The regular crowd
Some worry that Midtown’s streets look increasingly similar. Some worry that its bands do.
“It’s like a musical reunion for the Sacramento music scene,” says Brian Guido, formerly of Grub Dog and the Amazing Sweethearts, about the upcoming CD release party for his new band, the Regulars. This Saturday, Guido’s quartet will be joined in celebration of its self-titled debut by local legend Forever Goldrush, reuniting for one night to release its own long-awaited “lost” album, The Amador Frequency.
The show also features the return of guitarist Josh Lacey, a one-time member of both bands. Lacey moved away shortly after the Regulars recorded their album, and before that played lead guitar in Forever Goldrush. But wait, there’s more: Even Lacey’s Regulars replacement, Jay Shaner, is getting in on this act, performing in the same show with his other band, Ghosts of California (which of course boasts another eminent Sacramento songwriter, Scott McChane).
Seems like old times. Not that Guido’s interested in rehashing the past; he just wants to make music. “This is probably the happiest I’ve been in my musical career,” he says. “I loved playing in the Sweethearts, but I’m doing this for no other reason than to play music and have a good time playing with people I like. Anything else that comes along from it is a bonus.”
After the Sweethearts broke up, Guido took a two-year break from music. Eventually, friends encouraged him to front a band. He hadn’t played any new music for these adamant supporters, but they had faith. “They just knew me and were like, ‘I know you’re a good guitar player. You should get your stuff together. I’m sure it will sound good,’” he recalls.
Before long the Regulars took shape as Guido recruited Lacey and then Forever Goldrush bassist Mason DeMusey (who provides this week’s SN&R Playlist, page 60). For a while Sweethearts bandmate Joe Kojima manned the drums; then California Oranges’ drummer Ross Levine took over. The vibe was good from the beginning. Logically, the Regulars sound points back to the Sweethearts, channeling roots-rock twang and mixing it with a bit of power-pop vigor. But it also points forward.
“It just became more than any of us thought it would be,” Guido continues, “because we all really enjoy playing with each other. We also really got into the music, which really boosted my confidence. [Their enthusiasm] was contagious in that it gave me ideas to write more songs, and my writing got better in the process.”
The band had been going for more than a year when news came of Lacey’s impending departure. They decided to hit the studio to capture a snapshot of the combo before Lacey left. Former Forever Goldrush drummer Tony Cale offered his studio, and they knocked out the entire six-song CD in one day-long session with Cale engineering. That was in November—but the album’s release was slowed by the band’s own dithering.
“We were kind of doubting ourselves about how good of quality the CD was,” Guido admits, quickly adding that plenty of positive feedback for the rough mixes encouraged them to forge forward. “It was a labor of patience and love that’s finally coming to fruition.”
One of the disc’s highlights is the country-rawk rave “Driving Down J Street,” which snidely notes the gentrification of Midtown and laments the loss of the old spirit.
“I got kind of pissed at driving in Midtown and seeing … I call it the yuppie-fication,” he says. “Building lofts everywhere, condos and all these upscale clothing boutiques moving in. Then the over-saturation of sushi restaurants,” he chuckles. “So for some reason I was driving down J Street and I noticed there were a lot of these businesses that were getting tagged [with graffiti]. And I don’t know if I really condone that, but in a way I thought it was some sort of justice.”
Of course, arguments will continue about whether Midtown’s streets look more and more the same—as they will about whether or not its bands do.