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Any band who last long enough to play 500 shows deserve a little recognition. But Instagon aren’t just any band.
Founded and led by bassist Lob (one word, like Madonna), Instagon’s pedigree is unlike any in rock history. Lob assembles a new lineup for each gig, so there are more than 450 people walking this planet who can put “ex-Instagon” on their current band’s fliers. This unique approach landed the group at the No. 14 spot of OC Weekly’s Top 129 Greatest OC Bands Ever list in 2003. Not too shabby for an outfit with only a handful of practices under their belt.
To celebrate their 500th show, Instagon are making only their third Southern California appearance since Lob went north to Sacramento nearly five years ago.
OC Weekly: Why did you leave OC?
Lob: Everything I had going on in SoCal collapsed, and it’s real expensive down there. I’d been coming to Sacramento annually since ’95 to play the NorCal Noisefest, so I had a good selection of friends. Someone offered me a room for free for as long as it took me to get my shit together, and this was the only place I had to land, so I left. Moving here opened my eyes to the fact that I was spending too much on living; now I can spend less and be more creative.
How often have you played OC since you left?
Not very often. The last time I was down was for New Year’s Eve this year, and the last time I played was April ’08 in Fullerton. The last time before that was January ’05. Because of the way I know it is in OC, making it a rare occurrence will mean we will probably get a better turnout. If I came down every four months, no one would care.
Did you pick Orange County for the 500th show?
Yes. I wanted to come home. There are players I miss who haven’t played with me in years. I put in 12 years in Orange County; I should go back and give them this show.
How did Instagon start?
I was involved with Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth in ’93. Some guys involved in that had this idea that we were going to start four separate bands, and they were all going to be called Instagon, and fans wouldn’t know which one they were going to get. My project was going to be the improv thing, but the other guys’ projects never got off the ground.
When did you start numbering the shows?
About halfway through, and I did all of that in retrospect. I started doing web design. By adding a number to the show, I was able to have a tag link. So web design actually lent itself to the numbering. Then, when I played the Liquid Den, it was a way to identify the shows because I had an 18-month weekly residency there.
Has there ever been an Instagon practice?
Yes, but not very often. It’s usually for some special event. We played a wedding, and I wanted to make sure the band I was putting together wasn’t going to be crazy. We also did a night of acoustic covers of Charles Manson songs, and we had to work those out beforehand. Things like that.
Have the lineups ever been similar?
I’ve had lots of shows where it’s me and a drummer and a guitarist and someone else. Guitars are usually the easiest to switch.
Do some people not get it?
Songwriters don’t get it. If there’s a guitarist who can play lead, then maybe I’ll get him to jam with us. But if they sing and play guitar, they don’t get it because they can’t not play chords.
Is it an open invite?
I invite people to play. This show, I’ve invited a drummer, keyboard player, a couple of horn players and a wall of guitarists. We’ll probably change guitarists every two songs. I’m going to play at least an hour and about 15 riffs.
Were you surprised at the OC Weekly list?
I was amazed to be above TSOL and Dick Dale. Everybody who’s been in a band in Orange County in the ’90s played in Instagon. I went through hundreds of people. Working at Vinyl Solution for 11 years, I had kids come in and buy their first Black Flag and Adolescents records from me, and a decade later, they were playing with me.
Instagon with Greg Ginn and the Taylor Texas Corrugators, the Taint, Innertune, and the Gospel Swamp Blues Band at the Blue Café, 17208 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, (562) 592-1302; www.thebluecafe.com. Sat., 7 p.m. $7. 21+.