Photograph by Jason Mageau
The members of Thousand Below count an album release party at Banzai Bar among their favorite San Diego memories.
Looking back on the virus, the ones of us who survive will of course, each have a story to tell, starting with the first signs, first erosions. San Diego’s Thousand Below found themselves, with bleak irony, in the same city mythically responsible for breaking rock and roll big.
“When the lockdown began,” recalls singer James DeBerg, “we were on tour in Cleveland, and I was absolutely blown away by the fact that things had gotten that serious. It took me by surprise. I was underestimating it when I first started hearing about it on the news.”
Closer to home, the singer recalls, “It feels like things were pretty evenly spread out around the city. I noticed similar amounts of ‘my family member/friend tested positive’-type stories from people I know all over the city.”
“Last time we played locally was at Brick By Brick for the San Diego date of the Killed and Born Again tour headlined by an awesome band called Bad Omens. The virus didn’t even seem to be a point of conversation or thought to anyone at the show. The turnout was great and the show went off without any issue.”
For memories, the band — DeBerg, guitarists Devin Chance and Josh Thomas, bassist Josh Billimoria, and drummer Garrett Halvax — reaches back to the reception for their Gone In Your Wake album, from October 2019.
“It absolutely blew our expectations out of the water,” enthused the singer. “We did a release party for our first record [The Love You Let Too Close] here in San Diego at Banzai Bar, which is a cool spot near the Sports Arena. But with this most recent record, we saved the celebration for the road. As a newer band, it takes a bit of time for a record to ‘seep in’ to the public, so to speak. We’ve gradually celebrated as we watched the stream numbers rise and crowd participation increase greatly.”
As for life under quarantine: “Since we started touring, we don’t really rehearse until the month before a tour. We all practice our instruments personally on our own time and I have a wonderful vocal coach named Alex who I meet with once a week. He works at A Dawn of Music Studios here in San Diego.”
Their latest release, the acoustic Let Go Of Your Love EP, features a new track “let go of your love” (they’re collectively not big on capital letters). The other cuts, all originally Gone In Your Wake, reappear acoustically refined: “chemical” (here featuring Sumner Peterson of Dead Lakes), “alone (out of my head),” “171 xo,” and “lost between.”
For non-musical pursuits during the plague, DeBerg “just went out and bought a brand new skateboard to ride around as much as I can since my boxing gym closed down. Boxing is the physical activity I spend most my time on when we are home from tour. But skating has been a nice placeholder for physical activity for the time being since I can pretty much go anywhere and do that.”
Long-range plans? “GET BACK ON TOUR ASAP! Ha! Seriously though, we really miss the road and are hoping to get back on tour when it’s safe to do so.”