Drum Lessons Orange County News

A Reason to SMILE

In 1992 I met Mike Rosas in the parking lot of Tustin Market Place, a sprawling neon fringed mega mall off the 5 Free-way in Tustin Ranch. I was looking to start playing drums in an original band, and he had posted an ad in a local music newspaper mentioning bands like MELVINS,KINKS, THE SEEDS,DONOVAN. A wide array of music to be sure so I was intrigued. I called him and he said he had some songs recorded and I should meet up with him
If memory serves he was wearing a backwards baseball cap with a Volkswagon logo on it and overalls with a long white t-shirt. In other words, not your typical looking rock band front man. And I think I was wearing…well, memory doesn’t serve me well on that one…anyway, we talked about our influences and how we of course wanted to take over the world with music and make millions of greenbacks. He wanted to start a trio with a bass player friend of his, Aaron Sonnenberg and he told me he had a name, SMILE, which I had to laugh at being that it was the original name of the band QUEEN. But they weren’t using it so it was a perfect homage of sorts.

Then we got in his car and he played me a tape of a song called I DON’T WANNA LEAVE YOU. I was immediately blown out of head by crunching guitars, booming bass and sloppy but energetic drums. In other words I was hooked. Mike’s voice belied his size, raspy and full of great tone. I took the tape and learned that song and the 3 others on it backwards and forwards. I lived in them for about 4 days until Aaron and Mike and I got together in a room at a rehearsal place by Anaheim Stadium.This was my first meeting with Aaron who had hair down to his waist and when he played his bass he lurched over like a mixture of cousin “IT” and Cliff Burton, making bowel shuddering runs of super loud thunder. To say I was excited does not do the feeling justice. And because I was excited, I forgot my hi hats and had to rely on my inner Keith Moon and crash on all my available cymbals instead of playing the parts like I had learned them on Hi Hat. Improvising and relearning on the spot, I played like my life depended on it. We bashed and banged and clattered and grooved…and we clicked.

And the long and short of it is we achieved a dream that just may be near to extinct anymore. We played shows anywhere and everywhere we could, we got signed by Atlantic Records, we toured with No Doubt, Everclear, Deftones, Silverchair, ALL, Korn, Goo Goo Dolls, Rilo Kiley, Weezer, Jimmy Eat World, Guided By Voices, Blink-182 ,X, Phantom Planet just to name a few, we had our singles played on local radio giants KROQ, KLOS, 91-X and other FM stations and college stations nationwide. Our songs were on MTV in various shows, but thankfully not the uncomfortably laughable video we made for STARING AT THE SUN..go ahead look it up on youtube. I even got my first write up/review in MODERN DRUMMER magazine, something I had been studying like a text book since I could keep a beat. And it was actually favorable!! Yikes!!

We recorded 2 albums of music that I’m extremely proud of, MAQUEE and GIRL CRUSHES BOY. We finally now have the albums available on I-Tunes along with 2 other single and compilation releases that were recently released. Get em here:


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