Um, yeah. Tread lightly, my friend. This statement flows too often from industry types who dream of being associated with grandeur, and it's been an old, empty hype dream since Drive Like Jehu traded in their ride.
Who is our Kurt? Who will ever be our tit-baring Courtney? Who would wish such sacrificial spectacle upon themselves?
We should be grateful that San Diego's nothing like the Seattle of pop-music mythology. Lifting our city's status through alterna-hype will only bring the Britney-pop revolution that inevitably followed. So let's just chalk up the magnitude of our bubbly little music scene to pure providence and go about our business of appreciating it.
Brad Lee, owner and operator of Loud and Clear Records, is in the business of appreciating it. Funny, seeing as he's based out of Santa Barbara (although he's checking U-Haul rates for a one-way to S.D. as we speak). His current opus is a compilation of San Diego alternative bands called San Diego is Burning, a name that evokes both excitement and fear, seeing as how the county was scorched black by wildfires less than a year ago.
Though it may seem odd, it's not too hard to explain how a man who doesn't even live in San Diego has put together one of the most comprehensive collections of local rock music in our city's history. It simply took an appreciation, a few phone calls, the right connections and a good cause.
"I was at The Casbah one night and I think either Goodbye Blue Monday or Comfortable for You [known as Prizefight at the time] or Waterline Drift was playing," Lee recalls. "And I was sitting there thinking that every show I've been to at The Casbah, all the bands are pretty legitimate bands, which is pretty unusual.
"We just put it on disc," he flatly explains.
San Diego is Burning includes 19 artists, including new material from Loud and Clear label mates Comfortable for You, Goodbye Blue Monday and Via Satellite. Also contributing tracks are national art-rock sweethearts Kill Me Tomorrow, old faves Black Heart Procession, shoegazing etherealists Waterline Drift, guitar-crashers Hot Like (A) Robot and two strains of indie-rock godfathers No Knife-a remix version of "Riot for Romance" and a solo song from guitarist-vocalist Ryan Ferguson.
Fifteen of the 19 tracks have never been released in the U.S. You could only get No Knife's "Riot" remix, for instance, if you happened to wander into an HMV record store. Of course, you'd have to be in Tokyo, Japan to do so.
Funny thing happened on the way to the record store, though: Lee and these San Diego rockers got a charitable heart and decided to donate 50 percent of the compilation's proceeds to the San Diego Humane Society (SDHS). Not only will the move help spare the lives of a few abandoned terriers and alley cats, but aligning with SDHS will also help move a lot more copies of the album. Hot Topic even ordered the disc for distribution to its clientele of little goth-covered tweenies.
"[Lee] wanted to donate the comp proceeds to a charity, and my friend Matt Gagin from Waterline Drift suggested the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA," says Kelsey Moon of the San Diego Humane Society. "I'm certainly a fan of local music. There was a time not so long ago when I'd go to four to six shows a week.... I've slowed down since then, but I still go out as much as I can."
After consulting with Gagin and Moon, Lee remembers speaking to Goodbye Blue Monday vocalist Matt Mournian about what bands should be included in the project. After all, Lee's a newcomer to this whole Diego-rock world.
"This disc certainly represents a decent slice of local music," Moon says. "I'm sure we've left out quite a few genres, but I hear that there is already some talk of a possible follow-up."
San Diego is like that. Give the music lovers one thing, and they're already digesting the next. And yes, in that way it resembles the high-speed, good-band factory of Seattle circa 1990.
"San Diego is an amazing place," Moon says. "The people here have huge hearts for animals and huge passions for the arts. This comp is an excellent example of local music, just as the Humane Society is an excellent example of how we as a society are working to enhance the human-animal bond."Goodbye Blue Monday, Via Satellite, Sin Sin 77, Comfortable for You, Waterline Drift and Channing Cope play at the CD-release party for San Diego is Burning at 8:30 p.m. on April 23 at The Casbah. $10. 619-232-HELL.