“Samson Pedroza packed his bags in the middle of a tour and decided to leave the band,” recalls Canobliss drummer Mike Russo, who says he and three other members of the O.B.-based hard-rock band have been forced by their former guitarist to change their name. “Samson claimed that...since he was a founder, he still owned a portion of the name, despite no longer performing with the group. He took control of the band’s website, threatened copyright violations over our emblem and logo, and even filed a personal lawsuit.”
Canobliss was cofounded in the late ’90s by UCSD alumni Samson Pedroza and bassist Chenzo Vidalez. The new band, Psychothermia, includes four former Canobliss members: Vidalez, guitarist Jon Russo, drummer Mike Russo (both joined in 2004), and singer Johan Maldonado (since 2006). “Rather than continue on with the old name and risk never-ending disputes and probable income-sharing,” says Mike Russo, “we decided our best move was to start fresh.”
“Fresh” doesn’t discount leftovers: “Psychothermia” is the title track of a 2008 Canobliss album. “That song is about controlling your mental temperature and responding firmly in the face of adversity,” says Russo. “Well, with months of legal battles over the band name, our mental temperature and dedication was tested to the max. Plus, [the new name] helps connect the dots from the old project.”
Samson Pedroza did not respond to requests for comment. His Canobliss.com website offers recording and media services as well as a new Canobliss compilation, Evolutions: The Collective 1998–2010.
“Negotiations to reach a settlement went nowhere, and it became clear that, as long as we remained Canobliss, these disputes weren’t going to end,” says Russo. “It was an extremely difficult decision. Chenzo was a founder as well, and we worked so hard for so long to get our name out there. But that kind of negative environment is a huge distraction and terrible for making music.”
The foursome now called Psychothermia played their final show as Canobliss (minus Pedroza) March 24 at House of Blues. They just released their debut six-song EP, Slash & Burn, coproduced by Fred Archambault (Avenged Sevenfold). A video for its first single, “Crazy X,” features the band being set on fire, as coordinated by Hollywood stuntman Lane Leavitt (Terminator 2, Fright Night, etc.).
Says Russo, “Legal expenses were taking away from the money we needed to create our art.”