Weeds has been good to San Diego. In the past couple of years, more than half a dozen local acts have had songs appear on the popular Showtime series. The list of tunes is diverse, ranging from Low Volts' thumping blues-rock jam "Blame It on the Break Up" to the upbeat, stripped-down indie-rock of Subsurfer's "Girl on Girl."
Most of the songs appeared in episodes during the show's eighth and final season, which aired last year. The seventh episode, "Unfreeze," had an especially strong local turnout: Songs by The Styletones and Midnight Rivals were used in scenes, while The Nervous Wreckords' "Classy Girls" played during the end credits. And the fun doesn't stop there: "Classy Girls" has been included in a new compilation, Weeds: An Eighth of the Best: Music from Season 8, which is available for download on Amazon.com.
So, who's been making it rain for the San Diego scene? The honors go to Chris Richards of the local music-placement company Six Palms Entertainment. Working as a "song plugger," Richards has sent Weeds' producers and music supervisor countless songs for consideration. He sent them nearly 400 songs for the eighth season alone, including cuts by locals like The Heavy Guilt and Kevin Martin.
Richards says there was no way of predicting what would work for the show. Occasionally, a song would end up on the cutting-room floor even after the editors found a use for it. So, it's best to just give producers everything you've got.
"You just never know what will stick," Richards says. "It's always nice to be able to call the artist and tell them they made it into the production."
Richards started sending songs to Weeds because he's close friends with the show's executive producer, Mark Burley. They met in 1984, when Richards was a film student at SDSU and Burley worked on the San Diego set of the detective series Simon & Simon. After reconnecting during the Weeds years, they struck up an informal working relationship at the start of the show's third season.
"It was based on friendship and trust," Burley tells CityBeat. "The more he did it, the more we liked it."
Weeds may be over, but Richards recently submitted songs to the people behind an upcoming Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, for which Burley serves as a consulting producer. Richards' selections included tunes by The Styletones' Stevie Harris and songwriter Tori Roze—though, of course, he can't say what the editors and producers will eventually pick to be on the show.
"It's always a matter of whatever works," he says. "They've got plenty of time to work on this."