What has been your biggest difficulty in performing/organizing all-ages shows in San Diego?
Well over the years, I think I paid my dues as far as getting on good show. I worked at the Che, and knew so many people who have booked there over the years. Also, I have been part of the musical community here for so long, I have become friends with people who book around town. I mean, for San Diego, we are sort of screwed. Id love to see a venue like the Troubadour, where it’s all ages and had a bar. But for whatever reason we don’t get that. So in place artists tend to gravitate to playing houses, in parking lots, art galleries, and even secret underground sewage areas. These days I mainly work with Tim Mays who books The Locust and in the past has booked for other bands that I was part of like Some Girls and Head Wound City. If it’s not Tim booking at the Epicentre, its be booking at the Che or other random places. But for bands coming through, I know a lot of them have serious problems getting shows, especially if they want to play a good venue like the Casbah and not some dive bar where there is little to no promotion.
This may seem like an obvious question, but have any of your bands ever played The Casbah? If yes, have your experiences been positive or negative?
Nope. But I have been there a gazillion times to see bands that are on Three One G or even people whom I am or have been in bands with, play there in other bands. I think it’s a great venue and I’d very much like to play there. But it’s just not going to happen as far as I can tell.
I’m assuming you attend 21+ shows, but correct me if I’m wrong. If you do, what was the first show you saw at The Casbah? Who were you with? How was the show? What did you like/dislike about the club?
Yeah, like I said, I have gone there so many times. Its one of my favorite places to see live bands. I’ve even been thrown out when I went to see Das Oath play there. The first time I went, was to see someone play, but I was under age and watched from the door, back when it was up Kettner a bit more. I’ve even gone there with my mom to see shows. As far as dislikes, the only one is the age restriction. Sometimes the audience, but that can’t be blamed on the venue.
What was the most memorable concert you’ve seen at The Casbah? What happened that made it great and/or a total mess?
Awe man, there were so many. I’m pretty selective about shows I go to as I spend over half the year on tour playing shows. So when I go to a show at the Casbah, its friends like Melt Banana, Quintron, Melvins, The Chinese Stars, Zach Hill, and so on. So seeing friends perform is always memorable. The sound is great there, the people who all work there are cool, and the venue over all accommodates the artists who play there, making the shows good for the bands and the fans.
Aside from providing an opportunity for a younger audience to see your bands, what do you think the other advantages are in playing all-ages venues like the Che Café or The Smell in L.A.? Do you think it provides for a better live experience? Do you appreciate the communal aspect?
Well with the all ages’ circuit, you tend to get an audience who is more enthusiastic about the music. Like I said before, a younger all-ages crowd tends to be part of the show, which makes for a different feel. But I’m speaking for a type of music that I play. I suppose if I played in a band like the Bad Seeds or something, I’d be more apt to play age restricted shows. But I don’t want to lump all ages shows into one category. There is a definite difference between venues like the Che and the Smell compared to once like the Epicentre. And even with that, me and other local artists have drawn an ethical line with venues like Soma, who has ruined aspects of the San Diego music community for years, even since I was 13 or 14 years old. Len, the owner would shut down places like the Che, Soul Kitchen, Grape Street Alano Club, and many others. So I’d suck up my morals and play the Casbah, where the people involved are looked at as part of our musical community before I’d play Soma.
Do you think clubs like The Casbah appeal to more touring bands because they’ll almost always make more money there than if they play an all-ages venue? Do you think The Locust would be more or less successful and widely known if you regularly booked both 21+ clubs and all-ages clubs?
Bands probably get paid better playing the bar circuit. A cut of the bar that can be applied to the bands pay is always a plus. But then again, if the audience is at an all ages venue, they can’t buy booze, so what else can they buy? Merchandise! But as far as pay, ultimately what it comes down to is booking agents, and promotion. I think if the Che put more effort into promoting, it would have better turnouts at times. But you are talking about a collective who is all-volunteer compared to a paid staff. As far as what would be more successful for The Locust, I have no idea. I’m sure our morals and ethics for many things have harmed us. But you can’t buy dignity and integrity, so we opt to stick to our guns.
Do you know Tim Mays personally? Have you ever worked with him to book all-ages shows? If yes, what are the key differences between dealing with him and dealing with other show promoters in town?
I do know Tim. I love the guy. He has booked some of the bands I have been in, I have brought bands to him, and he treats everyone very well. He is a rare breed of promoter I must say. I have come across some real dick heads in my years of touring, so it’s always great to work with Tim here in San Diego.
Are there any show promoters in town whose business practices are deplorable? Anybody who’s a complete dick and shouldn’t be worked with?