January 5th, 2012, 5:21 pm · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
It’s officially award season for local musicians as the 11th annual OC Music Awards announced the nominees for 2012 this week and kicked off its string of music showcases as contenders vie for the title of best live band and best live acoustic act. The awards will be handed out March 3 at City National Grove of Anaheim.
Irvine-based Young the Giant, the area’s latest breakthrough band, garnered six nominations – best album (though its self-titled debut was actually released in October 2010, it’s still new to most), best alternative, best indie, best rock, best song and music video for its debut single, “Cough Syrup.”
Last year, YTG was nominated for best indie, but lost to Kiev. The band did, however, pick up the trophy for best song, as “My Body” had just started to gain traction, being spun regularly during KROQ’s “Locals Only” program. YTG went on to its biggest year yet, playing shows overseas and various large festivals throughout the U.S., including landing opening slots at both of KROQ’s biggest yearly shindigs, the annual Weenie Roast at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine and Almost Acoustic Christmas last month at Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
The beauty of a local awards show is that a giant band can still go up against a newbie in this game and walk away empty-handed. Tying YTG with six nominations is the bluesy-rock quintet Jeramiah Red (pictured above). The North County-based band, which got its moniker from its members’ favorite beer at BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse in Brea, received nods for best new artist, best new album (“Ghost Tracks From the Getty”), best song (“Can’t Help Myself”), best blues, best country/Americana and best rock.
While the OC Music Awards predominantly focus on budding talent and has served, especially in recent years, as an avenue for artists who are just starting out to gain some exposure, the academy at large doesn’t fail to recognize and celebrate the work of some of the area’s biggest acts. Social Distortion, which last year received the Orange County Impact Award, is nominated this year in the best album category for “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.”
“It feels great,” Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness says of the nomination. “I’m happy with the record and was happy with the process of writing it and recording it, but to have it be acknowledged this way is an extra bonus.”
Though the band spent much of 2011 extensively touring and even doing rare performances on late-night television, Ness says acknowledgements like this, from the band’s hometown crowd, let him know he’s doing something right.
“That’s really what inspires us,” he says.
Ness says receiving the OC Impact award at last year’s ceremony was also a great boost for the band.
“In my early years I felt like I had a negative impact on society and the community,” he says. “It’s almost all come full circle and it feels good.”
As for the up-and-coming acts that are nominated this year, some of which cite Social Distortion as a musical influence, Ness says the first thing he’d tell these artists is simply “congratulations.”
“If it’s their first year as a band and they’re nominated, that’s pretty awesome,” he says. “They must be doing something right, so I don’t know if I should be saying anything at all. It took me 30 years to get nominated.”
Ness says that in 2012 the band will be doing even more touring and he’s building a new rehearsal studio in Orange County, which he calls “the ultimate man cave.”
“We’re trying to be a bit more disciplined so if I have a place to go and think, I’ll be more productive,” he says. “I’d like to shock everyone and put out a record sooner, and I think there’s a very good chance of that happening because there are songs that didn’t make the last record. Not because they weren’t good, we just didn’t have time to finish them or there were other songs that I felt fit better. So we have a great half a record already written, and that’s a great position to be in. Like I said, I’d like to shock everyone and do a record that they didn’t have to wait six or seven years for.”
Ness and company will have to beat out another long-running Orange County act, the costume-wearing pop-rock outfit the Aquabats, in the best album category. The Aquabats are nominated for its latest effort, “Hi-Five Soup!” The album was released by Huntington Beach-based Fearless Records on Jan. 18 last year, the exact date that Los Angeles-based Epitaph Records put out Social D’s new record. The Aquabats are also nominated for best pop.
Avenged Sevenfold is once again up for best metal, and though the Huntington Beach-based quintet took that title last year, as well as scoring the best album award for its Billboard chart-topping release “Nightmare,” A7X has some competition from last year’s best new artist winner, Railroad to Alaska, nominated in the metal category as well.
Only 21 of the 26 awards categories have been announced. The OC Impact and Lifetime Achievement awards are both still to be chosen, there’s a people’s choice category this year and the live showcases will determine the winners of best live band and best live acoustic.
OC Music Awards producer Ashley Eckenweiler says the big change this year is the branding of the fan vote, as the awards has partnered with Farmer John and is giving away custom Sterling guitars by Music Man for fans who vote for their favorite artists on-site at each of the live showcases.
“That was big for us, to get a presenting partner,” Eckenweilier says. “Otherwise, you can expect the same awards categories as we’ve maintained that list, but we may add a new one in 2013, as scary as that sounds to say.”
Eckenweiler also says the OC Music Awards received a larger number of submissions this year and that participation overall has been bigger than ever before.
“It was a really healthy response,” she says. “In a couple of awards categories, as well as in the showcase series, we saw new faces and names, which is exciting. It’s really diverse this year, too, and we saw a lot of deserving nominations come out of the academy like Young the Giant, Social Distortion was nominated for best album, and a brand new band like Jeramiah Red is just all over the place. It’s a great year where smaller acts are mixed with the established ones. It makes for great competition.”
The OC Music Awards showcases kicked off Tuesday to a nearly sold-out crowd at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa with performances by nominee frontrunners Jeramiah Red, Paulie Pesh, the Gromble, Strange Birds and James Fletcher. Best live acoustic and best live band showcases alternate every Tuesday night at different locations throughout the county. For a complete list, go to ocmusicawards.com.
More O.C. Nightlife:
- 2012 OC Music Awards nominations announced
- OC Music Awards showcases kick off in Costa Mesa
- Welcome to the Encore blog
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