Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

Over the past year, the local band Waxy seemingly disappeared.

Recently, Waxy has resurfaced by playing a couple of shows. The band will also be playing at the Desert Stars festival at Pappy and Harriet’s, which takes place Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24.

During a recent interview in Palm Desert, Waxy frontman Robbie Waldman discussed the band’s inactivity.

“You could make the argument that we’re still kind of inactive,” Waldman said. “I’m always writing songs. Waxy has had a lot of people who have been in and out over the years. We started in 2006, and it’s sort of been our Achilles’ heel: We get some momentum; we do some really cool things; and then it comes to a screeching halt. I had a recording studio for 20 years that is now closed. It’s been back to basics.

“Damien (Lautiero) and Jeff (Bowman) have kids and families, which I don’t. I have a girlfriend and regular life duties. So we’ve been hibernating, but we have a new record coming out. Our new record should have been out a while ago. We’re pretty excited about it. I’ve been working on the artwork for it, and I’m working with a talented artist named Rick Rodriguez, who I call ‘The Ricker.’”

Waldman said that although Waxy has released records and has toured around the world, the band still faces challenges.

“We’re fiercely independent and have been since the beginning. We don’t have a record deal, but we’ve come close a few times,” he said. “We’ve been writing songs and working on our live performances, and we always have cool ideas. We have a bunch of things (for live performances) that we haven’t debuted yet, mostly because none of us have a fucking van. We come in three separate cars all the time.”

Waldman talked about closing the recording studio he owned, Unit A Recording and Art.

“That was my second location. It was formerly Monkey Studios,” he said. “They made great records there before my time under that roof. Queens of the Stone Age made their first record there. Fu Manchu made a record there. Brant Bjork made a record there. Ian Astbury of The Cult made a solo record there, and there were very few places like that in the desert. I was in there for a long time, and I did a lot of really fun stuff in there. Solange Knowles came in; Brian Setzer came in; Fatso Jetson came in; Brant Bjork came in a couple of times. The Righteous Brothers came in, and John Garcia as well. I miss having it, but at the same time, I think it was time to try something else.”

One of the last projects Waldman got to work on with Unit A was former Kyuss frontman John Garcia’s acoustic record, The Coyote Who Spoke in Tongues.

“(John Garcia) is a close personal friend, and he’s such an undeniable talent,” Waldman said. “I only have nice things to say about that man. Waxy has been able to tour with Kyuss Lives! and his solo band. He’s a real brother in arms.”

Waldman said the biggest challenge for him regarding Waxy’s future involves expectations.

“We’re just a bar band now, and we have been for a while,” he said. “We haven’t really been out on the road since 2014. Even that was very short and expensive. I’m just happy playing with my friends. I’m not downplaying anything. I love playing at The Hood Bar and Pizza and other places we get to play, and I’m very honored to be playing Desert Stars. Traveling and tours are expensive, and we’re fiercely independent. I love playing music with Damian and Jeff. We have occasional guests who come through as far as the record is concerned, and a cast of characters who we enjoy the recording process with. In the end, we do it because we love it and have a good time doing it. I still hope for more, and I’m working toward more, but for right now, we’re just enjoying it.”

Waldman talked about the new Waxy material that is on the way.

“It’s been done for a while,” he said. “The songs are mixed, and the 16 songs we recorded are trimmed down to 11. I have a mastering session set up, and I’m working on getting the artwork finished. I wanted it to be done before Desert Stars, but definitely before the end of the year.”

As for Desert Stars, Waldman has one person in particular to thank for Waxy’s inclusion.

“The main reason were playing is thanks to Robyn Celia, who is one of the owners of Pappy and Harriet’s,” he said. “She put a good word into the promoter, and he said, ‘No problem.’ I really owe our participation to her.”

The Desert Stars Festival runs Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $29 to $59 for a one-day pass, or $99 for a weekend pass. For passes or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

When Garbage released its first self-titled album in 1995, it helped launch a career that has so far resulted in 17 million albums sold.

The band will be stopping by Fantasy Springs Resort Casino on Friday, Sept. 15.

Started by famed music producer Butch Vig, bassist/keyboardist Duke Erikson and guitarist Steve Marker out of the legendary Smart Studios in Madison, Wis., the group eventually encountered Scottish singer Shirley Manson—and the rest is history.

During a recent phone interview, Vig said Garbage was quite different from the typical guitar/bass/drums bands that were dominating the radio in the 1990s.

“Personally, I felt a lot of pressure when our debut album came out, because everyone expected it to sound grungy like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins,” Vig said. “Quite frankly, I lost interest in guitar/bass/drums and was looking into samplers to bring ways to paint sonic textures and colors in the studio.

“That first record still sounds quite strange to me, and it definitely has a vibe. It caught people by surprise at the time in the way we sort of married the technology with analog tape, using samplers and old-school recording, and also bringing in electronic and hip-hop beats with fuzzy guitars and pop melodies. It stuck out, and we were very lucky that we had songs on there that caught people’s attention. That was a big record for us, but I felt a lot of pressure before it came out, because if it would have flopped, I’d be the one standing there looking bad for it. I’m glad it worked out. We all are, because we’re still standing here after 20 years.”

Garbage was selected to perform the theme song for the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. The song ranks high on lists of James Bond themes; Grantland ranked it No. 2 behind Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger.”

“It was pretty incredible. Shirley got a call one day to go meet with David Arnold, who is the composer who was doing the scores for the Bond films at that point,” Vig said. “He asked her if she wanted to sing for the Bond film, and of course she freaked out and said, ‘Oh my God! Yes! But I want my band. I don’t want it to just be Shirley Manson; I want it to be Garbage.’ They were over the moon to invite us all to record it. It was hard logistically, because we were on tour, and we had to squeeze in recording days on our days off, and … the film company gets a tax credit if they keep it within the Queen’s district: It had to be in England, Canada or Australia, or places like that. We went back to England to record, or we flew into Canada when we were in the States for a day or two to record.

“We’ve been playing that in the shows lately, and it’s been going down great. It’s one of those things, and we’ll always have that. It’s an amazing thing to be involved in something that iconic, and personally, I rank ours up there really high. We tried really hard to make the song sound like a Bond theme, so there are musical elements in there that are reminiscent of the old John Barry scores, and it still sounds like Garbage.”

Garbage’s third album, Beautiful Garbage, came out just a couple of weeks after Sept. 11, 2001.

“It was a horrible time. It completely caught everyone off guard,” Vig said. “What happened is the record labels stopped doing singles promotion; they stopped doing really any kind of promotion. They were taking bands off the radio like Jimmy Eat World, who had a song called ‘Bleed American.’ … Everyone was extremely sensitive. We were scheduled a few days after that to fly to Europe to do press, and first we said, ‘We should cancel it.’ But we didn’t want to cancel it, because that’s what terrorism does to you—it tries to disrupt your life. We flew to England and Europe and did a week-long press tour for the record, and it was a terrible time, because we didn’t want to talk about the record, and neither did the journalists; we just wanted to talk about what was going on politically. It was tough, and because of that, right out of the gates on that record, we felt we had a black cloud hanging over our heads.

“But the industry at that time was changing. Whether Sept. 11 would have happened or not, people’s tastes were shifting, leading from the ’90s into the start of the next decade. We’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and that was a pretty low moment.”

Vig has produced artists including Nirvana, AFI, Green Day, Sonic Youth and many others.

“Garbage is our band. I get to produce; I get to write; I get to play drums, guitar and keyboards; and I can order dinner with wine. We have our own little clique. I like being in a band, and it’s a different mentality,” Vig said. “We’re on tour right now, and the shows are going great, but I really like being in the studio. That’s my first love. Whether it’s producing someone else or being in the studio with Garbage, I’m a studio rat.”

Garbage recently toured with Blondie.

“It was fantastic. It was like a traveling summer camp where these two iconic strong female front women dominated the stage every night,” Vig said. “Debbie Harry is an amazing singer, and Blondie is in peak form; they sounded killer every night. I’m a drummer, and I got to watch Clem Burke play drums every night. He’s like Keith Moon—he’s badass. Shirley is in great form, and we’ve seen at the shows where half of the audiences are female, and there are a lot of young women there. One of the reasons they came to the shows was to watch these two outspoken and iconic singers. Blondie dominated the radio in the ’80s, and Garbage did the same in the ’90s, and we’re both still bringing it every night. That’s inspiring to a younger generation of women.”

Garbage will perform at 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio. Tickets are $39 to $59. For tickets or more information, call 760-342-5000, or visit

Hang in there, because summer is almost over. The kids are back in school; it’s starting to feel a little bit like season; and there are plenty of great shows to see.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a full list of September events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 2, former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood will be performing. Traffic is one of the most iconic British rock bands from the ’60s—and Winwood is a legend. Tickets are $49 to $89. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, it’ll be like rain on your wedding day, a free ride when you’ve already been paid, and the good advice you didn’t take when Alanis Morissette stops by. Alanis has had a fascinating career, going from You Can’t Do That on Television to a period as of the biggest pop-stars of the ’90s. Plus, it’s kinda weird that “You Oughta Know” is most likely about her tumultuous relationship with Full House star Dave Coulier. Tickets are $49 to $109. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, get ready to rock when Tom Jones takes the stage. Yeah … that Tom Jones. Does “It’s Not Unusual” ring any bells? Random factoid: I’m booking a series of shows at The Hood Bar and Pizza, and I asked Charlie Ellis, frontman of local band Mighty Jack, if he would be interested in playing that night. His response: He couldn’t, because he was going to see Tom Jones. Tickets are $49 to $109. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000;

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa is offering a couple of events that will heat up your September. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15, Styx (right) will be returning to the Coachella Valley. The band just put out a new album titled The Mission—and fans are loving it. Former frontman Dennis DeYoung still is hoping for a reunion, but the band members have seemingly raised their middle finger toward that idea. Tickets are $55 to $85. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, Los Tigres del Norte will be performing. Los Tigres del Norte is just as successful as Metallica—only in Latin music; the band has sold 30 million records. That’s pretty impressive! Tickets are $65 to $115. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995;

Spotlight 29 Casino has some fun shows on Saturdays this month. Norteño music legends Ramon Ayala y su Bravos del Norte will perform at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16. Tickets are $35 to $55. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 23, it’ll be the night of the Latin Kings of Comedy, with Manny Maldonado, Joey Medina, Jackson Purdue and headliner Paul Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a huge name in Latin comedy, and he’s appeared in numerous films. He’s probably best remembered for his performances in Born in East L.A. and Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. Tickets are $20 to $35. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, get ready for a night of soul with Tower of Power (below). Despite some hardships, the band still lives on, and is known for fantastic live shows. Tickets are $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566;

Beyond the nearly sold-out Thunder From Down Under show (Sept. 8) and the REO Speedwagon concert, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue, Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one more event you won’t want to miss: At 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 10, Bamboo and Morissette Amon will be performing. After watching videos of them doing covers of popular R&B songs such as “What’s Going On” and “Man in the Mirror,” I’ll say this will be a fun Sunday-evening show to take in. Tickets are $50 to $70. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499;

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, as always, has a crazy-good calendar. At 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, there will be a fundraiser to help Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O’Connor, who is once again battling cancer. On the bill are Chris Goss, Mojave Lords, Mark Lanegan and other special guests. Tickets are $50. At 8 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 21, local band Giselle Woo and the Night Owls will take the stage. Giselle is one hell of a performer, and she’s always put on a great show when I’ve seen her. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29, former Old Crow Medicine Show guitarist and banjo player Willie Watson will be appearing. Watson has been performing solo ever since leaving the band in 2011. Tickets are $15. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956;

The Purple Room comes back to life in September after taking a couple of months off. Jazz great Diane Schuur kicks things off on Sept. 1 and 2 with two sold-out shows, but there are tickets available for a lot of other great events. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, get ready to swing to ’60s music with Kate Campbell and the Martini Kings. The Martini Kings are no strangers to the Purple Room; the band put on a great Christmas show there last year. Tickets are $25 to $30. At 7 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 17, Michael Holmes and the Judy Show will be celebrating 10 Years of Dezart Performs: All of the proceeds will go to our good friends at Dezart Performs, one of the valley’s best theater companies. Tickets are $25 to $30. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422;

Back in the ‘90s, punk-rock fans looked forward to the Warped Tour every year.

Today … not so much. The Warped Tour has evolved and no longer features such an emphasis on punk—and that’s where the It’s Not Dead festival comes in.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino, the second version of the festival took place. Unlike the Warped Tour, the It’s Not Dead festival is a one-day affair—and attendees have to make some tough scheduling decisions. Everyone who is someone in punk rock fills the lineup, and the main stage features most of the best bands, meaning it’s hard to break away to see some of the bands on other stages.

Shortly after the festival opened, Warped Tour/It’s Not Dead founder Kevin Lyman appeared on the main stage, talked briefly for a moment and mentioned that the large stage rotated. One side was named the Gary Tovar Stage, after Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar, and the other side was called the Gabby Gaborno Stage, named after the late Cadillac Tramps front man who passed away after a tough battle with cancer earlier this year. Lyman introduced the first act—Wraths, featuring Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg.

Wraths kicked ass—but many attendees hadn’t yet arrived or were in the parking lot tailgating, meaning they missed one hell of a show. Lindberg’s stage presence and intensity, which has made Pennywise great, was also present in Wraths. Toward the end of the set, Lindberg said the band didn’t know what to play, given they had only recorded a handful of songs and had five minutes left.

The Interrupters, a Los Angeles ska punk band that continues to grow in popularity, played after Wraths, as the crowd size continued to grow. The 100-plus-degree temps didn’t stop the Bivona brothers from wearing their signature white dress shirts, black ties and black pants, while frontwoman Aimee Interrupter was dressed all in black. The Interrupters put out a lot of positive energy, and most of the crowd was dancing, or slam-dancing in the mosh pit. Kevin Bivona declared that It’s Not Dead is his favorite festival, and that he hopes they come back in the future.

After skate-punk band Good Riddance put on a solid and energetic set, GBH followed—like a shot of adrenaline, which led to an even larger mosh pit. The members of the English street punk outfit that formed in the late 1970s might have appeared old, but they were intense. Vocalist Colin Abrahall declared that they were angry old men (in less appealing terms), and their set was brutal. I saw one attendee in a wheelchair go crowd-surfing—but his wheel chair tipped forward, launching him out of it. It wasn’t long before the guy was back in his wheelchair and rocking out on the security barrier.

Later in the day, former Black Flag frontman Keith Morris and his band OFF! put on a fantastic set. He took some time to talk about how he remembered coming to the Glen Helen Amphitheater in the ’90s for OzzFest, saying that the parking lot tailgating resembled what was shown in the ’80s documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, and adding a story about a young woman who said she needed to give blow jobs in the parking lot in order to pay for her ticket.

As early evening set in, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes took the stage dressed in disco outfits. Missing were two regulars—NOFX bassist Fat Mike and Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett—with Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley and Face to Face guitarist Scott Shiflett taking their places. Frontman Spike Slawson sounded like he was calling San Bernardino “San Berdina” when he addressed the audience, and he was full of amusing anecdotes, including one about how he had the hots for some guy who also had the hots for him, and that they were busted in a park “finger banging.” One of the highlights of their covers-filled set was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”

I decided to venture over to the adjoining Fender stages to catch headlining performances by the U.S. Bombs and Voodoo Glow Skulls. Duane Peters of the U.S. Bombs has received a lot of negative attention as of late due to … well, being Duane Peters. He’s made controversial posts on social media as of late, saying that Tony Hawk was involved in a conspiracy relating to his late son’s death after a car accident, insulting local pro-skateboarder Eddie Elguera, and using homophobic slurs. When the U.S. Bombs went onstage, Duane Peters required the aid of a cane, but quickly put it aside when he began to sing. The U.S. Bombs performed well, but Duane seemed to struggle a bit through the set.

Riverside punk-ska legends Voodoo Glow Skulls have also endured some recent social media controversy, after now-former frontman Frank Casillas reportedly began making pro-Trump posts—upsetting the other two Casillas brothers, bandmates Eddie and Jorge. After Frank Casillas declared during a recent show that he was retiring from the band—an announcement which came as a surprise to the rest of the band—the remaining members recruited Death by Stereo frontman Efrem Schulz to finish out the tour. Voodoo Glow Skulls took the stage to a very large and welcoming audience, and Schulz’s stage presence was extremely high energy. The fans loved it.

Dropkick Murphys and Rancid brought their co-headlining tour to a close on Saturday night at It’s Not Dead. The first quarter of the Murphys’ hour-long set was all older material from their first two albums, including “Barroom Hero,” followed by “Do or Die,” “Never Alone,” “Boys on the Docks,” and “The Gang’s All Here.” The band always delivers a great set, and Rancid’s performance was just as good.

Beyond the music, the festival included a tent featuring artwork, photography and … books? Yes, books. In fact, Jim Lindberg did a book signing in the tent in the afternoon, as did Keith Morris of OFF! and Jack Grisham of TSOL.

“To actually be able to talk to the people that read your books, it’s cool,” Grisham said. “It’s the same thing to me as music. If they read the book and they enjoy it, it means we have a connection. We probably connected somewhere else down the line. I actually like to meet the people who like what I do.”

One of the more interesting selections for sale on Grisham’s table was a children’s book, I Wish There Were Monsters, which was written and illustrated by Grisham.

“It’s about a kid who has all this bravado and wants to fight all these monsters, and talking about all these monsters he wants to fight,” Grisham explained. “At the end of it, he says, ‘Hey, I wish there were monsters, just not tonight.’ He cuddles up in his bed with a cat. It was fun to do something that was laid back, and when I wrote it, it was never planned for release. I wrote it for my kids. I would just Xerox copies and hand them to friends.”

If you’ve never heard of punk-rock cover band Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, you’re missing out on a lot of hilarity.

The San Francisco-based band is fronted by Spike Slawson, of the Swingin’ Utters, who is normally joined by Fat Mike, of NOFX, on bass; Chris Shiflett, of the Foo Fighters, on lead guitar; Joey Cape, of Lagwagon, on rhythm guitar; and Dave Raun, also of Lagwagon, on drums. The band has released some hilarious themed albums, including 2006’s Love Their Country, featuring country songs—covered punk-style, of course.

At It’s Not Dead 2, frontman Spike Slawson was dressed as if he was going to a disco, with white pants and a gold microphone. During an interview, he explained where the band gets its inspiration for albums.

“It’s generally Fat Mike (has an idea), and then we end up chasing our tails to meet some unrealistic expectation or standard,” Slawson said. “I think what we need to do, and what we’re probably going to do, is some 7-inch records here and there—do some AM gold or a German song. People aren’t selling records anymore, anyway, so a 7-inch is a good thing. It’s not super expensive, and people will buy it, and you have songs people are going to want to hear live.”

I made a suggestion that perhaps the band should make an ABBA-themed record.

“Sounds good, but there are already too many ABBA tribute bands,” he said. “That’s already been done, including one that a friend of mine, Chris Dodge of Spazz, put out. That (band was) Bjorn Again. They kinda did it more straight and dressed up, wearing wigs and disco outfits. But I don’t know; we’ll try anything once, as evidenced by our body of work.”

Slawson said that his favorite album is 1999’s Are a Drag, which was the band’s show tunes album.

“It was fun to dress up for it, and I like the way the songs came out,” he said. “I also like the production aesthetic of the record.”

At It’s Not Dead, two of the band’s normal members—Fat Mike and Chris Shiflett—were not present. Slawson explained the absences and the substitutions.

“Mr. Jay Bentley of Bad Religion will be joining us on the bass guitar,” he said. “Sir Scott Shiflett is on lead guitar, and he’s a very accomplished guitar player, so no worries there. It’s pretty much all the Gimmes who you know and love. As long as they know what they’re doing and play the set instead of playing with themselves, it always works out. Chris can usually never do it because he’s always busy. Mike is busy as well. So we work it out.”

Slawson said he enjoys being in a band with Fat Mike.

“I don’t have a word to describe it, but it’s interesting. I’ll put it this way: Ever since this ’90s (punk) resurgence, it’s gotten really white and middle class, and he kind of did a back-turn and flipped that,” Slawson said. “He was kind of one of the figureheads of the middle-class punk movement where everything sounds like it’s a fucking Toyota commercial, and he’s not living that kind of life anymore. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming, but I just see it for what it is—it’s rock ’n’ roll.”

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes are planning another live record in the near future.

“We were talking about doing a live record at a quinceañera, just like we did with Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah,” he said, mentioning the band’s 2004 album. “(We’ll make it) more likely down here, though. We have them up in San Francisco, for sure, but they’re always bigger with so many more people down here.” 

I mentioned to Slawson that the Coachella Valley just might be the place for the album, given the quinceañeras here can even run all night.

“Really? Wow. Well, I figure there’s also Orange County, Los Angeles County or Ventura County, but yeah. In someone’s yard or something—I think that would be funny. We can learn and play a bunch of Spanish songs.”

The BrosQuitos released the band’s long-awaited debut album, Vinyl Image, back in May—and it’s fantastic. The songs became part of the soundtrack to my summer; this group has a promising future ahead. For more information, visit Drummer Hugo Chavez was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13, and here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The first “real” concert I ever attended was for a band called Bad Suns. They played at the Observatory in OC and killed it that night. It was definitely a great experience, being all the way in the front in a packed venue full of fans.

What was the first album you owned?

The first album I ever owned was Thriller by Michael Jackson. I remember being so excited to hear it that I ended up playing the whole album about six times in a row nonstop.

What bands are you listening to right now?

Foo Fighters, Walk the Moon, and Avenged Sevenfold. I love to listening to all kinds of genres and not limiting myself to one specific type of music.

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

I’m really starting to notice everyone jumping on the mumble-rap train, and I just can’t seem to get into it, mainly because I can’t relate to the lyrical topics or understand what they are saying.

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

As much as I want to say Michael Jackson, I’m going to say I wished I would have been able to see AC/DC in 1980 when they had just released the Back in Black album.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

The Weeknd. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something catchy to the choruses and lyrical content he puts out.

What’s your favorite music venue?

Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado. It’s a venue with beautiful views, and being an outside venue makes it even better. It would be a dream to be able to perform there.

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

“It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock ’n’ Roll.” I think this has been stuck in my head, because it sums up that making it to the top is a long and troubled road—but the end is where the fun really starts.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Two Door Cinema Club. As soon as I heard Tourist History and saw videos of (the band) performing live, it cemented the idea that I want nothing more than to be a professional musician for the rest of my life.

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

I would ask Dave Grohl about the challenges he faced when transitioning from being the drummer of Nirvana to being the frontman of the Foo Fighters.

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Adventure of a Lifetime” by Coldplay. I want my funeral to be a celebration of the life I lived and not have everyone sad. I want to be remembered for the funny and happy moments in life.

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

Tourist History by Two Door Cinema Club. Every song on that album drew me in, and I know every word to every song.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“See Right Through” by The BrosQuitos, but the song “When Did Your Heart Go Missing” by Rooney has been on repeat a lot on my playlist lately, so you should check that out, too. (Scroll down to hear them.)

This past spring, Throw the Goat toured the United States and even made it overseas to play in the United Kingdom. The Idyllwild punk outfit seems to have a promising future; catch the band at the Red Barn on Saturday, Sept. 30. For more information, visit Recently, guitarist Brian “Puke” Parnell answered the Lucky 13; here are his answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

My dad is a bassist, so my first shows as a kid were usually bands that he was in. But when I was in my teens, we won tickets off the radio and saw The Black Crowes at Glen Helen Amphitheater. That was huge. I think possibly my second concert was at the same place the next year for the second annual Ozzfest.

What was the first album you owned?

Because of my folks, we had pretty much all the necessary classic rock, new wave of British heavy metal and hair-metal albums covered in the household record collection. I started to get into hip hop and new jack swing in the early ’90s at the same time I was getting into grunge. The first time I spent money at a record store, I came home with Kris Kross’ Totally Krossed Out on cassette, plus Pearl Jam’s Ten and Boyz II Men’s Cooleyhighharmony on CD.

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’m loving the new Dead Cross album. I’m a big Mike Patton fan, and everything he does with Dave Lombardo is awesome. The new Bloodclot is really cool. Same with Mutoid Man. And the new Prong. I just heard the new Dale Crover album and loved it. And I’m really looking forward to the next record from The Bronx.

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

I have no idea what the fuck happened to alternative music. What is this supposed to be an “alternative” to, other than “good”? Same thing happened to hip hop. I can’t stand that robot voice on everything.

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

I’m a hardcore Nine Inch Nails fan. Like, forever. Haven’t seen them live in seven years, and the last one was at a festival. I’d like to see them indoors, maybe a theater show. Other than that, I’m always waiting for the next Snot reunion.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

I’m a sucker for The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and all my old school goth-boy jams. Tori Amos is my homegirl. None of it makes me feel guilty—only when I listen to whiny emo albums from the 2000s, but that’s rare.

What’s your favorite music venue?

This is a seriously difficult question. After so many tours, you end up with favorites all over the place. I’m gonna keep it California and say the Troubadour in West Hollywood. I’ve had so many great times there, and the sound is always perfect. TTG has yet to play there, actually. That would be incredible!

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

Not to plug the band or anything, but the lyric that plays in my head most is usually the chorus to our song “Bullshit.” It really resonates when you’re surrounded by people who seem to gain pleasure from making your life difficult. The line is simply: “I love it, give me more of your bullshit.” Sarcasm is my go-to coping mechanism.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

My music tastes got progressively heavier when I was in middle school. I was listening to a lot of stuff that was supposedly really scary and brutal. I ended up renting The Downward Spiral from the Ontario City Library, already being a fan of the earlier Nine Inch Nails stuff, and it blew my mind. It creeped me out like nothing else had at the time. And it was heavier and grittier than anything I’d ever heard. It was so diverse and musical. I became a mega-fan. From there, I discovered the world of industrial music and IDM (intelligent dance music) by researching bands that influenced NIN, and also bands on his label. It changed everything.

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

I think I’d ask Dave Grohl to do our next record for us! That would be the raddest thing ever!

What song would you like played at your funeral?

Not sure yet what I want done with my remains. If there’s a casket, I’d want them to play Pantera’s version of “Planet Caravan” by Black Sabbath as it’s being lowered.

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

If there was a gun to my head, I wouldn’t have had nearly the same amount of time to come to a conclusion. I’d probably just blurt out something stupid. But after much non-gunpoint consideration, I’ve decided it’s a tie between Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile and Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf. A close (third) would either be Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire or Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Halo of Flies” is Track 1 on Sieg Howdy! an album by Jello Biafra with The Melvins. It’s a cover of an Alice Cooper song. I’ve heard a lot of people cover Cooper before. That’s hallowed ground as far as I’m concerned, so I wouldn’t suggest it unless it was really good. Check it out.

Some of the valley’s best barbecue is being served at … the Red Barn in Palm Desert?

Yep, the Red Barn in Palm Desert.

The only food I’d remembered there was a stale bag of chips that I once bought from a vending machine on the outdoor patio—until I found myself there one night after Stagecoach in late April. I was hungry, and I heard there was barbecue for sale.

After Reggie Martinez, the owner of the California Barbecue Company, gave me my food, the flavors that hit my taste buds were out of this world: The barbecue was sweet, yet spicy, and smoked to perfection.

I recently had the chance to enjoy more of Martinez’s cooking while we chatted at the Red Barn: He typically runs out of his macaroni and cheese rather quickly, but I was able to try some—and it was unlike any macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had.

Martinez, who received his training from a culinary institute in Monterey Bay, has not been doing barbecue for very long.

“I’ve been cooking for over 20 years,” Martinez said. “I was working at Circle K, and I was out of the food industry. … Then I was in management at Del Taco.

“My friend ran the barbecue inside of Neil’s Lounge in Indio. He called me and told me that he had a position for me. I went in there, and I learned how to smoke a little bit from him, but I took it to another level; I was watching YouTube videos at home and filling notebooks full of notes. I did as much research as I could to perfect my craft. I realized there wasn’t much competition (locally) as far as barbecue, so I knew that I had a legitimate chance in succeeding: I learned I could not only compete with what was out here, but surpass what was out here.”

Martinez eventually took over the kitchen at Neil’s Lounge when his friend left for another job. However, he left earlier this year.

“Back in December or January, the contract was offered to me, and I had a helper in the kitchen. He became my partner, and we named it Harley’s,” Martinez said. “We opened up Harley’s, and from the very beginning, we had miscommunication. He was hell-bent on doing Texas barbecue, but I had already developed my own style, my own rubs and my own sauces. I wanted it to be what I call California barbecue, because there’s not a market for it, besides Santa Maria tri-tip. I wanted to create my own style with flavors that represent California—sweet, spicy, and dry chili flavors from Mexico. … I’m Filipino, but I grew up in Mexican culture. Those are the flavors I grew up with, and they represent California to me, so I incorporate them.”

After leaving Neil’s Lounge, he started the California Barbecue Company and began serving at the Red Barn.

“I opened the California Barbecue Company with $45 to my name and my own smoker. That’s where I’m at,” he said. “My strength in the beginning was my tri-tip—and then I started doing ribs, and the popularity took off on the ribs.”

How did he create his famous macaroni and cheese?

“One day, I was outside in the front doing tacos, and my fire went out, and I didn’t have a side dish for my food,” he explained. “I had made my daughter a huge tray of macaroni and cheese, and I called the house and asked (them) to bring me the macaroni and cheese. All of a sudden, the most popular item I sell is macaroni and cheese. People come back just for macaroni and cheese. It never fails, and I hear, ‘This is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.’ It’s really taking off, and everything is happening so fast.”

How did Martinez end up at the Red Barn, of all places?

“I build a rapport with my customers. One of the guys I met, and his wife, they introduced me to John Labrano, the owner of the Red Barn,” Martinez said. “This customer came to me during a time when I was down, because I didn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel or know what I really wanted to do. I was thinking about going back to Del Taco. He was telling me I had something to offer, and he was going to help me. Three days later, I got a phone call from John, and we met the same day. John had already tasted my food, and he was pretty confident that I would succeed here, so he brought me here to the Red Barn.”

Palm Springs Life recently included California Barbecue Company among eight places to taste great barbecue in the Coachella Valley.

“I think that between social media and … word of mouth, people are learning who I am and what I do. I think that I’ve got a really good opportunity to move forward,” Martinez said. “That article ranked me among the top eight places in Palm Springs to get barbecue. I’m not going to say any of those names, but one of the top establishments on that list has been in the valley for more than 15 years. Harley’s was also on the list, which isn’t bad for being open since January, and I’ve only been open since March. It wasn’t a blind taste test. The lady and her husband who wrote the article went to all these places over a span of two weeks and tried them all.

“It built up quick. I did have a lot of bar food on the menu in the beginning, but I learned that people couldn’t get consistently solid good barbecue, so I wiped that menu clean and went to straight barbecue and sides that went with barbecue.”

Martinez plans on opening his own restaurant in Rancho Mirage later this year, but he said he’ll keep cooking at the Red Barn as well.

“Excited isn’t even a word,” he said about his future. “It’s like Christmas Eve. There are all these gifts under the tree, and you just cannot wait. I know there are going to be hurdles, and I know there are going to be trials and tribulations, and I’m going to go through it all, but I’m ready for it. I feel I have so much to offer, and I feel like I’m going to be able to give the valley something that they can’t get anywhere else.”

For more information, visit

A language barrier has not kept Swedish band Dungen from finding ample success in America.

The band has performed at Bonnaroo and Coachella; played on Late Night With Conan O’Brien; and won the acclaim of American music critics. The band’s psychedelic rock sound has much to like, and at times will head into progressive rock and even free-form jazz.

The band will be appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Aug. 19.

During a recent phone interview during a tour stop in Northern California, frontman Gustav Ejstes expressed happiness about again touring in the United States.

“It’s amazing, and we’re truly grateful every time we get to play here again,” Ejstes said. “We enjoy being here where it’s super-warm. We were by the coast last night, and it was a little chilly, but it’s very beautiful, and there are a lot of great people here.”

In 2013, the band was asked to compose a score for a film. This led to the band’s latest LP, last year’s Häxan.

“We received a request from the Swedish Film Institute. We got the request in the spring of 2013, and we had a few options of films to pick from,” Ejstes said. “I couldn’t participate much during this period, because I had a new daughter, but the other guys picked this movie, a beautiful animated film from 1926 called The Adventures of Prince Achmed. … They thought (the score) was good, and then we decided to make a record out of it.

“We decided from the beginning not to do it chronologically. We handed over a bag of tapes to the producer and said, ‘Make this into a 40-minute-long LP,’ and he took the material and made it like a collage. It’s the score, and it’s all chopped up.”

Ejstes said it was not that difficult to create the score.

“The film is so beautiful itself,” he said. “It’s a lot of themes for different characters and elements in the film. Every time we play it, it feels like there’s something different, because that’s how play. But in our live sets, we can extend stuff and jam a lot. That happened a lot when we recorded this (too).”

Ejstes at times struggled with his English, and his Swedish accent was quite thick. Even though Dungen sings in Swedish, he said American audiences don’t seem too bothered by the language barrier.

“I try not to think about too much, especially when we’re playing live, and we’re on tour,” he said. “… When we’re playing live, you get used to the fact that it’s working, and there are people we meet who explain to us that the language is a big part of it, and the barrier is (actually) a plus. For me, it’s very important to write good lyrics, and I put a lot of effort into it. When we play in Sweden, there are people who understand what I’m saying, but lyrically, I think music is so much about making your own stories in songs.

“People ask me all the time what the songs are about, and I don’t like to tell them. Some people are like, ‘That song must be about my cat!’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, sure, it’s a cat song.’”

At Pappy and Harriet’s, Dungen will be performing Häxan in its entirety, plus songs from the regular discography.

“I don’t know what to expect. Everything feels like it’s so exotic and far different from the norm that we’re used to. I try to just float down the stream and try not to fall out of the boat.”

Dungen will perform with Shadow Band at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

The 2017 Warped Tour came to a close at the Pomona Fairplex, 80 miles west of Palm Springs, on Sunday, Aug. 6.

A cloud hung over much of the summer tour after The Dickies made some jokes that angered feminist punk band War on Women during a stop in Denver, dividing many fans over questions of free speech and political correctness. On the plus side, tour organizers included many of the old-school punk bands who had played the Warped Tour in the 1990s.

While entering the tour grounds on Sunday, we encountered a significant problem. If there’s one item that is a MUST-HAVE at a festival—an item that every festival I know of allows and even encourages—it’s sunblock. Well, when I walked up to security, a woman working the festival screeched: “NO SUNBLOCK! TAKE IT BACK TO YOUR CAR OR THROW IT AWAY!” I noticed a large trash barrel full of sunblock, into which I threw mine. Upon entering the festival, I found it hard to find sunblock for sale, and I was afraid what the price would be. Luckily, I found a booth selling small bottles of SPF 30 for $2 … but I’d already noticed by 2 p.m. that there were a lot of people getting sunburns. I was asked at one point if I could spare any sunblock for a young kid. What a terrible idea by festival managers.

As for the music: The Hard Rock stage featured performances by Sick of It All, TSOL, Municipal Waste, Adolescents and Strung Out. Jack Grisham, of TSOL—wearing a pink suit that is probably up for auction on the TSOL site by now, with proceeds going to charity—wasn’t shy about giving the finger or offering an amusing anecdote. Tony Reflex of Adolescents look sunburned to a crisp and ready to go home after playing the entire tour, pointing to the mountains in the background and saying, “I live in those mountains!”

At the Skullcandy stage, feminist punk band War on Women performed. Frontwoman Shawna Potter had a tank top on that stated, “I’m a fucking feminist,” and declared that if any woman felt uncomfortable at the Warped Tour, War on Women and their friends at the Safer Scenes were there and “had their back.” She then went on a rant about reproductive rights before singing a song with a chorus during which she screamed “GIVE ME THE PILL! GIVE ME THE PILL!” The song included lines about abortion and rape, and someone pretended to rip a baby out of her stomach. As a gay man in my late 30s who understands and respects the ideals of feminism, I feel that War on Women should write a song: “We Give Feminism a Bad Name.”

For attendees who love everything metal, the two Monster stages, which took up one whole side of the festival, offered delights all day long. One of the highlights of the afternoon was Hatebreed, who praised Sick of It All, TSOL and Adolescents for kicking the door down for bands like them. Hatebreed was returning to the Warped Tour for the first time since 1998.

At the opposite end of the festival, the two Journey stages featured performances in the afternoon by pop-punk band Goldfinger, rap metal band Attila and stoner-rock band CKY.

As the sun went down, it became time for the headliners, and the notorious costumed metal band GWAR took to one of the Monster stages. After the death of Cory Smoot (Flattus Maximus) in 2011 and frontman Dave Brockie (Oderus Urungus) in 2014, GWAR is continuing on with new frontman Blothar (Michael Bishop, who is also a history professor and software engineer; he was the original bass player, Beefcake the Mighty). As soon as GWAR came onstage, the band began spraying blood all over the crowd through hoses … and through all six of the penises on Blothar’s costume. At one point in between songs, Blothar said, “Hey baby, you’re pretty cute!” to one of the female attendees in front of the stage. When she acknowledged him, he said, “No, I wasn’t talking to you!” and then he said, “Yeah, you, hi!”

With all the controversy that surrounded the Dickies, one has to wonder how GWAR was given a free pass. GWAR was pretty misogynistic—but both the men and women who caught the band’s set seemed to be having a hilarious good time.