You’ve crashed into Peeples Place at KHTS!
It’s the 20th post of the new local music blog I’m producing in collaboration with AM 1220 KHTS and the Santa Clarita Valley’s No. 1, award-winning website, www.hometownstation.com.
Peeples Place at KHTS is online every Friday morning with hot SCV music news, reviews, features and photos at www.peeplesplace.com, with an on-air preview on the AM 1220 KHTS morning show each Thursday at 8:10.
This week, we have an exclusive spotlight Q&A with Sean Danielsen, co-founder, chief songwriter, lead singer and guitarist with Smile Empty Soul, the world’s best-known Santa Clarita Valley-based band, previewing the trio’s upcoming fifth album, “3’s.”
We also have news about the Santa Clarita Street Fair Saturday and Sunday, a “Nutcracker” weekend at the Performing Arts Center, an update on voting for Summer Meltdown funding in the Pepsi Refresh Project, seven bands scorching the Suburbia stage, “A Christmas Carol” at the Canyon Theatre Guilda and more.
We’ll find out what’s hot at our local record store, who’s appearing on “House Blend” on SCVTV Saturday night, and who’s playing live this weekend around town and nearby on this last weekend before Hanukkah and Christmas.
But first, since no one got it last week, we’re going to lead off with our SCV music trivia question!
SCV MUSIC TRIVIA CONTEST: FIDDLIN’ ABOUT — Can you name the young bluegrass-jazz fiddle player who guested with me on “House Blend” on SCVTV earlier in 2011? If you know the answer, and it’s not far away, send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (KHTS and SCVTV employees and volunteers past and present are not eligible, sorry!). We’ll toss all the correct entries into a hat and randomly choose one lucky winner, who will score a pair of Restaurant Row meal certificates and a couple of CDs from the Peeples Place at KHTS swag vault.
OK, now let’s rock some SCV entertainment news.
STREET FAIR CELEBRATES CHRISTMAS — The monthly Santa Clarita Street Fair is Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot 8, near the football stadium at College of the Canyons’ main campus in Valencia. It’s a family friendly scene with arts & crafts and lots of holiday gifts for sale, plus gourmet food trucks at lunchtime both days. Admission and parking is free.
The Certified Farmers Market at COC is also open Sunday 8 a.m. to noon. A portion of proceeds from your purchases will benefit the Bridge to Home winter shelter, so stock up.
SEVEN BANDS SCORCH ‘SUBURBIA’ STAGE AT SPORTS COMPLEX— On Saturday night, Open the Coda, Sans Pareli, Locked & Loaded, Freelance, Dim Tribe, Guilt by Association and Omaha raise the roof off the Activities Center at the Santa Clarita Sports Complex.
It’s the monthly Suburbia concert, produced the third weekend of each month by local promoters Higher Level Shows in association with the city of Santa Clarita. Doors open at 6 p.m.; tickets are $8 with a flyer or $10 without. Even without a flyer, seven bands for $10 is a sweet deal and a cheap date.
TCHAIKOVSKI CRACKED AT PAC — It’s a “Nutcracker” weekend as the Santa Clarita Ballet presents its annual production of the holiday classic at the Performing Arts Center at COC. The best ballet dancers in the region and what’s probably Tchaikovsky‘s best-known score are center-stage for matinees and evening shows Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $26 to $30. Call (661) 251-0366 or visit www.SantaClaritaBallet.net.
SPOTLIGHT Q&A: SMILE EMPTY SOUL GOES FOR ‘THREES’ — Smile Empty Soul, the veteran SCV-based alt-hard-rock trio formed in 1998, and whose 2003 debut album for Lava/Atlantic scored gold, is putting the finishing touches on their latest album this week and next.
Founding members Sean Danielsen (vocals, guitars, center) and Ryan Martin (bass, at left) plus Jake Kilmer (drums), who joined the fray in 2006, have been working since summer with producer Eddie Wohl (Jesse Malin/Anthrax/Ill Nino) at Wohl’s studio in the San Fernando Valley.
While Smile Empty Soul’s initial deal resulted in a gold album, the relationship didn’t last for myriad reasons. Freed from that deal, the band put together an indie label, MRAfia Records, which released the last few SES albums and albums by other groups they deemed worthy.
Danielsen and I spent a few minutes on the phone this week catching up (and special thanks to Paige Jeffers Burghardt of Paige Photography in Santa Clarita for her accompanying photos of Smile Empty Smile at the 2011 Stingfest).
Stephen K. Peeples: Sean, thanks for joining us on Peeples Place at KHTS! So, the band is working on a new album now, and just about finished up. Please give us a quick history and let us know what we can expect when it’s released.
Sean Danielsen: Our new record is called “3’s” and it’s our fifth album, and we’re making it with a producer named Eddie Wohl, who’s a real good friend of ours. He did our last record, “Consciousness,” as well. We had an amazing time making “Consciousness” with him. (We had a) very, very good, easy working relationship, and we understand each other, so we figured we should make the next one with him as well. We began recording in July. We went in and started tracking the drums and we’ve just been working on it pretty much every day since. We’re just about wrapping up the recording, like the overdub process on the last song, and we’re going to be doing the mix [recall] next week and then it’ll be done.
Peeples: And what’s the projected release date?
Danielsen: Right now, we’re shooting for an April-May timeframe.
Peeples: I understand you’re shopping for a label deal, or are you going to release it through your own MRAfia label, or on MRAfia distributed by somebody else, or how are you going to work that?
Danielsen: We’re actually talking to a few different labels at the moment, and it looks like we’re going to have a new home in the next month or so.
Danielsen: Yeah, it’s going to be a good situation where we feel like we’re going to have a real shot with this. We’re going to do a real push on the radio front behind the single, and we’re excited.
Peeples: That’s pretty critical. It’s one thing to record an album, and it’s another thing to release it. But if you don’t have a marketing machine behind it, it’s going to go nowhere.
Danielsen: Absolutely. We definitely experienced life on a major label and we’ve experienced life on a bare-bones indie, so we’ve seen the polar opposite differences those scenarios can be. Not that it’s always great on a major — it can be bad there, too. But you definitely have to have some money behind your record, your single, because if you don’t have anything behind it, there’s just no chance for people to even hear or see it.
Peeples: You guys have been doing a pretty good job on the DIY front with your indie label and releases over the last several years too, I think.
Danielsen: Pretty much. We’ve done several records on our own, and gotten small deals and put them out there and organized our own tours, and like you said, pretty much just done it ourselves.
Peeples: Back to the new one — how is it an evolution or the next step, if you will, from “Consciousness”?
Danielsen: It’s definitely different in quite a few ways from anything we’ve done in the past.
Danielsen: It’s definitely a little bit heavier, a little bit riffier on the guitar side, the bass side. Slightly more progressive. But I think, at the same time, many of the songs still have strong, catchy choruses. But the whole thing has gotten just a little bit heavier, a little more tripped-out, experimental at times here and there. That’s kind of the direction we even started going in on our last record, but this is even more so.
Peeples: Gotcha. Well, you’ve have a little bit of time between the last record and now to kind of develop those ideas, so they were more developed and ready to go by the time you got into the studio with them, yeah?
Danielsen: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We spent a lot of the time between the last record and making this record on the road, so sometimes you don’t get all the chances that you’d like to work on the material on the road, ’cause you’re just slammed out there. But we came home from all the tours for our last record a year ago now, and for the last year we’ve just been working on new material and recording it. And it’s definitely a progression from the last one.
Peeples: Let’s hit on some of the songs. Give us some of the titles.
Danielsen: We haven’t released all of the titles yet, and we’re still waiting on that because we recorded a bunch of songs, and then there are ‘x’ number of actual spots on the record. So, I don’t want to say what’s going to be on it or what’s not title-wise yet because I’m not actually sure. But there’s a song we’ve been playing live lately called “Carved” and another called “Basement” that are definitely going to make the record. Other than those, a lot of them are kind of up in the air and it’s going to be decided on when we get them all finished and laid out.
Peeples: OK, great. And have you done any videos so far for any of the tracks, or are you planning to?
Danielsen: Not yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen. Videos these days are kind of a waste of money, if you ask me, and the only exposure you get with them is just Internet/YouTube exposure. So, I’m sure we’ll make a video. It’s probably not going to be some huge money-splurging big budget video, but we’ll definitely make something.
Peeples: Right. Yeah, the videos you see on YouTube marketing records these days aren’t necessarily all high-value productions.
Danielsen: The money has just been drained from this industry. It’s barely limping along, so it’s not the old days when you could be spending a hundred grand on your video. That’s not cost-efficient.
Peeples: Is Smile Empty Smile going to be playing out anytime soon? Any gigs to preview the record, get excitement going for it?
Danielsen: We’re doing gigs here and there, just to stay fresh and play in front of people, ’cause it’s what we enjoy doing most. We’re doing a venue called Club 910 Live in Phoenix, Ariz. on the 30th of this month, and I think we’re going to be doing the Whisky a Go-Go on Jan. 25. Other than that, we’re actually waiting till we hit the road on a full-blown tour to support the new record, which should be about the April timeframe.
Peeples: It’s a lot warmer then, anyway.
Danielsen: Exactly. Touring in the wintertime is pretty tough when you get up north or in the Midwest.
Peeples: Now, I wanted to ask you about the local Santa Clarita Valley music scene. You guys have been a local band for more than a decade, probably the most successful local band over the years, all things considered. You’ve also had good taste of what it’s like to be on the national scene. But what’s your take on the local scene now? Is there potential here for a young band to get some traction and get going? Do you think this valley can support that?
Danielsen: Well, Santa Clarita is just tough, because it’s so conservative that they don’t allow a proper music venue to really function. Every time a music venue tries to open up, it never profits, it just goes under. But we never really thought there much of a scene in Santa Clarita, really. There are bands here, but it’s not like you’re going to play around Santa Clarita and get discovered, you know? I mean, from the very first day we were a band, we were booking gigs in Hollywood and playing down there.
That’s pretty much what you have to do if you want to try and get noticed. And yeah, Hollywood’s just a whole other thing in and of itself. It’s extremely tough to get noticed down there. But it’s all about the songs, and I think a Santa Clarita band could make it if they have songs that have that potential—that could catch the right person’s ear. I think one of the things local bands get a little too caught up in is just the hype, and the ego, the status of the band within the local band scene. None of that matters. All that really matters is, just write some damn good songs. If you can do that and get those songs into the right people’s hands, then you’ve got a shot.
Peeples: There you go. One last question on the new album: the title, “3’s.” What’s that all about?
Danielsen: We started kind of analyzing a lot of different situations within our lives and within the band, and we realized there’s an obscene number of threes going on in our lives right now. In this time period, we’re almost surrounded by threes. There are three of us in the band, three words in our name, a lot of threes. We actually made a list of all the crazy different threes going on in our lives and we realized it’s an undeniably huge thing right now. It became a little theme for us, so that’s what we’re naming the record.
Peeples: Anything else that you’d like to let folks know about that you’re doing or will be doing in the near future?
Danielsen: All we’re doing right now is finishing “3’s.” Look for it in stores in April-May, definitely check it out. And I do have a side-project band that is about to release a record, too, early next year, called World Fire Brigade. The lead singer is from Fuel, Brett Scallions, and we both sing, I play guitar and Ken Schalk from the band Candirias is playing drums, and it’s pretty cool. It’s turned out really good. We’ve been working on the record for a couple of years just in our downtime — and when Fuel has downtime — and it’s finally finished up. We’re going to be putting that out, so check that out, too.
Peeples: Sounds good. Definitely, we’ll circle back around and talk to you about that a little closer to the time. Thanks again, Sean, I appreciate your time. We’ll have this in the Peeples Place at KHTS post on Friday.
Danielsen: Cool, thanks.
SCV LOCAL MUSIC SPOTLIGHT — For the latest on what’s new and hot in local music, we checked in with our friends at Rock Candy Music & More, the Santa Clarita Valley’s only retail record store, at Bouquet and Plum Canyon in Saugus. Staffer Ryan Corbett gave us the update on what’s new and hot on the shelves.
“The ‘Best of Frank Sinatra’ CD has been selling pretty good. Strange, right?” Corbett said. “We have ‘I’m With You’ from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ on vinyl, and there’s the Rolling Stones’ ‘Some Girls’ reissue CD, and ‘Queen II’ on vinyl. There’s also a Cypress Hill vinyl called ‘Rise Up.’
“There’s an album, one of my favorites, that just came out on vinyl called ‘Fever Ray,'” Corbett continued. “It’s the solo project from the girl from The Knife, and actually a lot better than The Knife. And we have My Bloody Valentine on vinyl, which we didn’t have last week, and that’s really nice — it’s ‘Isn’t Anything,’ and a full-length LP. That band’s really good.”
Corbett tells us Rock Candy’s spotlighting sounds of the season right now.
“We actually just made a whole Christmas shelf of pretty cheap vinyl, Christmas movies and lots of Christmas CDs. There’s even a Jimi Hendrix Christmas CD and vinyl,” he said.
Rock Candy Music & More usually presents live shows by local artists on most weekend nights; no music this weekend, but store owners Billy and Melissa Yergensen will host their first “Christmas Eve-Eve Show” on Dec. 23 with Hannah DiMolfetto, Emma Rae, Nathaniel Dobies and Jimmy Marino. The holiday cheer starts at 7.
By the way, the store has new hours — it’s open on Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5. The doors are closed on Mondays through Wednesdays.
SCV MUSIC ON TV: AVERY MERRITT, JEREMY QUINTERO ENCORE ON ‘HOUSE BLEND’ SATURDAY NIGHT — “House Blend” hosted by yours truly on SCVTV Saturday night at 10 presents an encore broadcast of our show featuring young rock/jazz/classical violin/fiddle player Avery Merritt and pop singer/songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Quintero.
“House Blend” airs Saturdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. Pacific Time on SCVTV (Time Warner Cable Channel 20 in the Santa Clarita Valley, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 in Los Angeles and Orange counties), and streams live everywhere else in the known universe via the Web at www.scvtv.com. The show’s archives are also available 24/7 on demand at www.scvtv.com/html/houseblend-current.html and www.scvhouseblend.com.
Check out the SCVTV website for more local music listings.
MORE SCV MUSIC LIVE — Who else is playing in the Santa Clarita Valley this weekend and soon, or spreading the local musical love outside the valley?
Musician and singer/songwriter Melissa Kaye plays free sets every Friday at La Toscana Trattoria Grill in Valencia. Catch her tonight from 7 to 9.
Canyon High School Band, its alumni and employees from Canyon High School host their annual winter concert at 7 p.m. on Nadal Street in Canyon Country. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m. and it’s free for all ages.
Hart High School will also host a winter concert 7 p.m. on Newhall Avenue in Newhall, featuring the Hart Show Choir. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children and students, and all proceeds will benefit a local children’s charity.
Local singer-songwriters Brian Michael and Josh Marmol play a free show at The Coffee House on Lyons Avenue, starting at 8 p.m.
Jay Bolan plays at Salt Creek Grille tonight and tomorrow, starting at 9 p.m.
The Helen Wheels Band plays a free Christmas gig tonight from 9 p.m. till 2 a.m. at Valencia Wine Co.
Local rock band Odaal joins Later Days, MEGG and Daze of Night for an all-ages toy drive and concert at Casa de Carlos Mexican Restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills. Entrance fee is one unwrapped toy. Ten percent of all proceeds from the night’s orders will benefit the toy drive, too.
The Babylon Social Club — featuring Sarah Niemietz plus “Snuffy” Walden, Herman Matthews, Bennett Salvay, Leslie Smith, and Terry Wilson — rocks Cafe Cordiale in Sherman Oaks on Dec. 18, 22 and 28. The musical conversation starts at 8:30 p.m. and it’s free.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
The La Mesa Junior High Band performs its winter holiday concert at 7 p.m. in the school’s multipurpose room. Admission is free.
All of Canyon High School’s choral groups are set to perform 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21 in Golden Valley High School’s theater. General admission is $7, students and seniors pay $5 and children under 10 get in for free.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
Valencia High School’s band and choir students perform their winter concert at 7 p.m. in the school’s theater on Dickason Drive. Tickets cost $5.
REMINDER: YES, WE CAN VOTE FOR SUMMER MELTDOWN FUNDING GRANT — The ninth annual “Summer Meltdown Concert for Social Inclusion and Autism Awareness,” hosted by the students of Hart District’s Yes I Can program, is one of the top 40 contestants running for a money grant in the 2011 Pepsi Refresh Project.
If Summer Meltdown places in the top 10 by the end of December, the students win $50,000 to help plan, produce and promote the concert, set for May 2012.
Local music fans can support Yes I Can and help push Summer Meltdown into the top 10 tier by texting “110797” to 73774, and/or voting online at www.refresheverything.com/summermeltdown2012. You can vote twice a day — once online and once via text.
The Yes I Can nonprofit program is the William S. Hart Union High School District’s effort to combine youth with and without disabilities with peer mentors, to the benefit of all involved.
Summer Meltdown is Yes I Can’s major project of the year, and participants gain valuable social skills and practical, real-world experience along the way.
Previous performers at Summer Meltdown, held at Golden Valley High School’s outdoor amphitheater, include Far East Movement, Fishbone, Trapt, Shwayze, The Craze, Phunk Junkeez, Iration, Stephen Perkins, The Feaver and many more, usually a dozen or more acts each year.
This school year, Yes I Can students are setting their sights even higher.
“The students would like to be able to afford artists like Drake, RHCP, Incubus, 311 and Sublime to perform,” said Bret Lieberman, Yes I Can program director and Summer Meltdown’s executive producer since its inception. “They want to bring the biggest artists to perform for them, their peers and the entire SCV community.”
Voting is open through the end of December, and I join Lieberman in urging everyone — and friends and family — to vote every day until then.
“We can only do this with your help,” he said. “We have only the rest of this month to make it happen.”
To learn more about Summer Meltdown, visit www.summermeltdown2011.com (2012 website to launch soon) and get the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter. For sponsorship info, contact Lieberman at (661) 298-8140 ext. 1414 or email@example.com, or visit www.sponsorthemeltdown.com.
REMINDER II: LAST WEEKEND TO GET SCROOGED AT CTG’S ‘CHRISTMAS CAROL’ — The Canyon Theatre Guild presents the final five performances of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” tonight through Dec. 21.
In the West Coast debut of this new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale, Dickens guides Scrooge on a journey through his past, present and future to rediscover his long-lost holiday spirit.
Showtimes are set for 8 p.m tonight and tomorrow and 2 p.m. on Sundays, with two weeknight shows on Tuesday, Dec. 20 and Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7 p.m.
Tickets are $15/$17; call the CTG’s box office at (661) 799-2702 to order. Find the CTG at 24242 Main St. in Old Town Newhall 91321. For more info, visit canyontheatre.org.
THE WRAP — Hope you enjoyed the 20th journey through Peeples Place at KHTS! You can always visit us right here at www.peeplesplace.com, and at our under-construction Peeples Place Facebook page. Please share the posts and “like” the page and help us build our online community of SCV music-makers and music-lovers. We also invite you to sign up for the weekly newsletter.
If you have a new album to review or music news you’d like us to include in an upcoming post, shoot an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks this week to all the artists, managers, media relations reps, families, friends and fans who contributed. Extra special thanks to Freida Peeples for her invaluable production assistance, and to Nadine A. Peeples for her invaluable encouragement and support.
With a face perfect for radio, I’ll see you on SCVTV Wednesday evening at 6:04-ish with the weekly SCV Entertainment Minute, and on AM 1220 KHTS Thursday morning at 8:10 when I preview the NEXT edition of…Peeples Place at KHTS.
Stephen K. Peeples is a writer/reporter for KHTS News (www.hometownstation.com) and SCVNews.com, and host, writer and co-producer of the weekly “House Blend” music and interview show on SCVTV (www.scvhouseblend.com). A former Santa Clarita Valley music and entertainment columnist (The Signal, 2004-2011), and drummer with on-hiatus SCV jazz group RainTree (www.raintreejazz.com, 2010-2011), he is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” MIPF/Rhino, 1992), an award-winning radio producer (“The Lost Lennon Tapes,” Westwood One, 1988-1990) and an award-winning online editor (The Signal website, 2007-2011). For more information, email email@example.com or visit www.stephenkpeeples.com.