Founded in 2017 and calling themselves homo riot hardcore punks, the Gay Agenda features David Hurtt (Stalins of Sound), Luis Soraire (who played bass with Temblad before switching to drums), Matt Penning, and Garrett Ficacci. The band was the brainchild of Hurtt, who wanted to create heavy punk music in an openly and unapologetically queer vein. Following up on their self-titled 2018 EP, which blends punk and metal into a queercore cacophony, their new full-length Penetrating is due June 5 via La Escalera Records. Recorded entirely live in one take, the album was mixed and mastered by Ed Talorda, with cited influences including Limpwrist, the HIRS Collective, Napalm Death, Tragedy, and Disrupt. The lead single now available, “Homo Riot,” features Justin Pearson of The Locust, Retox, and Dead Cross. A vinyl version of the album includes a bonus track, a cover of Bjork’s 1995 anthem “Army of Me,” best known from the Tank Girl film soundtrack.
“We’re bouncing souls who found each other on Craigslist and spent the last two years in a cocoon turning into what you see now,” says Evening’s Empire singer-guitarist-keyboardist Sam Strohbehn. “Everything is new for us. We have new singles, a new album, a new website and social media, and new merch. The world is new. The timing is crazy, but what are you going to do?” The alternative rock band includes Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego honcho Shannon Woods, aka Shannon Sabin of the reformed Dinettes, and bassist-singer David Skolnik. In advance of their debut album Alive For Us, dropping in July, their first single “Movies” was released May 15, followed this week by “Home” and “She Can Save,” due at the end of the month. “These past few years have definitely been some of the weirdest times we’ve ever seen in the world. With everyone so isolated, even before COVID-19, we wanted to make an album that is personal and brimming with life and optimism. The cover art is a piece called ‘Nostalgia,’ made by an artist called Frank Moth that spoke to us. It’s kind of a glimpse at recapturing the brighter future we used to all think lay ahead.”
As a member of the Guitar Institute, Wayne Riker has cohosted workshops around the world with A-list jazz and blues cats such as Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Marty Friedman, Dave Grissom, and Duke Robillard. Known for his Quick Licks column in Guitar Player magazine, he’s also taken to telling stories between (and during) his instrumental performances, such as the time he met Jimi Hendrix cohort Randy California of Spirit, or how he was just about the only white guy at an intimate Hendrix concert, or the story behind how he almost went to Woodstock in 1969 but instead ended up at a jazz fest featuring a brand-new group calling themselves Led Zeppelin. His 12th CD, R&B Thunder, was recorded at Studio West and released last year, and features six local soul vocalists singing individual featured tracks. His Wayne Riker Gathering is recording a follow-up album due this summer, Blues Lightning, featuring guest vocals from Lauren Leigh Martin, Michele Lundeen, Leonard Patton, Shelle Blue, Scott Mathiasen, and Deanna Haala.
Based in Mission Beach, Timothy H has been a member of Mix Mob and the Dub Saints. “I’ve always liked the house beats out of Chicago,” he says, “but there is something about this place [San Diego] that makes for a real positive and laid back sound.” Citing influences such as Sublime, Run D.M.C, Chicago House Music, Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, and Pennywise, his debut solo full-length Loved Or Hated But Never Ignored was released in 2012, with its first single “It’s A Good Day.” “When people say this is totally San Diego-style music, I take that as a huge compliment. This place has been my muse for this album, and that’s great people can hear that.” His 2017 single “Remedy” featured guest players from local stars P.O.D. and Slightly Stoopid. A new reggae/rock/pop single, “Three Waves Crashing,” dropped May 29 on all digital outlets.
Before becoming known for playing with NIN, Angels & Airwaves, Paramore, Beck, and M83, Ilan Rubin started his music career while still in grade school. He was 11 when he performed at Woodstock 1999 with local band Freak of Nature (aka FoN), which appeared on several Vans Warped tours, the same year that Modern Drummer declared him “Best Undiscovered Drummer Under the Age of 18.” After a tour overseas with Welsh rock act Lostprophets, and still not quite of legal drinking age, he became the drummer for Nine Inch Nails. Rubin released a solo album in 2008, Coup, recorded under the band name the New Regime, a moniker he kept for a 2011 album, Speak Through the White Noise, entirely written, sung, and played by Rubin. Part one of his new four part EP series called Heart, Mind, Body, & Soul, was released last October, with all four volumes now available. The backdrop of the new lyric video for “It’s Gonna Be OK” was filmed on the streets of a desolate New York City during the COVID-19 lockdown.