*This column was altered on Dec. 3, 2010.
What do Jeramiah Red sound like? With a little Black Keys, a pinch of Kings of Leon and a bit of Bob Dylan thrown in (yes, those are very competent harmonica riffs), you could say it’s Orange County’s take on good old rock & roll. Wes Dickson (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Ian Cullen (lead guitar and vocals), Travis Ruiz (harp and percussion), Tim Miller (bass) and Matt Pleskacz (drums) met through work; they formed the band in 2008 when they discovered, while throwing back some beers, that they each played an instrument—or knew someone who did.
They decided to call themselves Jeramiah Red (named, they say, after “the depths of Mordor and a tasty beverage”—it’s actually an amber ale you can find at BJ’s Restaurant) and proceeded to follow their band’s dreams. One of which, incidentally, involves moose hunting. “If we could bag ourselves a real-life moose, we wouldn’t have to explain our logo to everyone. . . . The knuckle would do all the talking,” Ruiz says.
OC Weekly: What’s the wildest thing you’ve done as a band?
Travis Ruiz: Me, Wes, Matt and my cousin Austin drove out to Vegas for the night and ended up watching this super-cheesy cover band at Margaritaville. There was a group of smoking-hot sisters from Canada celebrating a bachelorette party, and we made up this whole story about how our band just got signed to a major record label and that we came out to Vegas to celebrate.
It didn’t seem like these girls were buying anything we were telling them, so we knew we had to step up our game or these girls were goners. At that exact moment, the cover band started playing “You Shook Me” by AC/DC, a song we’ve recently covered at a few of our shows, so we immediately grabbed Wes and got the attention of the band to get him on stage. They let him up to sing the rest of the song, and he absolutely killed it! He instantly sealed the deal for us. Unfortunately for him, by the time he finished their set for them all the girls were already taken and we ended up finding him passed out at a strip club the next morning.
Do you have crazy fans?
Ruiz: Some get rowdy. Our craziest fan is probably our roadie—he nearly fell off the balcony at a House of Blues show.
What, no stalkers?
Wes Dickson: I believe Tim has a stalker. One time she parked her car outside my house after a show. I threatened to call the cops on her if she didn’t leave. I really didn’t want the cops to get involved, so a couple of the guys and I yelled at her until she finally gave in and left. She still stalks Tim to this day.
But isn’t getting girls a motivation to play better music?
Ruiz: Of course—they also motivate us to lie about playing better music.
Dickson: I don’t think women have ever motivated me to write better music. I want to do that for myself.
What is the scariest thing you have to come to terms with, being musicians?
Dickson: No matter what anyone says, rejection is always in the back of your head. Artists will say they don’t care what people think about their work, but nine times out of 10 that’s just a front. You sleep a lot better knowing that people appreciate and respect your work, but at the same time you can’t let a bad review or a derogatory comment get to you.
You guys are all local—what’s the best part about playing music in Orange County?
Ruiz: We are all from the area so more friends and family can make it to our shows.
Dickson: But we would like to get on the road and show our music to new faces.
What’s the worst part of playing music in OC then?
Ruiz: Being associated with that horrible television show.
What’s the best local venue?
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Ruiz: House of Blues. Their sound is great, and they supply us with a fridge full of cold ones.
Jeramiah Red perform at the Continental Room, 115 W. Santa Fe Ave.; Fullerton; www.myspace.com/thecontinentalroom. Every Tues. Call for time and price. Through Dec. 28.
This column appeared in print as "Wild Boys."