Just like when Hendrix went to England, Dan Sena and his band Bullet Train to Vegas had to leave Orange County to find their following.
A lot of bands build things up a lot locally before touring. What kind of response were you getting in Orange County before you decided to tour?
It's kind of funny because even today we have built more of a following, as a result of touring, outside of Southern California. We still play locally, but we don't do nearly as well as when we're on tour. There are a lot of bands that have that same problem. Given the fact that LA and Orange County have this huge saturation of bands, there's tremendous competition. Once I'd gotten the touring bug I didn't pay attention to building a fan base locally. It didn't really dawn on me. There are plenty of bands that will be huge locally, but then they go out and do a tour and they don't get the same response, and that either kind of makes or breaks the band. They're so used to playing packed houses and they go play somewhere out in Missouri and they're playing to five people.
So you weren't doing all that well here before you started touring?
Yeah. I felt that it wasn't really necessary to wait around for that to happen. I kind of figured, "Let's take on the whole nation," build our following throughout the U.S. rather than just at home.
What does being in a self-described full-time band entail?
I think a full-time band is a touring band. We became full-time in 2004 because we did four full U.S. tours. I can't pursue a full-time career at home if my band's going out every few months. We don't make any money off the band. We've finally gotten to the point in the past year or so where our expenses have been covered on the road, but we don't come home with any money.
Have people had any bias toward the band because your name comes from another band's song title, "Bullet Train to Vegas" by Drive Like Jehu?
Yeah. When the band first started, we had flak from the Drive Like Jehu purists because they thought it was kind of disrespectful. To me it was more of an homage to a great band. In fact, we kind of got [Drive Like Jehu guitarist] John Reis' blessing. He was kind of stoked that a band wanted to name themselves after a song he wrote. I met him and he was excited. To me that verified what we were doing and the band's name. But I haven't heard anything negative in some time.
Have any local favorites?
The Valley Arena from Long Beach, we've taken them out on tour. They're great kids and they're a great band.