Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 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

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.”

For more information on the BrosQuitos, visit