Celebrating its 12th anniversary, the OC Music Awards kicked off on January 8th with eight weeks of free showcases at different venues across the county. 35 local artists will compete for the titles of Best Live Band and a performance slot at the 2013 OC Music Awards, March 9th at the City National Grove of Anaheim.
If you want to prove your worth in 80 Proof, you’ve got to climb a mountain—wasted and half-dead. Especially after their recent sabbatical which the Orange County reggae band says is “just a bummer subject.” But after a few line-up changes, the band that’s been together since 2004 are back and better than ever, ready to quit their jobs at the first rush or fame, or even at the beckoning call of a good tour.
Their music is a bummer subject no longer.
And part of that is because these light-hearted party animals, who liken themselves to an absurdist It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia skit and wax poetic on different nicknames, superheroes, and “lobsters and strippers” (fyi—you don’t put chives on strippers), want to make their party lifestyle into a career, something where they can bring their fun, free-spirited good vibes that they are “selling to the people” as a full-time gig.
“I just wait until the show is over so we can get to the real show,” said 80 Proof. When asked if they were partiers, the band laughed and said “Depends on who you ask. That’s a lie; they’ll all tell you yes.”
Evan Manriquez, Daniel Cooper, Joel Catello, Chris Paniagua, and Alex Williamson cozied up with us in a dark studio at KROQ talking about the adrenaline rush that happens onstage, Manriquez’ close call with a Kickstarter-inspired tattoo, and their collective mutual love of reggae despite their disparate musical styles.
Labels are cliché in this day and age of awesome fusion artists influenced by so many different types of artist and 80 Proof is one of those bands. Williamson or “A-Dub” is fittingly into dubstep, Manriquez grew up on R&B and the Temptations, and Catello used to be a metal band called the Vaginal Worms. Their one uniting musical love was reggae.
So, after a stop-and-start, the band enlisted the help of their fans to raise money for a ten-song album via Kickstarter which should be dropping in March right before they go on tour.
“We are in the studio with Lewis Richards,” said 80 Proof. “We’re in the studio right now…We got a lot of love from all the people. Evan’s mother donated money to the band and saved him from having some random fan put their name on him.” They’re alluding to the proposed tattoo Manriquez said he’d get for a set amount.
“I was hoping it was just some random guy,” laughs Manriquez. Instead he got a really nice one for his mom—a lotus flower—and 80 Proof is writing a song for “all the people that donated” in a way similar to the “thank you song at the end like Sublime.”
“All the pieces are taking shape. We have our studio, we have our album. Our tour is getting booked and it’s all coming together. I never thought I’d see it coming together. Impossible with these guys. Me included,” continues Manriquez. “We’d butt heads and show up late to things. Total attention span of maybe 30 seconds. It’s amazing to me that’s it’s all coming together and we’re actually doing it.”
At the rate of their current success and turning their “hobby into a career,” 80 Proof will have more glamorous stories than friends stealing cars with popsicle sticks. It’s what the band has been working up to for a while, “to be an independent touring band, not to just get some huge success, but to maintain it and live the lifestyle you like.”
“If we can go out and do that and that’s the payment, that we keep getting to go out and make more albums that’s the payment,” concluded 80 Proof.
“When you’re Z and you’re at the end of the alphabet, you need to back to your O, you need to get back to your Ommm,” said Williamson. “Yeah, so we took it to the end of the alphabet and we Z’d it.”
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles
The 2013 Showcase Series runs every Tuesday night, January 8th-February 26th with stops at:
Feb 5 – Tiki Bar
Feb 12 – Founders Hall
Feb 19 – Yost Theater
Feb 26 – House of Blues-Anaheim
LEARN MORE AT: OCMUSICAWARDS.COM