Weedpuller trio digs in
April 2, 1999
Special to the Register
- Where: Hogue Barmichaels, 3950 Campus Drive, Newport Beach
- When: 8:30 p.m. April 9
- Admission: $5
- Call: (949) 261-6270
- Note: This show is restricted to those 21 and
Armed with an arsenal of original, accessible
songs that could well land its music on a variety of radio formats,
Weedpuller may soon find itself no longer among Orange County's
best-kept secrets. Not only does the rock trio have the songs in its
favor, but the lineup features one of the best drummers (Rob Swindell)
and modern-rock guitarists (Kevin Sanborn) in the region. All the while,
singer-bassist Mark Schuler combines a distinctive voice with a balance
of satire and seriousness.
At a show this week at Casey's in Orange, Weedpuller delivered a
compelling set featuring an eclectic mix of the trio's material. Drawing
on pop, rock and punk, the north county band fused strong musicianship
and well-crafted songs in its one-hour show.
Comparisons to influential trios such as The Police and Dada are
natural, but Weedpuller draws as much from hard-edged '90s punk and
alternative bands as it does the tuneful rock of Cheap Trick.
Schuler and former guitarist Bill McKendry formed the band as an
acoustic duo in spring 1994.
"We had met, and he kept badgering me to play music," Schuler
recalled, adding that he had tired of the music scene and wasn't sure he
wanted to play in a band anymore. "He kept on pressing me to play."
In June 1994, the two played their first coffeehouse gig, in what
they thought was to be a casual thing. One performance led to another,
and soon a mutual friend introduced them to Swindell.
"I had known Mark as an acquaintance. Then when I got the tape — it
was a rough recording — I could hear they were hits. I was eager to play
with him," Swindell said.
The trio began to play coffeehouses, still reluctant to put too much
effort into approaching Weedpuller as anything but a hobby.
"We were playing coffee shops, and there were always people there; it
didn't last long being casual. After one month, we started recording a
demo," Swindell recalled.
Added Schuler: "We loved it so much, we pressed a seven-song EP (in
November 1994) called 'Congenital.' "
However, just as Weedpuller was gaining momentum in early 1995,
McKendry had some family problems and moved to Las Vegas.
The band decided to continue, with McKendry coming back to Orange
County once a month or so to record guitar tracks or play a show. But it
soon became evident that if Weedpuller was to move to the next step up
the career ladder, a full-time guitarist was needed.
That proved difficult, with the band going through two guitarists
before inviting Sanborn to join this past November.
"I stuck an ad in the Recycler and answered lots; I was disappointed
over and over," Sanborn said. "I got an e-mail from Rob and he said, 'It
sounds like you're a good fit. Why not check out our Web site.' "
Sanborn checked out the songs (at http://www.weedpuller.com)/. He went back to his
computer later that day, and the songs still sounded as good as he
thought they had the first time he logged on.
"I worked up some guitar parts and backing vocals. I felt it clicked
right away," Sanborn said, as his two band mates nodded in agreement. "I
wanted to impress them because I liked the songs."
Although Weedpuller has been a regular on the local scene only since
the beginning of the year, its members have been aggressive in using
technology for promotion. The band's Web site not only features details
on the group but hosts Jim "The Poorman" Trenton's Anti-Radio program,
simulcast on KYPA/1230 AM and KMNY/1600 AM, Mondays-Fridays at 4 p.m.
In addition, Weedpuller often uses its so-called "CaveCam" to provide
live sound and images of rehearsals.
"I had been listening to Anti-Radio, and we sent him a CD," Swindell
said. "He played some songs off it. It occurred to me, we had a good
co-op opportunity," said Swindell, who handles the live broadcasts of
the Poorman's show five days a week.
For more on Weedpuller, write the band at P.O. Box 501, Yorba Linda,
Calif. 92885; call (714) 529-7256; or check out the band's Internet
domain at http://www.weedpuller.com/ . The band can be reached
via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Orange Pop is a
weekly look at the local music scene. Are you an original artist or band
member? Send your cassette or CD as well as a photo (no laser-jet prints
or photocopy pics, please!), band bio and other information to Robert
Kinsler, P.O. Box 11626, Santa Ana, Calif. 92711-1626, or call (714)
664-5050, Ext. 1026.
To hear samples from Weedpuller call Register InfoLine
at (714) 550-4636, category 5730.