Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Can't Get Enough Journey

What is it about the ’80s that keeps us looking back? Michael Mahin, guitarist for San Diego–based Neon Nation, an ’80s cover band, has a theory.

“Most ’80s music was utterly escapist,” he says. “It’s a rejection of the bullshit

‘realism’ of punk rock, which after its first 15 minutes was just fashion. The ’80s never pretended to be something it wasn’t. It was indulgent, raw, experimental, but most of all, it was fun.”

The band is either a five- or seven-member group, depending on the gig, which night they’re playing, and what the set requires — will it be ’80s glam rock, ’80s hard rock, new wave?

Paul Byrd, the band’s other guitarist, says, “I put the band together because I was having an ’80s party. I didn’t know that it would take two months to convince Michael [to join]. He was much too cool of a blues player to be bothered with the campy ’80s. Now he can’t get enough of Journey.”

Neon Nation can be seen around San Diego and Orange County performing at clubs, bars, restaurants, outdoor festivals, birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events.

Clarissa Bruno is the lead singer, Big Lou is on drums, Carl Nelson is on keyboards, and Scott Gaines and Joey Ancona switch off on the bass on different nights.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

Michael: “Judas Priest. Those first albums are hook central.”

Paul: “How to Turkey Call. I bought a mouth call and instructional CD to call turkeys for an upcoming turkey hunt.”

Clarissa: “Carole King’s Tapestry. I’m a girl, and I am moody right now, like the album.”

WORST GIG?

Big Lou: “Someone got pepper sprayed in the parking lot, and the spray made it into the club. Everyone inside was coughing and had watery eyes.”

Michael: “When we started, I didn’t know anything about drawing crowds or playing bars with built-in crowds, so I booked this middle-of-nowhere dump. We showed up dressed in cheeseball ’80s costumes — something we don’t do anymore — and played to a packed house of five people. Three were friends, and the other two were there to play pool. Man, we sucked.”

Scott: “A club owner double-booked us with another band. We set up, sound checked, and we’re ready to start, and the genius comes in and says, ‘Sorry, guys, but I’ve got another band that’s gonna play tonight.’ We had to tear down and leave a houseful of confused friends, fans, and club patrons without playing a single song.”

Clarissa: “I was in a teen-bop trio called Knockout when I was 15 and we had a junior high/high school tour. One of the performances was inside a gymnasium, and a kid pulled the fire alarm and the water sprinkler system went off.... The firefighters who came to save us helped us pack up our equipment. Firemen make great roadies!”

BEST THING DONE WHILE DRUNK?

Michael: “Rock-paper-scissors. Me and a buddy stumbled into a RPS tournament after boozing all day, and we both got promptly eliminated. I’ve been training for my comeback ever since. My scissors delivery kills.”

Clarissa: “The best story is when we learned ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ for this gig that I got smashed at. I woke up the next day and chewed out a bandmate for not playing the song after I had spent all week learning it. He told me that we actually closed the show with it. I was so hammered I didn’t even remember, but apparently I rocked it and remembered the words.”

BEST DEAD CELEB?

Michael: “Kurt Cobain. That jerk single-handedly made flannels cool and killed hair metal.”

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ANYONE.…

Big Lou: “I would love to hear what former president G.W. Bush has to say over lunch.”

FAVORITE QUOTE?

Big Lou: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” — Rush, “Freewill.”

Michael: “Some people say that I must be a horrible person, but that’s not true. I have the heart of a young boy — in a jar on my desk.” — Stephen King

Scott: “Luminous beings are we…not this crude matter.” — Yoda

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Tennis with François Truffaut and Donal Logue

The film is helped immensely by casting four leads to play their own tennis

What is it about the ’80s that keeps us looking back? Michael Mahin, guitarist for San Diego–based Neon Nation, an ’80s cover band, has a theory.

“Most ’80s music was utterly escapist,” he says. “It’s a rejection of the bullshit

‘realism’ of punk rock, which after its first 15 minutes was just fashion. The ’80s never pretended to be something it wasn’t. It was indulgent, raw, experimental, but most of all, it was fun.”

The band is either a five- or seven-member group, depending on the gig, which night they’re playing, and what the set requires — will it be ’80s glam rock, ’80s hard rock, new wave?

Paul Byrd, the band’s other guitarist, says, “I put the band together because I was having an ’80s party. I didn’t know that it would take two months to convince Michael [to join]. He was much too cool of a blues player to be bothered with the campy ’80s. Now he can’t get enough of Journey.”

Neon Nation can be seen around San Diego and Orange County performing at clubs, bars, restaurants, outdoor festivals, birthday parties, weddings, and corporate events.

Clarissa Bruno is the lead singer, Big Lou is on drums, Carl Nelson is on keyboards, and Scott Gaines and Joey Ancona switch off on the bass on different nights.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

Michael: “Judas Priest. Those first albums are hook central.”

Paul: “How to Turkey Call. I bought a mouth call and instructional CD to call turkeys for an upcoming turkey hunt.”

Clarissa: “Carole King’s Tapestry. I’m a girl, and I am moody right now, like the album.”

WORST GIG?

Big Lou: “Someone got pepper sprayed in the parking lot, and the spray made it into the club. Everyone inside was coughing and had watery eyes.”

Michael: “When we started, I didn’t know anything about drawing crowds or playing bars with built-in crowds, so I booked this middle-of-nowhere dump. We showed up dressed in cheeseball ’80s costumes — something we don’t do anymore — and played to a packed house of five people. Three were friends, and the other two were there to play pool. Man, we sucked.”

Scott: “A club owner double-booked us with another band. We set up, sound checked, and we’re ready to start, and the genius comes in and says, ‘Sorry, guys, but I’ve got another band that’s gonna play tonight.’ We had to tear down and leave a houseful of confused friends, fans, and club patrons without playing a single song.”

Clarissa: “I was in a teen-bop trio called Knockout when I was 15 and we had a junior high/high school tour. One of the performances was inside a gymnasium, and a kid pulled the fire alarm and the water sprinkler system went off.... The firefighters who came to save us helped us pack up our equipment. Firemen make great roadies!”

BEST THING DONE WHILE DRUNK?

Michael: “Rock-paper-scissors. Me and a buddy stumbled into a RPS tournament after boozing all day, and we both got promptly eliminated. I’ve been training for my comeback ever since. My scissors delivery kills.”

Clarissa: “The best story is when we learned ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ for this gig that I got smashed at. I woke up the next day and chewed out a bandmate for not playing the song after I had spent all week learning it. He told me that we actually closed the show with it. I was so hammered I didn’t even remember, but apparently I rocked it and remembered the words.”

BEST DEAD CELEB?

Michael: “Kurt Cobain. That jerk single-handedly made flannels cool and killed hair metal.”

IF YOU COULD HAVE LUNCH WITH ANYONE.…

Big Lou: “I would love to hear what former president G.W. Bush has to say over lunch.”

FAVORITE QUOTE?

Big Lou: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” — Rush, “Freewill.”

Michael: “Some people say that I must be a horrible person, but that’s not true. I have the heart of a young boy — in a jar on my desk.” — Stephen King

Scott: “Luminous beings are we…not this crude matter.” — Yoda

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The glamour and crime of Tijuana

Club Campestre abduction, cross-border prostitution, Russian-owned gym, TJ's new night scene
Next Article

Song Without a Name: gone baby gone

Melina León finds horror in an environment usually associated with safety and nurturing.
Comments
2

Jeez.

Feb. 16, 2009

Someone please tell Michael that his quote about the heart of a young boy is from horror writer Robert Bloch (Psycho, etc.), not Steven King.

Feb. 25, 2009

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close