Photograph by Steve Godwin
The Thieves About, love living in Encinitas, but they rarely play there. “A great deal of the venues in Encinitas want cover songs.”
“The Thieves About” could suggest a phrase lacking one final noun. But as singer/guitarist J Scott Gavin avows, the name came about from a little boys love for locomotives. “My son was obsessively into trains,” Gavin explains, “so very early in the mornings I would walk him to the train station in Encinitas to watch the morning trains roll in. I noticed some scribbles, and decided to investigate a little bit. I realized that hobos have their own code when they travel. They leave messages at or near the stations for other hobos.
“So I came across the [insignia] ‘2/10’ — which means two eyes, ten fingers. It means that there are ‘Thieves About.’ So we went with it.”
The band calls Encinitas home. Gavin moved there in 2012, after a long stretch in Phoenix, Arizona, and a 12-year hitch playing “Big Red,” the mascot for the Arizona Cardinals.
“Encinitas is unbelievable,” gushes Gavin. “I’m currently just a few blocks from Moonlight Beach, and am truly living the dream. We had been over near the Village Park area for a short time, but really wanted to be by the water. It gets hot over there! Cruising Neptune in the morning, and then stepping in the sand at Stonesteps is ideal. Plus, I love the restaurant/bar scene on Coast Highway. So much fun.”
A Joyful Terrorizing Ride available on all major streaming platforms August 14th, 2020.
They love where they live, but the divide between home and the big city creates its own downsides. “One of the challenges we faced as a new band playing original tunes, is that a great deal of venues in Encinitas want cover songs. Especially the reggae and blues. The vibe is super chill, you know? So a rock band playing 90s style alt-rock wasn’t really appealing. They want to bring in the tourists who are expecting ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and ‘Sweet Caroline,’ not the dudes trying to pump a new EP.
“Down in San Diego, more folks are open to discovering new music and being a part of the independent music scene. A challenge for us, is that living in North County it’s a bit more difficult to get engaged in the scene downtown. Not just nights we’re playing, but it’s super important to support our fellow artists by attending shows and picking up merch. Hard to do when the Coaster stops heading north way before the bars close.”
But the general region offers plenty of pleasures. “In Encinitas/North County I get my healthy on at Good On Ya, my drink on at Modern Time & Culture, and if I need a proper cocktail, I hit up the Roxy. My favorite post-practice spot is Alce 101 in Solana Beach for some tequila and elk pozole. Gotta shout out my friends at Pandora Pizza for a great pie, and Q’ero for date night. If I’m feeling really saucy, I gotta head to Carlsbad and spend some quality time at Campfire. I love spending time at Mission Brewery and the Tin Roof when I’m downtown.”
The band, which includes Gavin, guitarist John Reikes, bassist Andrew Williams, and drummer Brian Ulery, got together the 21st Century way. “Brian and I connected through Facebook. It may have been that we were on a musician website and I reached out to him. We started talking music and we liked the same bands, and had similar influences. I sent him some originals, and he was really into it. John came on board in similar fashion. We met over a beer and started chatting music, and it really just fit well.
“John knew Andrew’s wife through some physical therapy in LA, and when they relocated to San Diego we decided to have a jam session. The music clicked and got very big. We jumped into the studio with these four songs, and immediately started talking about the next one.”
They cut some of the latest EP, A Joyful Terrorizing Ride, at Studio West; but had to finish the tracks over the computer when the virus hit. “When recording guitars at home,” Gavin advises, “try to make sure your door is locked so your kids can’t get in. Both John and I had multiple interruptions on guitar takes, and there are spots on the recording where I had my daughter sitting on my lap while I played.”
And when the virus lifts?
“Well, the future plans remain unchanged. Global domination. That’s always been the goal. But when the virus does finally lift, we look forward to spending time on stages and with our friends and fans.”