February 16th, 2012, 11:01 am · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Life is good for Suedehead vocalist and guitarist Davey Warsop.
The England native, who left Birmingham to settle in Orange County, and his pop-soul band have been nominated for two 2012 OC Music Awards. Over the past year the group has landed slots on tours with acts like O.C.’s own Social Distortion and Irish punk outfit Flogging Molly, which it opens for March 9 at City National Grove of Anaheim. Most recently, Warsop and his crew have scored a much sought-after spot on April’s Coachella lineup.
Though they will play a small stage under a tent at the Indio festival, likely early in the day, Warsop says it was exciting to see his band’s name on the official flier.
“The strangest thing about it was the amount of hype and attention (it’s getting) before we even play the show,” he says, kicking back in his computer chair at Hurley Studios in Costa Mesa, where Warsop works as the main studio engineer. The singer says his voicemail, Facebook page and email exploded with messages the day the lineup was revealed. Being from the U.K., he really had no idea how much Coachella means to so many people.
“You have to count your blessings,” he says humbly in his thick English accent. “You don’t know when you’re going to do something like that again, so we’re really looking forward to it and very honored and grateful to be part of it.”
Suedehead is also nominated in the best pop and best alternative categories for the 11th annual OC Music Awards, March 3 at the Grove.
“It’s a huge compliment,” Warsop says. “We’re all kind of based around Orange County, that’s our hub and where I live, but obviously not being from here, that’s kind of an interesting thing for me. I’ve lived out here for a couple of years, and to be integrated into the scene and to be embraced like that … I assume that means you have some kind of relevance and people are taking notice of our music. When I think about it, that’s a really cool achievement.”
Since forming the band with fellow Hurley employee Chris Bradley, as well as Greg Kuehn (who has played with T.S.O.L. and Berlin), Korey Kingston (the Aggrolites, Hepcat) and its newest member Mike Bisch, Warsop, who formerly fronted U.K.-based/Hurley-released pop-punk band Beat Union, says he has certainly felt welcome in O.C.: “There’s a positive vibe that I get from it.”
Compared to his hometown, he says the scene here is far more active – people understand the nature of the business and band life.
“Where I grew up, it’s not as accepted as a ‘real job’ or a legit thing,” he says. “It’s something that’s embraced here. When people are like ‘Oh, you’re in a band, you’re going on tour, recording an album,’ they react to it like it’s a good thing – and that it’s a real thing. You’re not just messing around, like ‘Oh, you’re in a band … that’s sweet.’ People (treat you) like you’re a legitimate artist – I think that’s the best thing about the Orange County music scene. It’s real, it’s alive and people are doing it.”
Last year Suedehead was tapped to open for Social Distortion on select dates of its U.S. tour, including the punk legends’ homecoming at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Warsop says he’s a big fan of the band and was thrilled to share a stage with a local icon.
“To be embraced by (frontman) Mike Ness and Social D, them taking notice of our music and enjoying it, it doesn’t really get any better,” he notes.
Warsop says his love for music developed at a very early age, as his father weaned him on Thin Lizzy, Squeeze and Led Zeppelin. He recalls those artists having a profound impact, but he also remembers not having a clue what it meant to be in a band or what it would take to make his own music and record albums.
As a teen, his older brother introduced him to American skate videos and he discovered the Southern California hardcore and punk music that comprised their soundtracks. Growing up in the ‘80s, he says, seeing seminal indie-rock trio Dinosaur Jr. on a British program called “The Word” had a distinct influence – but then so did seeing Michael J. Fox play “Johnny B. Goode” in “Back to the Future.”
“Those were the things that made me want to play guitar,” he says, “and also an Irish film from the ‘90s called ‘The Commitments.’ I had a huge obsession with that.” Much like the struggling musicians in that movie, his taste turned toward Motown and soul, which became the stylistic foundation for Suedehead.
When he’s not busy with his own band, Warsop works on other albums at Hurley Studios. He got to engineer alongside Cameron Webb on Weezer’s latest album (fittingly titled “Hurley”) as well as Alkaline Trio’s “Damnesia,” both of which had tracks recorded at the Costa Mesa studio.
“I remember buying ‘The Blue Album’ when I was 12 years old or something like that,” he says of Weezer. “At that point, you’re so in awe, I suppose, of these bands, (and) you’re picking out a CD in the record shop and you don’t know what it takes to make that record. And to think years later I would be in Orange County, in the Hurley Studio working with this band, one of my influences as a kid. That was definitely a milestone.”
Throughout 2011, Suedehead released three EPs; Warsop says they hope to rerelease them as a full-length album. The goal this year, he shares, is simply to stay as productive as possible working on new material, making new videos and juggling life as a mostly do-it-yourself quintet.
More O.C. Nightlife:
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