Throughout the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, Santa Cruz was a breeding ground for pissed off punk rock acts. The raw aggression inherent in the sound was greatly reflected in the generations of high-flying skaters and no holds barred surfers; fueled by aggressive lyrics, heavy riffs, thumping bass, and warp speed drumming. This was especially the case during the ‘90’s, where an explosion of diverse acts saturated the local music scene. While this over-saturation nailed a coffin in the lively scene, there are some legendary acts who remain favorites to this day. One such band was Lost Cause.
In 1993, young punk rock enthusiast and surfer Shane Rafferty knew he wanted to sing in his own band. He’d written some lyrics but didn’t have the crew to help him put them to music. One fateful day he got a chance to listen to his buddy Zack Mitchell’s demo tape. Mitchell, a drummer, had recorded some songs with guitarist Kalu Coletta and bassist Gabe Makenzie. Upon first listen, Rafferty could hear his lyrics pair up with the group dynamic in his mind, and immediately wrote up a few songs’ worth of lyrics practically overnight. Before long the crew was jamming. “Lost Cause” was born.
Their sound was old-school punk, heavily influenced by bands like B’last and Black Flag. Standout tracks include “21”, “My mind”, “Empty Bottle”, and “Tomorrow” (their most popular song to date). It wasn’t long before the local boys had won over the Santa Cruz punk crowd. In 1996 they were signed to Half Pint records. Copyright complications compelled to group to change their name, and for a few more years they performed under the moniker “Leveler”.
Sound and Fury *notice author in red surrounded in the Pit*
Around 2003,grown-up responsibilities led this tight act to disband, with Rafferty and Makenzie raising families and moving inland, while Coletta migrated to Oahu to hone his surfboard shaping skills. Fast forward a dozen years later and Rafferty, who had moved home and raised a few babies, felt an urge to get the band back together but struggled to accommodate everyone’s busy schedules.
Fellow punk rocker Guerin Myall was celebrating his 50th and asked if the crew could come together. Coletta had returned but Mackenzie was still living and working in Oregon. Despite this, Rafferty figured “if you build it, they will come”, and agreed to play the show. Sure enough, everyone was able to get together to salute their fellow punk rocker’s half-centennial landmark and the magic resurfaced.
The Band is Back!
“It was like nothing had changed,” remembes Rafferty. “The energy was immediate!”
Now the boys are back— this time to play their first official show this Thursday at the Catalyst with fellow at Live Oak shredders, “Kemper’s Temper”.
Next Fall, Lost Cause will join the similarly reunited Santa Cruz punk band “Good Riddance” on October 5 at the Discovery in Ventura. The group plans on releasing music from the early cassette days and recording new music next Fall.
Come pay homage to these local lifelong punkers! Show starts at 8:30. This is one you don’t want to miss! Plus the cover is only $5!!!!!
Have you been super excited about something? In that excitement did you allow self doubt, sloth, and suffering to hijack your experience? After a lengthy break from writing, I got to thinking of interview subjects for this blog. I started with some steam, then, in large part due to the stress of chronic pain, I’d continually find myself having a hard time concentrating and finishing tasks, especially the ones that mean the most to me (strangely). With that being said, I’m embarrassed, yet excited to get this post out. After having the absolutely grand pleasure of interviewing Palm Desert vocalist John Garcia in 2016, this sloth relegated our conversation to the far corners of my Iphone’s data, neglected…a sad shame if you ask me!
Garcia is best known in my circle as the former singer for Kyuss, an early ’90’s “stoner rock” band that stunned the music world with epic albums such as Blues for the Red Sun and Welcome to Sky Valley. Along with Garcia, Kyuss had been composed of other legends like Josh Homme, Nick Oliveri, Scott Reeder, Alfredo Hernandez, and Brant Bjork. Kyuss played a large part in the surf scene in Santa Cruz, cemented when Santa Cruz video God Tony Roberts sprinkled the band’s heavy yet spacey sound throughout some of his classic Santa Cruz-centric flicks.
After listening to and singing his vocals in the shower for nearly twenty-five years, I’m beyond proud to share the conversation we had. Thanks to Mike Pygmie for hookin’ us up! Cheers!
Split Peak Soup-John, I’m such a huge fan of your music, as are so many of my friends up here in Santa Cruz. Have you spent any time up here?
John Garcia-Yeah man, Santa Cruz—what a cool, bitchin’ little town. David Insmore, Unida’s (one of Garcia’s other famous projects) is from Santa Cruz. So yeah, I’m familiar with your beautiful little town. What a great surfing community… I was fortunate to be able to watch a couple competitions up there as a kid. I’ve got some great memories of that place.
David Dinsmore of Santa Cruz- former Unida guitarist
SPS-Thanks John! Yeah, super lucky to call this place home…there’s so much going on! So, starting with Kyuss in about ’97, I have been hearing your voice on all my favorite albums, and here I am chatting with you, which is really fuckin’ surreal. I was wondering if there were any instances in which you were able to meet one of your idols?
The infamous Danzig
JG-I have, there’s two guys. I’m such a fan of singers. I’m just a fan of song. Glenn Danzig reached out to me in that way, as well as Ian Astbury (lead singer of the Cult). To this day, when I go see them, or run into them or whatever every once in a great while, I’m still starstruck. It’s not like we BBQ at the park with the family and shit like that, that’s not the case at all.
Ian Astbury is the reason I started singing, so running into him I’m a stammering fool….”uhhh…duuuhh…duhhh…uhhhh “(laughs). I don’t know what to say so I kinda’ clam up and do some small talk while I’m so fucking nervous. The flip-side of the coin is that, I used their styles of singing songs as guidelines for me. I was a fan and it helped me shape and mold my vocal style.
You know, I’ve always been kinda a realist myself…I’m a father, a husband, I’ve got a normal job and I never asked for any of this. I’m actually lucky to talk to a stranger over the telephone-wire who is a fan of something I helped create many many years ago. So, I myself are in awe even talking with you!
I’m about the whitest Mexican you’ll ever see in your life. I’m a dad to two wonderful children, have got a beautiful wife—everyone is happy and healthy, and I have so much to be thankful for. And one thing to be thankful, again, is to be driving my way to rehearsal talkin’ to a stranger, but a fan, so the pleasure’s all mine man. I don’t go to many shows at all anymore, but when I do, it’s to guys like Ian and The Cult, like the last show I went to. My wife and I went in as spectators and it was great seeing them perform.
SPS-Yeah, for sure. I’ve always loved the howls belted out by guys like Layne Staley, Glenn Danzig, and yours, in particular.
The late, great, Layne Staley of Alice ‘N Chains
Despite the fact that some of my favorite bands were pushed on me from the surf/skate culture, being a youngster on long road trips with my family really influenced my musical tastes. To this day I’m still listening to my parents’ stuff, like the Beatles, Clapton, Door, and even Bonnie Raite! In fact, Rubber Soul has been in my beat-up Honda’s CD player for about six months now (laughs). How about you? Do you have any musicians or groups that left an imprint on you at a young age?
Legendary Raitt always gives ’em somethin’ to talk about
JG– You mention Bonnie Rate, I’ve never heard a journalist, who I’ve spoken to at least, bring up an artist who may not be “cool” in someone else’s eyes. See, I appreciate that.
Because I appreciate a guy by the name of Maurice White and Phillip Bailey from a band called “Earth, Wind, and Fire”. I appreciate Al Green. I appreciate Rob Skaggs.
Coltrane in fine form
I appreciate Frank Sinatra, YES, John Coltrane- a diverse spread of musicians.
For the record, I have nothing against Monster Magnet!
People think I wake up in the morning, take a bong hit, and listen to the latest Monster Magnet CD; there’s nothing further from the truth. Matter of fact, my wife has said, “Jesus! Will stop listening to all this jazz, it’s driving me nuts!”, The older I get, I find my taste relax. For the past ten years I’ve been getting into stuff older than me- stuff from the 40’s,50’s,60’s.
Now, I’m looking more at “Rat Pack” stuff from the 50’s, 60’s. I’m a huge fan of laxing out to that old stuff. It could be Coltrane, could be Sinatra, but that was the only stuff I’ve been listening to for the past ten years. Of course, in my childhood years I was afraid to admit. I love Terence Trent D’Arby, this black dude from New York, whose an R+B guy who had some hits in the ’80’s like Wishing Well. This guy sings amazingly, so fucking amazingly! He blows me away to this day. And I’m a fan!
Anything that can make me feel, I don’t give a fuck who you are, I will admit, “That, is bad-ass. That was cool”. I appreciate the craft. Being a musician (I’m not going to say ‘as an artist [laughs]) I don’t take that kinda stuff too seriously
“I’m a 9-5, Mom ‘n Pop, Do It Yourself kind of guy—it’s just what I do. Everyone’s page is a little bit different, and I’m definitely not the guy trying to be cool, nor do I want to be cool, I just want to be me, a husband, a father, and that’s it”
Garcia and Nick Oliveri, former Kyuss Bassist
SPS-I’ve read somewhere that you worked at an animal hospital after Kyuss disbanded. Can you tell me a bit about your relationship to animals, and what makes that connection so strong?
Garcia-I’ve had that connection my whole life. As a kid, one of my first jobs was working at a pet store. Then a “no-kill” shelter. Shit, I probably should have become a veterinarian! I had a counselor up at UC Davis—one of the best vet schools in the country, but I kinda blew that opportunity. Schools just wasn’t for me; I was more hands-on. I like the arts. I love music and working with animals, and sometimes I wish I’d pursued the latter more proactively.
John and his beautiful wife Wendy at Desert Dunes Animal Hospital
Regardless, I have always, whether it be at a “no-kill” shelter or veterinarian clinic, pet-store or grooming facility, loved working with animals. To this day, I help I help run Palm Springs Animal Hospital, where, if I’m not doing X-Rays, I’m drawing blood, or loading rooms, or assisting a surgeon. I kinda get to wear all the hats and am stoked to be involved in that animal care scene.
SPS-What trait do you think you possess that most lends itself towards such a love for helping sick or injured animals; whether it be compassion, sensitivity, or empathy, etc? If so, how has this trait molded other aspects of your life?
Garcia– I’ve just always like animals…I don’t know if that makes me sensitive? I guess it’s just being there to help them in a selfless way, which may sound corny. But it’s true. I’ve always really appreciated the diagnostic side, giving the doctor information to use to help make the right diagnosis. That, for me, is very special and important to me. Some of these animals depend on this information to stay alive.
Look, Neal, I’ve been very lucky to have three things in my life that I love to do. One, being a musician. Two, working with animals. Most importantly however, I am a husband and father, a family-man. I keep my eye on the ball and the “eye on the ball” is the most important thing in my life and that means being there for my son, daughter, and wife no matter what. It’s important to be that dad. To be that husband. That’s my real passion in life; being there for them.
SPS-It seems like, to me, a lot of singers sing to the guitar. When I check out old Youtube footage of you performing with Kyuss and Slo Burn, I see you onstage slithering around like a snake, rocking back and forth, as if you sang to that heaver bass or drum beat. Do I have something there?
Garcia– Oh man, I can’t look at footage of me back then (laughs).
SPS– No way bud! You were in the moment…golden!
Vintage Garcia Mane
Garcia– (more laughs) Thanks Neal, I appreciate it. That’s a good way to put it—you’ll have to excuse me, I’m easily embarrassed. To answer your question, I’m a guitar guy, dude. So guitar-driven, vocally. Of course, the rhythm section is there. There’s no doubt about it, that rhythm section—the bass, kick, and snare—those have all got to be there or else the guitar won’t make any sense. Absolutely, 100% and unequivocally in my opinion.
Later in life, I started using in-ear monitors, and of course, I’d have some bass, kick, and snare in there, but mainly what I hear in my monitors is guitar. There’s a “lower” and a “higher” guitar, and I’d use the higher the most, the one that cut through the most, that’s the one I had in my in-ears. Sometimes, I do guitar and vocals only. Of course, I couldn’t do any of that without the rhythm section. Without that section it’s generally just a big fuckin’ mess. That’s a good question.
SPS-Well I know you gotta split, but I wanted to thank you for your time and the rad conversation!
Garcia- My pleasure Neal. Thank you for the interest! This is my number, call me anytime you wanna chat!
As promised, SPLIT PEAK SOUP will be bringing you front and center into the minds of three band members who will be playing a hard rocking show, March 27th at the Catalyst. In this installment we chat with the prolific guitarist/vocalist, Marc Lewis, of Doors To Nowhere. Here’s an excerpt of our conversation regarding his inspiration and motivation to create the music he loves.
Tell me a little bit about the formation of Doors to No Where. I know you’ve played in several bands, what led you to focus on this current project?
I was looking to do something new, I had done Live Wire for so long that I was ready for a change. With Live Wire, there was so many lineup changes making it not feel like a band anymore. My favorite part about being in a band is that time you have with your bro’s in the jam room. It’s therapy and such a good outlet. When I was in The Fire Sermon we reached a level in our live performances that were so powerful and moving. When we stopped playing and Live Wire ended I was a bit lost and not in the greatest place in my own life. When I was looking to start D2N I wanted to find like minded people that just wanted to play music. I didn’t want to get involved with anything fake or with the goal of being a rock star. I reached out to Sean (bass) and we just started jamming. It was just a natural and easy process. Once Pete joined us on drums and we started writing Lucky You I feel D2N really kicked into gear. I started to get indescribable feeling music gives you. I started to feel that power and energy in our live shows that I had with The Fire Sermon and Live Wire. I was hooked again! Music does that to you.
If you had to describe D2N’s style of music how would you put your sound into words?
That’s is such a hard question. I have so many influences musically, it’s hard to nail it down. I would hope that D2N has their own style and sound.
How influential has the desert/stoner rock genre been on your own musical development?
Enormous. So many bands I listen to can be traced back to that genre. They either influenced desert rock or were influenced by desert rock. The four Kyuss albums are such a big influence on me even wanting to play music those albums are staples of my childhood. All the of shoots from that genre have also made a large impact. Just think about all the amazing bands that can be traced back to the desert scene in some way. That sound and style will never get old to me.
A young man and his Axe
When you sing, I can sense a great deal of emotion behind your words. Are you the songwriter? Or does the band collaborate as a whole? Describe how you approach writing lyrics to a song, and how they reflect your personal experiences?
The songs I sing are all my lyrics. Sean who plays bass also sings and he writes his own lyrics. My lyrics definitely reflect my personal experiences. I always try to have a hidden meaning to my songs. I don’t wanna be too obvious but I usually have a point or a story I want to tell and if you have been in a similar situation you can definitely relate. I try not to be some prolific poet or preachy and just sing what I want and feel.
On the album Lucky You I touched a lot on the struggles that one could face and individuals that abuse power. The song Set Me Free was about someone who was made to feel worthless and weak unless they devote their whole life to a leader . The song Lucky You is about someone saying you can have it all as long as you you’re under my control and give up your free will.
Can you pick a song from Lucky You (maybe your favorite) and describe how it came together (from the riffs to the songwriting and lyrics and the gelling of the other musicians in the band) and what it feels like when all these elements come together?
I really dig the song Bones. I think Pete’s drumming really gives it such a unique and driving feeling that accompanies the main riff. Lyrically it is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s about being your own worst enemy and letting negativity break you down. It’s so easy to let life’s bad breaks destroy you. It’s easier to be a victim of circumstances rather than own up to them and accept responsibility for your own actions. The chorus is a reminder that everyone has dark days. I know I have had my share, but these day’s really make the good in my life even better. The love I have for my family, friends and the good I have just becomes stronger and more appreciated.
What’s it like playing shows with musicians you’ve looked up to like Clifford from Bl’ast and Nick Oliveri from Kyuss and Queens? Is it a surreal feeling, and does it make them feel more human when you are actually collaborating with them?
To me music is a surreal thing always. You can listen to a song and be transferred right back in time to the first time you heard it. Music can take you places for sure. When I listen to Blues For The Red Sun by Kyuss I can close my eyes and see myself right back in my dads car on the way to the beach. Playing with Nick is definitely a rad thing. I’m a huge fan of his music and we have become friends. I find that the musicians I have played with or met like Clifford and Nick that are doing this music thing because they have to or their life won’t be complete. Thats what I really respect because thats how I am. Over the years I have played shows with so many bands that are all about being rock stars. Everything is so formulated and over processed all way down to the clothes they wear. I don’t like to play shows with that vibe. Playing with bands like Mondo Generator, Bl’ast and You Know Who is what I want to be doing. We are friends and no ego’s are involved. Music is such a powerful communicator and source of inspiration. Nick, Mike and I could probably talk music all day and night.
Belting it out with passion
What can we expect from this show on March 27th? How do you think the lineup compliments each other and what sets them apart?
You can expect to have a good time and see some kick ass rock n’ roll. It’s amazing that some one of Nick Oliveri’s caliber is playing a show for only $5 and at such a small venue. It’s gonna be a real intimate environment. We are pumped to bring this tour home to SC. All three bands are playing music for the love and passion of playing music. None of us are about gimmicks or playing for fame or money. We are not gonna hide behind make up, tattoos or hair cuts. We just show up and give it our all to the songs we have written and rock out. All three bands play with energy and drive. All three bands are gonna bring big guitars and drums! Nick and the Uncontrollable are gonna bring that dangerous side of rock n roll. You Know Who is gonna deliver some incredible guitar playing. Mike Pygmie who plays Guitar for YKW shreds! As far as D2N, we are bringing new songs and heavy riffs. If you’re a fan of stoner rock or punk music you can’t miss this show. You’re gonna see three bands that are friends and ready to melt beards with Rock N Roll.
What can we expect from D2N in the future. Lucky You is an awesome combination of heavy riffs and heartfelt singing, can we expect more of the same?
We are gonna put out another record. We pretty much have most of it written already. Like “Lucky You” you’re going to hear heavy riffs for sure. When I write songs I tend to do the lyrics last after I feel the vibe of the song. Sometimes Sean and Pete hear something different and put their touch on it and can really change the vibe. For instance one of the new songs I wrote at home top to bottom lyrics and all. When I brought it in to play with the guys Pete starts in with this slow driving beat. That was not what I was hearing, but it changed everything in an amazing. These new songs we have definitely have something to say and I can’t wait to start this new record.
I was introduced to the heavy, psychedelic sounds of a band called Kyuss at an early age. Their sound was equally raw and hypnotic, a blend of howling vocals and soothing instrumentals that became somewhat of an obsession for me. Born out of the hot climes of Palm Desert, Kyuss wasn’t the first of its kind, but became ground breaker for introducing the world to the unique genre of music known as “Desert” or “Stoner” rock. Kyuss dissolved in the mid-nineties, and the remaining members continued to share their unique musical prowess with bands such as Queens of the Stone Age, Unida, and Mondo Generator. Twenty years after the breakup of Kyuss, their legacy still remains, and on March 27th at the Blue Lagoon, you’ll have the opportunity to taste the desert with three unique bands that retain that primal yet melodic sound. The lineup consists of Santa Cruz’s own Doors to Nowhere, the low desert area’s You Know Who, and Uncontrollable, featuring ex-Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age member Nick Oliveri. Over the next three weeks I’ll be interviewing Nick, along with Mike Pygmie of You Know Who, and Marc Lewis of Doors to Nowhere to bring you into their world. Stay tuned and make sure to mark your calendars for this epic rock event!