Visions of Utopia

Onboard Basslands magic bus

Bassland Prophecy grew into a seven-person collective, the price of membership being not only knowing how to DJ but also how to drive. After the bus was readied for the road, they drove it to San Francisco for their first gig, a covert Halloween Night show on Castro Street. The Castro was going crazy, so the Bassland Prophecy crew parked on a side street, plugged their keyboards and mixers into generators, and set up a fog machine. They were a big hit—more than 500 showed up to get down. So did the San Francisco police, who gave them five minutes to leave town.

The band survived, but the collective didn't. When only Breidenstein, Xenophon and DJ Jon Allen were left, the name was trimmed to Bassland (Allen would leave in 1996).

By this time, they were getting mighty sick of puttering around from rave to rave. Ravers loved the bus and always wanted a tour of its cramped quarters; cops hated it and towed it three times. The cabin fever was getting pretty intense, though, and they started getting sick of one another. They'd play four nights a week, but the grind of constant raving was draining them.

"I felt like a scuzzy hippie, like people were mocking us," Xenophon remembers. "I felt we weren't part of reality as we knew it."

They decided to ditch the road, left the bus with Breidenstein's brother in Sacramento, and spent time in a real recording studio. The slow pace of getting signed added stress; some small techno imprints were interested, but mostly in what image they thought they could mold the band into. And Bassland were never about to change their music to please label heads.

"They wanted us to do music that was coming out of England, but we're not English. We wanted to make music that we heard in Southern California," Xenophon says.

But that didn't matter—at least in the corporatethink of the music industry—so they passed. Things got worse in July 1998, when their gear was stolen at a show. The frustrations took their toll on Breidenstein, who left the band.

OC techno heads were upset. "I was afraid that if they split up, individually they'd lose the will to write for the scene," says Q.

Bassland's dissolution seemed to signal the end of . . . something. By 1998, the scene was going dormant—with the closing of Metropolis and its weekly techno club that year, live electronic music gigs in OC became scarce.

But now Breidenstein and Xenophon are back together, a reunion spurred not by a dream but by something more old-fashioned—guilt over unfinished creative Bassland business and a low-level nudge campaign by their friends and fans.

"I felt Bassland was part of my responsibility," Breidenstein says. Joel Guleserian, who has drummed for OC's Peoplemover, has joined the fold (he had sold his kit, having grown tired of playing rock, but Bassland's techno intrigued him enough to sign on).

The band is also bringing back the sense of community it once had. At Café Ruba, young musicians line up to jam with them, and the band tries to accommodate everyone. They're even thinking about hitting the road and touring again, as soon as they wrap up the new album. And Xenophon knows exactly how they want to go out.

"I'd like to get a bigger bus this time," he says. Back to the source, just what all those old dreams and visions said it would be like.

Bassland play at Café Ruba, 1749 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-4026. Usually every Sun., usually after 9 p.m. Call for more information. Free. All ages.
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