CVIndependent

Thu02222018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

A few months back, the band known as The BrosQuitos decided it was time to make some changes.

The Desert Hot Springs-based group went from a quartet to a trio after the departure of guitarist John Clark—and the remaining members decided the band’s name needed an update, in part because they wanted to be taken more seriously.

The band Sleeping Habits was born. On Thursday, Jan. 25, Sleeping Habits will be unveiling a new live set and a new sound at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace.

During a recent interview in DHS, James Johnson (guitar, vocals) explained the changes that he, Max Powell (bass) and Hugo Chavez (drums) recently made.

“The honest word is that we lost a member, so we had to change the position of the band,” Johnson said. “We wanted to go in more of an edgier direction, something that was less high school. Our old name did hold us back from a lot, and … we’ve already been taken more seriously as far as Los Angeles County and outside of here. You say, ‘Yeah, we’re The BrosQuitos,’ and we’re going to be downplayed. ‘The BrosQuitos’ was created when I was 14 years old, and we’re all going on 22 years old now. We had to change it. It got some new songs out of us, as well as a new style.”

Johnson said he could not explain why Clark left the band; Clark stopped communicating with the other members rather suddenly, Johnson said. On a lighter note, Johnson also could not really explain the band’s new sound.

“Our style has definitely changed. I honestly don’t know how to describe it and haven’t found a word for it,” he said. “To me, it sounds a lot more full. … The stage presence is there; the organization is there; the lyrics are there; and if you were to ask me what it sounds like, I couldn’t tell you.

“We have a song that is about prostitution in Hollywood; we have a song about rumors and sex … and an anthem song that leads into a chant. We all feel confident about it. It’s not so much (like) the first songs I wrote as a 13- or 14-year-old. I went through a breakup; I went through the loss of a friendship; and I went through a transitional period with a band. There’s a meaning behind it, and I think a lot of people appreciate it.”

The members are currently putting together an EP that they hope to have out later this winter.

“We will be finishing up our EP shortly,” Johnson said. “Our connections this time around have greatly improved, so I’m working on getting a few producers for the studio. I’ve been talking to Esjay Jones to see what she has to offer, and I know she has a lot going on. I’ve been talking to Will Sturgeon from Brightener, and I’m hoping he’ll be in the studio with us to produce one of these songs. I also have Sean Scanlon from Smallpools who will hopefully come on board. We’re trying to make it more of a learning process this time around, because that’s what we didn’t take advantage of the first time we recorded. We really limited ourselves to letting everyone take a piece into the project who wanted to.”

Johnson said he’s happy that The BrosQuitos record, Vinyl Image, finally came to fruition earlier this year—but that he’s already grown beyond it.

“I love it. It’s my first record,” he said. “As a 13- or 14-year-old writing those pieces and finally seeing them when I’m 18 and 19 being put together in the studio—it’s chilling to me. I mean that in all honesty. It’s amateur, though—the writing style and the chord structures. I’m not going to say I’m embarrassed by it, but I look back on it realizing I could have done so much more. I could have seized more opportunity at that time of my life. But it’s still a good record to me.”

Sleeping Habits will perform with Foxtrax at 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 25, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

In 2001, the DREAM Act was introduced in Congress. If passed into law, the DREAM Act would grant legal status to undocumented children who were brought to and educated in the United States.

Sixteen years later, the act has never been passed. DREAMers, the young men and women who would be affected by the law, received some help in 2012 when the Obama administration enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy—but in September, the Trump administration announced it was repealing the program. (See “A Nightmare for Dreamers,” Oct. 19, at CVIndependent.com.)

As a result, Hugo Chavez, of Desert Hot Springs, fears for his future.

Chavez is well-known in the Coachella Valley music community. He’s the drummer for local band Sleeping Habits (formerly The BrosQuitos), and is one of the many DREAMers across the country who hope to become a legal resident or citizen someday.

“I was brought here from Mexico when I was less than a year old,” Chavez said during a recent interview. “It’s something that has always affected my life in some way or another. It’s hard to explain, because when you’re not in that situation, you are very unaware of how it really is. You have what you want, but you can’t really do anything.

“(DACA) helped out a lot. As a musician, the fear of crossing somewhere or playing somewhere like San Diego—it wasn’t a possibility. You can’t go somewhere like San Diego over the fear of being deported, and (DACA) took that fear away. … It’s like being trapped in a golden cage: You’re where you want to be, but you can’t really do anything.”

Chavez said he lives in Desert Hot Springs for a reason.

“I’ve stayed here in Desert Hot Springs my whole life, because it’s more of a safe haven than anything else,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about Border Patrol coming through here, especially for our families. … It’s a safe haven for them, and they don’t have to worry so much about hiding or going to the local grocery store.”

Chavez said he really started to understand the gravity of his situation when he was in high school.

“You see your friends when they turn 16 going to get their licenses and doing the typical American teenager stuff, and you’re always questioning, ‘Why am I not doing that?’ or, ‘Why can’t I do that?’” he said. “Then it all hits you that you can’t get a license or even an ID card because of your status. It sucks, because I had opportunities to take trips with the marching band or do other extracurricular activities that I couldn’t do.”

Chavez’s parents—like the parents of many DREAMers—came to the United States in search of the American dream.

“It’s the same story that anyone would tell you: It’s the pursuit of a better life,” he said. “When you’re living in Mexico, some people work all week to make 100 pesos, and that’s not even $10 in the United States. They can’t survive, making so little money. Parents want their kids to go to college; they want something bigger for them, or at least some opportunity for their children to pursue a dream. That’s why my mom and dad have to do what they do.”

When we discussed the arguments people opposed to the DREAM Act often make, Chavez said the opponents oversimplify things.

People like to say, ‘If you don’t like your country, you should fix it.’ But it’s not that easy,” he said. “People can vote and start as many petitions as they can in this country, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything. It’s the same thing there. People can speak out, but when you have a government that controls the people as well as they do there, there’s not much you can say or do without fear of repercussions.”

Chavez’s family has been trying to get legal status for several years.

“It’s something people are really misguided about. A lot of people just say, ‘Go get your citizenship!’ It’s not like I can walk into an office and pay to get my citizenship. It doesn’t work like that,” he said. “My family has been in the process of getting our citizenship and visas for over 10-plus years. We’ve supposedly been approved, but there’s no actual date to go and do our fingerprints or anything like that. … It’s not simple at all, and you have to go through so many background checks, and they check your health, your status, where you work, and everything before you’re approved. It’s not something that takes 10 minutes, like it’s in and out at the DMV. … If it were so easy, this wouldn’t be such a big deal.”

Despite his legal status, Chavez said he wants to pursue as many of his dreams as he can.

“Now that I have (DACA), it allowed me to get my license, get my ID, and get everything that I needed in order to make that next step into getting citizenship,” he said. “The fear of going somewhere is not there anymore. I can freely go to the courthouse or go somewhere to pay a fee knowing that I’m going to make it home that same night. It’s a liberating feeling.

“Having the option to go to college and do anything that I want to do is something I don’t take for granted. Some people live in this country and have all these opportunities by birthright, and then they blame society for all the things they haven’t done. I’d rather fight for what I got and work my way up.”

I asked Chavez what the repeal of DACA, without a replacement by Congress, would mean for him.

“The basic fear is the fear of having to go back into hiding—the fear of not being accepted in general,” he said. “I have nothing different than my fellow band members or my friends in college; I’m just the same as a person as they are. The fear of having to dwell back and not be able to do the things I do now—it’d be a step in the wrong direction, especially for people like me who have so much to offer, and so much to do, and (our legal status) is the only thing holding us back.”

Published in Local Issues

Remember The BrosQuitos? While the band continues on, the name is no more: Frontman James Johnson recently announced the band’s name has changed to Sleeping Habits. Regardless of what they call themselves, the members of Sleeping Habits are great musicians with a bright future ahead. Stay tuned for more information, as well as new music, at www.facebook.com/sleepinghabitsmusic. James Johnson agreed to take the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first concert I ever attended was a Beatles tribute band, The Fab Four. They were really cool. It’s weird that a tribute band was my first concert, but very memorable!

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I owned was something that was “given” to me (I stole it from my grandma): Paul McCartney’s Tug of War. I’ve always been a Paul fan, and I remember popping it in a CD player when I would work on clubhouses with all my friends.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m currently indulging in some Bleachers, AWOLNATION, Glass Animals, and Post Malone—a weird but interesting collection of incredibly amazing and diverse artists!

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

Hoomii Mongolian throat-singing. I mean, the singing itself is quite difficult for most people, and throat-singing is probably not something they would even consider. A throat singer can produce two to four notes at the same time; this gives the effect of a deep sound (bass), a medium sound (guitar) and a high-pitched sound resembling a flute or whistle being played. This genre is definitely extreme; some songs can last three minutes, and depending on how good the singer is, could contain only 10 words. (Words are stretched and sometimes transition into “instrumentals.”) I don’t think this is a musical “trend,” but someone needs to check on it. It’s insane!

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

The Killers came back to life a bit ago, and I would really enjoy seeing them live. They’re a long-time favorite of mine, along with the ’00 era.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

Some people judge this, but I love Harry Styles from One Direction—not the band he was in, but his solo career really represents some old British rock genres, like some sort of pub rock.

What’s your favorite music venue?

There is something absolutely amazing about Pappy and Harriet’s. The minute you walk into that place, you know it’s kinda speaking to you. It’s a place with built-in emotion, but gently can welcome you into any act/situation. Seriously, a great place.

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

“Pineapples are in my head, got nobody ’cause I’m brain dead,” Glass Animals, “Pork Soda.”

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Paul McCartney has changed my life, as a man and icon. He has showed a certain light to creating a band, and has an overall wholesome story of how he took his career along, in every step. He’s a constant inspiration.

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

Alex Trimble, Two Door Cinema Club: Why do you always come back from tour with drastic haircuts? It’s overwhelming.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Revolution 9” by The Beatles, just to really scare people and (make them) wonder what the heck is going on. Maybe it’ll convince someone I’m resurrecting or something.

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

Right now, it’s Glass Animals’ How to Be a Human Being. Give it to me like my last meal, and I’m good.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

Go listen to Sleeping Habits’ “Can’t Decide Your Love.” You might end up discovering your new favorite band. (Scroll down to hear it.)

Published in The Lucky 13