Electro City Lights: A One Night Stand

Photo by Valerie Durham

Electro City Lights: A One Night Stand
By
Samuel Munoz

I was thirty minutes late—not a good start to my first job. I raced down Bristol street periodically looking down at my phone for the directions to the home of Alex Morr, guitarist of up and coming Santa Ana band Electro City. I had arranged a meeting with the band during their practice session held in Alex’s garage so that I could get a few photos of the band in action. As I nervously made the right turn on Warner street, I feared that I might miss the practice entirely. I had hoped to catch them in the middle of one of my favorite tunes, maybe the catchy “Not anymore” or the lovely “Burning Bridges”. Mostly, I wanted to catch lead singer Edgar Espino’s sexy and erratic dance moves reminiscent of what a dancing Mick Jagger might look like if he were under the influence of steroids or speed.

I made my left onto Pacific Avenue and into the residential area where Alex’s home waited for me. As I searched for my destination, images of the band’s live shows raced through my head. I could hear the razor sharp rock and roll guitar riffs slice through my imagination, the dancing tunes forcing my body to twitch in maniacal ways unknown to my usual understanding of its capabilities. Electro City presents it’s audience a kind of rock and roll sublimity that takes its cue from recent post punk indie rockers such as Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, and adds a Danzig like vocal approach to top off the treat.

As I struggled to control my imagination from running away with me, finally, I had arrived at the front of the house, but to my disappointment the band was already picking up. The practice was over! I had missed it! I parked my car and headed to the open garage where the band sat talking amongst themselves. It was a scene quite familiar to me. It is that span of twenty minutes or so after the practice session is over where you pretty much shoot the shit with your fellow band mates talking about whatever fancies your mind (usually some kind of band related fantasy) before its time to head home and face reality again.

Julian giving the thumbs up

“Where’s the beer, man?” Edgar Espino asked me as I entered the garage. My reply was a mere laugh. I turned to my left to greet bass player Edgar Treto who seemed troubled about something. I have come to realize now that that is how he always looks, hence his nickname, Emo. I said my hellos to Julian Aldaco who was the only band member still picking up, as is common for drummers, and Alex Morr, who was sitting calmly strumming his guitar. Alex gave me the cool long distance head bob response.

The band seemed nervous and anxious to get the interview going. I suggested that getting a few beers might be a good idea after all. A small deliberation commenced, but no argument was any match against the idea of a good conversation and beer drinking session.

As we all began our walk to the nearby 7/11 at the corner of Pacific and Warner, I decided this was as good a time as any to learn a little more about the band’s history:

Samuel Munoz (SM)
So how long have you guys known each other?

Alex:
Well, I’ve known Emo since high school, at Saddleback. We met in tenth grade right?

Edgar Treto (Emo):
Yeah it was Sophmore year.

Julian:
Yeah we all went to Saddleback…Edgar [Espino] and I are the older bunch. We graduated in 2006 and Emo and Alex graduated in 2007.We didn’t all meet in high school though. I didn’t know these guys until after. I knew of him (gesturing towards Alex), but I never talked to him in high school. I saw a poster once that said “Alex Morr requires drummer” and that’s how I met him.

SM:
Seriously?

Alex:
Actually no (laughs) but wouldn’t that have been a good story? It all started with our old band Eden. Our friend, Chucky, it was his band. Chucky and Julian started jamming together and I came in.

Julian:
Then we met Edgar at a party. He said he was looking for a band to sing in and we gave him a try. We saw that he had potential.

SM:
It was the dancing wasn’t it?

Edgar Espino

Edgar Espino: Photo by Kyler Locke

Julian:
Actually this was pre Edgar dancing, before he unleashed the beast

Edgar E.:
I never danced at practice, just singing.

******

We arrive at the 7/11. The band seems in much better spirits. Emo and Julian argue as to what kind of beer they should get. They decide on Pacifico. Edgar decides he is going to get his own twelve pack of Miller High Life. We pay for our beers and head out back to Alex’s garage.

SM:
So why did the first band Eden break up?

Julian:
It wasn’t fun for me personally. It started feeling like a chore.

Edgar E.:
Yeah, me and Chucky had issues and differences in opinion…and it just didn’t work out.

SM:
So once that band broke, how did Electro City come about?

Alex:
I started writing some songs and I started talking to Edgar about side projects. I didn’t want to do it anymore [with Eden].

Edgar E.:
It started getting a bit more serious after the fourth or fifth song. And we were like “damn we are actually writing songs! We need to start looking for a drummer!”

SM:
But you already had a drummer?

Alex:
Well, I didn’t think about him [Julian] at all (laughs).

Julian Aldaco

Julian Aldaco: Photo by Kyler Locke

Julian:
I almost quit playing drums all together and then these guys came to me and were like “we have some new stuff” and they played it for me. And I really liked it. And I just came in. I said, “I’m going to fuckin’ play and that’s how it’s going to be mother fuckers!”

******

Electro City officially formed as a band in the summer of 2009. They played together as a three piece for eight months. They were the last band to play the now defunct Broadway Billiards (I still wonder why no one talks about that establishment when referring to the alleged gentrification in Santa Ana; it‘s the forgotten legend I guess). We arrive at the garage and we begin to position our chairs around in a circle. We sit down, pop open a few beers, and continue the conversation.

SM:
So how did Emo get in to all this?

Alex:
At first I wanted to play just guitar, drums, and vocals, you know, like the White Stripes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But then we started recording and the guy who was recording us said “You know you should put some bass into all the songs just to see how it sounds.” And so I played bass lines for all of our songs in our first demo. And I really liked it, so we went to go look for a bass player.

Julian:
The first bass player we got was this Filipino bass player and he was really good. He really knew music and could just jam at anytime, but it just didn’t work out.

Edgar E.:
Yeah and I felt really bad because he brought us this really good Filipino beer one day and we never saw him after that.

Julian:
Yeah, then we got this Goth guy and he was jamming with us for while.

Emo:
I was actually playing with them at the same time as the Goth guy. Julian came to me one time and he asked me if I had a bass. I told him, “yeah I have bass,” and he said, “great well let’s jam.” I thought it was just going to be the two of us. I had never really played an instrument before then; I just had a bass.

SM:
So you never really played the bass before you joined them?

Edgar Treto (Emo): Photo by Kyler Locke

Emo:
Well, I had played, but never seriously, just here and there you know. I had played with other guys but it was just a punk band, you know just du, du ,du ,du, du. Nothing really complicated at all. But yeah, Julian brought me to jam and the rest of the guys were already there and I was like “Damn what am I going to do? I haven’t touched the bass in like two years!” So I just pretty much stood there and watched these guys. Then Alex sat down with me and taught me the first songs. They pretty much forced me in. They kept calling me back and I didn’t know why.

Julian:
Yeah well we got along with him really well (pointing to Emo). And the Goth guy just never gave us a good vibe, so we forced Emo in.

Emo:
They pretty much told me “We got a show by this date. If you can play all the songs then you‘re playing that show.” And so I did and I got to play the show at Jaspers [located on Bristol and Macarthur in the Vons shopping center].

Julian:
Yeah, he was hiding! There was this pole and he was hiding behind it during the whole show. All the pictures that were taken that day of him were just of a pole and bass neck coming out of it.

Emo:
I wasn’t hiding. I was nervous. These guys have been playing for a year and this other guy’s dancing (pointing to Edgar E.). They’re like a complete band and I was just awkward. I never played in front of people you know. That’s pretty much it after that show. They never actually told me I was in the band.

SM:
So by the summer of 2010 you guys were a four piece and consisted of all the members of what we now know as Electro City. Talk to me about how you guys feel as a band from Santa Ana since then?

Edgar E.:
To talk about being a band in Santa Ana and where its all going…(he pauses). Honestly, right now it’s the phase of the Djs. As I’ve told these guys before, let’s bring back rock and roll. .

SM:
So you think the Santa Ana scene is a Dj scene and not a band scene?

Edgar E.
What I see when I walk around is just punks and Djs. That’s all I see right now. There is no actual rock and roll.

Julian:
There’s no punks either [disagreeing with Edgar E.]. There’s like ten punks living in the city. The punks only come down for the winter and then they migrate back.

Alex:
The scene, when you think about it…

Julian:
There is no scene!

Alex:
Yeah there is no scene. Venues during the weekend, when most people go out, it’s just Djs. Santa Ana is lost as a scene.

SM:
Well I know, speaking from experience, that before there was no where to play in Santa Ana, and now there are places to play.

Edgar E.: Yeah barely! Right now I think, for bands, I feel it’s like a gold rush. Anywhere that you can play in Santa Ana, you better just play.

Alex:
Before there was hardly a place and then Proof opened up and that was pretty much the only place. Then finally you had like the copper door and other places.

Julian:
At least now we actually have a “Downtown.” It’s a place to hang out now. You know, someone says “Hey you want to go to downtown [Santa Ana]?” and it’s like “yeah, let’s go” when before we would go to Fullerton or LA.

SM:
Well how do you guys remember Downtown Santa Ana before?

Julian:
It was La Cuatro!

Edgar E.:
I remember it was just grungy.

Julian:
It wasn’t even that it looked bad. It was just for our parents mostly. You know, where they would go shop. It was not really a place where we would go and hang out. It was all about Fallas Paredes (laughing). That’s where you would go buy your uniforms for school (more laughing). I think it’s just the new generation taking over. I personally don’t believe in that whole gentrification controversy. I think it’s a bunch of BS. They can’t roll us out. Mexicans, we own Santa Ana. Even if they wanted to they are not going to do it.

Alex Morr: Photo by Kyler Locke

Alex:
I think it’s all about money really. Young people bring money. The owners want to make money so they are going to put in a place that appeals to the younger crowd. I’m Mexican. I come from Mexican parents. Honestly, it does hurt a little because I think they are taking something away from us, but at the same time we are gaining something else. I hope we don’t lose it all because that is how I grew up. I hope we can have both. I’m the new generation with my own culture that I want to bring in and what is happening in Santa Ana is good for my future and what I want to do. It’s not like Mexicans are going anywhere. I feel it might even bring people together, a mix of people.

Emo:
I really don’t think they are trying to push people away. I think they are trying to bring more people in.

Julian:
For me there wasn’t really anything that I was attached to. Like I said, I never really spent that much time there when I was younger. I would go mostly, because my mom used to work at Don Roberto’s Jewelry.

Alex:
I was attached to the Carousel and they took that away, and there was this little music shop around the corner that I really liked too. But, I mean, there is always going to be Mexicans in Santa Ana and we are always going to have the great taco places that I like.

Edgar E.:
I think Downtown Santa Ana can become a place like what LA used to be. I believe it’s going to be the next big thing. It can be the place to go in Southern California. I feel it! I’ve talked to other people about it who feel it. Santa Ana is coming up.

Julian:
I think there is opportunity there. Maybe, I’m not as optimistic as Edgar. I’ve got to give it some more time and see how things pan out.

SM:
So let’s talk a little bit about your future. What do you guys have planned for the future of the band?

Alex and Edgar looking passionately into each other's eyes; the band porno a slight possibility

Alex:
Well, we are refining our old demo and recording new songs. Hopefully to release something that we can sell.

Emo:
We don’t want to rush it because we want to make sure that it comes out great.

Edgar E:
Yeah we want it to give you an eargasm.

Alex:
Yeah, and we want to make a really good band porno. One with great actors you know. I want people to think of it as art (everyone is laughing). Why are you guys laughing? This is a serious endeavor.

******

Electro City will be playing the Santa Ana Art walk Oct 1st 2011 in the Santora Building: 207 N. Broadway St. Santa Ana, CA. You can learn more about the band at www.facebook.com/cityofelectrocity or at http://twitter.com/ElectroCityCA.

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6 Responses to Electro City Lights: A One Night Stand

  1. Pingback: ‘Rock & roll sublimity takes its cue from post-punk’ - The Santa Ana Register : The Orange County Register

  2. C’mon people, let’s get some comments up in here!

  3. vfgano says:

    Nice article. I cant wait for the porno

  4. Carolina says:

    I’m sorry I forgot to comment here. From what I read, if I can remember, it was really interesting to know where they come from. I like this blog. It was funny. Thanks.

  5. Pingback: A Discussion with Samuel Muñoz « The Santa Ana Sentinel

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