Noisy therapy

Kismet Aura strives for success in Stockton’s fragmented alternative scene

Like blue-period Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” but for drummers.

Like blue-period Picasso’s “The Old Guitarist,” but for drummers.

Photo courtesy of bob guevara

Check out Kismet Aura at

Bob Guevara looks straight ahead without making eye contact while he talks, as if he’s trying to squint through the fog of his memories to divine the future. He speaks about everything from his own musical projects to Stockton’s “mess” of an alternative scene quickly and almost all at once, as if he’s trying to alleviate his mind of all that bogs it down. He’s enthusiastic, you can tell, but he also seems tired. It’s Sunday, after all, and Guevara is nursing a hangover after another long show night with his band Kismet Aura.

One listen to Kismet and you get the sense of the pent up frustrations that gave birth to their sound in 2010. “It’s a lot like a therapy session for me,” Guevara says.

The 26-year-old Stockton native cut his teeth on noise rock when he was in high school, citing bands like Hella as his earliest influences. “My goal is to get my technique down as good as Zach Hill but then be able to pour out the energy like [Brian] Chippendale from Lightning Bolt,” the drummer says. The intensity is there, but what makes Kismet exciting are its long, sonic guitar washes and emotional wailing pumped through a haze of distortion as the drums crash on and on. It feels like a huge cresting wave, and finally a release.

“I like it being a duo,” Guevara says of the band’s current membership, he and Michael Santana Samaniego. “I like being a minimalist but at the same time loud and busy.”

Guevara fumbles for his wallet, reaching between the stacks of papers and cards for a worn and crumpled fortune from a cookie he opened years ago. “Don’t stop now!” it says, and he smiles looking at it. “I keep it because it’s just like the sentiment of my life.”

Faithful to his fortune, Guevara has his sights set higher than just finding success with his own band. “I want Kismet to be successful enough to where I can get money to start leasing my own venue and have a place for workshops, screen printing” he says. “I want to have a studio space where I could record people for free and just,” he pauses to sigh, “teach people how to do shit.”

Even in high school Guevara’s earliest involvement with music was inextricably tied up with organizing people. When a friend approached him to start a band, Guevara initially declined. “I was like ’I’m not going to be in your band but I will go to your house and help you guys think up ideas about how to play and what to do with it,’” he recalls. When only two other people showed up, Guevara joined the band.

“That’s how I started playing music, because I’m a loudmouth with big ideas,” he says.

Even as the Kismet Aura duo undergoes a lineup change, Guevara is planning for upcoming shows. He’s switching back to guitar so Samaniego can play drums, and he needs to remember how to play all the parts.

“I have to get back to Stockton and find my new band mate and be like, ’Hey man we’re practicing. We have a show coming up so we need to get this figured out,’” he says shaking his head—just one more thing for Guevara to do to ensure that the show goes on.