At a tour stop in Germany, San Diego band Hey, Chels "played to like five people... and reluctantly ate raw ground pork to avoid being rude."
Ricky Schmidt, bassist of local band Hey, Chels — comma included — never expected a giant German stinky dog to cross his path. But life is full of surprises.
“Day two [of the tour] took us to a rural town called Arnstadt,” remembers Schmidt, who also plays with Western Settings. “Arnstadt didn’t seem like it had much going on except for a suicide cliff that historically has been used to jump off of when you wanted to end it. That, and a little house that had been converted into a somewhat legitimate venue. It had a stage and a bar while maintaining the integrity of a house, with each room being different and weird.
“It was run by the sweetest guy named Udo and his giant, dopey, stinky dog named Beethoven. This venue looked like it maybe had its heyday in the ’80s, and was most likely catering to the hair metal of the time, judging by the posters on the walls. We played to like five people that night and reluctantly ate raw ground pork to avoid being rude. Apparently that is a thing in Germany. Not a fan. I do love Germany though.”
Schmidt can gamble on the open road, but he’s fond of his own pond, too, which he shares with Hey, Chels singer Jax Mendez. “Jax and I live in City Heights, more specifically Azalea Park, even more specifically... just kidding. Kevin [White, guitar] lives in University Heights. Steph [Presz, drummer] lives two hours north somewhere in vast landscape that is L.A.
“Our favorite thing about City Heights is Tower Bar, Black Cat, and El Super. I personally really like being in City Heights, it’s close enough to everything while still feeling quiet.”
He’s done his share of wandering, though. “In the last decade these are the neighborhoods I lived in, chronologically ordered: Poway, Little Italy, Pacific Beach, Golden Hill, North Park, Normal Heights, North Park again, Ocean Beach, back to Normal Heights, and now, finally, City Heights.
“That doesn’t include a couple extended periods of time where 24 Hour Fitness was my bathroom, my car was my bedroom, and the city was my living room. Honestly, I think all these neighborhoods are cool for their own reasons, each offering unique charm. Except for Poway, there’s nothing really there for a person like me.
The new album is Everything Goes. They aren’t asking for donations, even in an age where everyone’s asking for donations. Schmidt explains. “Well first off we don’t have physical copies yet. Second off, the world is falling apart before our eyes. A lot of people don’t even have jobs anymore or the future doesn’t look so secure suddenly.
“I think a big part of doing the music thing is sharing it with people and we don’t want people to have to pay in order for that to happen right now. If we were doing this for the money we would have stopped a looooooong time ago.”