Steve Serrano, drummer for Dynamite Walls, says that the first night of their first national tour was, unbeknownst to the band, spent in a home where one of Seattle's worst shootings had taken place the year before. All night long Serrano heard strange noises, creaks, and groans in the timbers of the old house. "It felt really weird," he says. "Like, was it the house, or was it something else?" The next morning, while using his cell phone on the front porch, Serrano spotted something odd in the front yard. "I saw this box. It had flowers and all kinds of weird stuff on it," he says. "Later, a lady came by and dropped off flowers in front of the house."
It turns out that the box was a shrine to the shooting victims. On Saturday, March 25, 2006, a gunman killed six and wounded two at a rave afterparty before turning a gun on himself. The early-morning rampage became known as the Capitol Hill Massacre. After that, the house at 2112 E. Republican Street sat empty until friends of friends of Dynamite Walls' keyboard player took advantage of the cheap rent.
"It was scary to find that out the next day," says Serrano of the massacre. "I wouldn't have stayed there if I'd known about that. The house had a very eerie feeling about it."
Steve Serrano is 24 and lives in Oceanside. Of his band, Serrano says, "I've heard us called everything from 'Coldplay on crack' to a mellow Strokes. My mom likes it, my girlfriend's grandmother likes it, my friend's little brothers like it." In San Diego, their hometown, they have played the Belly Up, Soma, the Casbah, and the Beauty Bar in East San Diego. "We played once a week [at the Beauty Bar] for, like, a month. Scary neighborhood."
Serrano uses his iPod as a music library and to watch DVDs while on the road. "I have music from all sides of the spectrum," he says. "I have every Beatles record on there. I have a lot of Led Zeppelin. I have The Last Waltz. I'm a really big fan of the Band and their music," he says. Comparisons aside, Serrano also favors Coldplay. "Chris Martin's delivery is always spot on, every song. And when you don't get one of his songs at first, it's probably one of his better ones."
Serrano continues, "I like the Strokes' style. It's really soulful. Everybody talks about how simple they are, when in fact they are probably one of the most technical bands out there. The guitar players are the most technical part of that band. You don't have to do a ripping drop D guitar solo to show that you're a great guitar player." Other bands that Serrano finds Pod-worthy are the Arctic Monkeys, Augustana, Delta Spirit, and Cold War Kids.
"You can't leave out Frank," he says. "'New York, New York.' How could you not like it? If you run out of things to say to a girl, you can put Frank Sinatra on, and he'll tell it to her for you."
Steve Serrano's iPod Top 10:
1. "Across the Universe," the Beatles
2. "Is It Any Wonder?" Keane
3. "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," Ella Fitzgerald
4. "Fake Plastic Trees," Radiohead
5. "Breed," Nirvana
6. "Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You," Led Zeppelin
7. "The Wind Cries Mary," Jimi Hendrix
8. "Free Bird," Lynyrd Skynyrd
9. "Up on Cripple Creek," the Band
10. "Ophelia," the Band