Saturday, April 04, 2009

San Diego was once a cool place

In the late 90's, while I was running a dinky college radio station, we kept hearing how the San Diego music scene was about to explode right beneath us. San Diego is about four hours from where I lived at the time so it made sense for us to at least pay a little attention. It helped that at the time we could get the local alternative station, 91X, better than we could the radio behemoth out of LA that was KROQ. It is important to understand the impact of radio at the time. In an era prior to MP3 and blogs, radio was really the only avenue new bands could get music out to the masses. Also, alternative radio hadn't been co-opted by the large commercial conglomerates like it is today so Music and Programming directors had a lot more freedom to take chances on relatively unheard of bands. So when 91x started playing ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT, it was a shot of adrenaline that I was looking for.

Rocket had a sound that was tailor made for the radio. Enough of a pop edge to catch you with a hooky chorus but enough bite to make them hip for the indie kids. Kind of a cross between the REVEREND HORTON HEAT and SUPERCHUNK, with some surf guitar and horns thrown in for good measure, Rocket led the San Diego scene charge out into the mainstream. The band hit it big with the "Circa:Now!" record and got signed to a major label soon after. The next album, "Scream Dracula, Scream", had a major label shine to it that was good but lost some of the urgency of the previous albums.

Needless to say, the San Diego Scene never really broke out. Most of the acts that were finding some love locally never translated nationally and even Rocket From The Crypt fell about by the early 2000's. San Diego is still a beautiful city with a nice laid back attitude so I imagine no one really cared that their scene never got the same publicity as Seattle, Manchester or Detroit and 91x lost some of it's cache (it has since adopted a playlist that mirrors KROQ, which is sad). But after all these years, the sound is still the sound of summer for me.

(mp3) Rocket From The Crypt -- On A Rope (from Scream Dracula, Scream)

1 comment:

Helpless Dancer said...

91X now that brings back memories.

As a Scot with family in San Diego every time I was over visiting I used bring back cassette tapes of the shows from 91X which in the mid eighties was where you could hear REM, The Beat Farmers, The Smithereens etc

Shame to hear it has gone all LA on us.

Helpless Dancer