Eva Knott 8:30 a.m., June 23
Film Trailer puts the Focus on Hocus
They call it “48 Hour Freak Out.” It’s a film short of the band Hocus performing whirlwind gigs over the space of one weekend in San Diego. “I thought,” says singer/guitarist Lando Martinez, “wouldn’t it be cool if we filmed these?” Reason enough. In the opening scene Hocus bassist Lolita is sitting in a car for lack of a dressing room, putting on makeup. The trio otherwise appears to be lost somewhere in the vicinity of Mission Bay, the setting for the first of their three shows: on the big stage at the Powerboat Races.
“Later that same evening, we played in Lemon Grove at a tiny biker bar called the Good Guys Tavern,” says Martinez. “It’s been there since the 1940s.” By comparison to the 50-foot outdoor Powerboat stage, the bandstand inside Good Guys is absurdly small and potentially lethal. By the looks of things, there is hardly enough room for a drum kit, let alone a pair of punks with electric guitars thrashing about in the confinement.
Martinez, 41, aka Fat Lando is ex Navy and a student at Southwestern College. He lives in nearby Imperial Beach. He describes Hocus’ music as being what the Ramones would have sounded like if they’d had a fifth member named Noel Gallagher. Punk, in other words, with much in the way of melodic hooks. In addition to Lolita, the other member is a drummer who goes by the name of Rhino. Hocus, by the way, is actually the name of Martinez’ cat. “It’s a user-friendly name. Not derogatory, and good for metal and punk.”
Hocus the band is two years old, having played their first engagement at the former O’Connell’s in 2009. “We’ve been working hard ever since,” says Martinez. But critics, and some venue owners, say they’re working a bit too hard. “We are guilty of doing a lot of shows, but we travel around the county. There’s at least a 20 mile distance between venues.”
The final segment of “48 Hour Freak Out” has Hocus on the stage at the Casbah, grinding it out as openers for the Bloody Hollies. It is a plum gig. By now in the film chronology the members of Hocus, tired as they may be, are firing on pure adrenaline. “The Bloody Hollies,” says Martinez, “thought we were cool.”
“Freak Out,” as it turns out, is a slice of the performer’s life. It documents, if inadvertently, the reality of what it means to be a regional band engaged in the low-paying and highly variable job of music. But why make this film? It turns out the clip will find use as a virtual resume. And why not? On its surface “48 Hour Freak Out” is as funny as one of those Monkee’s TV adventures of old and Hocus’ performances are full-throttle. “We made this as our calling card,” says Martinez. “People like it, but it’s also a promo piece.” In other words, you’ll likely see the movie, instead of a show poster, on Facebook in advertisement of coming shows. “By the end of a day,” says Martinez, “it’s a commercial.”