I believe that the image of the “rock star” has become bland and uninteresting in our modern music culture. This has become more obvious to me when pop singers like Pink or rap groups sing about being one. And it is even more obvious to me how passé the term has become when I look around Ventura’s local music scene.
Have a good conversation with any musician around here, and they will tell you they have day jobs and, quite possibly, children. They are all like me, playing because they are driven to, and because they are looking to get their names out there. Even though many people move to other cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, I have increasingly found that out-of-towners love what we have to offer. I think it’s because of the growing DIY mentality, and the youth-driven groups that are rising and growing within our new, small scene.
I think that the era of the “rock star” is over, because when I think of rock stars, they are all men and women from the golden age of rock ’n’ roll such as Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin and The Doors. They were all playing music because they loved it, but had a particular image and lifestyle that revolved around sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. But now we are living in the era of pop and rap music where it’s OK for singers like Rhianna to be in the same video as Slash.
The face of music in Ventura isn’t typical of those from the classic rock era. It has changed because the popular bands are from a young, up-and-coming generation. Look at the sweater-clad boys of the Sea Lions and Catwalk. The Sea Lions recently brought took their jangly pop music overseas to Japan, which is where groups like Radiohead thrive.
Nick Hessler, singer and creator of the band Catwalk, has enjoyed much recent success touring with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart along with a contract for Captured Tracks, but still can’t legally buy a beer. Both bands have sounds that are hard to place, are from Oxnard and self-promote. As a drummer in the local band Pep Talk! People tend to comment on my gender since they aren’t used to seeing a girl drummer. Someone you least suspect of being in a band could be in one, even the geeky kid people bullied in school.
But why care about image and being a “rock star” so long as the music is good and you can play shows? Being DIY is so important for new bands that want to make it. Getting your music out there is easier than ever, thanks to local venues like Zoeys Café and The Good Bar concentrating on more all-ages shows and social networking. When my band first formed, I started a Facebook page and went out to as many shows as I possibly could. We practiced a whole lot and recorded a three-song EP to hand out to other bands and venues. Our first show was at Billy O’s, where the owner gave us our very first residency because I was a regular there. Birdfeeder is a fun, evolving local band that we played with one of those nights. They had the amazing experience of opening for the Entrance band because of networking and self-promotion.
I look forward to the day when Ventura’s music scene becomes the center of widespread media attention because of who we are. We have managed to open up, let go of image and have great music be our focus. The musicians in Ventura are friendly and are working together with venues to create a youth-friendly environment. Don’t be afraid to talk to any of us if you want a show. Work for it, and success will come your way. So get out there and enjoy the music or be a part of making it!
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Ocean-Breeze Santillano, 23, began playing the drums at age 13 after being inspired by Meg White of the White Stripes, and by her father. You can find her band Pep Talk! on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peptalkventura.