Interview by Ed Stuart
Who’s answering the questions?
Where is the band from?
Who is in the band and what instrument do they play?
Carina Downing who sings. Roberto Escobar who sings and plays bass, Alvaro Rodriguez: drums, R Scott: keys, Brad Gordon: guitar and piano; and I sing and play guitar.
How did the band start?
California Lions started when Roberto and I were still in a 60’s mod band called The New Fidelity. We were busy playing a lot of shows with that band, but I had a lot of songs that we didn’t have time to do so I got together with Brad Gordon, who had produced The New Fidelity, and we recorded some of them. Brad produces a lot of singer songwriters on The Hotel Café scene and always has someone coming by to track bass or viola or whatever, so slowly he developed the song ideas into a set of fully produced songs with the musicians who stopped by the studio laying down tracks. At that point some of the songs were getting some licensing interest and we thought it might be fun to start a band around the recordings.
50 years ago people use buy music and get their water for free, now people pay for water and get their music for free. How do you think affects music in anyway?
Ha that’s so true. The other night I was at the liquor store in Santa Cruz and got a water and a beer, and realized the water cost more! But I digress…
Musicians have always been severely underpaid it seems. From a creative standpoint, with current recording technology, everyone can make a record, which is really a great thing, it just seems to put more and more records out there on top of the fact that you can download what you want for free anyway. You just have to be creative and have a plan to keep your expenses low. Not too long ago bands used to spring 1200 bucks to print their new CD’s, not such a good idea today. I’m more apt to burn a few hundred on my computer and hand make a sleeve. And actually maybe make more records!
Been reading that the band has some songs played on TV shows. Which ones? How did that come about?
We just had an instrumental version of our song Yesterday Too Soon on MTV’s Real World a couple weeks ago, and a few months back we were also on a couple episodes of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. We had something on America’s Got Talent a while back and maybe Toddlers and Tiaras or something too. Most of them are instrumental versions of our songs used for background syncs. The MTV ones came from someone from the licensing agency seeing an early version of California Lions playing a show in Pasadena and requesting our CD. Brad’s production is always super broadcast quality and luckily we had instrumental mixes ready to go so they put the songs to good use. We are on a lot of cable shows too from being requested to be in various libraries, luckily they seem to be the ones that shows are using.
Was anyone in the band a fan of Clouds? I see there are two members of the band in California Lions.
I was a fan of the Clouds they were great! I’m also a fan of Carina and Alvaro’s project This Lake. I remember the first time I saw Carina singing and playing keyboards on the street in Long Beach and I was blown away. I introduced myself later and asked her to play with us. Alvaro came to one of our first shows and next thing you know he’s with us too and we’ve been having a lot of fun.
Where can people hear the band?
We do have two songs up on our bandcamp page:
and we do play around Long Beach a bit.
We’ve finishing recording a new batch of songs, hopefully they’ll turn into a CD soon.We have a mini residency 3 Thursdays in August (the 9th, 16th, ad 23rd) in downtown LA, and we’ll probably have a CD release in Long Beach sometime soon after that.