There’s nothing quite as devilish as a little dish, is there?
You know it’s true, otherwise, you wouldn’t be here at HEADROOM, the official source of all dirt dug on the artists who’ll be tearing up the stages of this December’s youbloom LA 2015 Music Festival . We’ve got over 50 bands lined up already for this winter’s hottest fest, and with that much rock ‘n’ roll in one place, there’s bound to be something juicy to unearth.
In my other job, as youbloom‘s very own private eye, I’ve learned a thing or two about a thing or two, and before I burst at the seams, I invite you to sit down, take a load off, and bask in a little of the gossy stuff – all horse’s mouth, scout’s honor.
You know how first bands can make or break you, musically speaking? Somehow, these all led to make.
Kevin Proctor (songwriter/keys/guitar, Direct Divide): My first band was a group of fellow football players and bored teenagers who played Ted Nugent, Metallica and Slayer covers. We were called War Dance and definitely should have had one of those logos that just looks like a leafless tree. SO METAL! My second band sounded a lot like Hootie and the Blowfish.
Razz: (songwriter/vox/violin): My first band was an all-girl pop punk quartet called the BlowUpDollz. Think 90’s pop punk meets 80’s hair metal and you’ve got the gist. I LOVED that band; we were underage, unapologetic troublemakers sneaking into dive bars to play gigs. We are all still very good friends even though the band isn’t together anymore. We just had a reunion show this year that was hilarious. I definitely learned a lot about stage presence and antics from that group.
It’s a curious thing, the electric violin. At once impossible to ignore and signature (what would The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” be without it?), it’s a rarity in rock and pop music; its full range of sounds as yet uncharted in the more well-known genres. Putting it front and center are what Direct Divide do, which is both brave and intriguing, their unique sound complemented by tight rhythms, searing vocals, and intelligently placed guitar melodies. For fans of: Lourds, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Andrew Bird’s darker stuff
BJ Smith: When I was 17, I met up with another male vocalist and two female vocalists through a friend of my parents who managed bands. We used to toy around singing songs a capella, and quickly formed a vocal group called Black Suede. Our manager said we needed a band and knew of one looking for a vocalist. We went to Santa Ana, California to meet up with this band (they called themselves Oasis, but not the Oasis you’re thinking of). We walked into the rehearsal – they sounded great! They were funky!! They had a conga player, a dude with timbales, synths, a sax player, and a drummer with electronic triggers. They were groovin’ all the funk and R&B jams you heard on black radio stations. I was in awe, like, damn this is the S#+t! Then out of nowhere, their manager and bass player started arguing. They knuckled up and started straight out brawling! We stood there in amazement; we’d rehearsed on our way there, but still had not sung a note! When the fight was over, the bass player grabbed his gear and left, and so did half the band. It was all over before it even started. A few weeks later we came back, they had a few new members and we did our first gig together in LA. We didn’t have a sound man, our mics were feeding back…we thought we sounded great until we were done, and the DJ started spinning the songs we’d just played as a way to mock us! That was last gig Oasis featuring Black Suede ever did; nevertheless, I got the bug, and the rest was history!
Cool, clever, and impassioned, the masterly BJ Smith has the kind of industry chops you hear whispered about across the bartop when he walks into the room. He produces. He sings and plays. He writes songs. He tours with top brass; picks his own band members; slides an R&B song your way like passing a love note. He’s impeccable. Don’t miss him. For fans of: Luther Vandross, Freddie Jackson, your own heartbeat
Brian Kirk (drums, Round 12): The first band I was in was with my two cousins who lived 35 and 120 miles away. We would practice once a month (if we were lucky). We were a “christian punk” band and we were booed off stage at our first performance.
A truly eclectic band if ever there was one. Vocals are raw and obstinate. Instrumental phrases seem cobbled together by a deranged Gepetto who was listening to Motorhead at the time. You can bang your head one minute, sway drunkenly the next. It’s capable, engaging, and likeable, as if it can’t be restrained by just one choice. For fans of: Frank Zappa, Stiff Little Fingers, Van Der Graaf Generator (we know)
Matthew Irwin (rhythm guitar/lead vox, Foreign Affairs NI): The first band I was in didn’t have a name. When I was 15 I was desperate to create my own music and play punk rock songs in any way I could! So I got into contact with a few friends on social media and we jammed and unsuccessfully played one show! We didn’t have a drummer so we borrowed another bands’ and he arrived late and too drunk to hold a beat! I was also a massive cringe – it was all very embarrassing. However, it did make me feel cool at the time so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
An ardent, sincere take on a well-loved genre. Sounds are clean and tight. There’s energy and storytelling in spades. Foreign Affairs NI show up with their hearts on their sleeves, ready to sleep on your kitchen floor if you’ll let them play a gig. This is how the best pop punk should be. For fans of: The Ataris, You Know The Drill, The Get Up Kids