As major record labels decline in relevance, getting well-connected managers and agents on your side has become more important for so-called “baby bands” that are struggling to get a national foothold.
- Sunday, June 11, 2017, 2 p.m.
9449 Friars Road,
$55 - $125
Consider the plight of Lightning Cola, the guitar-driven Carlsbad band with band members aged 18 to 25 whose lead singer/guitarist Niko Sitaras sounds like the Cure’s Robert Smith. They are one of two local bands playing at Sunday’s X-Fest outside Qualcomm Stadium.
“In the beginning, we would take anything and everything,” says Sitaras. The band started three and a half years ago under the “Paper Days” moniker. “At one point we had 15 shows in one month. It was extremely hard to get name recognition.”
Eventually, Sitaras says that Alex Bramwell, an agent with Beverly Hills–based William Morris Endeavor talent agency happened to discover his band on an obscure Vietnamese music blog.
“When he found we were playing [UCSD’s] Sun God Festival he came down to see us. He used to go to UCSD, and he was involved in booking it.... He’s been helping us any way he can ever since. He set us up on a West Coast tour with [Australian band] Gang of Youths. He helped us get on [UCSD’s] Fall Y’all Festival last September and play in front of 5500.”
Among William Morris Endeavor’s artist roster are Tom Petty, Tool, Weezer, Maroon 5, and Foo Fighters. Sitaras says Bramwell has been connecting Lightning Cola with gigs throughout California and setting up meetings with well-connected managers.
Lightning Cola hasn’t signed anything with Bramwell or the agency he represents. “Everything has been completely on a mutual-trust basis. We are by far the smallest act that anyone with William Morris deals with. Our percentage means nothing to them. We have not signed anything but Alex does everything he can for us.”
Lightning Cola would consider an offer from a major label, but Sitaras says they may be just as happy to release their music independently. “We have about 15 songs tracked.”
Lightning Cola includes Sitaras’s brother and bassist Zander (who graduates June 15 from Sage Creek High, drummer Jordan Graham, and guitarist Nate Blake.