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Stories by Andrew Hamlin

Christopher Maddox: Dr. Demento got me started

Carlsbad’s Christopher Maddox aka the “Crisis Crooner” — Telematics Executive (whatever that means), husband, father, Elvis impersonator, civic booster, sculptor of online parody songs — watched the coronavirus creep through his Chinese business contacts; then ...

May 28, 2020
James Ian: strategic when I play

San Diego fixture James Ian, knows that looks don’t always tell the whole story. He’s been living with a secret challenge his entire life. “When most people see me just standing,” explains the musician/singer/songwriter, “they ...

May 14, 2020
The Garden: ditch the expectations

Soft tinkling and clonking sounds, whispered vocals, building with no warning to screaming, ranting, pounding, the vituperation of a mental patient who, left unchecked, might chuck a bottle through a window or soil his own ...

April 30, 2020
Imperial Triumphant’s Vile luxury: a retro-dystopian atmosphere

“People who aren’t from or living in New York City may not understand the duality of our existence. So many think they want to move here and start an exciting metropolitan life. In one sense ...

April 16, 2020
Six tanka by Andrew Hamlin

If you’ve thrown open the window in winter, stuck out your head to behold only whiteness... it still isn’t me He simmers, legs over arm of his chair and I took him first for a ...

April 2, 2020
The Districts: San Diego tour reminiscing

Now don’t get them wrong — The Districts, Pennsylvania by origin, love San Diego. They just wish certain laws weren’t quite so tight-assed. Singer/guitarist Rob Grote, remembers “playing Soda Bar before we were 21. We ...

April 2, 2020
Algiers comes out with guns blazing

“We’ve done San Diego several times,” recalls Lee Tesche from the band Algiers, which plays the Casbah March 21. “The first time was with Blood Ponies at the Soda Bar, I believe. This may have ...

March 5, 2020
Worst-ever touring stories from Caspian

“If one word sticks in my mind about shows in San Diego, it’s ‘sweat.’ We all get pretty soaked during shows, because we love to get into it. But San Diego is always next-level.” Jonny ...

January 16, 2020
Queensrÿche: The music between the notes

Queensrÿche, who will be 40 years into their prog-metal run by the time you read this, are painfully aware that they’ve got some members from the classic years who aren’t around anymore; and some songs ...

January 9, 2020
"Everyone thought we were sellouts" - the Penetrators' punk POV

An interview with Gary Heffern of the the Penetrators. What are your best, worst, and oddest stories of playing San Diego over the years? The best times were the early days, people don't realize the ...

December 27, 2019
Grossmont College’s Raul Sandelin releases short film on Gary Heffern

Heffern’s a hugger. “The best times were the early days. People don’t realize the hours of rehearsal and also how many parties and benefits we did… Country Dick Montana and I were on our usual ...

The “Bubblegum Doom” of Fox Medicine

Two-piece glam thrashers Fox Medicine only have one San Diego gig to recall. But they made that one memorable. “San Diego has an impressive music community, and for my tastes, it’s a goldmine of nonconformist, ...

November 28, 2019
Ten haiku by critic Andrew Hamlin

Poplars line far too long a short walk to the lake Train switching tracks never finishes... world spring run down Anubis, white-eyed in obsidian, glares — pinned to his wall Moon silver the samurai’s hilt ...

November 14, 2019
Brainstory record at Diamond Mine Studio for Big Crown Records

“One time it took me three hours to get to a gig in San Diego, and I was super late and we played for three people.” Brainstory drummer Eric Hagstrom hopes to improve that figure ...

November 14, 2019
Kiyoshi: rooted in the groove

Asked where to draw the line between soul and hip-hop, San Diego’s Kiyoshi is quick to say he doesn’t see any such line. “They are one,” he affirms. “In hip-hop, there is soul. Hip-hop is ...

November 7, 2019
Thousand Below’s The Hangover moment

They rock. They roll. They shred. They mangle. But one thing you don’t expect from Thousand Below, your favorite San Diego post-hardcore slamdown quintet, is finding a home for an abandoned baby in Austin, Texas. ...

Sacri Monti’s Spinal Tap moments

“Last summer, our tour manager had a sleepwalking problem. One mellow night at a hotel in Milan, Italy he got up while everyone was asleep and took a nap — butt naked — in the ...

August 1, 2019
Comic-Con co-founder Barry Alfonso, back in his hometown

“When we first came to San Diego, we lived in Golden Hill, then on Florida Street in the University Heights area. From there, we moved to a little bungalow on Eads Avenue in La Jolla. ...

July 17, 2019
Power-punk-pop trio Potty Mouth releases new album SNAFU

Asked about favorite haunts when her band, Potty Mouth, comes to San Diego, drummer Victoria Mandanas replies, “The place where the seals are” — leaving unresolved whether she’s talking La Jolla, SeaWorld, or possibly both. ...

July 11, 2019
Lawrence: a steady diet of Aretha Franklin, Randy Newman, and Stevie Wonder

Most acts with a few tours under their belt have San Diego stories they like to share. But Gracie Lawrence, one of a pair of siblings spearheading the band Lawrence, found she had to gather ...

July 4, 2019
Andrew Hamlin haiku

Summer’s last party The boy bounces a pebble off his teeth *** Summer dies humid one new note in the klaxon on the fire engine *** Maid in doorway rocked back on bare heels from ...

June 20, 2019
Chon’s Play-Doh rock

Chon specialize in guitars that swirl and sway, spidering up and down scales over odd chord changes — an outgrowth of prog often called to as “math rock.” As Chon honcho Mario Camarena confesses, growing ...

Gary Wilson’s memories sweetened in The King of Endicott

Cult musician Gary Wilson — beloved by Beck, who once referred to him in a song lyric — has called San Diego home for decades. But the flamboyant fellow, fond of flinging flour onstage while ...

May 9, 2019
Pharlee melds Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and others for their brand of psychedelic speed rock

You summon that heavy-metal-but-high-ballin’ sound of Deep Purple circa Machine Head, cover it with sweet thick-fug mysterioso, swell up the organ, and top off with a commanding female wailing through astral planes and supreme beings ...

How San Diego’s Love Angeles came to be

David Wilson can explain how his San Diego band, Love Angeles — opening for O-Town on April 25 at the Music Box — came to be. But you’ll need a scorecard. “My friend and I ...

April 25, 2019
Wayne “The Train” Hancock back on tracks

A 2014 motorcycle crash left Wayne “The Train” Hancock with a cracked sternum, fractured elbow, punctured left lung, and multiple broken ribs. “Yeah. I survived,” he relates, with a raspy laugh hinting at decades of ...

Worn out from a tour with MxPx, Go Betty Go give it another go

They took their name from an encouragement they shouted to guitarist Betty Cisneros, who sometimes had a little trouble on the downbeat. Go Betty Go were, and are anew, Cisneros plus bassist Michelle Rangel and ...

March 28, 2019
Levi Dean & The Americats: now Free and Untethered

Levi Dean, born in Virginia, late of the Rocky Mountains, late of Nashville, lately seen around University Heights, Normal Heights, and North Park, has had good and bad shows all over the country. “One of ...

March 14, 2019
From iPhones and Venmo apps to Joy Division minor-key urgency — a collective interview with L.A. band Liily

Singer Dylan Nash and bassist Charlie Anastasis, half of L.A. band Liily, wish to inform you, dear reader, that they’ll answer all of the below interview questions collectively, as a united front. Only one exception. ...

March 7, 2019
The influence of Krautrock, Zamrock, Northern soul, blues, and prog on San Diego’s Volcano

The San Diego all-star band Volcano, who release their debut album The Island on February 15, blend the sounds of Fela Kuti, Can, James Brown, and the Allman Brothers. Asked how a bunch of stoners ...

February 14, 2019
North Park hipsters don’t bother Zydeco musician Ruben Moreno

Zydeco musician Ruben Moreno admits that, strictly speaking, he doesn’t live anywhere — or at least not for very long. But he proudly counts the Sun Dog City as one of his somewheres. “I live ...

February 6, 2019
How Gang of Four’s Andy Gill survived the Balboa Park Carousel

Andy Gill’s the guitarist, lyricist, political and cultural commentator, record producer, photographer, and last remaining founder member in Gang of Four, and surely no shrinking violet. But he just about met his match at the ...

February 2, 2019
Full-body synesthesia

The Multisensory Aesthetic Experience hasn’t toured in years. But they remember the sweet spots in the lower 48, and how to celebrate them. “San Diego is a uniquely special place for the band,” explains MAE’s ...

January 17, 2019
Mostly upsides

It might seem strange to fixate on the upside of a condition that turns your life into chaos and just might kill you. But singer/songwriter Veronica May is determined to stay optimistic. “So many upsides,” ...

January 10, 2019
Life through music

Christopher Hollyday — jazz saxophone prodigy, composer, teacher — wasn’t sure he’d landed in a good jazz town when he moved here in 1996. “I checked the San Diego Reader [for jazz listings]. I listened ...

January 10, 2019
Unleash the fire

Castle’s video for "Deal Thy Fate," the title tune of their new album, shows them mostly romping under Mojave heat near the band’s pad in Joshua Tree; but it throws in some eerie things materializing ...

December 6, 2018
El Ten Eleven’s double-necked axe

Playing guitar and bass more-or-less at once, in real time, with only two hands, might strike one as a strenuous proposition. But Kristian Dunn, of instrumental duo El Ten Eleven, makes it work. With a ...

November 21, 2018
The sad but beautiful ’80s sound of Paper Kites

I figured Aussie bands would be good for plenty of stories about driving long stretches gig to gig over their home continent. I was disappointed. “Most Australian bands when they tour,” explains Paper Kites singer ...

November 1, 2018
Former Columbus, Ohio musician seeks new band

“Candid Americana. Raymond Carver stories played by the Band. The optimism of the Mountain Goats filtered through Stephin Merritt’s worldview. Townes Van Zandt trying to sober up.” That’s Andy Gallagher, late of Columbus, Ohio, diagramming ...

October 25, 2018
Musically interrogating the human experience

We Were Promised Jetpacks, native to Edinburgh, Scotland, took a long time off after 2014’s Unravelling, but thankfully return to musically interrogating the human experience. They arrive at Irenic on October 12, touring behind their ...

October 3, 2018
Lizabeth Yandel's long road to San Diego

Lizabeth Yandel's long road to San Diego

A film I really dug

A film I really dug

September 6, 2018
Underground acoustic jam

Dispatch, founded in the ‘90s, disbanded in the early aughts, and back for more in 2011, takes pride in self-sufficiency as they travel the world without major label money. They bring it to the Cal ...

August 9, 2018
Great moments the world over

As the oldest son of singer/songwriter/bandleader/mystic/political agitator/polygamist Fela Kuti, Mr. Femi Kuti, now 56, knew from an early age that he had some big shoes to fill. But he toughened up while playing in his ...

August 2, 2018
Transcending Barriers

Sharon Katz travels around the world with her band, the Peace Train, putting on musical events to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding. The South Africans “Transcending Barriers” program, scheduled for July 21, starts at the ...

July 19, 2018
Worst show at the Epicentre

San Diego native Alex Lievanos, 21, sings, writes songs, and plays several instruments. In advance of coming back to SOMA on July 7 (opening for the Grove Collective), he took questions over email. Where in ...

June 28, 2018
Salt on the keys

San Diego native Danny Green studied classical piano as a child, but flipped over to jazz, built up a base of local fans, and earlier this year released One Day It Will, mating his jazz ...

June 19, 2018
A rock and my disinclination to kick at it

Library sink tableau two pages hardcore porn small sunscreen tube The bride and the groom and a little brown-haired girl sticking out her tongue Fourteen hours waiting for this train hello again, wink the stars ...

January 17, 2018
Brazilian rhapsody in Solana Beach

Born in New York City but raised in Mexico and Brazil, Bebel Gilberto springs from a musical family — her father the bossa nova pioneer João Gilberto, her mother the singer Miúcha — and she’s ...

October 25, 2017

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