Article by Brian Whipp
4th of July Beach Party 2010, Playa Del Rey
My 4th of July started with a flaming cupcake piñata being hurled off the roof of my 4 story work loft in downtown to a drunken chorus of "America the Beautiful." I knew it was going to be a good one. In 12 hours the real party I was waiting for would begin. Meet Me at the Pub, Ease UP, Sand Section, Kat, my band A Bear With A Car on Top, and possible others were going to be playing at a house right on the beach in Playa Del Rey. Word on the flyer was 6 kegs, 5 bands and 1 taco truck.
As the party was getting set up, I think the scene could be best described in some dialogue I overheard between one of the party hosts, who was hosing down a slip n slide, and a middle aged woman who had just pitched her lawn chair in the sand: "Hey your probably gonna wanna move, because we are getting ready for a party, and theres gonna be loud music here, and all that area right there is gonna be the party area where the crowd is gonna be; so what I suggest to you is to move over here more maybe by the volleyball courts or the lifeguard stand."
"Oh, ok… no problem. Would you like a glass of wine?"
"No thanks, I got pretty shitty last night I'm trying to keep it cool for now."
Sand Section kicked off the music somewhere around 2pm. Coming right off their first tour, Sand Section busted out a really tight set. Their songs have really solid rhythms and the harmonies and alternating lead vocals of Jeff Nisen (Guitar) and Tony Gonella (Bass) come through with perfect balance. I sat down for a quick interview with Tony before the show:
So how long has Sand Section been around?
We've been around for… I'm gonna say ten years. We've been playing since we were 12 years old, in Sam the drummers garage the entire time. But we got serious last year. So we've really been going at it seriously for about a year.
Where are you guys based out of.
Based in Manhattan beach in Sam's garage.
What changed that got you serious about music?
Well we were all at different colleges the last 4 years and I think about 6 months before graduation we realized the real world sucks man! So we decided to give it a go. I think that was it, no one really had anything lined up so we were just like fuck it let's do it.
Awesome, so who recorded your album, "Truth Over Harmony"?
This guy Billy Clien recorded it over at LMU. He engineered it.
Did you guys do it at the LMU studio?
That must have been fun.
Yeah it was sick. We've actually recorded there like 8 or 9 years ago with a different band, but yeah it was good to get back in there and it was all free coz it was his school project so that was sick. And we mastered it at Total Access over in redondo - mixed and mastered it there. It was worth the money for sure. They did a killer job.
And so how have things been going since then?
It's been going good, dude, this last week we embarked on our first tour. It was California; we were up in Roseville and Tahoe, SLO, santa barbara, down in san diego and all over the place and it was good, it was successful. So I think at this point its just all about putting in the hours and playing the little shows to nobody, playing the shows to a bunch of people, its just getting the music out there to people. So Yeah, we are stoked and we are giving out album away on a donation basis. Thats been really cool because sometimes you'll get 25 bucks for a cd, sometimes people take it for free and thats fine, whatever, its just getting it out there.
Cool, so anything to add?
Go check out Jeff's blog on sandsectionmusic.com its pretty funny.
After Sand Section it was time for my band, "A Bear With A Car On Top," to play. It was really awesome getting to play on the beach. The open sky, the fresh air, the sand, the waves, all inspired us to open up with a psychedelic reggae rock jam and when I stepped up to the mic, freestyle flows exploded on the bikini clad crowd like the whip cream in the end of the Katy Perry video "California Girls". Ok, after watching the video again that might have been a bit of an overstatement.
At this point the video camera ran out of batteries. I admit, better planning could have prevented this, but mistakes are made when partying is a priority. I did however, get audio from the next couple bands before my card finally filled up on my Boss Micro BR digital recorder.
The next band was "The Originalites" who were added to the bill earlier that day. They were a pleasant surprise. Their upbeat ska reggae rhythms and sax solos by their singer Mike Belk definitely inspired some good old fashioned skank dancing on the beach. I talked with Mike after the show:
Hey my names Mike Belk, the bands called The Originalites. And we're based out of Fountain Valley, Orange County.
Hey so, how long have you guys been playing?
We've been playing for about two years now.
Do you guys get up to LA county much?
A couple times we got up to the Keyclub, we are trying to establish more fans in LA county.
Do you have any EP's right now?
Yeah we are in the process of making a professional EP at 17th St studios.
Sweet, shout out to Lou Dog, hey isn't that him here there?
Yeah thats him, we just played a show last night with him and Kat. We're really glad we met those guys. He's working on our EP right now.
Nice man, I dug the sound, especially the harder stuff and I liked the timbale rack the drummer had.
Yeah roto toms.
For people who haven't heard of you guys where can they check out your music?
We are on reverberation.com, just search us.
Where are your favorite places to play?
My favorite is Di Piazzas in long beach, we played there last night, the sound guy is really good.
Nice. How did you end up hooking up with Ease UP and those guys?
Through the studio. We met Kat and then Justin from Ease UP and it all intertwines. We just go down there and jam and party at the studio sometimes and we meet each other, and he invited us just last night to play here.
Well I'm glad he did man coz you guys were sick.Thanks.
After a taco and a few more beers I ran into Lewis Richards of the 17th Street Recording Studio out in front of the house and we got a chance to talk:
How long have you had the recording studio?
For like ten years..
Was that already an exhausting studio or did you start it from scratch?
Yeah we started from scratch
So you guys built that place up on your own?
What have the last ten years been like?
Its been a lot of fun. It's been like a big blur. You ever like party for seven days in a row? And have it be a big blur? Its like that.
What are some of your most fond or coolest memories from the spot?
Working with the Dirty Heads was really fun. They came to me after the Dirty Demo. I think the first song we did was "Ring the Alarm."
Did you do "Neighborhood"?
Yeah I did "Neighborhood."
That one is one of my favorites, the Massive Attack sample is sick!
Yeah me and Jared did that one together it was way fun.
So do you have a lot of demand for your services right now? It seems like your doing a lot of bands.
Yeah I do a lot of bands. For sure.
So do bands just come and approach you and want to work out a deal for EPs and LP's?
Yeah totally. A lot of bands come into me in one level and they come out at another level.
How many bands do you work on at one time?
I don't know actually, I've probably worked on 100 this year.
How many projects do you have going at once?
Probably at one time ten projects at the most, but I play in a lot of the bands I work on too. It's fun.
So I hear your doing a 17th street compilation?
Yeah. (Louie hands me a CD.)
So how many bands are on there?
Nice we got Seedless, E-Day, Sinizen, Kat, Massiv, Degreggor, Ease Up, Knowledge Born… nice.
Yeah its a real good cd, hope you enjoy it.
So where can people get this compilation?
They can hit it up on Facebook or Myspace. We are gonna get it out there soon.
So what was the other projects you wanted to talk about?
Oh Stone Ave.
And they are here on the compilation?
Yeah. Its a new project I have coming out of newport beach, its like a Dirty Heads kinda rapish singing thing, but real good beachy vibe, with cool locals and cool lyrics, good songs. Kat sings with us too a lot. So its really good, everyone kinda helps everyone out its really cool like that.
Cool, so is there anything you wanna say if you were quoted in an article?
I wandered back outside to catch Ease UP just getting into their first Jam. Mike from the Originalites was back up on sax ripping up a solo when Rico started with his smooth melodies and Justin came in on harmonies while laying it down hard on bass. Sully from Meet Me At the Pub was filling in on drums that day but all the guys still sounded like a solid group. They were jamming, building up songs and hitting mad stops that left the crowd singing. After their first song, they went into a medley of "Legalize It" which I think really captured the vibe of the party at this point. The dance floor was really starting to move and a couple of guys with djembes up front really added to the flavor. When the band transitioned into a cover of Garden Grove by Sublime more and more people started moving towards the music and the band had the whole crowd yelling "Finding roaches in the pot!" At this point the spirit caught me and I jumped up and grabbed the mic and ripped out a freestyle. At the end of that Rico went straight into Saw Red, and Kat jumped up on vocals and traded off with Rico. Off to the side, Jack from Meet me at the Pub was dubbing out the vocals, making this song in my opinion, the high point of the show. Everyone was definitely feeling it and the collaboration of all the bands coming together was really amazing.
Somewhere after that jam my recorder filled up, so I have no concrete evidence that the following actually happened, but I remember a long trip to the store where we bought a loaf of Hawaian bread and a can of spam and devoured the whole thing. Before we left though, I got a chance to check out Kat's set, which featured Louie Richards on guitar, Justin Ianelli on bass and Sully from MM@TP on drums. Kat's great smile and positive energy really inspired the crowd. She sang a bunch of reggae rock originals and did a rendition of "Take Another Little Piece of My Heart" by Janis Joplin and "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles. On the way back from the store we got an epic fireworks display from the bluff overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, by the time we got back I had totally missed "Divine Crime" but I checked them out on their myspace (
When I got back to the house Meet Me at the Pub was about to get started. Unfortunately they only got a chance to play three songs because the cops shut the party down shortly after they began. They opened up with The Butt Song and then went into a fast punk song at which point a mosh pit formed around me, and I had to swirl in a circle and punch and kick to save my soul. Then they jammed out their classic "Ganja" just before the 5-0 came in. Jeremy sung a good bye to the crowd and we all toasted and hollered and cheered one more time in honor of our countries' independence.
The crowd gradually dispersed and people went back to their cars to be met with a gridlock of traffic and police check points. Knowing there was more fun to be had, I went out in search of another party. What happened after that I've got to save for another story. But overall, the day lived up to the hype. 2010, best year ever.
Got to give a huge shout out to the party hosts and Justin Ianelli from Ease UP for putting the show together!
by Brian Whipp