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Orange Pop
Weedpuller trio digs in

April 2, 1999

By ROBERT KINSLER
Special to the Register

Weedpuller

  • 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 older.

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 rob@weedpuller.com .


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.

WEEDPULLER: To hear samples from Weedpuller call Register InfoLine at (714) 550-4636, category 5730.

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