“You guys have been the greatest crowd on this tour!”
“We love you, Pomona. We love coming back here!”
“Riverside really is like our second hometown!”
How many times have you heard the above lines blurted out by the lead vocalist during between-song stage banter at a local show?
Now, how many times have the bands really meant what they said (and didn’t use the same lines on Phoenix’s crowds the night before)?
As we discovered, there actually are several acts from outside the IE’s borders that totally love playing our vicinity (and some are even planning on making a permanent move, just as Slayer’s Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman recently did).
So, we assembled a roundtable discussion with the Vandals’ Joe Escalante (current home: Culver City), Zebrahead’s Ben Ozz (Orange County), Soda Pop Kids’ Jonny P Jewels (Portland, OR), Killing California’s Danny Craig (San Clemente), DevilDriver’s Dez Fafara (Ventura), and Animosity’s Leo Miller (San Francisco), to find out just why these folks keep comin’ back. Here are the answers—and yeah, love really is in the IE’s oft-polluted air.
What cities/areas of the I.E. does your band usually frequent?
BEN OZZ: Riverside, San Berdoo.
JOHNNY P. JEWELS: Corona, Riverside.
DANNY CRAIG: Riverside and Moreno Valley.
JOE ESCALANTE: I hang in Chino Hills!
DEZ FARFARA: We’ve played Glen Helen out in Devore, we’ve also played the Glass House in Pomona, and my whole family lives in Temecula and Murrieta.
LEO MILLER: Corona, Pomona.
Why is the IE so important to your band?
B.O.: It really is so close to home (OC), yet far enough way where you can play Orange County and the IE. But I hate going to LA to play shows.
J.P.J.: There are tons of kids who still actually love going to see live music. It’s one area in Southern California where people still seem willing to travel out of their zip codes to see bands they like which is half the battle in California. Everything is so spread out, but the Inland Empire seems to really have a solid concentration of showgoers that want to have a cool time.
D.C.: The people! They seem to be a bit more interactive than your typical jaded OC crowd.
J.E.: It seems like our popularity increased with every new housing development that went up in the IE. We are a suburban band. We thrive in suburbs.
D.F.: It has great venues for rock shows, and the fans of metal come out in force.
L.M.: Because people here shamelessly buy stuff from us, spending all their allowance. The shows down here are usually guaranteed to be some of the largest and most energetic audiences.
Are there any IE bands that your band is friends/acquaintances with?
B.O.: Have always really liked Voodoo Glow Skulls and Face to Face—we actually just ran into Voodoo Glow Skulls at a festival in Germany. Great guys!
D.C.: Whiskey and Knives, Madison Bloodbath, Turkish Techno—we pretty much owe Party Marty for anyone we know in the IE.
J.E.: Lots of them: Assorted Jelly Beans, Voodoo Glow skulls, Alien Ant Farm, Queens of the Stone Age. I guess we meet these people when our bands play together.
Is there a favorite IE venue your band likes to play?
J.P.J.: Showcase Theatre. I grew up in San Diego and used to drive up to see a lot of the old classic punk bands play there. They still keep the tradition alive to this day. It’s one of the coolest venues in Southern California actually.
D.C.: Worthington’s and Cheers. Once again, the people, they’re in it for the music.
J.E: We loved the Showcase Theater in Corona. It was family run, and created a renaissance for us—a real second chance. It was like having another OC, just with more meth. Now it’s the Glass House, probably. Very well run and centrally located. Great sound system. Goldenvoice is a great promoter
If your band could relocate to the IE, where would you set up camp?
B.O.: I kinda like Corona or even Riverside. There still are places to get decent size land and make tons of noise without people getting all up in your business.
J.P.J: Probably Corona, can’t figure out why there are so many diehard kids there, but there are, shows always are awesome at Showcase and seem to always bring them out in full force, plus there is pretty good Mexican food there and you can never beat a good burrito.
J.E.: Palm Springs. We would wear white outfits and just be ourselves in an open-minded, freethinking kind of way.
D.F.: I’m actually getting ready to move to Temecula.
What makes your band’s IE fan base different from other fan bases?
J.P.J.: Dedicated and energetic! Something holds peoples’ interest a bit longer, no one seems quite as jaded quite as quickly around that area, it’s always refreshing to see enthusiastic faces at a show. Nothing in the world is better than that actually.
D.C.: Again, I’m sticking with the people. Whether we’ve played to 10 people or 50, they all come down and get into the music, they’re not just a bunch of bystanders, y’know? Most our fans end up becoming our friends. We see them every time we come back and it’s a big party.
L.M.: I think the scene in general is just a lot bigger down here than anywhere else in the country.
Anything else you’d like to add about the IE?
B.O.: Many girls I have dated were from the IE and I thank you for having healthy and extremely good-looking girls.
J.P.J.: It’s really hot there, but at least there is plenty of irrigation. Hydration is half the battle they always say, so the IE is covered!
J.E.: I met my wife at Spanky’s in Riverside and we’ve been married about 12 years.
D.F.: Yeah, support your local Hell’s Angels!