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Chris Leyva & Black Cherry

Leyva found his first Grammy’s experience “as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed.” - Image by Nick Ricoy
Leyva found his first Grammy’s experience “as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed.”

“I have a new covers album called 1957 that’s mixed and done,” says busy Blizzard frontman Chris Leyva, who plans to release a new solo CD on Valentine’s Day. His 2008 solo debut, Singled Out, produced by Lee Coulter, was nominated Best Local Recording at the San Diego Music Awards, while his 2009 release, 27, was nominated for two SDMAs. The latter is more electronic-based than his previous projects, having been mastered and coproduced by Chris Reynolds, whose local techno act Red Flag made the Billboard top-ten charts back in 1988 with their song “Russian Radio.”

Leyva, who grew up in Mexico City, also books bands at venues around town and co-manages the Black Cherry Group that he founded in 2006 with Reliable Records main man Jerry Segal. “We wanted to offer something positive in the midst of the slow demise of the music industry,” says Leyva of the downtown San Diego company. “We handle artist relations, concert promotion, and we do a lot of brand marketing. [Black Cherry Group] was envisioned as a company that could help artists with the nuts and bolts of the music industry.”

Chris Leyva is currently playing around Southern California with his band Leyva & the Dead 67’s.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1) Noel Gallagher, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. “I feel this is his most expressive work to date. The Oasis albums were almost always created under terrific pressure, and the results were very choreographed, but on this one he’s completely free.”

2) The Rembrandts, Choice Picks. “This is a collection of tracks featuring two friends re-recording their greatest hits. Their playing is like aged whiskey — it just keeps getting better with time.”

3) Best of Sun Records Volume 1. “It’s a simple rock collection with the men who made Sun a trademark: Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis.”

4) Kesha, Cannibal. “This really excites me and makes me want to do a new electro-dance album. I prefer her over other peeps such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, who I dig but who are losing their organic simplicity.”

FAVORITE SURPRISE?

“The invitation I got through my email to the 2010 Grammy Awards, via Black Cherry Group. It was my first time at the Grammys, and it was as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed, and in all the pictures I look totally dazed. I got invited again [to the 2011 ceremony], and I kept it cooler, less dressy. I think I’m getting the hang of it, but I’m still not used to the red carpet.”

SEEN ANY GOOD SHOWS LATELY?

“I very recently enjoyed watching some cool local bands: Dante’s Boneyard, Isaiah Blas, and Dying to Wake. They were all impressive in their own genre, especially for local bands.”

BIGGEST LIE YOU EVER TOLD?

“That I’m huge in Japan. Isn’t everybody, though?”

FIRST TIME DRUNK?

“Oh, man. I was, like, 16, in Mexico City at a cabaret. And yet I still managed to keep my virginity.”

MOST AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL LYRICS?

“I have a song called ‘New Life’ where I sing about being a rock-and-roll troubadour, always looking for adventures, romance, and inspiration: ‘I went searching for some fun last night/ Got so drunk almost got into a fight/ But I wouldn’t want a new life/ Or be stuck at home with new wife/ I’ll just take my throne and write a song for me.’”

MOST MONEY YOU EVER WASTED?

“I do that every day. Three grand here, nine grand there. It’s sick sometimes, but it’s mostly travel expenses. We have to handle a lot of money sometimes.”

LOCAL EATERY WHERE YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN VISITORS?

“Waters Fine Foods and Catering on Morena Boulevard, by Brick by Brick. Order the chicken on focaccia bread with the crunchy onions and pesto spread. It’s only six bucks, and you can sample all the sides, with all the organic yumminess. I’ve been going there for a long time. I love their cookies, and the girls there are real cool.”

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

“That I can finally make my living, thank God, on music alone.” ■

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Leyva found his first Grammy’s experience “as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed.” - Image by Nick Ricoy
Leyva found his first Grammy’s experience “as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed.”

“I have a new covers album called 1957 that’s mixed and done,” says busy Blizzard frontman Chris Leyva, who plans to release a new solo CD on Valentine’s Day. His 2008 solo debut, Singled Out, produced by Lee Coulter, was nominated Best Local Recording at the San Diego Music Awards, while his 2009 release, 27, was nominated for two SDMAs. The latter is more electronic-based than his previous projects, having been mastered and coproduced by Chris Reynolds, whose local techno act Red Flag made the Billboard top-ten charts back in 1988 with their song “Russian Radio.”

Leyva, who grew up in Mexico City, also books bands at venues around town and co-manages the Black Cherry Group that he founded in 2006 with Reliable Records main man Jerry Segal. “We wanted to offer something positive in the midst of the slow demise of the music industry,” says Leyva of the downtown San Diego company. “We handle artist relations, concert promotion, and we do a lot of brand marketing. [Black Cherry Group] was envisioned as a company that could help artists with the nuts and bolts of the music industry.”

Chris Leyva is currently playing around Southern California with his band Leyva & the Dead 67’s.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1) Noel Gallagher, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. “I feel this is his most expressive work to date. The Oasis albums were almost always created under terrific pressure, and the results were very choreographed, but on this one he’s completely free.”

2) The Rembrandts, Choice Picks. “This is a collection of tracks featuring two friends re-recording their greatest hits. Their playing is like aged whiskey — it just keeps getting better with time.”

3) Best of Sun Records Volume 1. “It’s a simple rock collection with the men who made Sun a trademark: Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis.”

4) Kesha, Cannibal. “This really excites me and makes me want to do a new electro-dance album. I prefer her over other peeps such as Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, who I dig but who are losing their organic simplicity.”

FAVORITE SURPRISE?

“The invitation I got through my email to the 2010 Grammy Awards, via Black Cherry Group. It was my first time at the Grammys, and it was as awkward as a high school prom. I was overdressed, and in all the pictures I look totally dazed. I got invited again [to the 2011 ceremony], and I kept it cooler, less dressy. I think I’m getting the hang of it, but I’m still not used to the red carpet.”

SEEN ANY GOOD SHOWS LATELY?

“I very recently enjoyed watching some cool local bands: Dante’s Boneyard, Isaiah Blas, and Dying to Wake. They were all impressive in their own genre, especially for local bands.”

BIGGEST LIE YOU EVER TOLD?

“That I’m huge in Japan. Isn’t everybody, though?”

FIRST TIME DRUNK?

“Oh, man. I was, like, 16, in Mexico City at a cabaret. And yet I still managed to keep my virginity.”

MOST AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL LYRICS?

“I have a song called ‘New Life’ where I sing about being a rock-and-roll troubadour, always looking for adventures, romance, and inspiration: ‘I went searching for some fun last night/ Got so drunk almost got into a fight/ But I wouldn’t want a new life/ Or be stuck at home with new wife/ I’ll just take my throne and write a song for me.’”

MOST MONEY YOU EVER WASTED?

“I do that every day. Three grand here, nine grand there. It’s sick sometimes, but it’s mostly travel expenses. We have to handle a lot of money sometimes.”

LOCAL EATERY WHERE YOU TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN VISITORS?

“Waters Fine Foods and Catering on Morena Boulevard, by Brick by Brick. Order the chicken on focaccia bread with the crunchy onions and pesto spread. It’s only six bucks, and you can sample all the sides, with all the organic yumminess. I’ve been going there for a long time. I love their cookies, and the girls there are real cool.”

PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

“That I can finally make my living, thank God, on music alone.” ■

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Outtakes: WHERE DO YOU HANG OUT? “The Gaslamp Quarter, and my personal favorite spot the Waterfront Bar. Good drinks, nice people, and all around fun, and did I mention they have bands too?”

WHO MAKES OUT IN YOUR WILL? “All my Gretsch guitars would be split between the lead guitarists in all of my bands, while my pianos and clothing will be donated somewhere cool.”

ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS? “Just making sure I finish all my life projects. I’d hate to leave without achieving my goals. So far, so good!”

Feb. 1, 2012

Jay Allen Sanford, completely off topic, but I just thought of this. We were over in Scottsdale last week for the auction and ran into Peter Tork. Any old Monkees stories that you can share?

Feb. 2, 2012

You got it! Didja know the first time the Monkees ever played music together in the same room was in San Diego at the Hotel Del Coronado while filming their TV show pilot? Or that the very first time they ever performed for an audience in public was in Del Mar, the night before their TV show debuted?

Of course the Reader has the scoop: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

Feb. 2, 2012

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