“It seems the fans were more into us in New York than they were in San Diego.” Tim Hines plays guitar in the band Lights On. He lives in La Mesa. He’s not sure why his hometown band has found more listeners on the East Coast, especially at the band’s CD-release parties held here and in New York, where Lights On packed the Cake Shop, an indie-rock showcase. “It’s a different demographic out there.... It’s easy to get oversaturated in your hometown. We try not to overplay San Diego. It’s kind of a small town. There’re only a handful of places that are good to play at.” Hines cites Tin Can Ale House and Casbah as his personal favorites.
Band management could have something to do with East Coast domination as well. “Our manager is based in Brooklyn, and he’s connected. It helps to have clout there.”
Following the release of Here Comes the Ocean, Lights On enjoyed a mini-tour of New York in August, where they landed an interview on East Village Radio. Music blog Brooklyn Vegan gave them some attention, along with Bruce Warren’s WXPN blog and RCRD LBL, a music-download site.
“Blogs have become important outposts for new music,” says Hines. “Labels that are looking for new bands are looking on blogs.” The downside of blogging, he says, is that everybody’s a critic. “Instead of the major music magazines like we had in the past, there’s a million critics online, and everybody has something to say about something.”
The band’s new video for “We Live Underground” was picked up by MTV for its Freshman 5. “The video’s pretty interesting,” says Hines. “There’s some dark themes in there.”
On the subject of having a video in rotation on MTV while still having to pull down a day job (until recently, Hines, 37, ran a landscape company), “It’s awesome, but come on,” he laughs, “MTV is not like it used to be. It’s definitely an achievement, but it doesn’t pay the bills.”