Making sonic magic through their tight knit music scene
I had the pleasure of sitting down with the band Losing End of Ventura County. We sat baking in a car that could double for an oven and chatted after their practice in Simi Valley, California. Even though I came to the studio armed with a six pack, they were well ahead of me as they quenched themselves with cans of Modelo while they hashed out some new songs. Friends since high school—and in the case of Andy and Tyler, blood related— the members of Losing End fuse their collective musical prowess to the end result: a tenacious voice in a hellbent, suburban DIY music scene which redefines what it means to be a band from a small town.
The band began in 2014 with just Tyler and Andy and expanded to include Frankie and Dylan after Andy had recorded a few songs with them and realized his friends would flesh out their sound.
Tyler: Andy’s dad always played drums, so we always had them around the house. I got a guitar when I was 15. And then Andy got a guitar, so we would play together in our jam room. We’d learn Zeppelin songs, Black Sabbath songs, Black Flag. We’d play a song by [the band] Immigrant over and over and over again, not even the whole way through. We learned a bunch of Nirvana songs, too. We had a band in Bakersfield called The Dagobah System, which was kinda thrashy, and then we started the Action Index. At some point, we ended up moving down here and doing our own thing.
Everything about Losing End is homegrown. Their friends record their songs, they play shows with their friends’ bands, and some of the local venues they’ve played at were courtesy of their friends’ hospitality. Losing End thrives in an inter-county community rich with talent including (but not limited to) bands such as Sheer, Sustains, Grapevine, and Valley Girls. Even though they typically play local shows, Losing End ventured north last winter to the congenial college town of Santa Cruz to play a show booked by their friend Nils Bakke of Leucrota.
Dylan: We got paid more for that show than we ever have just from donations alone, and the free beer was cool.
Frankie: Molson Canadian-Pretty much the Budweiser of Canada.
When they’re not enjoying complimentary bottom shelf beer, Losing End navigates the tempestuous yet rewarding experience of being a band in a rather small and largely musically-apathetic town. The cons of this situation are obvious: a slower reception, lack of venues, sound curfews, to name a few. The pros are what make this band distinctive despite the pitfalls.
Dylan: We don’t have a venue around here. What’s cool is, since there isn’t anywhere to play, we have to make do with what we got. Carla’s bakery in Moorpark is a cool spot, thanks to our friend Luis. E.P. Foster Library in Ventura has been really good to us. A small town makes bands in the area work together. You form friendships, and you meet cool new people to play shows with. When we were younger, we booked a show at our local rec room. We spent all the money we made paying for the damages that were caused from that show, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Go broke, book shows. Do whatever you gotta do.
It doesn’t hurt to work with your friends, either. Every member of Losing End has worked in a relatively professional setting with another member of the band at least once, and their history empowers them to cut to the point and to be selflessly collaborative.
Tyler: You can be honest with what’s working and what’s not working and not worry about anyone else’s feelings, because you all just want to get it done. You have a lot more patience, too.
Dylan: We’ve been playing in bands, either separate or together, for a really long time. When we were in different bands, we were playing the same shows together anyways. So we’ve essentially be playing together since we were 12 or 13 years old. We all know how everyone plays. We can jam through entire songs, sometimes just making shit up as we go, and sometimes it works.
Andy: Any opportunity you have to expand on your music is worth taking, whether it’s with strangers or your homies. But, the rough and tumble of working with your friends can’t be duplicated. If anything, we just make ourselves comfortable in the song. When we put a song together, we try to find a way to jam entirely through it rather than piecing together parts 1,2,and 3. We want something we can slide into. There’s a lot of foreplay that goes into a lot of this.
To secure a vivid footprint in an otherwise spotty landscape, Losing End decided to release their latest album Willy on cassette tapes.
Dylan: Frankie pretty much created the entire tape. He assembled the cassette, everything.
Andy: The sound quality is far superior to CDs, but less expensive than vinyl. When it comes down to it, most people don’t have tape players. But when you give someone a tape, it’s a little different than giving them a link or a barcode. Instead of being like ‘blahblahblah Bandcamp,’ you’re giving them a physical object. If you have it, you have it. Whether you like it or not, you’ll remember that band name.
Dylan: Plus, who the fuck buys CDs anymore?
Frankie: To be honest, I still buy CDs from Salzer’s all the time.
It’s inaccurate to say their new songs are better than their predecessors, simply because they were tight to begin with. But what is apparent is that Losing End is set on progressing musically as a unit.
Andy: Right now, we’re focusing on perfecting [our sound]. Willy was recorded a little over a year ago when the band was a four piece for a month. It’s cool because we did it within a few hours, live in Simi. We just set up, got ripped, played the set. None of the songs took more than 3 takes. We were such a fresh band at the time, the songs were so new. Yeah, it might be different if we tried to re-record the EP now, but the songs we initially recorded [feel] more urgent.
Tyler: We spent more time playing together. We figured things out. The old songs were written and then kinda like ‘okay, let’s go record.’ But for our new songs, we jammed on shit for a while. We’ll see how it goes.
Andy: No offense to the tapes, but what we’re working on now is far superior. So yeah, come to our shows.
Losing End is nothing short of a hometown revival. They’re a testimony to the ruthless combination of aptitude and undiluted spunk.
Dylan: The hardest question I’ve ever been asked is ‘what kind of music does your band make?’
Andy: Nothing we make is intended to sound a certain way, really. I feel like you can tell what bands are trying to go for within 30 seconds of their set. We’re not trying to be perfect, we’re just playing what we feel works for us.
Frankie: If any 13 year olds read this, I just want them to know they should be in a band. Or do something, at least. It doesn’t have to be music. Draw, or skateboard… just do something.
Andy: Don’t be afraid to be shitty.
Dylan: Get an instrument, and be bad at playing it until you’re less bad.
Frankie: I take it back, you can actually be four years old and pick up a guitar. There’s not many kids in high school or middle school playing shows in Ventura County right now. Five or six years ago, everyone in this town was playing shows. I’d love to see that again.
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