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10 May 2016

Psychedelic-Pop Perfection: Haunted Summer Returns to the Desert for Deserted at the Palms

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Haunted Summer performs at the benefit for George and Chris Zander at the Scorpion Room last November. Haunted Summer performs at the benefit for George and Chris Zander at the Scorpion Room last November. Tommy Locust

Haunted Summer can mean one of two things:

• A truly bad ’80s movie based on Lord Byron.

• A fantastic band to come out of Los Angeles’ indie-music scene.

Haunted Summer—the band, that is—will be performing at Deserted at the Palms event, to be held at the Palms Restaurant in Twentynine Palms on Saturday, May 21, with acts such as Bloody Death Skull, The Dead Ships, The Garden and many others.

Formed in 2012 by married couple John and Bridgette Seasons, Haunted Summer’s psychedelic pop sound caught on quickly and landed the band high-profile gigs at the El Rey Theatre and a tour with the Polyphonic Spree. The group released a five-track EP titled Something in the Water and has been working on a new album while consistently touring. The band performed in Palm Springs not too long ago—at the Independent’s Nov. 17 benefit for gay-bashing victims George and Christopher Zander.

During a recent phone interview from Chicago during a break in the current U.S. tour, John and Bridgette Seasons discussed recording at the local Rancho de la Luna studio, owned by Eagles of Death Metal and Mojave Lords guitarist Dave Catching.

“That was such a great time,” Bridgette Seasons said. “This guy we work with is friends with Dave Catching. There was a week where we found some time to do some recording there, and it was incredible. Dave Catching is the coolest guy ever—and Rancho is my dream studio.”

Catching didn’t just record while Haunted Summer was at his studio.

“We got Chris Goss on guitar for a song, and we got Dave Catching on bass for a song,” John Seasons said. “Everybody had a good time hanging out, and it was just an awesome experience.”

John Seasons said they hope to have the album out in the fall.

“We’ve been recording it at different studios, too,” John Seasons said. “It’s going to have a feel of different studios and different kinds of songs. Something in the Water was more one-toned, and this next one is going to be all over the map.”

All the touring has exposed Haunted Summer to new audiences across the country—playing in decent-sized venues wherever the group goes.

“We’ve played all over, and it’s been amazing, given we’ve been touring off that EP for a few years,” John Seasons said. “We’ve had a lot of support from bigger bands and venues trying to nurture us, bring us back and build our audience on our own. This time, we’re going to Toronto and doing a lot of East Coast and Middle America on this tour.”

This past spring, Haunted Summer played SXSW in Austin, Texas. Some musicians say the huge event has lost its focus on music, because the technology portion of the festival and corporate sponsors overshadow everything else. However, both John and Bridgette said SXSW is still important for independent bands on the touring circuit.

“A lot of bands go to SXSW with that dream of being discovered or whatever,” John Seasons said. “But I think the most precious thing you can take from something like SXSW is networking—meeting bands from around the country, meeting promoters and making friends. It’s important, because you end up getting people to support you from different parts of the country.”

Bridgette Seasons added: “It’s like music boot camp.”

It’s always been said that working with one’s spouse can be fraught with danger. John and Bridgette conceded that they have had their moments while touring and working together, but they said that overall, being able to do what they do as a married couple is a beautiful experience. 

“To be pretty honest, I think it’s the only way it could work,” Bridgette Seasons said. “We’re really happy to be doing this together, and we know what a strain it can be when two people are on two very different paths. The path we’re on is very demanding, and neither one of us could do this alone.”

While they’ll be playing as Haunted Summer at the Palms Restaurant, they are also members of Bloody Death Skull, fronted by journalist and music promoter Daiana Feuer. Bloody Death Skull is known for covers of various psychedelic rock songs, with Feuer playing a ukulele, and the members wearing various types of wacky costumes. Also worth noting: A member of the band sits on the floor and plays with action figures and dolls during the live performances.

“It’s a fun, wacky and exploratory band,” Bridgette Seasons said. “Haunted Summer doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s nice to let go and do some really funky and fun shit with them.”

The Palms is a strange place. Having seen two shows there myself, I can say it is probably the perfect place for a psychedelic music festival. Both John and Bridgette Seasons said they are looking forward to it.

“We’re all about the desert and being in that kind of atmosphere,” John Seasons said. “I think that’s where we learn the most. It’s a great lineup, and Daiana has been doing this for a few years. It’ll be cool, and we’ll do a Haunted Summer set—and, of course, the collaboration with Bloody Death Skull.”

Deserted at the Palms takes place at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 21, at 83131 Amboy Road, in Twentynine Palms. Tickets are $30. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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