San Diego–born-and-raised guitarist Scott Szikla, 29, who grew up Poway a few years after blink-182 and Unwritten Law became popular, played his first awkward teenage gigs at the Epicentre. He eventually became assistant manager and talent buyer at the all-ages Mira Mesa showcase for eight years. It closed shortly after he left in 2015.
Cloudside, "Cycles" @ the Casbah, 2/2/16
He now does music full-time. He played a 30-city tour of Europe, Russia, and Japan earlier this year, thanks to the Epicentre, he says.
“I met Cam Smith years ago at Epicentre,” he says of the frontman/founder of the faith-based spoken-word band called Hotel Books. “Because I learned the basics about the logistics of playing gigs, he asked me to tour with him as guitarist and tour manager.”
Szikla toured the country with San Diego’s Weatherbox and has played locally for the past two years with Cloudside. But he says he will go out next year with Smith/Hotel Books on another European tour.
Szikla says there are a few things bands should remember if they want to tour overseas and come back with cash. First, travel when it’s cold. “Because it was early March, we got to fly from Helsinki to Osaka for, like, $400. It was freezing in both countries.”
And getting the wrong visa could land you in jail. “We were given bad information. We were told to get the tourist visa. But if you’re going to get paid you have to get the business visa. [Philadelphia’s] MewithoutYou were hauled out in the middle of their set in Moscow because they had tourist visas. They spent 24 hours in detention and then were fined and deported.
"We heard about this on the way over and almost canceled the Russia dates because we had tourist visas, too. I voted to keep going. We played the same place they played when they were arrested. Their show sold out, as did ours. We were sweating bullets we’d get busted, too. It was the best show I ever played.”
Cloudside, which Szikla says has two new members and “has a ’90s alt-rock vibe like Smashing Pumpkins or the Cure,” appears December 30th at Queen Bee’s.