Ian Anderson 5:45 p.m., Aug. 23
Western Scene, for Example
A new duo rises from the ashes of Dynamite Walls
"Right now we're making videos for the background of our live show." Former Encinitas rocker Tom Pritchard is on the phone from East Hollywood, Franklin Village to be exact, where he now lives and is recording tracks for his new band, Western Scene.
"Mashups of old westerns," he says. "You put music to it, and it adds a whole new element."
Jason Burkhart is the other half of Western Scene. He and Pritchard have been writing and recording tracks for the last five months with producer Hugo Nicolson. Nicolson engineered Radiohead's Grammy award winning In Rainbows.
"I cornered Hugo one night at a party," Burkhart says, "and put head phones on him and played our demo. He loved it."
How would they describe the new music? "It's an organic thing with acoustic guitars," Pritchard says. "The "Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" song? That was an influence."
Western Scene have eight songs completed thus far with a 7" vinyl planned for the initial release. On Kickstarter, Burkhart and Pritchard have exceeded their goal of $5,000 seed money as of this writing with 18 days left to go in their campaign. Things are once again looking up for Tom Pritchard, just as they did for his old band Dynamite Walls.
Based in North County, D-Walls recorded radio-ready poprock that caught the collective ears of more than one record label executive. The band sat at the foot of the music industry pile of gold a few times, only to have each record deal offered them fall through for various reasons.
It began in 2004 when Pritchard, who grew up in Fallbrook listening to his guitar-playing dad jam with members of the Surfaris, broke up with his girlfriend and began writing songs in a North Park studio. When he had enough material, he and a friend named Robert Evans shopped the songs around.
“We got a development deal with Epic. They told me to work on a few of the songs. I did, and soon after I was putting together a band and meeting producers. Chris Foitle, of Epic, introduced us to a dude named Jason Burkhart (now in Western Scene) who was 22 at the time. We got along, and we decided to make him our manager."
But the Epic deal turned out to be no deal after all.
With momentum from their nomination for MTV2’s Band on the Rise competition, the band self released The Blinding Lights Above in 2007. An EP called Stay Awake came out in 2009.
D-Walls were nominated for Best Pop at the 2009 San Diego Music Awards, an honor they actually won in 2010. That year Paul Fox (XTC, 10,000 Maniacs) became their manager and helped get them signed to Universal Republic. In 2011, Dynamite Walls showcased the songs for an album that U/R hyped but would ultimately not release called Chemicals at the Roxy Theater in L.A.
"Universal Republic gave us a full record deal," says Pritchard. But the label gave his band zero in the way of support. "We did a tour on the East Coast. We got no support, no merch. And, we lost our tranny in Pennsylvania," he says. "In the winter."
Meanwhile, the single from the as-yet unreleased CD was getting airplay in the band's hometown of San Diego, but was not being pushed anywhere else. "There were three months when we didn't hear anything," he says. Guitarist Alex Blundell finally quit the band.
"Then, we got the letter." It was from Universal Republic. "It said that they were dropping all the new bands, including us." So, what became of Chemicals? "It's sitting on a hard drive somewhere at Universal Republic. They wouldn't give us our masters back unless we gave them, like, $30,000 dollars."
Pritchard offered to take the remaining members of D-Walls with him to Los Angeles to start Western Scene, but they declined. "The guys had put everything on hold for the last six years. They wanted to get on with their lives."
Western Scene: Friday, June 15, Kitty Diamond, 3780 Park Blvd, Hillcrest (formerly The Flame)