CVIndependent

Tue12012020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

On April 1, Dennis and Kathleen Ford will celebrate the third anniversary of their purchase of Schmidy’s Tavern in Palm Desert.

Under the Fords, Schmidy’s has become one of the Coachella Valley’s most welcoming local-music venues, and has developed a great reputation among beer-lovers thanks to its impressive selection of craft beers and good food.

That’s why it’s heartbreaking to many that on that third anniversary—barring a miracle or sudden change of plans—Schmidy’s Tavern will close.

“As of April 1, 2016, Schmidy’s Tavern will be closing our doors for good,” Dennis Ford said in a Feb. 8 statement on Facebook. “We do not have a lease and have not had one for a year now. Our landlord wants to raise the rent 112 percent, and we simply cannot afford that. We have been paying 50 percent more for the past year, and it has taken its toll.

“We cannot continue like this.”


Several days after the announcement, Dennis and Kathleen Ford sat on the patio of Schmidy’s and discussed the anguish they were feeling—anguish they largely blamed on the landlord, Realty Trust Group of Wildomar, Calif.

“Our original lease expired a year ago this month. We’ve been month to month ever since,” Dennis Ford said. “I tried to negotiate a new lease with them back in December 2014, and they weren’t responsive. When they finally did respond, there was a 112 percent increase. I sent them the counteroffer that December, and didn’t hear back until March 2015, after the lease expired. They’ve been stuck on this number, and that’s something as a small business we just can’t absorb. I can’t sell enough beer to justify a 112 percent rent increase.

“For the last year, we’ve been paying 50 percent more. Anytime you’re month to month, you pay a higher rate. It’s to the point where it’s not worth it anymore. We have to do something before we die a slow and painful death and become completely broke.”

Dennis Ford said the problems with the lease have roots in the Great Recession.

“The original owner opened this place in 2009 and had an original lease in place,” he said. “In 2010 or 2011, during the heart of the recession, everyone was struggling, and they renegotiated their lease down to a certain dollar amount for the balance of the lease. When we came in and bought the place, we assumed that was the lease (with) the dollar amount that was renegotiated.

“When the lease expired, they went back to what they were getting at the end of the lease, before it was renegotiated. They’re trying to make up the money they lost when they renegotiated, and from what I see around here, that (lower) renegotiated rent amount should be the rent.”

Dennis Ford explained how they came to own the bar.

“We lived in Carlsbad for 25 years, and I worked in a manufacturing company. (The company) relocated to Dallas, and we moved to Dallas and lived there for about four years,” he said. “I ended up actually leaving the company after 20-something years, and we wanted to move back to California. We talked about buying a bar for years and always wanted to do that. We decided to move here, and instead of looking for jobs, we looked for a place to buy, and found this on a business-for-sale website. We’ve always liked it out here, and when we lived in Carlsbad, we would come out here whenever we could.

“We saw this place. The price was right. It wasn’t doing a lot of business at the time, but we saw the potential in it, and we thought, ‘What the hell? Let’s give it a shot!’ On April 1, 2013, we took over. Three years to the day we took over, we’ll be closing.”

The Fords didn’t originally intend for Schmidy’s to become a music venue; they just wanted it to be a regular neighborhood bar, and had no plans to have live music at all. However, in time, Schmidy’s became one of the most-welcoming music venues for local bands.

“About a month and a half after we took over, we had Caxton and Burning Bettie play here,” Dennis Ford remembered. “One of my old bartenders who was here after we just bought it was friends with Caxton. He had arranged it and left. Christina (Reyes) from Caxton got hold of me and asked, ‘Are we still doing the show?’ And I said, ‘Why not?’

“They came in and did it on a Saturday night—and the place was packed. I thought, ‘Wow, this might be something.’ Being as naïve as I was at the time, I thought if you brought any band in here, this place would be packed. I’d bring in cover bands, and there would be 10 people, and I realized that wasn’t working. I don’t know how, but somehow, it just evolved, using original bands. That’s when I realized that was the key to this place: You get three local bands a night, and that’s three fan bases. Cover bands don’t have a fan base. We had no idea that it’d turn into what it did.”

The Fords also had no idea Schmidy’s would become one of the valley’s most-liked craft-beer purveyors.

“I knew nothing about craft beer when I took over this place, and I’m still not a craft-beer drinker. I don’t care for it myself, and I drink Coors Light,” Dennis Ford said with a laugh. “We have it because of a bartender we had, and he knew craft beer. When he left five weeks into us owning it, it was basically up to me to decide what beers to bring in. … That was tough, because I knew nothing about it. I’ve learned a lot about it over the past three years.

“I don’t like (craft beer), but I know a lot about it.”


Many local bands have a love for Schmidy’s; the bar was the site of the first public shows for more than a handful of them. Jack Kohler, of War Drum, also runs his own promotion company, named Fortune Finder Music Group. He recently started booking shows at Schmidy’s after leaving The Hood Bar and Pizza.

“I think Dennis and Kathy are really genuine toward local bands,” Kohler said. “We do local acts most of the time—and it’s tough to do all local all the time. Dennis and Kathleen have always been about equal-opportunity toward bands and letting them play: rock, rap and hip hop, whatever—everyone has a chance

“Now with this venue closing, it’s a very critical wound to the scene, because this is another original local music venue being thrown under the bus. I know that there are other venues such as The Hood Bar and Pizza and Bart Lounge, and (local promoter) BB Ingle is going to open up something where he does live and local entertainment, but Schmidy’s was crucial for bands to play at, and there’s a lot of history there. A lot of bands have cut their teeth at Schmidy’s, for sure, and it’s going to be very damaging when it closes.”

Dennis Ford said his reputation in the local-music community is a great source of pride.

“That’s the one thing I’m most proud of with this place: I’ll give anyone a chance,” he said. “You don’t have to be an established name to play here. It doesn’t matter to me, and we do all genres. We’re the only place that did that. We had a Motown show here where the average age was 65, and it was so full in here at $20 a head that we had to turn people away. We had metal, country music and whatever else.”


Schmidy’s has also been willing to open its doors to good causes. During a recent open-mic night at Schmidy’s that Blasting Echo frontman Josh Heinz hosts on a weekly basis, he talked about the support Schmidy’s offered him for his annual Concert for Autism.

“Schmidy’s, to me, is Dennis and Kathy, and their role and their warmth toward the music community,” Heinz said. “They provide a place to play for a lot of bands that some of the other places wouldn’t let in—not because the bands are bad bands, but because they’re young. They did underage shows and would let them play in the afternoons and early evenings. No other place would do that.

“Dennis and Kathy were 100 percent supportive of the autism benefit and me doing it. They let us come in here and would donate some of their receipts at the end of the night to the cause. It’s very nice to have owners of a bar like that, because not a lot of venues are that nice. That comes from experience of more than 20 years of my playing in Memphis and playing here.”

It wasn’t just Heinz’s autism cause that Schmidy’s helped out; many other local charities and people who had fallen on hard times found a helping hand at Schmidy’s. Just one example: When Musicians Outlet in Palm Desert burned down last year, the Fords hosted a benefit show.

“When we saw what happened to Musicians Outlet, we were like, ‘Oh my god! I can’t believe that happened!’” Kathleen Ford said. “We’re a small business, and that would crush us if that happened to us. That’s why we did that.

“We also did one benefit where we helped a young kid with leukemia.”

While the Fords didn’t originally intend for Schmidy’s to become a local music venue, Dennis Ford said it was never a question whether Schmidy’s would give back to the community.

“To me, that’s something that needs to happen. People come here and spend their money, and if someone needs something, we give back,” he said. “Pretty much all of the benefits we’ve done, we’ve donated anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the bar sales that night to that particular cause. For one, it makes you feel good, and two, you get publicity out of it—and you can’t buy that kind of publicity.

“A local musician named Rob Lawrence is putting together a benefit we’re doing in March for abused and abandoned animals. Kathy and I love animals, and it’s something I wanted to do. When I made the decision to shut down, I didn’t want to look like we were raising money and keeping it for ourselves before closing down and leaving. I don’t want to touch the money, because I don’t want anyone saying anything. But I enjoy doing benefits for genuine causes.”

When the subject of retirement came up, Dennis and Kathleen Ford laughed. “In your dreams,” Kathleen said to Dennis, laughing.

That laughter temporarily masked the fact they’d just endured one of the toughest weeks of their life, and that Schmidy’s closing has taken a financial toll on the family. The Fords said they had already decided what to do after they close Schmidy’s doors on April 1 (barring a miracle).

“Three months ago, we knew we had to pick a date. April is our worst month, because everyone is going to Coachella and Stagecoach,” Dennis Ford said. “There might be a small glimmer of hope that we’ll be able to stay open or find somewhere else, but I’ve been telling everyone, ‘I hope for the best, but expect the worst.’

“We own a house in Dallas, Texas, and we’re moving back. We have grandkids down there in Houston, and Kathy wants to be closer to them, and we’re a little closer to my family in Illinois—and my parents aren’t getting any younger. It just seems like the right thing to do to go back there. Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to find jobs, and there are no jobs out here. My experience is in manufacturing, and there’s not any of that here—and tons of it down there. I would love to open up another bar, because it’s so much cheaper to do business down there. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. because of the amount of money we’re losing here by closing up.

“People ask, ‘Why don’t you sell it?’ No one is going to buy this place without a lease.”

The Independent left several messages with the Realty Trust Group requesting to talk to somebody for this story, but received no response.


In Schmidy’s Tavern’s final days, the Fords plan to thank the local bands that have played there by bringing them in for a marathon series of events.

“We’ve just been so immersed in the music scene here, and I feel like we’re letting these local bands down,” Dennis Ford said. “I can’t help but feel it’s my fault, and at the same time, I have to look out for what’s best for Kathy and me. We put our retirement into this place.

“The day that I made the announcement we were closing, I went home at 2 in the afternoon. I couldn’t be here. I jumped on my bike and went for a ride, and I thought, ‘I want to have a blowout month of March.’ I want to get all the bands who have ever played here back in here during the month of March. I stopped, and I sent Jack (Kohler) a text to try to get every band that ever played here.”

For more information on Schmidy’s Tavern, located at 72286 Highway 111, Suite J3, in Palm Desert, call 760-837-3800, or visit the Schmidy’s Tavern Facebook page. Schmidy’s will host the End of the World Festival from Thursday, March 24, through Sunday, March 27, to celebrate Schmidy’s brief but powerful local-music legacy, and to support the Fords. Watch the event’s Facebook page for details.

I stopped at The Hood Bar and Pizza one day a while back to chat with Jack Kohler, the Hood’s booking agent (and War Drum’s front man). He told me I absolutely had to see the band playing that night, Jeffertitti’s Nile.

I went to the show, and sure enough, Jeffertitti’s Nile turned in an unforgettable live performance. The band is returning to the valley, this time at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, on Friday, Nov. 14.

The Los Angeles-based band is fronted by Jeffertitti, aka Jeffertitti Moon, aka Moon Flower. You may recognize him as the touring bassist for Father John Misty. The independent music press has raved about Jeffertitti’s Nile, and the band has been praised by devout underground music fans.

During a recent phone interview, Moon Flower estimated that Jeffertitti’s Nile formed about five years ago.

“It’s changed a lot over the years,” Moon Flower said. “We’ve had a lot of members, so it’s been this ever-evolving thing.”

Jeffertitti’s Nile’s music takes one into a realm of psychedelic insanity, with some hard-rock and world-music sounds added to the mix.

“I started the band with Danielle, our old drummer. We openly decided to start channeling things from other countries; we were listening to a lot of Ethiopian music at the time,” Moon Flower said. “We were thinking about Sun Ra. We were playing music before this which was sort of Americana and pretty traditional folky-sounding, but I remember this moment when we had this talk where we decided we wanted to do something so different. It was all about a show—an experience, with costumes, lights and things like that.”

Inspiration came from an interest in the occult.

“We were going through magick school, and we were drawing out this diagram,” he explained. “We were learning about all this ancient knowledge and the occult, and we somehow wanted to include that in our musical project instead of just being this band or that band, and we were thinking about channeling something different and different inspirations.”

Moon Flower explained that the occult isn’t the evil force that some people assume it is; the word actually has a surprising meaning.

“Some of this stuff just makes so much sense. I guess the occult just really means ‘hidden,’” he said. “A lot of it isn’t really hidden; it’s part of everything, and it makes sense. If you look at the way the planets move with each other, it’s kind of like the same way a flower grows out of the ground, and they have the same patterns and the geometry that’s involved. I feel you can’t not be a part of that. I was just reading an Osho book where he says there are different reasons people do things, and it reminded me personally that you do what you do because you love it.”

He said the occult, to him, has to do with truth.

“I think it’s trying to show the truth to people, whereas mainstream media or governmental backers, or people concerned with artificial things like money, they’re just trying to gain more power, and there’s this deep-seated line of truth that’s existed before. I think it’s about remembering and discovering what’s real to you and the beautiful parts of reality.”

As for Jeffertitti’s Nile’s music, Moon Flower credits each of the band members for bringing their own unique qualities to the table to help keep the band’s sound organic.

“It can’t not be organic, because all the different people that come in to play are going to have their own way of doing things,” Moon Flower said. “Their actual self is going to come through. The band has become my own band, and it’s always been named after me, which was almost a joke in the beginning, but it’s always going to have that feel to it, because it’s being channeled through the cosmos through me as a conduit, along with the other people involved. It’s naturally going to sound like that no matter what we’re listening to, what I’m feeling at the time, or the people playing with me. There will always be that element that will keep it as it is.”

Moon Flower said he enjoys the freedom that he and his band mates have.

“We’re just bringing in whatever comes and not having any restrictions. I think that’s the cool thing about it for me, anyway—it feels pretty free to where we’re not trying to sound like a certain genre, and we’re not trying to sound like a certain time period. I feel like, in a way, we’re trying to make something new. It’s anything goes, as long as it feels right.”

Moon Flower has encountered the business side of the music industry while playing with Father John Misty.

“It’s cool to see all sides of it,” he said. “I don’t want to say that (Father John Misty) is ‘corporate,’ but that’s the only word right now that’s coming to me to explain it. It’s business-oriented; it’s a well-oiled machine, and it got started by a lot of money and was sort of blasted into the mainstream. Playing at huge festivals and seeing how that stuff works behind the scenes is kind of a drag, but it’s also beautiful to me. When you talk about industry, there are the people who are doing lights, tuning the instruments, building stages, or it’s in a theater or a club, and people are working there. There are parts of every aspect in life where I’m annoyed by it, or blown away in a good way.”

Moon Flower said that at every Jeffertitti’s Nile’s show, the crowd and the band work together in unison to create a unique experience.

“Some people are going to be out in the crowd totally losing it, and to me, that’s just as important as the people on the stage,” he said. “It goes back and forth, and you get what you give, so it kind of works both ways. People celebrate with the performers, and it’s going to get even better.”

Jeffertitti’s Nile will perform with DJ Smoke Signals at 10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 14, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.

Published in Previews

The Hood Bar and Pizza in Palm Desert has become known in recent years for both its incredible bookings of big-name punk-rock bands and its support of local music.

Now, the venue may become known for another thing: a fantastic electronic dance music night.

On Saturday, Sept. 20, The Hood will be hosting Fresh Sessions Live, hosted by Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington), with special guests Synthetix and Coffee Blvckk. (The Independent is also a sponsor of the event.)

During a recent interview, Harrington and Jack Kohler, the booking agent for The Hood, said the idea for the EDM night developed in part due to a successful birthday bash for Synthetix back in July. They realized that creating a regular dance-music night might be a good idea, especially since the eastern Coachella Valley doesn’t have a lot of music venues.

“It was my idea, but Jack encouraged it,” Harrington said. “The main idea behind it is it’s all about a form of collaboration. It’s not just one person or one thing, and it’s not just The Hood throwing a show. It’s artists coming together and doing something at The Hood.”

Kohler said he was happy to work with Harrington to put something together.

“I’ve noticed what he’s been doing locally, and I think it’s a neat thing,” Kohler said. “There are people out here who are cutthroat about working together. I think it’s rad that someone is starting a collective group of people. Another thing that’s difficult with this style of music is pairing people. I have a couple of favorite local DJs, with Alex being one of them. Coffee Blvckk is kind of an up-and-comer doing his thing. I had a night scheduled with him that we had to drop because of another show that interrupted it, so it’s cool that he’s going to be a part of this.”

Kohler has joked in the past that The Hood is more known for bros “high-fiving each other and throwing up,” and he said that some of the venue’s patrons have left “Boycott DJs!” messages on The Hood’s Facebook page.

“People would get so upset that we even had DJs,” Kohler said. “People have a kind of negative definition for a disc jockey and someone who uses new technology, so there’s a lot of purism with certain people. The funny thing is: In this town, you can’t just use this venue for straight rock ’n’ roll; it’s impossible to do that without repeating certain acts. Adding DJs to our schedule gives people a new flavor.”

Harrington agreed.

“That’s what I like about The Hood: The Hood just isn’t an average venue,” Harrington said. “They’re always trying to bring in the freshest and highest quality of musicians—and the people here don’t realize it. That’s what I’m trying to do with this event: bring my knowledge and view on (music) to a place like The Hood, and keep that edge, keep that freshness—but also keep an underground vibe.

“People who go out to dance at places like the Hard Rock Hotel don’t necessarily want to go there all the time and be around that; sometimes, it’s just bit much. Sometimes, it’s nice to go somewhere where there’s not a pretentious fiasco going on. You want to let yourself go, but still have that experience with a DJ, and I think that’s something that people are looking for.”

Both Harrington and Kohler said they hope to make the EDM night a regular event.

“I’ve reached out to multiple artists in the area, and I’ve gotten positive feedback and people wanting to do it,” Harrington said. “If this takes off, it could be used in a way to combine local artists and DJs with acts from Los Angeles and San Diego. We don’t really have a place out here that’s like a real dance club; everything is kind of commercialized, to an extent. So I’d like to use it as a hub for local artists and DJs, and broaden the horizons of the scene out here.”

The event will be free. The Hood is also known for being on the cheaper side regarding beer and cocktails, so Kohler sees the potential in creating something new that people can enjoy without breaking the bank.

“I don’t like doing covers for events here,” Kohler said. “I also don’t like the high prices at clubs. That’s why I don’t really do that scene personally. I don’t want to spend a ton on drinks, and I don’t want to pay to see something I believe I can universally see somewhere else. This is a neat opportunity for us. … It’s not douchey, and you don’t have to ‘fit in.’

“I don’t want this bar to be selective to just punk rock, because that’s what it was for so long, and people have gotten over that. I have a lot of national punk rock coming up over the next couple of months, but I don’t want to stick to just that.”

Harrington hopes to see the place as packed as it was for Synthetix’s birthday party back in July.

“It got pretty busy,” Harrington said. “That event was thrown together (at the) last minute, so we’ll see what happens with this.”

Fresh Sessions Live, hosted by Independent contributor All Night Shoes (Alex Harrington) and featuring special guests Synthetix and Coffee Blvckk, takes place at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free; this is an event for people 21 and older. For more information, call 760-636-5220, or visit www.facebook.com/thehoodbar. Below: Synthetix.

Published in Previews

Robbie Waldman’s WAXY may be the next great American rock band to come out of our California desert.

Waldman has a lengthy local history, but he has used this project to truly hone his skills as a writer and performer. In its earliest incarnation, the ever-evolving band had a different feel and vibe: A group with a softer underbelly fueled by acoustic instruments has evolved into a full-blown desert stoner-rock band with a heavy rhythmic infrastructure, poetic lyrics and gorgeous hard-rock vocals offered up by Waldman.

With a collection of memorable, melodic, heavy psych-rock songs under their belts, the members of WAXY have worked their way to the top of the Coachella Valley's original rock-music scene—which is no easy accomplishment. In fact, the band is about to embark on tours to Australia and then Europe.

The band's most recent record, Without Any Explanation Why, is a true stoner-rock classic that features guest performances by some of the most pivotal artists to come out of this music mecca we call home: John Garcia (Kyuss, Vista Chino), Mario Lalli (Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson), Gary Arce (Sort of Quartet, Yawning Man), Jesse Hughes (Eagles of Death Metal), Brandon Henderson (Pedestrians vs. War Party, Parosella), Ed Mundell (Monster Magnet, Ultra Electric Mega Galactic) and Alfredo Hernandez (Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, Brave Black Sea) all contribute their unique sounds to the recording.

Meanwhile, Robbie has been back in his studio (Unit A Recording and Art in Palm Springs; www.unit-a.com) banging out the next record, anticipated to be released in November 2014.

“I’m of the philosophy that a recorded version of a song should be a complete vision for that song, and if you're making an album, one piece of a larger puzzle,” Waldman said about the recording process. “I think it's OK to double the vocals, even though that can't really be done live. I think it's OK to layer instruments and have small intricate parts that would require 10 people to pull off live.

“In other words, my mindset when it comes to making records is: This is a timeless piece of art. … Splash all the color and shapes you can at the canvas, and see what you get. Sometimes, you get magic; sometimes, you get mush, but the process is what's key—trying to get what’s in your head out on the tape.”

I heard five new tunes from the upcoming record at a live show at Furst Wurld Theatre in Joshua Tree recently, and I was blown away. The show also included the premiere of WAXY's new video for “Over Before It Began,” a first-rate production by Bon Nielsen and Blanton Ross. Robbie said more videos, to support the upcoming record, are coming in the near future.

Waldman has used a revolving cast of musicians to help him live out his musical fantasies within the framework of WAXY, including drummers Sean Landerra Carrillo (Lakota) and Mike “Pygmie” Johnson (Mondo Generator, You Know Who, John Garcia); bassist/guitarist Damian Lautiero (a huge part of the live WAXY sound); and keyboardist Jack Kohler (War Drum).

In September, WAXY will take off for Australia as a supporting act on the John Garcia solo tour. John's latest self titled debut solo album (available on Napalm Records) is getting rave reviews from the press and fans alike.

While Waldman sees the recording process as making art, he views live shows differently.

“Playing shows is about the moment—different song orders, new songs mixed with old ones, etc.,” Waldman said. “Playing live also has the unique ability to move air: The sound actually hits you! There's nothing like it when the kick drum is thumping you right in the chest. It's like the difference between seeing a movie versus going to the theater and seeing actors onstage. One is a deliberate, enormous and repeatable act, while the other is different every time simply by its very nature. … When we play live, it's always an adventure!”

Before John Garcia and WAXY leave for the land down under, desert fans will be treated to a live show by them at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert, at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5. Also on the bill is space-rock jam-band Fever Dog. Admission is $15, and this show WILL sell out. It has been a good long while since Garcia fans have been able to see a live set here at home, and we will be out in droves to hear his long-awaited desert performance—and to say a temporary goodbye to what could be the desert's next great band.

For more information on WAXY, visit www.facebook.com/WAXYOfficial and www.waxy-music.com. Read more from Robin Linn at rminjtree.blogspot.com. Photos by Samantha Schwenck.

Published in Previews

During a recent interview, War Drum keyboardist Jack Kohler and bassist Robbie Waldman (also a member of the band Waxy) revealed that the band plans on taking a break from live gigs.

However, fans have nothing to fear: In fact, the band is making plans to record a brand-new new album.

War Drum also includes of Ehren Groban (guitar), John Marek (guitar) and Peter Leighton (drums). The band formed in the summer of 2010 while Kohler and Groban were employees of the Ace Hotel and swim club. Waldman watched the band play without a bassist shortly after the formation.

“I remember hearing about War Drum a little bit, and I saw them playing at the Ace Hotel,” Waldman said. “There was a different drummer back then, this guy named Carlos. Peter was playing guitar; Ehren was playing guitar; and Jack was on keys. I saw what they were doing as an audience member, and there was this authorial, tribal, spiritual and desert landscape feel to their music, and I was immediately attracted to it.”

Kohler said the band gained a lot when it added Waldman and his bass.

“Robbie has years of experience, and he owns the Unit A Studios recording studio in Palm Springs,” Kohler said. “He had a lot that we didn’t have at that time when he came into it. It was just a bunch of kids having fun and partying, and playing kind of off-beat rock and roll. We were more of a sound/feel band before we were a harder desert-rock band. I think we’ve formed into that over the past few years. We added a lot more of a dynamic when he joined the group. Plus the bass is such a necessary thing.”

One of the highlights of War Drum’s history is the band’s European tour. Kohler told a story about how his one night to enjoy a bed of his own was spoiled.

“One night, we were in Spain, and we played this show, and everyone was really fucked up—as in next-level fucked up, not normal bar shit,” Kohler said. “We were in a hostel that night, and it was a really nice place. Around 2 or 3 in the morning, no one knew where Peter was, which is not unusual, because as we’d like to say, ‘He’s a drummer.’ He was wandering the streets of Spain for three or four hours, probably. We looked for him, and we went around asking if anyone had seen him in Spanish. I was so upset with him, because it was the only night where I had a bed, and he had the (only) key to our room, which is the dumbest idea we ever had, to give him the key.”

However, the trip to Europe was worth it.

“To me, the outstanding moment was when we played a show in Linz, Austria,” Waldman said. “It was a magic show. It was at a place called Kapu, where bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden played. It’s a small club, but it has a big stage, big P.A.—and something that holds 1,000 people should really only be holding about 300. It was packed; it was smoked, filled out; and it was hot. We played so well. You could just tell the crowd responded, and we sold our merch. It was one of those nights that you wish everyone could experience.”

As for the present, War Drum is planning to go on a short break, so he and Waldman can work on some other projects. However, the band hopes to have a new album out after the end of the year.

“We want to get into the studio and record,” Kohler said. “We just want to get our next album totally done. I think we’re both totally sick of our old album. Robbie and I are both getting ready to go back out on the road with other projects, and his project Waxy. We’re going to go to Australia, and possibly back to Europe again.

Waldman said breaks like this are part of being a serious musician.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Waldman said. “You always have to be writing; you always have to be doing your thing; and you always have to be doing the next project.”

Kohler said the band’s ambitions remain high.

“I think that it’s about time we do more,” Kohler said, “that we get out and kind of actualize the things we want. We have all the pieces and the opportunities to do it.”

Waldman was a bit more specific.

“In today’s world, bands are responsible for two things, and you don’t need anyone’s help to do this: You have to be able to make your own albums. The second is your image: I think in War Drum, we all have to work on our image, and I think that’s where we should concentrate.”

For more information, visit the band's Facebook page.

Jack Kohler, 23, sings and plays the keyboard for War Drum, a band described on their Facebook page thusly: “From the sun-dripped hills of the desert comes WAR DRUM, a self-described psychedelic spook rock sound.” When he’s not playing psychedelic spook rock, the Indio resident and La Quinta native works in music promotion at the Ace Hotel, among other activities; he is also a member of the band WAXY. War Finder just got done with a European tour in support of its latest album, Fortune Finder, and they’ll celebrate their homecoming on Friday, May 24, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Tribesmen will join the men of War Drum for the free show, which kicks off at 9 p.m. For more, head to www.wearewardrum.com, or seek out the band on Facebook.

What was the first concert you attended?

Probably Styx or something weird with my parents.

What was the first album you owned?

The Doors, The Soft Parade.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Tame Impala, The Black Angels, Sleepy Sun, Father John Misty, The Asteroid #4, WAXY.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Dubstep. What’s going on there?

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett era. I always wanted to see what that was all about.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

ELO. I don’t know why I like them so much, but every time I put them on at a party, everyone hates it.

What’s your favorite music venue?

No brainer: Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Long live Pappy’s!

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

“And I’ve made my mind up, you’re going to be mine!” Donovan, “Sunshine Superman.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Pink Floyd. I remember hearing them for the first time and having this overwhelming desire to find out how and why they did what they do. Still figuring that out to this day.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

I’d ask R. Kelly why he’s such a genius.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

My band can pick that one. They know me best.

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Lonerism by Tame Impala. These guys are way ahead of our time, or maybe way behind in the best way. All the tones are there; the lyrics are relevant; and the musicianship is unmatched. Best band playing right now.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Low Light,” War Drum. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13