Brian Clinebell, singer with the garage band Kabbs, went to SDSU to study graphic design. His art schooling got him into making ads and T-shirts for Fallen Footwear, Lurkville Skateboards, and DC Shoes. And that action-sports juice helped grease the wheels for a Kabbs mini-tour of New York City last month.
“I do graphic design for all kinds of people. I also did the album artwork for Del Caesar, who are on Reheated Spaghetti, which is a label out of Brooklyn.”
"Golden & Blue"
...by San Diego band the Kabbs
Reheated Spaghetti put on a three-day festival in Brooklyn in October to which the Kabbs were invited so they could celebrate the release of their Reheated nine-song cassette album, Really Don’t Know You, and their first seven-inch single. “It’s $7,” Clinebell tells the Reader, “or a dollar an inch.”
Since forming five years ago, the Kabbs have opened for likeminded luminaries Shannon and the Clams, Ty Segall, and Best Coast.
The action-sports connection has helped the Kabbs, but it’s clear that the surf/skate tie-in does not yield the marketing goodness it has in years past when the companies would help fund albums, videos, and tours.
“There’s not as much money floating around,” says singer/guitarist Kyle Whatley. “During the recession, a lot of shoe companies couldn’t maintain paying people as much for their merch.”
“The money has dried up for a lot of brands in that industry to pay for bands,” says Clinebell, who notes that DC Shoes once licensed a Kabbs song for a European skate tour video in 2013.
“The skate industry has kind of gone where the music industry has gone: underground,” says Clinebell. “Now it’s more about small shows and people throwing smaller, two-day events. Everything is more mom-and-pop now.... I remember when classic rock was the rage, Transworld Skateboarding paid $10,000 to license ‘Time of the Season’ by the Zombies for their video segment with [pro skater] Dan Drehobl.
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“We’re all just doing it for fun. If we were doing it just for the money we would have all quit by now. We want to just play good shows, so we try to be selective. We don’t try and play every week. Unless you’re a brand-new band and are trying to get your name out there...I think every band should do that.”
The Kabbs, which includes bassist Ryan Combs and drummer Tyler Ward, appear November 12 with Elephant Stone of Canada at the Whistle Stop.