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Technically, brothers Dave Gambler and Danny Exito hail from the San Gabriel Valley, but they're in Orange County so much and have so many friends here—the Moonlight Trio, Trash Monster, all the folks down at Classic Tattoo—they're as much a part of the local scene as anybody. Their sound is an aggressive, intense rockabilly, bred from a childhood listening to Spanish rockabilly bands with their father and learning to play cards, shoot pool and chase women with their grandfather, whom they cite as a main impetus for forming the band. Fresh off a scintillating collaboration EP with ska-punkers Viernes 13, Gamblers Mark are finishing up The Cho Incident, their newest full-length due out this summer.
OC Weekly: Let's get this one out of the way: Are you a betting man?
Dave Gambler: Yes, I like to gamble. We just played the Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender, and I almost put my guitar on black—thank God I saw the sign for $1.99 steak and eggs behind our crazy dealer, who was robbing me. The name Gamblers Mark is in honor of our grandpa; he was a gambler and our biggest fan. Played cards and was a shark at the pool table—probably where my brother gets it from. "Gamblers Mark" was a song I wrote for my grandfather when he passed, then later, it became the name of the band.
You and upright bassist Danny Exito are brothers. Tell me about how you two started jamming together?
[It was] after I left my old band, False Idols. Things didn't work out, so I decided to start my own band, which involved all the styles of music that really influenced us—rockabilly being the foundation, with a twist of punk, surf, ska and blues.
How'd you guys get turned on to rockabilly?
Our dad used to play Spanish rockabilly when were kids, and we loved all the songs. Bands such as Los Rebeldes del Rock and Los Teen Tops . . . I was turned on to Gretsch guitars and vintage Fender amps. Then I heard bands such as Reverend Horton Heat, the Sharks, Three Blue Teardrops, the Meteors and many more.
Tell us more about your grandfather. He seems like an interesting dude.
He was a big influence on me and my brother growing up, and a total ladies' man, too. He had six wives and 13 kids. Can someone say player? [Laughs] Our drummer Ricky Lobos' grandpa was a gambler, too; he used to bet houses in Mexico. That's no joke—just a gambler's life. Freakin' awesome. I'd like to bet my house one day, but I'm keeping the George Foreman grill.
Your son jams with you, too. What's the coolest part about playing with him?
Yes, I have a 16-year-old son, Jacob Dean, who is 16 going on 25. He's keeping busy recording now, selling his music to his friends, playing gigs as a hired musician, and he just laid down some guitar parts for our new album we just finished with Viernes 13. We've played a lot of shows together; it's pretty awesome jamming for 2,000 people with your son. Be on the lookout—he's working on his own album right now. I'm signing up to be his roadie.
Are you doing Ink-N-Iron [festival] again this year?
Maybe. If we do, we're throwing out 100 of our new split EPs we just finished with Viernes 13, and we plan to bring a full horn section also. Big shout-out to our trombone player, Ruben, from Viernes 13 who always adds to our shows. I think it's 'cause we're the same height.
Who's been knocking your socks off locally here?
One local band we really like right now are the Grims. They play some killer neo-psychobilly-style stuff.
This column appeared in print as "¡Viva La Suerte!"