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For a couple of years in the mid-'90s, Tenfold mashed up and down the coast, putting in serious work on the California tour circuit. Based in Tustin, they were part of an alt-rock scene that broke Lit and Sugar Ray. Tensions forced the band to call it quits in 1996, but last year, after a 15-year hiatus, vocalist/guitarist John Bain and the guys decided to put the band back together.
Having lost his father last year to cancer, Bain thought it appropriate to throw a fund-raiser for the Center for Cancer Prevention and Treatment at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange. To headline the show, he recruited an acquaintance of his, Dramarama singer/songwriter John Easdale, the man responsible for Bain's entrance into the wild world of alternative rock.
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OC Weekly: How did you get John Easdale to headline the show?
John Bain: The real backstory is that we met backstage at the Miss Double "D"ecember KROQ event at the Slide Bar in 2009, I think. I had just went up and introduced myself and told him I was a fan. From there, we traded emails over the past few years. Long story short, I mentioned what I was doing with our headlining performance at the House of Blues and asked if he would like to be a part of it. He said yes.
You said watching Dramarama in 1987 made you want to start a band. What made that show so great?
I think the fact it is was my first rock concert—or any concert, for that matter. The vivid memory I have of the show is John walking out on an unlit stage . . . and all you could see were the red power lights from his guitar, and he started to play "Emerald City." It was then and there that I thought to myself, "Rock stars are cool; I wanna be one."
Besides the obvious stuff—such as being older and having more responsibilities—how is it different now, 15 years later, playing together?
Don't underestimate the being-older stuff! These days when we play, it's like a workout. One of the biggest differences playing today, as opposed to then, is that we don't care and we want to have fun. That, coupled with the egos being left behind 15 years ago, means we are enjoying making music and are not tied into the industry. We are able to self-fund our projects and put out what we want to. Also, as with our upcoming show, we are able to do some good with it as well.
There's an indie band out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who call themselves Tenfold. Remember when bands used to sue one another over band names and stuff?
There is? What's their contact? I wanna sue them! [Laughs] The world is small, and there are only so many names and notes. A name can be changed; it's not as though we are icons. However, I do have some copyright material—authorized—under the Tenfold name from 1993, so I am covered.
Do you get out to many OC local shows?
Unfortunately, I do not. I would like to start making a better effort to do so. I think society has gotten away from the "local rock scene." It has been overruled by the club/hip-hop/cover-band entertainment realm. When we were originally playing in the '90s, there wasn't a weekend that would go by without four or five pages of the OC Weekly filled with local music shows.
Have any local acts been impressing you here locally?
One act I went to recently at the Slide Bar was Girl On Fire; I am starting to really like them. They are originally from the Northwest but are now working the local circuit.
Is there a scene element that was present back in the '90s that is missing today?
Maybe the things I think are missing have really just been transformed to meld with the new generation of social media and reality series. When we first started out, it was fun to make your fliers and make actual phone calls to stations to get your music played. Now, you just see how many posts you can do on five different social-media platforms.
This column appeared in print as "Returning Tenfold."