Leaving the background

Local bassist David Baez-Lopez backs plenty of bands, and he’s finally stepping into his own

They call this toothpicking.

They call this toothpicking.

Photo courtesy of They live in the clouds

Check out They Live in the Clouds at 8 p.m. Friday, December 29, at Holy Diver, 1517 21st Street. Tickets are $7.43. For more information go to www.theyliveintheclouds.com.

When Hobo Johnson hit the stage at Sol Collective, David Baez-Lopez’s wife couldn’t stop laughing—the awkward alt-rapper, unknown at the time, looked and acted like a friend of theirs from high school.

They were also impressed with his musicality: Johnson was backed only by Derek Lynch on guitar and Nick Setnik on drums. Later, Baez-Lopez found Lynch’s Instagram and told him they needed to add a bass player: him.

After one practice, Baez-Lopez found himself in the band playing to a packed house at Ruhstaller in January.

“I was shitting my pants. It was one practice,” Baez-Lopez says. “Hobo broke me in the big crowd thing. It was weird at first. You always dream about it when you’re little. Now that it’s actually happening, it’s kind of unreal.”

At the time, Baez-Lopez was already playing bass in Sunmonks and keyboards in Petaluma. Today, he also plays bass with the Philharmonik and Riotmaker. If that wasn’t enough, he’s excited to kick off his new solo project: They Live in the Clouds. The band plays its second-ever show on December 29 at Holy Diver.

They Live in the Clouds mixes jazz and funk with math rock elements for a surreal output. The driving drum beats push the tripped-out synths into interesting territories as Baez-Lopez dances through genres. Most of it has been instrumental, but Baez-Lopez plans on singing over it.

Working on solo music is tough for Baez-Lopez as a go-to bassist in Sacramento, which keeps him extremely busy. He says he expects to be practicing Monday through Thursday on any given week. Not to mention shows.

“It’s chaos,” Baez-Lopez says. “Me and my wife have been together for seven years. I don’t think there’d be anyone in the world more understanding than she would be.”

He’s had this nonstop schedule for about a year. Before that, Baez-Lopez had a band in high school with Omar Gonzalez-Barajas—before he went off and joined Cove, Sister Crayon and then every band in Sacramento. But Baez-Lopez spent most of his time writing and recording music on his own.

Finally, Gonzales-Barajas encouraged Baez-Lopez to get out and join Sunmonks, who needed a bass player.

“I was in my room, feeling sorry for myself and not doing crap with my music, and then Omar would come over and talk crap,” Baez-Lopez says. “He knew that I was making music. He saw all that potential go to waste. A year later, I’m glad he did. ’Cause I’d still be in my room, buying more gear and being crazy.”

Now that his schedule is 10 times busier, Baez-Lopez is finally doing more with his solo project.

This coming show will be a more formal introduction to They Live in the Clouds as a trio. (Mike Huff is on drums, while he and Andy Hansen switch off on bass and guitar. They’ll still play along to a sequencer.) Baez-Lopez is excited that he gets to play guitar in They Live in the Clouds because that’s not the case with his other bands.

“I wanted to have my Jimmy Page moment,” he says.

The band’s first single “Reminder” releases on December 29, and Baez-Lopez hopes to have another out early next year, followed by an EP release in early Spring. If everything goes right, there will be a full-length by the end of the year.

“I want to get my music out because I want to have my own identity,” Baez-Lopez says. “I’m wondering if people think I’m going to be rapping. They’re going to be weirded out. All the musicians that I network with, I want them to be impressed just like I have been impressed with them.”