CVIndependent

Thu02222018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Brian Blueskye

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.

When Jackass first aired on MTV, it not only made stars out of its cast; it brought attention to the band CKY.

The music of CKY (Camp Kill Yourself) was featured on the show, and the band played the Warped Tour this summer. On the final tour date, yesterday in Pomona, members Matt Deis (bass) and Jess Margera (drums; the brother of Jackass star Bam) sat down with the Independent for a brief interview.

One subject: The release of the new album The Phoenix, which was recorded at Rancho de la Luna in Joshua Tree.

“As an East Coast boy who grew up in winters with 4 feet of snow on the ground all the time, being able to go out there where it was almost 120 degrees each day, that was pretty nice,” Deis said. “It was beautiful. There’s this energy that just seems to hang over Joshua Tree and that whole area.”

The album was engineered by Jon Russo; Rancho de la Luna owner David Catching was not on hand for the recording of the album.

“He was out on tour with Eagles of Death Metal,” Margera said. “That was a real bummer, because I’ve heard what a great cook he is.”

CKY is no stranger to the Warped Tour, having played it before. On Sunday, however, I could tell Margera was happy it was finally ending.

“It was awesome to come back, but it was really hot for a lot of it,” he said. “I’m pretty burnt out. I had a real blast, but I’m spent! It’s like a rock ’n’ roll summer camp. You just get to hang out with a ton of cool bands, barbecuing with them, and it’s a cool vibe. You hang out with bands that you might not ever get to hang out with, like American Authors, which is a band my kids love, but I’ve never heard of.”

Deis agreed about the summer-camp vibe.

“You become friends with the least likely of people; 40-something shows in, and we’ve become great friends with Save Ferris, which is a ska band,” he said. “Now we’re all friends for life, and once you’re here living it, you get it. It’s a secret club that you become a member of.”

Margera shared one downside of the Warped Tour.

“We have about 20 years of music to play in about 30 minutes. That’s challenging!” he said. “When it’s 118 in Phoenix, though, 30 minutes is a good amount of time. I probably would have died if it was 40 minutes.”

Deis said the 30 minutes per day of performing leads to challenges.

“The hardest part is the 23 1/2 other hours that happen—trying to not go crazy during that,” he said. “But the 30 minutes onstage? That’s what you look forward to each day.”

It’s been almost two decades since Jackass debuted on MTV in 2000.

“I think it was a perfect storm of events, and I’m really grateful for it,” Margera said. “We built a fan base without going through the traditional routes. We had a video on MTV through Jackass, and we didn’t even have an album in stores. That was different: You had to go find it in a surf or skate shop. Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine took our videos and the Big Brother videos and pitched them to MTV, and they were like, ‘Whatever you want, sir!’”

Right now, CKY is in the midst of promoting The Phoenix, which dropped in June.

“We’re coming back around with the H.I.M. Farewell Tour, and we’re going to be the support for them on the entire North American run,” Deis said. “We’re excited about it. For some reason, we never toured with them before. Sadly, they’re going away, but it’ll be a lot of fun.

“We’re going to be working on a new EP within the next month or two.”

Margera laughed as he explained why they were recording an EP.

“Our new label said (The Phoenix) is great, but it’s only eight songs,” he said. “We’re going to need more than that, so we’re going to get to work right after this. We had years off, so it’s good to be busy again.”

For New York hardcore band Sick of It All, this year’s Warped Tour was a homecoming, of sorts: The band returned 20 years after last playing it in 1997.

Although Sick of It All was the first band to perform on the Hard Rock stage at the Pomona stop, just after noon on Sunday, the band had a great crowd—including many people who were seeing them for the first time.

Later in the afternoon, frontman Lou Koller smiled while discussing this year’s tour experience, which concluded with Pomona’s show.

“Twenty years later,” Koller said. “It had its ups and downs, but it was great. We wanted to stay away from Europe, because last year was our 30-year anniversary, and we toured the shit out of Europe. Our only other option was getting real jobs this summer. But luckily, (tour founder) Kevin Lyman called us and said he was slowly easing older bands into coming back on the tour. Some days, we played last, where we didn’t really have a following, but every show, we got new young fans. I’m not saying it was by the hundreds, and some days it felt like only three people.”

Sick of It All has always been politically minded, and Koller said that with Trump as president, it’s going to be an interesting time for punk music.

“It’s back to the bullshit. Even when Obama was president, we were always watching what he was doing,” he said. “People who I know support Trump are like, ‘Oh, you really think Obama was the greatest president?’ No, he wasn’t the greatest president, but he was a good president. He did a lot of good for this country that Trump supporters ignore. But there were things that he did that I hated, like he was always on the side of Monsanto, that company that rules all the food.

“To be Sick of It All with Trump as president? Just let the anger fly even more.”

Koller expressed his feelings on political correctness—a topic on the forefront of the minds of many after several incidents during this year’s Warped Tour.

“It’s such a hard subject, especially with that whole thing that happened this year on the Warped Tour with the Dickies, but political correctness starts with you,” he said. “You just have to be cool with people. I understand trying to educate people, and we have friends who say, ‘Everybody is so PC.’ Why not? Who cares? You have to be a dick to someone because they’re different? That’s shit my mother taught me not to do when I was fucking 5 years old. It’s really hard, because I don’t like Trump bringing in this whole attitude of, ‘We don’t have to be politically correct anymore, so fuck these people!’ Why? Because religion tells you to do something? Religion is made up; it’s not real!”

Koller told me he hopes Sick of It All will be invited back again, perhaps two years from now for the 25th anniversary of the Warped Tour.

“It’s funny: A lot of the crew guys from every stage come and watch us,” Koller said. “The one thing I want to make sure that everyone knows is that this was exactly like the 1997 Warped Tour, between the Hard Rock stage and the Skullcandy stage: No matter what the bands were, we went and saw each other every night. This guy William Control—who does this, like, new wave, dance goth style of music—he was in the mosh pit this morning. He hates the sun; he always carries an umbrella because he doesn’t want to be in the sun, but he was dancing in the fucking pit during Sick of It All. We were one of the bands he grew up listening to. Last night, every band from the stages was in the pit, and we were all dancing. I’m talking Hatebreed guys, Municipal Waste guys and Valient Thorr were all there dancing like we were in a fucking ’80s new wave club, and it was hilarious. Everyone was supporting each other, and that’s what it was like back then in 1997.

“I’d like to do this again if we could come back and have camaraderie like that. One of the crew guys came up to me and said, ‘The camaraderie that you guys bring and how you’re cool to everyone is really touching, because some of the bands who are more popular, it makes them think.’ … We had my birthday on this tour, and my daughter ran around giving cake to everyone. I said, ‘Make sure you give it to all the crew, because they work the hardest.’ They were all like, ‘You’re giving us cake?’ and I was like, ‘We all work together, man!’”

Sick of It All came out of the New York Hardcore Scene—which Koller said is still very much alive.

“The mainstream is so focused on other things. We’re 30 years old; Agnostic Front is pushing 40 years old,” he said. “But there are still a lot of good clubs and places to play in Brooklyn. Freddy Cricien of Madball started this place called the Black N’ Blue Bowl with a bunch of other guys, and that has really helped to keep the scene alive. It brings back a lot of old bands, and he has a lot of newer bands to play as openers. It’s an all-day thing, and it really helps to keep the scene going.

Sick of It All plans to keep touring, and should have some new music out soon, Koller said.

“The last full length we put out, The Last Act of Defiance, was in 2014, and last year for the anniversary, we did a five-song EP that came in a special photo book that has our history,” he said. “This tour, we just made a run of the EP to sell for $5 so the kids can buy it.

“We’re actually writing right now. When we go home, we have a month off, and we’re going to tour Southeast Asia and Japan, then back home, and then back to Europe again for a week of shows. Then we’re done for a year—and hopefully we get stuff together for early next year to start recording.”

A Joshua Tree musician is receiving some much-deserved national exposure.

For those of you who are unfamiliar … ladies and gentlemen, meet Gene Evaro Jr.

After going on a national tour with Grammy Award-winning band Blues Traveler, and headlining a tour of his own, Gene Jr. and his band will be playing a hometown show at Pappy and Harriet’s on Saturday, Aug. 5.

During a recent interview in Yucca Valley, Evaro said his recent tour experience was “great.”

“It started in San Diego, and we went as far as Vermont,” he said. “It was our own tour, which meant we weren’t opening for anyone. It was a lot of driving. The shows were excellent. We did the Firefly Music Festival; the High Sierra Music Festival; and we played in Nashville at the High Watt. It doesn’t end until Pappy’s.”

Evaro is one of a handful of local musicians who has successfully made a living by making music his full-time job.

“I was at a point where I had a job and was working a lot, and I thought I could work and do the music thing. But then I figured out that wasn’t how it wasn’t going to go down, at least for me,” he said. “The job I was in didn’t want me to grow as a musician, and that makes sense. People don’t care about your music if you’re a dishwasher. You’re probably a nice guy, and your music is good, but it doesn’t mean anything (to an employer), though. I thought, ‘I can’t succeed unless I surround myself with people exactly like me.’ Once I took that leap of faith and quit my job, that’s when things started gaining momentum.

“I’m not a financial adviser, and I would never tell anyone, ‘Quit your job and go do this full time.’ For some people, it’s harder than others. … Once the hustle kicks in, and you don’t have that comfort, that’s when you really start to open yourself up for opportunity.”

Evaro has been successful in selling his own music; he explained how.

“There is some trickery involved: The trick is that honest people have to feel like the music is real. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “If I can hear a great song and feel no emotion, I can almost see past it and say, ‘It just needs somebody to deliver the song.’ A good song has to have a connection and be real. It’s got to sell. It’s 2017, and we’re here to be relative, especially when you’re talking about the radio and shit like that. But if you want to be an avant-garde musician for the rest of your life, don’t listen to anything I’m saying. If you want to be relative and influence people in a relative way, you have to pick up what’s around you and be a sponge.

“When it comes to the recordings, it’s so easy to get the tools. Everything I record with is at my house. I grew up in the studio my whole life. My dad, who I was with all the time, was going from Reba McEntire’s studio in Nashville to tons of studios all over. In terms of quality away from the emotional stuff, it has to be good—and sound like everything else. That is where you can’t have any shame in copying people. Led Zeppelin came out with the best drum sound ever, and people were saying, ‘I don’t want to copy it.’ What the fuck kind of world would we be in if every drummer wasn’t like, ‘Wait a minute: They’re on to something, and I want a little bit of that’? Don’t be afraid to be inspired and take the colors of what’s relative and relevant.”

Being from Joshua Tree heavily influences Evaro, he said.

“I love the vibe. Being in the desert feels special to me,” he said. “… I can still say the vibe in Joshua Tree is much different than any other spot. My family has a lot to do with it; I have a lot of family out here. My actual native roots come from my grandmother, who is a Native American from Arizona and Mexico. Her family has been here for at least 150 years. My family is Native American, and this is our spot.”

While Pappy’s may mark the end of his current tour, Evaro plans on keeping busy.

“I have a music video coming out, as well as a new EP. After the EP release, we’re going to promote that a lot, and we’ll be touring again in the fall,” he said. “I’m also trying to work on some licensing and sync stuff. I’m trying to get stuff in some commercials so I can tour better. … You go on tour and see a band that’s been touring for 15 years, and they sound like it and they’re good—but they have 100 people in a crowd. You have someone who has a song in a commercial, and you have 2,000 people in the crowd and have only been touring for a month. Licensing is just filling in that gap—it’s called publicity. That’s what I’m trying to get more of. I’m just trying to get more songs in the public arena versus, ‘Oh, let’s play 300 shows a year and hope someone in the industry likes it.’”

I asked Evaro about the ethical side of licensing music to businesses and commercials.

“Morals always have to come into question. You always have to wonder, ‘Do I want my song to be played in a machine gun ad?’ Hell no; don’t do it!” he said with a laugh. “You have that option. My only experience is I had a song on the Discovery Channel. I was working with the music supervisor at the time, and they said, ‘Hey, I need a song that sounds like this. Rip the song off; make it your own; and the song needs to sound like this.’ I did that, and it got placed on something on the Discovery Channel. I got something like 30,000 to 40,000 views in one night on a YouTube video, and I was making money off the single online. The whole world saw it, and I get royalty checks from that still—not enough to buy a house, but it’s a good foot in the door. That’s easy, and it’s awesome, but it’s a lottery thing, and you need to have the right people around you who will recognize your talent and push your song. It’s just as rare as anything else. There are a million songwriters, and only 500 of them will be good enough to have a song in a commercial. Ads are a niche, and when you craft songs for ads, they say, ‘This is how it has to be.’ It requires a lot of effort and creativity, and it’s a visual thing. Some people say it’s selling out, but you can sell out arenas doing that.”

Evaro said he has one manta for everything he does in life.

“Put your heart into it,” he said. “If you’re making food, put your heart into it. No matter what you do, put your heart into it; it’s not just music that it applies to. Be a good person, and be an authentic person; otherwise, what the fuck are you doing?”

Gene Evaro Jr. will perform at 9 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $15 to $20. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

Lionel Richie made one thing clear on Friday night at the Fantasy Springs Special Event Center: He didn’t like the weather.

“It’s too hot outside to be moving like this inside!” he told the audience at one point.

Sure, it was a scorcher outside, but that didn’t stop a near-sell-out crowd on Friday night from dancing and clapping along with the former Commodores singer and ’80s R&B hit-maker.

There were ample references to the infamous “Hello” meme that has circulated around the Internet—on homemade T-shirts people were wearing, on the video screen during the show, and even on an officially licensed sweatshirt that could be yours for the low, low price of $80 from the merchandise booth in the lobby.

Make no mistake: Richie remains relevant in the music industry today; his most-recent album, Tuskegee, went platinum and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 2012. The crowd was a mixture of people young, old and older.

Before Richie took the stage, the lights went off; thunder sound effects began; and strobe lights flickered as people howled and applauded. With energy like that, one had to expect an epic opening, and that’s exactly what we got: He played “Easy/My Love.” After just the first verse, he stopped the song, stood up from behind the piano, and said, “I need you on this!” When he returned to the piano, the audience sang the lyrics louder than he sang over the sound system.

It was evident from the start that Richie either had a cold, or his vocal chords needed some rest, as he struggled during the first two-thirds of the show. There were times when the guitars and harmonica were louder than he was.

Lionel’s band included a little R&B—and a little ’80s metal. His guitarist let loose and head-banged to some of the solos on the edgier Commodores songs, and the band even channeled Van Halen during the performance of “Dancing on the Ceiling,” playing the riffs to Van Halen’s “Jump” at the end of it.

Richie’s stage banter with the audience fell a little flat after his third complaint about the desert heat and a remark that the crowd “didn’t sound too bad for being from the desert.” There were some entertaining moments, such as when Richie pointed out that there were only five men sitting in the front row (one of whom was Monreaux frontman Giorg Tierez), and he asked one of them sternly, “Why you looking at me like that?” (Tierez later denied looking at Richie funny.)

One very amusing moment came when Richie said that at the meet-and-greet before the show, a big man walked up to him and said, “I’ve made love to your music many times.” Richie laughed and said he told him, “That’s a lie!” He then said the man’s girlfriend or wife replied: “I was there.” Also: Before playing “Brick House,” he told the audience: “Imagine traveling the world and judging ‘Miss Brick House’ competitions in each city.”

The last four songs were the highlight of the show—and his vocals seemed to be just fine as he ended the 80-minute concert with “Hello,” “Say You Say Me,” “We Are the World” and “All Night Long.”

As the Desert Daze festival has continued to grow, so has its profile and, therefore, so has the quality of the lineup. Well, the 2017 lineup was announced today—and it’s downright fantastic.

Desert Daze announced that Iggy Pop would be the festival’s headliner. The Joshua Tree festival will also feature performances by BadBadNotGood, Ty Segall, Sleep (performing the album Holy Mountain in its entirety), The Gories, and Cigarettes After Sex.

This year’s Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15.

These additions to the lineup joined already-announced acts including Spiritualized, John Cale, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and Eagles of Death Metal, among many other well-known acts.

Shortly before the announcement, Desert Daze founder Phil Pirrone spoke to the Independent. When asked whether booking the festival is getting easier as it grows, he hesitated.

“I don’t know if it’s ever going to be easier,” Pirrone said. “What happens with the headliner search is that whoever is worth headlining, you’re not the only one who wants them. You have to get lucky with schedules and the stars aligning.

“I guess to a certain extent, with every year that we do this festival more and more, people are going to know about it, and agents will want to get their bands on it. In some areas, it will be easier. I think that there will always be some degree of difficulty of getting a headliner like Iggy Pop.”

Desert Daze will also feature a performance by Eagles of Death Metal. The Coachella Valley natives became a worldwide name after the group survived the attack in November 2015 at the Bataclan theater in Paris.

“After all that’s happened to them, this is going to be in Joshua Tree, and that’s going to be a beautiful moment,” Pirrone said. “We’ve been trying to get them to play for the past few years, and we’re glad it’s finally happening.”

In 2016, Desert Daze moved to October from the spring, and changed locations, moving from the Sunset Ranch Oasis in Mecca to the Institute of Mentalphysics in Joshua Tree. 

“I guess the short answer as to why is, ‘Lots of reasons,’ Pirrone said. “I guess the most positive answer is that the venue in Joshua Tree is so amazing. We were in Mecca for three years, and we thought it had run its course. We were on the lookout to find a new spot to expand and have more of a workable environment. As soon as we laid eyes on the Institute of Mentalphysics, we knew it would be the perfect place for the festival. We actually found it a couple of years before we moved the festival there. It had kind of been a dream of ours.”

Sunset Ranch Oasis, while nice and scenic, is an out-of-the-way location—with an occasional wind and dust problem.

“It’s night and day. No offense to the Sunset Ranch, but it was pretty rough there,” Pirrone said. “This new venue is beautifully maintained, and there are really lovely walking paths, labyrinths, water features and little ponds, and lots of beautiful prehistoric desert wildlife. It’s a really amazing property. There are indoor spaces, an indoor diner, and two performance halls that were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son … and we use those. There are places to get out of the sun. It’s very different from when it was in Mecca.”

Last year, Desert Daze featured performances from The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Primus, Television, The Sonics, and the Black Angels. The event was a success, even though the mega-event that was Desert Trip was happening down the hill. 

“We didn’t feel any impact from Desert Trip taking place, other than there being a lack of hotels and some other resources like that. I think Desert Trip was this mega, once-in-a-lifetime dream concert, and I wish I could have gone,” Pirrone said with a laugh. “But that thing sold out, and I think there are plenty of people who wanted to go to something like Desert Daze who weren’t going to go to Desert Trip. Desert Daze was traditionally always during Coachella during the spring, and I think they are different enough to where they can do their thing without impacting the other. It goes without saying that we’re a blip on their radar (compared to Goldenvoice’s big festivals). But I found being in the fall has had a lot of benefits, weather-wise. With all that said, I can’t say I’m disappointed there isn’t a Desert Trip this year, because it makes things easier. It’s always nice to have some breathing room.”

I asked Pirrone about his favorite festival-production moment thus far.

“I have to say it’s still Tinariwen back in 2013. That represented a turning point for us: It was the first time we produced the festival outdoors at a ranch, the first time it was like a real project,” he said. “It wasn’t, ‘Let’s do a show at a venue.’ It was the first time we had to get a permit; it was the first time we had to hire security and bring in our own bar company, and catering company, and organize everything. We did it and we got the permit. … We convinced this band from Africa to come over and play, and they got there. They played; people had actually paid to get in to where we had money to pay them; nobody got hurt. … It’s like a family restaurant (had) started with my wife and best friends, and when we succeed, we really feel it. During Tinariwen … nothing will ever top that.

“But who knows? Iggy Pop is playing our festival this year,” he continued. “That’s just going to be unreal.”

Last year, some people had concerns about a large music festival taking place at the Institute of Mentalphysics. Pirrone said attendees left the venue in pristine shape.

“I was very impressed with our audience and their respect for the venue,” he said. “When you’re there, you don’t feel like littering, because of the environment there being so beautiful. I like to think we put a lot of love into it. People cleaned up after themselves and left no trace. The Institute of Mentalphysics was very impressed with the cleanup. We also encourage people to carpool and keep fewer cars on the road. We work with Global Inheritance and ZeroHero to run recycling and green programs during the event, and they helped us divert 10,000 pieces of recycling from the landfill. We’re making a lot of efforts to be a positive festival in that regard.

“We love it in Joshua Tree, and we hope to be there for many years. We’re doing our best to be good neighbors up there.

Desert Daze will take place Thursday, Oct. 12, through Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Institute of Mentalphysics, 59700 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Joshua Tree. Passes are $229 to $450. For tickets or more information, visit desertdaze.org.

For about a year in the mid-1990s, a band formed featuring members of Unsound, Kyuss and Dead Issue. The name was Decon—and the group kicked ass.

However, Decon—with Herb Lienau (vocals), Brian Maloney (guitar), Billy Cordell (bass) and Brant Bjork (drums)—came to an abrupt halt after that great year.

Flash forward two decades or so, to the fall of 2016, when seemingly out of nowhere, Decon announced its first show in two decades, at The Hood Bar and Pizza, as part of The Hellions’ record-release party. Three of the four original members were back, with Rob Peterson taking Brant Bjork’s place on drums. Decon was a hit, and many hoped the band would play again.

Decon will indeed be playing again—at Pappy and Harriet’s, as part of Brian Maloney’s 50th birthday, on Saturday, Aug. 12. Also on the bill will be Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama.

I caught up with Decon at Rob Peterson’s house in Bermuda Dunes. The band was running through its old material, with the occasional flub.

“We practice once every 25 years,” Maloney joked, before giving a brief history of the band.

“It was around 1994 and 1995. Unsound was done for about a year, and Brant and I got together and started jamming and started Decon up,” Maloney said. “We enlisted Billy, and then we got Herb. By the time we had Herb, we had about 10 songs. He came in and wrote lyrics really fast, and within three weeks, we had a 10-song set.

“It went really fast. We got a tour going; we had a lot of shows and played around a lot. We had a lot of momentum, and then it went into cruise control. We did maybe 10 shows. We played in Santa Cruz, Humboldt, Chico and San Francisco. We had only one show to start the whole tour. We filled in the blanks about three or four days before we left, getting another one or two here or there. We’d roll into town and be like, ‘Hey, we want to get on this show!’ We’d see a flier and be like, ‘Hey, we’ll open for you guys!’ It went really well. We’d stay in town for a couple of days and end up playing parties. We knew a few people and connected the dots as we went. It was really do-it-yourself, and doing it on a whim. It was fun, and we did great. We generated a lot of momentum.”

The band members were baffled when they showed up to play a show in Berkeley … and many attendees knew the lyrics to their songs.

“We found out there was a pirate radio station in Berkeley,” Maloney said. “There was a guy who had a radio station out of his car and would just drive around Berkeley with no FCC license. He would crank us. We played in Berkeley and wondered how all these street kids knew our songs. We found out he would play us on the radio from some friends of ours who lived up there.”

I had to ask: What made Decon end so quickly? The simple answer: life. All of the members had things going on; Herb Lienau’s son, Quanah, who today plays guitar in the local band Facelift, was just a year old when Decon went on tour.

“I used to bounce Quanah around in his little jumper thing,” Maloney said. “… Shit happens. Things happen for a month, and then things go stale. Dominoes fall in different ways, and there are four people. Things change really quick, and that’s the way it is when you’re in a band, and you have to keep that momentum going.”

Lienau added that things were different for bands back then.

“Things would get very disheartening,” Lienau said. “Progress was slow-going back then. It was very hard to get any kind of break at all. This is long before everyone toured Europe all the time. Back then, Kyuss toured, and that was it.”

Maloney said one venue in particular, in Indio, was essential to Decon’s brief existence.

“Our saving grace was Rhythm and Brews, Mario and Larry Lalli’s club,” Maloney said. “That was at the same time of Decon, and we used to practice there early in the weekdays. It was the apex of the desert scene. It couldn’t get any better than that: Our best friend and godfather of desert rock, Mario Lalli, had a club with a bar, pizza, a pool table and shit going on there six nights a week. We had our own place. It was Mario’s place, but it was all of our place. He really opened the doors in that way to everyone. Even if the door didn’t make money, you still got paid. Mario paid and fed the bands, even if it wasn’t a big night.”

Now that Decon is back, is the band actually back, at least for now?

“We finally put it back together. We’re enjoying it, and we want to try to do it more often,” Maloney said. “We played that last show less than a year ago. We didn’t know what to expect at first, but we felt good going into that show. We’re going to do a few more; this upcoming show is my 50th birthday party. It’s more like a reunion show, and we have people who are our old friends coming in from across the country.”

Decon’s newbie, Rob Peterson, said he’s enjoying his time with the band. The other members praised Peterson’s abilities, calling him one of the best drummers in the valley.

“I love playing this kind of music,” Peterson said. “I can play as loud and fast as I want, and no one is telling me to turn it down. When I was coming up, Unsound and Decon were two of my favorite groups, and I loved being in the pit. I got to watch them play a whole bar show in the Rhythm and Blues days, and I was a kid, stoked on these guys who I considered my big brothers doing rad shit. Now I got asked to play with them—and not to jock these motherfuckers, but it’s pretty fucking cool. I felt honored and stoked. I’m getting to play with guys I look up to.”

One last note: Billy Cordell, who remained quiet for the entire interview, received some grief from his bandmates. He chuckled and wished to be quoted as saying, “Mmhmm, yep” as his contribution.

Decon will perform at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Also on the bill are Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson, The Hellions and Dali’s Llama. Tickets are $10. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit pappyandharriets.com.

It’s August, which means we’re starting the downhill slide into fall (and the amazing weather that season brings). Meanwhile, there are still plenty of great shows to enjoy.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a couple of events to consider. At 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 4, Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera of Riverside will square off against Jesus “El Renuente” Soto Karass of Los Mochis, Mexico, in a welterweight-division match that’s part of Golden Boy Boxing. The event will also be broadcast on ESPN. Tickets are $25 to $45. At 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, the legendary Doobie Brothers will return to Fantasy Springs. The band’s name has always amused me, but the music is no laughing matter: It’s great. Tickets are $39 to $69. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa also has a sports event taking place: At 7 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, get ready for the beatdown … the Gladiator Challenge MMA: Ultimate Beatdown, that is. While the card had not been announced as of my deadline, you can bet the beatdown awesomeness will be … uh, awesome, considering the Gladiator Challenge has been going since 1999, and MMA greats including Dan “The Beast” Severn and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson have participated. Tickets are $40 to $150. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, you’ll be off the wall and asking Annie if she’s OK when the Michael Jackson History Show hits the valley. This is a production by Showtime Australia, and will feature MJ impersonator Dantanio. Tickets are $29 to $59. Speaking of the King of Pop (sort of): Do you love the ’80s? Well, at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, you’ll be loving Lost ’80s Live, with a lineup featuring Wang Chung, Cutting Crew, Pretty Poison, Naked Eyes, The Flirts, Trans-X, Berlin (right) and Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, who recently made it known that Spandau Ballet is officially done. Confession: Since I bought my new car a couple of months ago, the SiriusXM radio has been set to the ’80s station almost all the time. Tickets are $45 to $65. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 is offering an interesting mix of events in August. First, do you know who really loves reggae music? Independent contributor Guillermo Prieto does—but I’m sure you do, too, and at 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 5, there will be a celebration of Bob Marley put on by OneGunn, OneLove. There’ll be good times and good vibes, for sure. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, you’ll be banging your head with the horns up during the celebration of Metallica put on by Masters of Puppets. The group has received a lot of props from Metallica fans, so don’t miss this one if you, too, are a fan. Tickets are $20. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 19, fans of Norteño will be delighted to enjoy the show by Los Tucanes de Tijuana. The band has sold more than 13 million albums! Tickets are $30 to $50. It’ll be ladies’ night at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25 when Las Vegas production Hunks comes to town. The scantily clad muscle men of your dreams will be strutting across the stage and making you scream! Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has a solid August lineup. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 11, R&B crooner Peabo Bryson will be performing. If you were a ’90s kid who loved Disney films and/or had the “pleasure” of singing in your elementary school choir, you know him as one of the voices featured on several huge Disney hits, including “A Whole New World” from Aladdin and “Beauty and the Beast” from Beauty and the Beast. Tickets are $59 to $69. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, The Gipsy Kings will take the stage. Although it is a French group, The Gypsy Kings perform salsa, flamenco and other varieties of world music. Tickets are $59 to $69. At 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25, Fuel will be performing, with the promise of “special guests.” Fuel was a ’90s radio staple, and songs “Shimmer” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” always had the potential to get stuck in one’s head. Tickets are $28 to $35. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s has the best lineup for music-lovers in August; here are just a few highlights. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17, Neon Indian (below) will be performing. Neon Indian’s electronic pop anthems are a lot of fun and have been remixed by some big names. If you’ve never heard of the band before, check out the song “Polish Girl.” Tickets are $20. At 9 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 24, New York City band Psychic Ills will come to Pappy’s. It’s hard to describe the band’s sound; think psychedelic rock with an experimental vibe. The group has been around since 2003 and has put out five full-length albums. This will be a great show for a summer night! Tickets are $15. And we saved the best for last: Thursday, Aug. 31, through Saturday, Sept. 2, the Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven annual event Campout will be back. In its 13th edition, the event will feature the usual Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker performances, along with appearances by The Dangers, Black Marshmallows, Tribesmen (Take the East Valley kids bowling!) and many others. Tickets are $25 to $100. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

In 2015, Monreaux was on a roll. The local band’s live performances were becoming increasingly impressive, and the group’s fan base was growing.

Then the band had to hit the brakes.

Last year, before front man Giorg Tierez’ annual Burning Bash, he announced that Monreaux would not be playing at the show. Bassist Chris Dub had a newborn child, and his work schedule made practices and gigs hard to schedule. Meanwhile, guitarist Marcus Bush had stepped away from the band due to personal matters.

While Monreaux remains on hiatus, Tierez is pushing on and will be throwing the sixth annual Burning Bash, on Friday, Aug. 25, at Bart Lounge. On the bill will be DJ Skyhigh, Stevie Crooks, Ocho Ojos, Cakes, Killjoi, Robotic Humans, and Bass Nurds. Reggie Martinez, the owner of California Barbecue Company, will be onsite with a barbecue stand.

Tierez said during a recent interview that he decided to change things up this year.

“I wanted to keep it fresh, and I think I have fewer bands this year because of bringing equipment on and off,” Tierez said. “At Bart Lounge, it’s upstairs, so all that equipment going up and down the stairs makes it difficult. I think we’re going to have one drum set for everyone to use, so all the bands have to do is bring up their amps and stuff.

“I’m not going to be stage-managing this year. Last year, I was back and forth, and we started way too late. We just had too many acts, and I trimmed it down this year.”

On the subject of Monreaux, Tierez said he and drummer Ryan Diaz have been ready to go.

“I actually talked to Marcus (Bush). … He’s doing good, and I’m going to be visiting him soon, and we’re going to talk about Monreaux. … Chris (Dub) is still busy being a husband and dad. Ryan is ready to go and is like, ‘Let me know!’

“I’ve been writing, and I have about 15 to 20 songs right now. The bass ideas are there, and I think I’m going electronic with keys and synth, but still keeping it dark and desert.”

Tierez said Monreaux’s hiatus doesn’t bother him, because, well, life happens.

“I think everyone had an outside issue at one point,” he said. “We all deal with that, and you can’t get away from it. You can’t be like, ‘Excuse me, life. I’m trying to be in a band right now!’ Life will fuck you anyways, no matter what, even if you decide that it’s going to be 100 percent about your band. You can be on a successful ride, and all of a sudden—bam! Something happens. You can’t fuck with life.”

Tierez said chemistry concerns have kept him from recruiting new members for Monreaux.

“I’ve talked to a couple of people about coming on and playing with us, but it comes down to chemistry,” he said. “You can have a bad-ass guitar player join the band, but he might just be doing it because he’s not doing anything else, and might dig it or might not dig it; that’s why you need the right chemistry. It’s hard to find that mix of people where everyone likes what they’re doing. That’s the hardest part about making a band—finding people who are equally excited while writing the songs.”

Tierez has played a gig or two solo, but didn’t care for it.

“I’m able to do it, but I don’t know if it’s my thing,” he said. “I know there are some locals who do it every week, and they’re hustling, which is great, but that’s not me. I like the group environment and feeding off my band members—having that energy back and forth and working off of it.”

Even though Tierez will again not be performing at this year’s Burning Bash, he said he still loves putting it on.

“We started it back in Burning Bettie, because it was my birthday and the first show we ever played as a band,” he said. “But I’m able to bring in a mix of people and a mix of bands in one night, and not many people can do that. I pride myself on that, and maybe I’ve just made the right connections and the right friends. Maybe I’ve made the right impressions. But these people are willing and are like, ‘Fuck yeah! Let’s do it!’

“All of the bands who have performed want to do it every year. I love that I can do that, and that it’s successful. It’s always a great show and tons of people.”

The Sixth Annual Burning Bash will be held at 9 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25, at Bart Lounge, 67555 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Cathedral City. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/445848675773077.

Desert Hot Springs band Chill Magnet has finally put out an album—and it lives up to the band’s name.

Surf Chica Bonita includes some truly bang-up tracks that will remind listeners of bands such as Tame Impala, Foals and MGMT. Parts of the album have deep, psychedelic tracks, while other sections have tracks that are … well, chill.

Chill Magnet will be playing a show with Daytime Moon at the Red Barn on Friday, Aug. 18.

During a recent interview with Tom Murray (lead vocals/bass/guitar/keyboards), he explained the foundations of Chill Magnet.

“It really started in 2013 with my (then) former band mate Randy Banis,” Murray said. “He had a recording studio in his house, which is a funny story, because he won money to build it on a game show. I asked him, ‘Did you win this on Jeopardy?’ and he said, ‘No! It was The Weakest Link.’ He pulls it up and shows it to me—and there he is. He won $25,000. He said, ‘Since I won it in entertainment, I’m going to build a studio.’

“We demoed 20 songs that I wrote while I was living in Malibu. We decided in 2014 to make a record, and I started recording up here in Desert Hot Springs. I’d send them to Randy, and we made an EP that we released in 2015 called Gringo Mariachi.”

Chill Magnet started to appear live while the band continued to release singles.

“People liked (the band), and I thought we should start playing live gigs, but we had no band,” Murray said. “It was the two of us. We got a couple of musicians and started playing live. We were playing punk-rock songs, given we were a four-piece. We weren’t playing the tracks.

“After a year, we put out two singles, and Randy and I wanted to go back to the original lineup of him and I so we could play the tracks and put the music out the way we recorded it. We did that around the summer of 2015, and I started to record and finish my vocal tracks in 2016. I had to wait a whole year for him to finish his tracks and produce the record.

“This album took over a year to make. It taught me a lot about patience, given I’d see these other bands out here in the scene ask me, ‘Where have you been?’ and I’d be like, ‘Just waiting to come out, but it’s going to be great!’ I didn’t want anyone to hear it; I just waited patiently. In the meantime, I wrote an entire new album while Randy was doing his parts. He was pissed at me. I recorded another album. We do theme albums, and we have two more albums that we’re recording with certain styles of things we’re jamming on.”

The response thus far to Surf Chica Bonita has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The success of the band now with the new record—people are really loving our live show and really digging the album,” Murray said. “No one is more surprised than me. You just never know when something is going to connect.”

Murray said there is a term he uses to explain Chill Magnet’s sound.

“We had to come up with our own sound. We were having trouble defining it, so we came up with what we’re calling EDR, which stands for electronic dance rock,” he said. “So what we do is take traditional alternative rock from the ’80s, ’90s and ’00s, and bands that influence us from that time period, and we’re fusing it with EDM techniques. We use a lot of sub-bass and a lot of drum loops—things that are more common in EDM music. It really confuses people, and they tell us, ‘It’s like rock, but it’s not. It’s like trance, but it’s not.’ There are other bands that are doing it, like Beck; Death Cab for Cutie’s last album is like EDM meets rock. … We like to say we’re the pioneers but not the inventors.”

Murray said being part of the Coachella Valley music scene has been rewarding.

“It’s been unbelievably supportive. It’s so warm and fuzzy that it almost makes me weak,” he said. “I’ve been looking forward to going into Los Angeles, and we’re opening for Sponge (at Whisky a Go-Go on Sept. 29). It’s going to be tough on us, and people will be more critical. Out here, people are so nice and supportive. Randy and I are older guys; we’ve been around, and we never expected to be accepted by these young bands that we play shows with. The BrosQuitos, The CMFs, Daytime Moon—they are so accepting of us. I can’t believe it: In my middle age, I’m getting to play cool music.

“We’re trying to be new and relevant-sounding, so I’m sure that makes a difference. No one here is pretentious, and you don’t have to be a 20-something boy band out here. You can be all shapes and sizes, and the people are accepting of it if it’s good music. I bet you there are 100 great bands here.”

Chill Magnet will perform with Daytime Moon at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18, at The Red Barn, 73290 Highway 111, in Palm Desert. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.chillmagnet.net.