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Sounds Like a Blizzard

Some of the Beatles' first recordings -- before they became "The Beatles" -- were collaborations with English rocker Tony Sheridan. Today Sheridan frequently appears at Fab Four events, though Blizzard singer/guitarist Chris Leyva says, "I don't think he can stand Beatles fans. We met him when we played BeatleFair in 2001...he had just gotten off the plane or something, and he wasn't too happy."

Leyva's then-unnamed band got the local BeatleFair job after sending bookers three songs from the Backbeat movie soundtrack, claiming the recordings as their own. "We were surprised that such big-time Beatles fans didn't recognize the soundtrack...then we had to learn some Beatles covers in order to play the gig."

At the event, his group -- temporarily named the Backbeat Band -- performed cuts like "Long Tall Sally." After the set, Leyva says, "He [Sheridan] came over to us and said, 'That sounded like a blizzard,' and the little light just clicked -- a new band name was born."

The group performed almost 200 concerts in 2006 and has appeared on the TV show Veronica Mars, filmed and produced in San Diego. "We're playing a Clash song in a garage in one scene.... For the shoot, they replaced our drummer with one of the cast members. [Our drummer] was a little pissed at first, but we got paid $1500 and were treated like royalty for a day, so he got over it."

Leyva has also appeared on the MTV dating show MTV Score. "The episode had songwriters who compete to write and play a new song, in a single day, to win the date.... I didn't get the girl, but that's okay. She wasn't much of a score, and the prize was a trip to Mexico, which is where I'm from."

Band members Chris Leyva (vocals, guitar), Gerardo Baladon (vocals, guitar), Sebastian Ray (bass), Todd Newman (keys, guitar, horns), and Mike Byron (drums) answered our queries collectively.

DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC IN THREE WORDS OR LESS...

"Oasis meets Clash."

SONGS CUED IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1. Letters, Butch Walker ("Mix tape with the best songs from the album.")

2. "Dakota," the Stereophonics

3. "Al Menos Ahora," Nek

4. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," the Police

5. "Try It and Like It," Anya Marina

DESERT ISLAND DVDs?

1. Dig! ("Two rival bands duke it out.")

2. Backbeat ("We owe our career to taking credit for the soundtrack.")

3. Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle ("The real fifth Beatle.")

BEST TV SHOW EVER?

"Gotta be Cops, man! Every episode feels just like driving around El Cajon Boulevard."

WORST GIGS?

"We got into it at Scolari's with some jackass who thought he was a rock star or something. He was trying to get up and sing with us, but he got a fistful of my mike stand instead. We ended up fighting with the bar customers, with a midget girl who kept hitting us with her purse on one side and a fat lady yelling at us on the other. It was a real freak show."

"At the Shamrock Shack a guy got stabbed, but the cops didn't catch the guy who did it. Then we were playing our next gig at Chasers, and cops showed up to arrest the guy with the knife [from the Shamrock Shack], because he was there at Chasers! The cops noticed we were the same band from the Shack and said, 'Not you again!' Knife-wielding maniacs must make up a big part of our fan base."

BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN?

"Americans have very little comprehension about the 2006 Mexican presidential election and the debate over who really won the vote to be president. We went to Mexico City and supported the rally for the real president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. There will probably end up being a revolution in Mexico, and Americans should be paying closer attention."

"Here in America, we wish we could get Bush to listen when his own people tell him, 'Stop killing our kids and tearing apart our families!' If he wants to go out there and fight himself, at the helm of a tank like General Patton, that'd be leading by example. If he can't do that, he should just quit and go into standup comedy."

PAUL McCARTNEY OR JOHN LENNON?

"Lennon. If he could come back from the grave and leave one message [for McCartney, regarding his divorce] he'd tell him, 'That's what I meant by "Instant Karma," bitch.' "

STAR TREK OR STAR WARS?

"Probably Star Wars, because it had that whole Caligula vibe, with the slutty princess and the hint of incest between Luke and his sister."

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Some of the Beatles' first recordings -- before they became "The Beatles" -- were collaborations with English rocker Tony Sheridan. Today Sheridan frequently appears at Fab Four events, though Blizzard singer/guitarist Chris Leyva says, "I don't think he can stand Beatles fans. We met him when we played BeatleFair in 2001...he had just gotten off the plane or something, and he wasn't too happy."

Leyva's then-unnamed band got the local BeatleFair job after sending bookers three songs from the Backbeat movie soundtrack, claiming the recordings as their own. "We were surprised that such big-time Beatles fans didn't recognize the soundtrack...then we had to learn some Beatles covers in order to play the gig."

At the event, his group -- temporarily named the Backbeat Band -- performed cuts like "Long Tall Sally." After the set, Leyva says, "He [Sheridan] came over to us and said, 'That sounded like a blizzard,' and the little light just clicked -- a new band name was born."

The group performed almost 200 concerts in 2006 and has appeared on the TV show Veronica Mars, filmed and produced in San Diego. "We're playing a Clash song in a garage in one scene.... For the shoot, they replaced our drummer with one of the cast members. [Our drummer] was a little pissed at first, but we got paid $1500 and were treated like royalty for a day, so he got over it."

Leyva has also appeared on the MTV dating show MTV Score. "The episode had songwriters who compete to write and play a new song, in a single day, to win the date.... I didn't get the girl, but that's okay. She wasn't much of a score, and the prize was a trip to Mexico, which is where I'm from."

Band members Chris Leyva (vocals, guitar), Gerardo Baladon (vocals, guitar), Sebastian Ray (bass), Todd Newman (keys, guitar, horns), and Mike Byron (drums) answered our queries collectively.

DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC IN THREE WORDS OR LESS...

"Oasis meets Clash."

SONGS CUED IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1. Letters, Butch Walker ("Mix tape with the best songs from the album.")

2. "Dakota," the Stereophonics

3. "Al Menos Ahora," Nek

4. "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," the Police

5. "Try It and Like It," Anya Marina

DESERT ISLAND DVDs?

1. Dig! ("Two rival bands duke it out.")

2. Backbeat ("We owe our career to taking credit for the soundtrack.")

3. Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle ("The real fifth Beatle.")

BEST TV SHOW EVER?

"Gotta be Cops, man! Every episode feels just like driving around El Cajon Boulevard."

WORST GIGS?

"We got into it at Scolari's with some jackass who thought he was a rock star or something. He was trying to get up and sing with us, but he got a fistful of my mike stand instead. We ended up fighting with the bar customers, with a midget girl who kept hitting us with her purse on one side and a fat lady yelling at us on the other. It was a real freak show."

"At the Shamrock Shack a guy got stabbed, but the cops didn't catch the guy who did it. Then we were playing our next gig at Chasers, and cops showed up to arrest the guy with the knife [from the Shamrock Shack], because he was there at Chasers! The cops noticed we were the same band from the Shack and said, 'Not you again!' Knife-wielding maniacs must make up a big part of our fan base."

BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN?

"Americans have very little comprehension about the 2006 Mexican presidential election and the debate over who really won the vote to be president. We went to Mexico City and supported the rally for the real president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. There will probably end up being a revolution in Mexico, and Americans should be paying closer attention."

"Here in America, we wish we could get Bush to listen when his own people tell him, 'Stop killing our kids and tearing apart our families!' If he wants to go out there and fight himself, at the helm of a tank like General Patton, that'd be leading by example. If he can't do that, he should just quit and go into standup comedy."

PAUL McCARTNEY OR JOHN LENNON?

"Lennon. If he could come back from the grave and leave one message [for McCartney, regarding his divorce] he'd tell him, 'That's what I meant by "Instant Karma," bitch.' "

STAR TREK OR STAR WARS?

"Probably Star Wars, because it had that whole Caligula vibe, with the slutty princess and the hint of incest between Luke and his sister."

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