By Mauricio La Plante
On a dusty and dark Halloween night, deep in the Canyon Country hills of Santa Clarita, local band The Temporaries improvised to play a multiple-song set to a fire and cellphone-lit crowd of 300 people, after their mics and keyboard went out.
“People were just getting bored with the silence, so we started jamming,” Temporaries guitarist David Knopf said.
The concert’s host Evan Bentley expected the chaos.
“You run into trouble, while you’re doing it, you can plan, plan, plan, but it’s only during the moment do you know what you need to do,”
After inviting some bands to play, the initial party that Bentley planned turned into a concert. Bands fought through sporadic technical difficulties while Bentley had a staff of five friends to keep 300 guests at bay, mitigate parking pandemonium, and manage tech on stage.
“Honestly I think [the chaos] is like a slingshot, as much as something can hold you back, it can shoot you forward based on your perspective. So anything that could be stressful can be incredibly exhilarating as well,” Knopf said.
But the seemingly improvised ease at which The Temporaries adapted to the show, required weeks of practice, showing the time and attention needed to manage a band starting in a little big city like Santa Clarita.
The Temporaries themselves met at an open jam party keyboardist Collin Riley organized, and “something clicked,” when they played together.
“If someone texts you and says, ‘Hey I’m jamming tonight,’ and if you’re open that night, go for it, even if you’ve never played with people, if someone asked you to play with them, the opportunity is always nice,” said Anthony Simmonds, whose band broke up in January.
But Simmonds explained that he still takes at least 30 minutes a day to practice and write his own music, even without a band or recording equipment.
“I take the time for myself, teach myself. I actually did learn a lot from being in a band … so now I have to learn all those things on my own,” said Simmonds. “You’ve got to play everyday. Every opportunity you get you’ve got to take it. Keeps you sharp between the ears.”
The Temporaries and Simmonds emphasized the importance of balancing personal responsibilities with music.
“[Even] if I have school and work, I have to do it later on in the night when everybody’s sleeping,” Simmonds said. “If you’re really serious about wanting to do something with music, you have to make the time.”
“I’ll find myself watching the same TV shows over and over and find myself listening to the same music over and over, and once I realize that if I cut this out and just continuously work towards what I really want in life than I’ll be more successful,” said Temporaries bassist Matthew Lightbody.
“With being creative it’s all about the balance, it’s like if your sitting down trying to focus on one thing so much then a lot of times you just get in a hole without realizing it,” Knopf said.
He explained how musicians can find more inspiration outside of the studio.
“If you have to go to work, you [may] leave work with something new you wouldn’t have thought of if you sat there all day to trying to design something.”
The Temporaries’ balance between inspiration and discipline ties into their artistic goals to avoid redundancy and categorization. “We don’t want to recreate something that’s already existed,” Knopf said. “I just don’t want people to have an expectation when they come and see us, just [be open to] something new that you’ve never seen.”
But in order to play live in Santa Clarita, bands face the challenge of an early-to-bed town’s silence.
“[Santa Clarita’s] a great place to raise a family,” Bentley said. “So with a lot of families especially on work nights, they got to get to bed, they got to wake up early, they got kids that got to go to school. It is more difficult to throw loud events in a place like this.”
While in a band, Simmonds played gigs at venues spreading from block parties to pizza places. “[Vincenzo’s Pizza] was actually like the place where we got real gigs at, the other times we played were at like parties, little backyard parties, and we’d always try to do our own things,” Simmonds said.
Although some gigs were unsuccessful, Simmonds explained that his band would play for anybody, anywhere. “[At] our drummer’s mom’s birthday, we played a little show for her, so we got like 15 or 20 people there in the drummer’s backyard, and then another time we played at their house again for the fourth of July, and they had a whole block party going, and we played for the entire block,” he said.
The Temporaries explained that they can’t wait for the big stage show.
“We have to live like we’re already playing music 300 miles away, 3,000 miles away … and we just try to meet up when we can, so when that situation presents itself, the transition is natural,” Knopf said.
But starting small, The Temporaries see playing live for Santa Clarita locals as a collaboration to bring the community together.
“That’s the thing about local shows, you have people starting something in a place they’ve grown up in,” Knopf said. “There’s something that people can grab onto, it gives them a chance to identify with other people’s emotions in that town.”