Associates, Johnson said he feels DownPour is leading his band in the right direction.

“We’ve been taken to Capitol Records, been given tours of Conway Studios twice, and we have a producer from Conway Studios who’s remastering our tracks,” he said. “We’ve been blessed this past year … and they’ve been paying for a lot. It’s a very small label in California. Everyone was a little intimidated when we signed, but I think they’ve all seen the progression afterward.”

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