Nursing the subconscious

James Steck

Photo By Larry Dalton

People often complain that there are no all-age late-night venues for bohemians and concertgoers to channel their respective grooves. Three years ago, James Steck did something about this by opening World 2 , the Sacramento area’s newest artist sanctuary and music house. Located near Sunrise Boulevard and Highway 50, World 2 is the brainchild of Steck. After touring and living in Europe, Steck wanted to incorporate the street performance and spectacle of London and Amsterdam with a traditional rock ’n’ roll club vibe. With frequent shows and a healthy band of regulars, Steck is on the way to achieving his goal. You can learn more about World 2 on his band’s Web site, at

Where did you get the name World 2?

Where did I get it? It just came out of nowhere. It just made sense, a place for nursing the subconscious, a sort of dream-manifestation workshop, which seemed like, to me, alternate dimension B, where anything was possible if you put time and fabric into it.

How long have you been doing World 2?

I got World 2 three years ago. I originally got it to do a play in, but it didn’t really turn into a play as much as it did a place for zip lines, jungle gyms and indoor trampolines—sort of random tomfoolery.

Initially, what were your goals?

I wanted to do a theatrical production where the audience could be in the center of the action with stuff happening all around them. That idea really intrigued me. At first, I was a little lost for what to do with my time there. But ultimately, I started another band, and it turned into a musical venue. And that’s what it has been most efficient as in the last year. We’ve probably put on about 20 shows or thereabouts.

Have you met a lot of these people at World 2?

It has definitely been a good place to get together with people, to experiment and play. And through shows, obviously, you are going to meet people, other artists’ friends, and it definitely grows. To create a community center, you basically need to network with as many people as possible from all walks of life. It’d be nice to have all these artistic centers around the world.

I do a little bit of contact juggling. Getting together some sort of performance-art troupe that could tour the world, playing theaters or parks along the way, would be cool. Ideally, World 2 would be a center for experimental art, a place for workshops (I’ve already had a couple of hand-drum workshops), locals and traveling artists that come through town. We’re going to be having movie nights, masquerades, costume parties and especially something for the Halloween weekend.

What inspires you?

I’ve always been drawn to Jim Henson, and when I was a little kid, I went to a couple of David Copperfield shows. The artistic scene would improve so much if we could take a fraction of the billions made in Hollywood and invest it in live performance. There’s something powerful that I think people recognize but don’t have the opportunity to see with live performance. What I’ve been doing with the space I have now is just building the environment, which is similar to how Henson said he did The Dark Crystal. You know, they didn’t have any plot ideas; they just went through Brian [Froud’s] sketches and created this crazy world under the philosophy that the story would present itself. It’s a beautiful way to create; I love to collaborate like that.

The photos on the Web site are from World 2?

It’s sort of an experimental theater workshop. That sort of presentation of bringing together dance, music, film, live painting and all media into one environment is my goal, and ultimately I would like to be able to take this on the road. World 2 is a womb of sorts to get an artistic group together that can tour the world.

Where is World 2?

Well, they did just get the light rail. Otherwise, it’s a quick 15 minutes [from Sacramento] to 11358 Sunrise Gold Circle in Rancho Cordova.

Your band Killing Buddha is how you reach out to Sacramento?

Killing Buddha is the primary artistic endeavor right now, and it is sort of the way that World 2 is taken to the streets. Under the umbrella of a rock band, it becomes an art project.

What was it like playing in front of all those people at Cesar Chavez Plaza?

It reminded me of Greek theater. It made me want to represent a performance that was more of a spectacle. I definitely wanted to deliver something that justifies that kind of space. A bunch of dudes standing in front of their amps with a couple of mics doesn’t quite express the human ability to create, at least visually. But just playing in dive bars [has resulted in] some of the best shows, as well. Every space has its charm, its magic.