Staring Back Biography
So, this is the story of Staring Back.
Rewind about five years. I was in a band with Nick Rucker (now in Brightlife) called the Goleta All-Stars. Nick was also in a band called Trigger with Ryan. Nick and Ryan approached me about singing in a new project with guitarist Jeff Capra (formerly of Nation Of Lepers, Manumission, Embassy, Uphill Battle, and currently in Holier Than Thou). Jeff had already started putting some songs together with ex-Lagwagon drummer Derrick Plourde, and when Derrick had to move, Jeff asked Ryan and Nick if they would be interested. They were, and the three of them started writing songs. They had asked Joe Gonzalez, a friend who also played in Nation of Lepers, to sing at first.
Joe was a great guy, but that didn't work out, so they asked me. I had been playing in bands with Nick and Ryan for years and was stoked at the prospect of working with Jeff because I'd loved all of his other bands. So we went to the band room at our old high school, Dos Pueblos, (they were recording the demo there) and I sat down to listen to the songs as Shawn Dailey (currently of Brightlife) laid down the finishing touches on some bass tracks. Needless to say, it was some good stuff, and I quickly agreed to do vocals on the demo, and try to work out some shows. So, we started practicing and playing a gang of shows. We then signed with Lobster Records and recorded our first EP, The Mean Streets of Goleta, in Nick's bedroom. So we played some more shows, in and out of town. Then Shawn decided that he needed to leave the band to cater to an ever-increasing school schedule. We were at our wits end trying to find someone who could make the grade. Just as we were going out of our mind with frustration, here comes Vic Breen! An old school pal of ours, friends with Ryan since age 6, he had spent countless hours honing his bass skills to EVERY Iron Maiden record, so there was never a question about his abilities. Not long after that we recorded our first LP, Many Will Play, at Audio International in Ojai. Things continued like that, with a tour here and there, until July of 2001 when Jeff had to leave the band for occupational purposes (damn the man!!). We combed our memories and phone lists for someone to take his place, and stumbled across the name Adam Pesce. Ryan and I had done a couple of smaller projects with him in the past, and he really liked our music, so in one fell swoop he dropped out of school and joined the team. He is one motivated dude, and we were soon working with intense vigor on tour schedules and the like.
So we took out a loan and purchased a large shuttle bus for tour (our old van was, to put it lightly, freakin' done!). We then embarked on our first tour with Adam. Five weeks to the northeast and everything in between. We were quite excited at the prospect of getting ourselves out there, but it didn't work exactly how we had planned. We played one show in nor-cal, and then our bus broke down. We were stranded for four days (thank you Brian and Stephanie!!!!). The auto shop finally opened up and we were on our way, until it broke down again. And again. And again. And again. I'm not kidding. Five times in seven days. Drained of funds and enthusiasm, we sat stranded in Wyoming for three days, and then started home. We cooled our jets for a week or so, until Nick told us that he needed to leave the band in order to kick Brightlife into high gear. There we were. No tour, no shows, no money, no drummer, and we were scheduled to start recording for our new record in a few months.
UM..... lets just say we weren't in the best of spirits. We decided to take our time with finding a new drummer, so as to work on the new songs we already had, and to start writing some newer ones. Ryan and Adam and I would argue over guitars and lyric sheets for hours about what we want from our music, what we want to give others through our music, and what we wish to accomplish with our songwriting. It was no less than frustrating at times but I knew we were on to something and that it would be worth the work. We freaked out a bit (no drummer and a lack of songs) until we pushed back our studio date, but we still did not have a drummer. We had played with a couple of guys, but nothing really locked into place and we kept searching.
Then we got an e-mail from Sir Gavin Miller (or as we affectionately call him, Gavvers, Gavril Lavigne, or Munchkin Man if you're not into the whole brevity thing). He was from Santa Maria but we decided not to hold it against him, and invited him down to have a practice with us. It's not like we weren't expecting much, but for gods sake!!! He showed up and played eleven of our songs flawlessly!! We initiated him into the clan of Staring Back with weeks of The Simpsons, Iron Maiden, and Bodyjar. So after a couple months of writing, teaching, and practicing, we were ready to go into the studio, where we got to work with Cameron Webb.
That was quite an experience! I never thought I'd meet a harsher critic of myself than myself, but Cameron would bring me back down to earth. I would say, "Wow! That sounds perfect!" He would say, "Yeah, but not the right kind of perfect. And I just erased it. So do it again!" He seriously pushed us to and past our limits, and I'm glad he did. ON is the first time I can actually listen to something I've made and not beat myself up over it sounding bad, or me singing badly, or anything really.
So, only four days after we finished recording we left on a journey to Idaho, to start the Warped Tour. We had made a deal that if we helped transport and set up and maintain and protect with our last dying breath, the Punkrocks.net stage, we could play on it all summer. Our summer of sweat and resourcefulness!! Of music and mayhem!!! Of being abandoned in St. Louis???? Yep! As if this tale has not had enough twists and turns, about a week into the tour Adam informed us that he was going back to school and had to leave in a week to prepare. So, we had an obligation to the crew and bands on the Punkrocks.net stage, but with two months of tour left, we didn't have a guitarist! This was ridiculous!! We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off for a few days, when Brett, the tour manager for Punkrocks, came to us.
Let's just say that Staring Back would probably not be a band right now were it not for him. We told him the story and his eyes quickly lit up. "I've got a guy. He's got no obligations, he's from your home town, and he fucking rips!" So in San Diego we played our last set with Adam, bid him a fond farewell, and made for home to meet and practice with this mysterious Nick Long character we had heard so much about from Brett. He turned out to be a pretty weird guy, but he fit in with us perfectly. Luckily there was a three-day break in the tour before we set out again, so Ryan and Nick sat down and in one day learned enough songs to play a set. We had one practice and then we were off again! Nick was a good sport about the work and the heat and everything, and we finished up the tour. And we've been touring pretty much straight ever since. But that's a whole other story right there.....