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It’s not how things usually work, but according to David Dennis, he and his band moved to Los Angeles to avoid driving. The four guys in Voxhaul Broadcast grew up together in San Clemente, but three years ago, they decided it was time for a move to our county’s northerly neighbor. They’d been spending time there most nights a week, anyway, playing shows, seeing bands and meeting with their managers.
“We were making the drive all the time,” he says, “so it just kind of made sense [to move].”
As for the place they were leaving? “It gets really quiet there,” Dennis says, voicing an opinion you’d expect to hear from the long list of once-local bands who now claim “Los Angeles” in the “hometown” field on MySpace. While we don’t have the stats to declare a bona-fide trend—after all, Hollywood has been the enticing center of the entertainment industry for, you know, a while—it does appear Orange County origins are heavily represented in the latest batch of LA’s up-and-comers. Voxhaul Broadcast, Local Natives, the Henry Clay People and Young the Giant are all from Orange County, and all are garnering LA success in terms of high-profile gigs, tours and radio play. And that’s just counting the bands who actually moved; plenty of others continually make the commute a few nights per week to gig.
The reasons for the LA pilgrimage are easy to guess. As varied as Orange County’s music scene is, it certainly isn’t as packed with acts, venues and crowds. And the gatekeepers to national success—the DJs and big-time critics and record labels—cluster in LA. Move there, and you’ve got a better chance of being heard, not to mention slightly better access to public transportation and gourmet food trucks.
Success certainly came fast for Local Natives, who moved to Silver Lake in 2008 and, within a week, landed a coveted residency at the Silverlake Lounge. Not long after, critical acclaim, a spot at Coachella and, perhaps most important, an OC Weekly cover shoot followed.
But that’s not the path all bands take. Young the Giant moved from their Newport Beach bungalow to an apartment in Hollywood in 2009. Things were great there, says singer Sameer Gadhia, but given how much the band tours, they felt like another relocation was necessary. “LA is a very intense place to live,” he says. “When we wanted to come back from tour, we wanted to go back and see our families and be with the people we’re close to.” So, they moved again—back to Newport.
What should a band consider when considering a move? “It is a big commitment to move with your band to a big city from a small city,” says Dennis. “There’s so much at your fingertips. There are so many people up there; everybody makes new friends. I’ve seen a lot of bands deteriorate moving up there from small towns. I’m just glad we’ve been friends for so long, or it could have happened to us.”