In 2004, 3against1 emerged as one of eight finalists in Zippo lighter’s “Hottest Unsigned Rock Band in America” competition. Zippo’s Hot Tour, which hosted 62 unsigned bands, had 1200 entries, all vying for a showcase with Island Records in New York City, as well as equipment: Randall amps, Washburn guitars, and Tama drums (all tour sponsors). Song samples from the eight bands were posted on www.ZippoHotTour.com, where visitors voted for their favorites over the four weeks of finals.
The other finalists came from cities like Austin (Element), Denver (Ben Park Drive), Detroit (Last), Minneapolis (Murge), Raleigh-Durham (Downfall), West Palm Beach (Trendkill), and Pittsburgh (Adam Evil & the Outside Royalty).
Formed in 2001, the band was nominated two consecutive years by the San Diego Music Awards for “Best Rock Band,” an honor they won in 2004. In 2006, the quartet’s single “It’s Over” was featured in the THQ video game MX Unleashed, for both the PlayStation2 and Xbox. Their songs have also been used on MTV’s Real World and Road Rules.
In 2006, the four members packed up and moved to Westwood, near UCLA. First they secured a rehearsal studio, then they found an apartment.
“Unless you live in a mecca city like Chicago, New York, L.A., or Nashville, it’s tough to make it in music,” says singer Mark Weiss. “You have to bring your music to where the headquarters are. We figured you can’t expect an A&R guy to see you if you stick around San Diego.”
Although the recording industry is in a downturn, Weiss says he got to know about 20 L.A.-based A&R reps when his band played at Sunset Strip—area venues such as the Key Club, the Viper Room, and the Roxy.
“We always had our CDs and business cards with us. Half of us in the band are alcoholics, so we got to know the cocktail waitresses. These waitresses knew these A&R guys because they saw them every day and they hipped us to who they were.”
Weiss says associating with A&R reps paid off, in the form of a lot of press and placement of music on video-game soundtracks and in a movie called Cruel World. But, no record deal. So, after two years of hustling the L.A. music scene and seven years as a band, 3against1 performed their final local show Friday, June 27, 2008.
Weiss reflects on why the band didn’t get signed. “The music industry is a pendulum. Rap-rock was in; now it’s Brit rock with screeching guitars.” He maintains that 3 Against 1’s sound was not being scouted and says he has learned that labels are only interested in bands “that are ready to go on a tour with a polished look and sound. Labels used to give development deals, where they would work with you and let you develop your sound and your image. No more.”
3against1 split in 2008, after playing for seven years. Says guitarist Arnaud Lemaire. “Each member was personally evolving, whether it was a need to make some money, planning for marriage, or bringing a child into the world.”
The band reconvened in March, 2010, for a reunion show at the 710 Beach Club. “We’ve all been divided up between L.A., O.C., and S.D., but we remained friends and we kind of got the itch to get onstage again,” says Lemaire.