Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#72 On The Rox on 12-12-11

This was the holiday party for High Voltage Magazine. I had come across their announcements for the event on Twitter and reached out to see if we could play. They said yes. It rained like Hell which definitely had an impact on the number of people, but there was still a crowd. I had never seen Sunset Blvd. look so dead!

The evening was opened up by Zero One, the band fronted by actor/comedian Hal Sparks. He was not joking in how seriously he took his metal, decked out in Kiss-worthy dragon pants. They even covered Spinal Tap. MPC forgot some drum stuff, so we borrowed it from Bethpage Black's drummer, a tall dark figure named Steve. Our set was enjoyable, including our Christmas song we wrote. We even wore Christmas lights. Bethpage Black were an eclectic 'rock' band, who chose to cover The Darkness' "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" and their singer nailed all the high stuff. Suddyn was an alt-piano-rock band who closed out the evening.

The ladies of High Voltage were very approachable and we had some good conversations with them. They also gave out Christmas gifts to everyone who attended.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

#71 Redwood Bar on 11-11-11

This was the release of our new album 11, and proved to be an unforgettable evening for all the wrong reasons. Except for Blond Goblin, we hand picked the acts who played with us. Dark Furs were kind enough to open the evening, only this time minus keys for a bit more of a stripped-back sound. New Room had been on our list of people to play with for quite some time, and their music proved to be deeper and darker than I had remembered, but (I felt) fit us perfectly.

Strangely enough, a friend of a friend was having a going away party at the venue, so I kept running into people I knew. They kept saying "Oh, I finally get to see you play!" When we took the stage, one of these friends was beyond drunk and insisted on coming on stage. I did my best to shuffle her away, but time after time she kept returning to dance, bump into things, unplug things accidentally and pull my mic down to talk. My blood was boiling, and this was not getting any better. The rest of the band seemed amused, and I was pleased that they weren't phased, at the very least. The show ended, not a moment too soon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

New album - 11

After much struggle and a final triumphant push to finish getting it tracked and mixed, we are proud to announce the release of our new album, simply titled 11. It is 11 songs, and we have the benefit of being able to release it on 11-11-11, which gets us all excited, numerologically speaking.

It was mixed by long-time collaborator Jason LaRocca and mastered by the ever-giving Erick Labson. To make it even cooler, the artwork was made by amazing actor/artist Joe McKay, who happened to have done the artwork on Broken Social Scene's Rock Forgiveness Record. Joe has made us look very good.

You can buy the album on iTunes or Bandcamp, but we make more money off the latter.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#70 Down and Out on 10-19-11

We were invited back by Darin and Heather of the Hangout Group, this time playing with Dark Furs (great mood/vocals) and Heather's band Lady Katherine (washes of guitar/flowing melodies). Jason LaRocca on keys. We had just released the video for Famous For Dying and coincidentally a zombie movie was playing on the TVs at the bar. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Video: Famous For Dying

We teamed up again with video director Lior Molcho to make this deliciously gory and over-the-top video. He had long wanted to do something like this with us. We also had special effects support from horror icon Walter Phelan. So here it is:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

#69 The Whaler on 10-14-11

We were quite eager to play the Whaler again, and this time Hello Vegas actually got to play as well. We once again had Jason LaRocca on keys (though his laptop tried to not work just before we played) and the show was a sweaty fun fest. There was a crazy dancing man (always a plus) and lots of positive shouting. We won over Venice a second time.

Friday, October 14, 2011

#68 Silverlake Lounge on 10-13-11

This show was planned well in advance and we made a point of getting in touch with the other bands ahead of time to cross promote as much as possible. This made for a great evening of camaraderie. We played with Old Monk (from NY), Small Hours and Worrier. Worrier had a great lighting setup on stage, and were an impressive live act. I spent a lot of time talking to the other bands and it was quite enjoyable. The other amazing part of this show was Jason LaRocca (old band chum of mine, from the Briggs) played keys with us, adding a lush supportive element that really belongs in our music ALL the time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

#67 TAIX on 9-28-11

TAIX is a French restaurant in Silverlake. We were invited by Lost Marauders to play this show. They are a bit of a 'hard rock' trio. Sadly Francis was deathly ill, so he stayed sleeping in the car until the last possible minute. It was a mostly female audience, but could have been more well-attended. It reminded me that there are 10,000 places for a band to play in Los Angeles, and some are better than others. The show went off well, but an inter-personal freak out by one of the women at the show left a bad taste in our mouths.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

#66 The Whaler on 9-16-11

photo by Deuce Janisch

We were invited somewhat short notice to play this show. Hello Vegas invited us as they couldn't play themselves, however one of them di some DJing.

The club has a lot of windows and I was told we were playing downstairs, but it doesn't look like a rock venue. Surprisingly, men came in carrying large black pads and began covering all the windows. It was very official. Suddenly it became a dark, enclosed rock cave, ready for bands. I played with glasses, but they fell off early and didn't stay through the set. It was very loud in the room, and an older sailor-looking man danced right in front of me for most of the set. Sweating happened. We tried 'Counting Down Your Life' again in all its drum-track glory, but it didn't work out so well, at least in my mind.

"We thanked Hello Vegas for the invite, and they paid us." We met a fun outspoken 'internet mogul' who was very chatty and refused to let me go without doing a shot with him, but let me get away with a shot of water.

Friday, August 26, 2011

#65 Hard Rock Cafe on 8-25-11

AMAZING. This show set a new standard for how I think shows should be. We played to an audience of dinner patrons from a variety of cities/countries. The stage was SO large, so we all had room to stretch out and perform. I had a headache and felt super nauseous right up to the show, but Wayne told me to shut up and quit bitching. Somewhere into playing our first song I felt elated and didn't feel bad the rest of the evening. It was SUCH a fine show. Strangely, it was supposed to be Wayne's last show (for a variety of reasons) but we made no further mention of it, as I really felt that it was not going to be his last show. We also debuted a new song, "Counting Out Your Life".

Sunday, August 21, 2011

#64 Louis Alvarez going away party on 8-20-11

Our chum Louis Alvarez who booked us for Downtown Artwalk decided to move to Portland, and asked us to play a backyard party. I'm always excited about these things as they tend to be really casual and you get to play and then hang out and actually to get to know people. This particular crew was great as they are all cyclists, and a nice mix of people. There was some very nice food at this party in addition to the burgers, like caprese salad. I forgot my bass cab, so we had to have someone race it out to us. It was a fun performance, and the party goers seemed to really enjoy it. Great night.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Video - It Multiples

Well, here it is. We spent a freezing night in Palmdale, CA in one of the best locations ever making this. Video team Lior Molcho/Danit Sigler brought this to life. The makeup/visual concept was created by photographer Tami Bahat, referencing a photo shoot I did with her called "After Hours". This extended into different looks for each band member, and along with the 'rotted' locale creates a fantastic dark world, a fitting match to this song of infidelity.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

#63 The Down and Out on 6-15-11

When we got back from tour we started to book a bunch of shows to keep the momentum going. We quickly withdrew from this plan, looking at the fact we still have an album to finish, the biggest priority. However we had one show booked with the Hangout Group, who had booked our Mezz show.

The Down and Out apparently used to be called Charlie O's, and is on the bottom floor of the Alexandria Hotel. It is very spacious and has pool tables in the middle and booths all along the side. There was a nice amount of people who seemed to just be there for the bar, a 'built-in crowd' if you will.

Bell Ringer opened the show, but it took us forever to get there, so we missed them. We walked in while Backdrifter played. They were an alternative rock trio. Cruz and Wright followed, who were dressed half glitz/half street. playing dirty rock and roll. I met the singer, who was Cruz. He informed me that Wright was no longer with the band, so they would probably be changing their name soon.

Our set was enjoyable, with extra song requests and even some dancing audience members. It felt like a good performance, and for having been a little uncertain about playing again right away, it was worth it and then some. Everyone was on their game.

Now we break for a bit, to finish the record and write some new stuff. And get ready for a video release...

Monday, May 30, 2011

#62 Tokyo Garden on 5-29-11

Andrew Bunnell of The Sunburns, the one picture we got of the show.

This was the last show of the tour, and it was a perfect end. Tokyo Garden is a Japanese Restaurant/music venue in downtown Fresno. 

We had postered a week prior on our way up, and had set the show up with some good local bands, so this show was nicely well attended, and the bands seemed to work well together musically. Brother Luke and the Comrades opened, and were a pleasant surprise. The singer reminded me a bit of David Bazan

Our set was better that the SF show, and I put a sock on the mic to keep from being electrocuted. The audience seemed very open and friendly, and I felt that we were well received. 

Next up were the Sunburns, fronted by Andrew Bunnell who I had coincidentally met on the set of a game show about 4 years ago! This was a bit of an 'idea realized' since when we met and became chummy I had always intended to play a show with him. They had it together, and played loud songs with just enough catchiness. 

Closing the show was I Do Not Exist, who are a newer band. The singer/guitarist has a 'what the Hell?' bluesy groan, poised oddly in a low-fi indie band complete with MicroKorg and percussionists. This was their 3rd show, but they delivered.

So good. Great end to this run. Quite pleased.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

#61 Brainwash on 5-28-11

photo by Christina Ramsden

Back to the Bay! We had swung through Oakland and SF on our way up and done some promoting the week prior to this show, and even handed out fliers hours before, till the heavy rain stopped us.

Wayne and Francis were back by this point, so I was looking forward to a full band experience. Opening the show were two bands. Prize was the musical project of a scantily clad wig-wearing woman with an operatic voice who had drums, guitar and even strings in her band. She was very theatrical, and I was pleased at the eclecticism. The Second band was The Echo District, but the singer/guitarist's band mates had completely flaked on him, so he was pacing up and down the alley screaming on the phone. He let us set up some of our gear first, and then he went up and did his whole set solo. It was so admirable.

Brainwash, a 'music venue'/laundromat had only two mic plugins, one of which was broken, which meant that I got to set up the PA and do our own sound AGAIN. I'm getting really good as a sound guy. The show was very well attended, and we played a fine set. It was nice to have the boys back, and we got to spend the evening with some very nice friends and family at Grubstake, before separating and heading to our different sleeping locations.

Friday, May 27, 2011

#60 Little Red Lion on 5-26-11

Before leaving Redding, Michael and I went walking around and we happened upon a train bridge. We went up the hill and Michael went walking on it and made jokes about Stand By Me. I was a bit nervous, but he said, "They wouldn't make the bridge just wide enough for the train!" I took his word for it. We went  far out to the middle of the tracks to take pictures of the amazing river below. We were out there for 10 minutes or so when Michael said, "Oh fuck, train!" Sure enough here came the train. I began running immediately at top speed, but quickly realized that Michael was shorter and wouldn't be able to run as far. I looked back and the train was almost to him, and he had crouched down and clutched the side rails of the bridge. I saw him not get crushed, so I too braced myself against the side. The train blew its horn a couple times, and came by with a huge gust of wind. I held on tight, and managed to keep my composure enough to snap some self portraits. Afterwards I felt SO alive and happy. 

We then took one of the more beautiful drives I've ever done in my life, through amazing mountains, next to rivers, etc. The air was incredible, and the weather was overcast and perfect.

We hit Eureka, and went to a pub where there were lots and lots of college kids, and hoped that it would also be the case at the venue. Ummm, no. Little Red Lion was a decent bar with a couple pool tables, and a stage, but the sign outside was dark and it seemed to be a bit isolated, though it was surrounded by other businesses. We had no other bands playing, but we did have a sweet guy named Jason who had a keyboard and did a unique DJ/keyboard/storytelling/beat poetry kind of act. It was strangely fitting as an opening act. No sound guy, so I did the sound AGAIN. Michael and I by this time had the duo set locked in, and the performance was almost too easy. There were not a lot of people at the show, but the bartender was kind to us and kicked us some travel money, drinks, etc.

We drove for a bit and opted for another van sleep night.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

#59 Maxwell's on 5-25-11

We lingered in Sacramento for most of the day, as we stayed with incredible friends. The drive to Redding was full of a lot of open plains, but beautiful. A freak rainstorm and fiery sky hit us a the end.

The show was set up by a Redding band called Avenue Of Escape, who were going to play after us. The bands were supposed to play after an open mic night event, but I got a call saying that was cancelled and that AVEofESC would probably play first since the owner wanted the music to start. We were in full agreement with that so it came as a surprise to arrive at the club and find the sound equipment not set up and the band playing pool. They said we could go ahead and play first, so we started setting up. The 2-piece Active Set takes much longer to set up than the full band for some reason. I overheard some of AVEofESC's posse complaining about us taking too long and it saddened me. The bartender was nice enough and helped out when asked, but I pretty much had to set up and soundcheck myself.

We started playing and the singer from the other band watched half a song with his girlfriend, but then everyone walked out, except for one lone person at the back of the room. We didn't see the other band for the remainder of the evening, or hear from them. By the end of our set there were a few others, all who said, "Oh man, I could hook you up with a better show!" We discussed the politics of touring and such.

We found people to stay with, who turned out to be irresponsible, so much that at 3am, having invited us to stay at a house asked, "So, where are you guys gonna stay?" Michael and I left and argued for a bit before settling on sleeping in the van.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#58 Naked Lounge on 5-24-11

photo by Jill Carmel

We left the Bay Area later than we should have, but fortunately it was a quick drive to Sacramento. We lost Wayne and Francis the day prior, so this was the first show that Michael and I would have to do on our own.

We pulled in town at dusk and were surprised to discover how beautiful parts of the city were. The venue, Naked Lounge, was a coffee shop with a side room for music. We were playing with Campfire Crooners and MRQ, a blues/Americana band and another bluesy/jazzy band which I thought would not blend well with us, but I was assured by the booker that it would be a good night.

Having been off coffee for some time, I drank really strong stuff in SF. Combined with the anticipation of a 2-person Active Set trial I was jumping off the walls. We relaxed in the van for a bit. When it was time to set up, it all took so much longer than expected, so much that the sound chick kept asking if we were ready.

We butchered the first song and had to stop several times (why am I telling you this?) but then got our groove going. It was a lot more of an intimate performance between Michael and I, and I felt exhilarated and very free and unrestrained. Something about the unpredictability of the night was very freeing. 

We had a decent sized audience made up of some friends, family, fans and strangers. It was a well-rounded evening.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

#57 Cellar Door on 5-21-11

This was one of the finest shows we ever played in terms of how we were treated. This venue had GREAT sound, an extremely friendly staff and we got the star treatment though it was our first time in Visalia. Castro's drum never sounded so incredible. I was also pleased to see that they had hung up our posters.

My cousin, a local, came to see us but she had to sneak in as she had lost her license. We felt like mischievous teenagers. 

We opened for Run Run Run, a band from Los Angeles who had some good European touring under their belt. I was impressed by the wealth of material they had, and they even threw in a cover of Fade Into You. The bassist was wearing a Bradley Riot shirt, even more proof that Bradley is EVERYWHERE.

I blistered the roof of my mouth on pizza, and we were payed in a wealth of $5 bills. We talked to a LOT of people, including a ratty 'meth couple'. The guy asked what we were doing after the show. I said, "We're probably going to hang out, eat some pizza..." He did a double take and said, "Pizza?? Like mushrooms??" and then rambled about food mushrooms vs. psychedelic mushrooms and what he thought I meant. I tapered off the conversation, and continued getting people to sign the mailing list.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

#56 Mr. T's Bowl on 5-20-11

photo by Tami Bahat

What a show! This was extremely successful, shockingly in our home town. The event was put on by Mishito Presents who did an incredible job putting it together. Tonight we played with bands that really worked well with us musically, which hasn't been the case for a LONG time.

I was asked to play from an old associate who knew me from early Briggs days. His band is the Oddfaces, and the singer is the head of Mishito Presents. She had a great voice, and danced for almost all of the other bands.

The dreamy soundscapes of Family Tree Analog opened the show, and also playing were the Violet Shades and The Knots. The Knots were kind enough to switch slots with us so we could be not dead when we played.

We had a great time, and even brought out Michael's spinning club light, a rare treat.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

#55 Ruby Room on 5-18-11

This show had been planned but then accidentally booked on the 17th, so we had to switch dates and I think the show suffered for it. Ruby Room is a great club in San Diego, tucked in behind a bar and grill. The neighborhood is very commercial and reminded some of us of Pasadena.

As opposed to Doll Hut, this had a very nice sound system, and a lot of space. There were quite a few people there as well. I'm pretty sure this is a college town, so this is "where the kids hang."

We missed Elephant Project, but Arms Entwined were a rock trio who at times had touches of 90s alternative/postpunk. Up next were Maul Shoppe. College students(?) (looked 16!) who were a blend of different musical styles, poppy and had a bit of a No Doubt informality to them. The singer constantly referenced drinking and being drunk, but looked like a sad lush rather than a cool party girl.

After they played the place cleared out, just in time for our set. We had a lot of fun as Bell Ringer watched us. So we stayed and watched them, and even started and Active Set mosh pit.

And we still got paid.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

#54 Doll Hut 0n 5-17-11

This was the first show of our tour. Doll Hut used to be Linda's Doll Hut and is a bit legendary, particularly for punk rock bands. I'm trying to think if this is the first time we've actually played Orange County.

This is a small place with access to the stage from front and side, so you could have a very nice packed 'surround sound' audience. We did not unfortunately, as there were no local bands put on the bill. (LA, LA and SF) The men's bathroom had a toilet seat hanging from the wall instead of on the toilet, which was amusing.

Tonight we played with Bell Ringer, who are 3 members of the defunct Cola Cola. They are nice people, and we actually get to play 3 tour shows with them. We also played with Speedgoat, who are a bluesy/metallish power trio from SF. They had a giant stuffed bear 'mascot' (not a goat) who sat in front of the stage during their set. 

The performance was a decent start to this tour.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


(Is it a 't-shirt' because it's shaped like a 'T'? As opposed to what? A k-shirt? A p-shirt?)

We have the first Active Set t-shirt now available in a range of sizes. One of the earliest associations I had for the name 'Active Set' was people playing tennis, so Michael Castro ran with this and found us a great vintage shirt design, which we modified, color-schemed and voila! 

Buy one today.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Active Set, ON TOUR.

Yes, we have booked a very nice tour up and down California. It originally had Portland as its northernmost destination, but Portland proved very difficult to book a show in. Over saturation of indie rock is our guess, so we'll have to visit another time.

The tour (appropriately christened the "It Multiplies Tour") will include the following dates:

May 17 - Anaheim - Doll Hut
May 18 - San Diego - Ruby Room
May 20 - Los Angeles - Mr. T's Bowl
May 21 - Visalia - Cellar Door
May 22 - Santa Cruz - Metavinyl
May 23 - San Francisco - Brick & Mortar Music
May 24 - Sacramento - Naked Lounge
May 25 - Redding - Maxwell's
May 26 - Eureka - Little Red Lion
May 28 - San Francisco - Brainwash Cafe
May 29 - Fresno - Tokyo Garden

We have some special surprises planned, so those interested in seeing a 'different side' of the Active Set should definitely come out to some of the shows.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

#53 The Airliner on 3-5-2011

(photo by Amber McCandless)

We had this show planned for quite a while, and were happy to be playing the nicer stage upstairs. When we arrived, we discovered that there was live music happening on both stages, and therefore 413 different bands were playing that night. (That is an exaggeration.)

We lugged our gear up the staircase and set it to the side. The band was about to play. I wandered outside to greet some of the people who came to see us. The band played for what seemed like over an hour, and I was antsy to play. We started to move our gear to the stage and a gentleman siad, "Oh, we're on next. That first band was supposed to be on at 8." It was now around 10.

This was unfortunate, as some people who came to see us couldn't stay. However, we had a good time with those who did, and the next band were very polite and even offered to cut their set short. I declined. We finally hit the stage and as we played, the front row came alive. A core group of audience members seemed to hang on every note, and cheered us on continually. They kept asking question and shouting nice supportive things. It felt incredible. 

One of them swore they weren't intoxicated, and I saw x's on the hands of another so it may have been the truth. Our eager 'merch girl' made the rounds and collected more e-mail addresses we've ever got at a show. The audience was so receptive, it made me feel like I was in a different city. Fantastic.

Someone who watched the set said, "You guys are too good to be playing the Airliner." 

Fair enough.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Photo Shoot, doubled.

We did another photo shoot with Tami Bahat. This was my concept, and she executed it well. It fits rather nicely with the dark theme of It Multiplies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New single: It Multiplies

The second single leading up to our new album is out today. It is a song about infidelity. In fact, a specific incidence of infidelity, and the consequences. Listen to it here.

The artwork was done by local Jolly de Guzman, who has created some incredible art.

Our goal was to release something entirely different in theme and mood from our last single. It's going to be a great year...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It Multiplies video shoot location: FOUND!

(photo by Danit Sigler)

Having sought a perfect desolate location for the It Multiplies video, we happened upon a house in Palmdale, CA that had the remains of a chicken farm behind it. These rotting wooden shacks are incredible, and look very creepy at night.

Seeing as the song is a bit darker and moodier than our last, we wanted something to fit that. Our director Lior Molcho is very pleased with the find and is looking forward to making a bit more of an 'art video' than the last one. Photographer Tami Bahat is going to some makeup/art direction of the shoot as well, so we'll see what that brings.

Shooting takes place on the evening of January 23rd, and the weather is supposed to be somewhere around 30 degrees. Hooray winter desert night shoot!

The song is set to be released on January 31st, a month or so before the video.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

#52 Redwood Bar on 1-4-2011

(photo by Danit Sigler)

We were invited to play this show by Cinderella Motel. The lead singer is a bit New Romantic looking, and can play the accordion. Redwood Bar has a nautical theme, and though the stage is small, there is a nice painting with a busty mermaid behind it.

We were pleased to have our video director and cinematographer in town to finally see a live show. I was using new bass equipment, and trying to get used to it. The sound on stage was very odd, and nothing was sounding right. I became discouraged, and after finishing a song I announced that we would not be playing another until we got the sound sorted out. The sound man made some adjustments, which helped a little, but overall the performance felt like a challenge. It was well received though, and we were pleased to have some familiar friends with us.

I left my hooded sweatshirt at the club, but luckily Michael retrieved it.