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Behind the ventriloquist heavy metal drummer

Little Italy marketing guy gets his act to the Brick

The ventriloquist and his dummy in Harrah's ad
The ventriloquist and his dummy in Harrah's ad

Although it’s not immediately clear to some, those “Funner, California” commercials are actually promoting Harrah’s Casino in Valley Center.

Nights Like Thieves (Mario Rivera, left)
Video:

Nights Like Thieves, "I Collide"

“They actually changed the name of the property where the casino sits to ‘Funner,’” explains videographer/editor Mario J. Rivera. “I wrote the music for the commercial with the ventriloquist heavy metal drummer.”

Rivera works at I.D.E.A., the Little Italy–based marketing agency that came up with the Funner series of TV spots. He is also the frontman of Nights Like Thieves, which he formed after moving here last year. Although he spent a year in L.A., Rivera spent most of his time in Albuquerque where he fronted Left Unsaid, which at its peak opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Religion, and Offspring.

He says his video aptitude (“I started making videos at age eight”) has always helped him with his rock side. “We started a hip hip band [in 2010] called Monster Paws just as a joke, but that video got us on Jersey Shore, Real World, and a Ford commercial.”

Past Event

Ritual Potion and Coast Red

  • Saturday, September 23, 2017, 6 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $10
Video:

Funner, California, ad

Past Event

Nights Like Thieves

  • Sunday, October 1, 2017, 8 p.m.
  • Bar Pink, 3829 30th Street, San Diego
  • 21+

Rivera says Albuquerque’s Left Unsaid played twice in San Diego. “It was in 2001 at the [now-defunct] Epicentre and I think at Brick by Brick. When I got this band together I wanted to get back to the Brick.” But he says the emails to the Bay Park club didn’t yield any offers. “Then I heard from this company called Superior Booking who hit us up about a show at the Brick.” That show this Saturday includes eight other bands. It gives a new spin on pay-to-play. “They give you 40 $10 tickets. You don’t have to pay in advance, but the night of the show you have to give them their $200 for the first 20 tickets you sell. The band gets to keep everything after that.”

Video:

Monster Paws, "Champagne Bike Ride"

A call to Superior Booking at a Cleveland-area phone number was not returned.

“This is the 11th or 12th show we’ve done [in San Diego] and we’ve only been paid twice,” says Rivera. “Once at the Blonde Bar and once at the Merrow. I’ve been in bands all my life. It’s like I’m starting over. It sucks, but fuck it. I’m having fun, regardless. I love playing.”

Nights Like Thieves, which released an EP on La Escalera Records, will also appear October 1st at Bar Pink.

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The ventriloquist and his dummy in Harrah's ad
The ventriloquist and his dummy in Harrah's ad

Although it’s not immediately clear to some, those “Funner, California” commercials are actually promoting Harrah’s Casino in Valley Center.

Nights Like Thieves (Mario Rivera, left)
Video:

Nights Like Thieves, "I Collide"

“They actually changed the name of the property where the casino sits to ‘Funner,’” explains videographer/editor Mario J. Rivera. “I wrote the music for the commercial with the ventriloquist heavy metal drummer.”

Rivera works at I.D.E.A., the Little Italy–based marketing agency that came up with the Funner series of TV spots. He is also the frontman of Nights Like Thieves, which he formed after moving here last year. Although he spent a year in L.A., Rivera spent most of his time in Albuquerque where he fronted Left Unsaid, which at its peak opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bad Religion, and Offspring.

He says his video aptitude (“I started making videos at age eight”) has always helped him with his rock side. “We started a hip hip band [in 2010] called Monster Paws just as a joke, but that video got us on Jersey Shore, Real World, and a Ford commercial.”

Past Event

Ritual Potion and Coast Red

  • Saturday, September 23, 2017, 6 p.m.
  • Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Avenue, San Diego
  • 21+ / $10
Video:

Funner, California, ad

Past Event

Nights Like Thieves

  • Sunday, October 1, 2017, 8 p.m.
  • Bar Pink, 3829 30th Street, San Diego
  • 21+

Rivera says Albuquerque’s Left Unsaid played twice in San Diego. “It was in 2001 at the [now-defunct] Epicentre and I think at Brick by Brick. When I got this band together I wanted to get back to the Brick.” But he says the emails to the Bay Park club didn’t yield any offers. “Then I heard from this company called Superior Booking who hit us up about a show at the Brick.” That show this Saturday includes eight other bands. It gives a new spin on pay-to-play. “They give you 40 $10 tickets. You don’t have to pay in advance, but the night of the show you have to give them their $200 for the first 20 tickets you sell. The band gets to keep everything after that.”

Video:

Monster Paws, "Champagne Bike Ride"

A call to Superior Booking at a Cleveland-area phone number was not returned.

“This is the 11th or 12th show we’ve done [in San Diego] and we’ve only been paid twice,” says Rivera. “Once at the Blonde Bar and once at the Merrow. I’ve been in bands all my life. It’s like I’m starting over. It sucks, but fuck it. I’m having fun, regardless. I love playing.”

Nights Like Thieves, which released an EP on La Escalera Records, will also appear October 1st at Bar Pink.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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