Written by Jeremy Copp
Crafting a good pop song is an art form. Making pop interesting is even more difficult. That’s why for every artist with longevity like Beyonce, there’s a thousand one-hit wonders like Carly Rae Jepsen. Good pop requires a fine balance of catchy melodies with intriguing chord progressions and rhythmic dynamics. The guys in A Violet Sun, a pop-alternative rock band from the Inland Empire in California, seem to have an innate understanding of this concept.
A Violet Sun is the brainchild of lead vocalist/guitarist Jay Valdez. Now 28, he has been working in bands since he was a teenager in the pop-punk band Recycled. In the early days of the band, Jay described his songwriting process as something akin to finding a good melody to go over a Beatles-like chord progression. But the band is so much more than that. The song “A Shape of Mind” has an undeniable hook, but the rhythmic structure is almost frenetic in pace, and the chord progression is reminiscent of a happier, breezier version of The Mars Volta. Jay is rather frank about the evolution of his songwriting, saying that it has improved by “playing with people who are better than me, and all of the musicians in A Violet Sun are better than me.” His brother, Matt Valdez (guitar/vocals), says that Jay will bring the basis of a song to the band, but he takes feedback from everyone. As such, Matt refers to Jay as the quality control of the group.
Rounded out by Robin Laliberte on bass and Sid Suarez on drums, the guys in A Violet Sun have rather disparate musical backgrounds. Robin was previously in a death metal band, and Sid was in an honest-to-goodness boy band. However, the guys have come together for more than just a love of the music they are creating. They all have a strong environmental conscience. A Violet Sun try to lead by example, using recycled materials in their CDs and merchandise, and they are currently converting their touring van into a bio-diesel vehicle. Jay claims, “We want to make a difference, even if it’s just us.” They don’t want to preach, but they definitely want to get the message out to their fans, and they tackle the subject of trying to keep our world clean in the song “Home.”
While the band has worked hard to create their own brand of pop rock, they are also proud of other aspects that they are known for, such as being a quality live act that delivers a reliably good performance and promotes their shows hard. Their reputation for professionalism has paid off by getting them the opening spots for such national touring acts as Korn and Story Of The Year. In fact, Sid’s first show with the band was in front of hundreds of people when they opened for Moving Units. He admits to being nervous at the time, but is excited by the band’s successes, exclaiming “I never thought I’d be in this position, but it’s awesome. You just never know until you get there.”
The guys in A Violet Sun admit that being creative in a pop song is difficult. But they seem to be mastering the craft. You can judge for yourself at Groove International’s Sunday Funday event at the House of Blues, Hollywood on August 10.
Written by Jeremy Copp
When one thinks of the Los Angeles music scene, Irish punk is most likely not the first genre that comes to mind. Or the second, third or fourth, for that matter. A quick Google search of “Los Angeles Irish punk” returns Flogging Molly in the first couple of hits, and that’s it. Enter The McNaughstys, a band that is poised to change all of that.
The McNaughstys originated in Baltimore. When founding member and vocalist/guitarist Shawn Callender left the East Coast for Los Angeles in 2013 for a job in music production, he thought he had left their music behind. However, as he played the tracks from The McNausghtys 2012 EP “Scraped Knuckles and Natty Boh’s” for friends and acquaintances, he became convinced that there was a place for his brand of Celtic rock in the LA scene. Finding musicians to continue what he had started in Baltimore involved a fair bit of luck. As Shawn tells it, “We saw Troy (drummer Troy Tucker) at Taco Bell with a Celtics jersey on and drumsticks in his back pocket.” Of course, Troy was a perfect fit.
Named for Shawn’s alter ego that rears it’s inebriated head after he’s indulged in a pint or three, The McNaughstys bring a super-charged energy to their live shows that is fueled by whiskey and a punk-rock ethos. Rounded out by Alexei Acosta on bass, Seth Hansen on violin and Max Gillespie on bagpipes, the band melds folk and medieval sounds with rock into a high-octane blend that connects extremely well with the audience. Max explains that the band “is unique, but not so exotic that people won’t get it.” And he appears to be right, as they are gaining followers with every show they play.
Given the opportunity, they’ll convert you, too. In fact, they’ve energized the most unlikely of crowds. Once, at a traditional jazz club, they had audience members with their fists in the air chanting “Hey!” and “Ho!” at the tops of their lungs. As Seth recalls, “we won that crowd over.” Groove International’s talent buyer Jon Avila was so impressed with a recent performance that he offered them the opportunity to play the main stage at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip later this month.
For the time being, the McNaughstys have no plans to enter the studio. They are content to ride out their EP for as long as possible and to expand their audience by playing live as much as they can. As Shawn states matter-of-factly, “Come see us live. If you want to get your head blown to the back of the auditorium, we’ll definitely oblige.”
It might seem cocky, but they have the live chops to back it up. Give them a chance. Go see the McNaughstys, and there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be collecting your head at the back of the auditorium by the time the night is through.
For more information on the McNaughstys, visit:
The McNaughsty’s will be playing Groove International’s “Sunday Funday Bash” on the Main Stage of House of Blues Sunset Strip on Sunday, July 13th, 2014. Be sure to RSVP on Facebook!
Groove International is proud to announce that we are officially expanding into Orange County! As our company continues to grow, we are making it a point to work solely with the best venues along the California Coast; and we could think of nothing greater than the prestigious House of Blues in Downtown Disney.
On Thursday, June 26th, 2014, Groove International will host our highly popular event “The Pirate’s Booty Ball” at House of Blues Anaheim (All Ages Event). Brace yourselves for a wild night filled with live-bands, DJs, dancers, models, photographers, and everything else we can toss into the mix!
Whether you enter the club to be entertained by your favorite DJ, live-band, dancer, or celebrity; Groove International lets you interact with our performers on a completely different level than any of our competitors. No audience member should be limited to watching a show in front of their favorite artist, when they can watch the show with them.
Attend. Watch. Interact. Party WITH your Rock Stars.