SoCal Tennis Pros Get Grand Slammed at Band Practice

Serving up devil horns like John McEnroe
Serving up devil horns like John McEnroe
Becky Sheibe

Garage rockers SoCal Tennis Pros' band house--a quaint, midcentury home in the middle of a quiet street west of downtown Fullerton--is a punk-rock paradise. It's owned by front man Carlos Torres, and he has gutted the living room and filled it with drums, amps, guitars and a PA system. Outside the glass sliding doors is a surprisingly clean pool. The cinder-block wall that fences in the back yard displays a colorful array of graffiti, and on any given weekend, the patio hosts beer-and-barbecue parties for the Pros and their friends, many of whom are familiar faces on OC's DIY music scene. "Our practices consist of wax hits, booze, shit talking, occasional jumps in the pool, brainstorming and a shitload of laughing," Torres says.

A fun-but-productive unit, SoCal Tennis Pros have been tearing up the local scene this year with two EP releases and constant gigs on the dive-club/underground-venue circuit. They're gearing up to record a full-length, with Ikey Owens (of the Mars Volta fame) already enlisted as the producer. Torres expects a February 2014 release, and he couldn't be more stoked.

"We are going N.W.A on this bitch," Torres says in reference to how the band is tapping into West Coast inspiration for the new record. "I don't want to give away too many surprises, but I can say the caliber of musicianship in the songs will have everyone getting down and dirty."

Torres moved to Fullerton from Long Beach almost three years ago and immediately began forming the band, almost by coincidence. "I went to the neighbors' house to tell him that I play music and to not call the cops," Torres says. "Turns out he was a drummer from Texas who had just moved down here. We smoked a shit load of weed and jammed that day. That was it for us--we knew."

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After drummer John Ericson, he found guitarist Riley Youngdahl (also in Chad and the Meatbodies) at an epic party at the house. "Riley blacked out at a party I had. I didn't know of him until the next day, when he hit us up--he had woken up [at his house] wearing a bunny mask," Torres recalls. "He came over and returned it to us. I was on 'shrooms, met him and started jamming with him." The band's sound is defined in part by Youngdahl's approach to guitar, with his angular riffing and chord inversions uncommonly used in garage rock (see: "Sour" from the Fault EP).


About bassist Sean Rodriguez, Torres only says, "He'd rather party than answer questions about himself." When it comes to having a good time, SoCal Tennis Pros go pretty hard.

Earlier this month, the band added a series of photos from a trip to Vegas to their Facebook page; nothing incriminating--the guys are actually pretty careful about this since one of them has a successful career doing social work--but it's evident from the twisted grins, sunrise photos and hats fashioned from a Dos Equis 12-pack box that it was a Fear and Loathing-style weekend.

"I personally came back with a clear head," Torres says about the trip. "Rasputin said you have to sin to wash away your guilt of the sinning. Gotta lose your mind sometimes to come back to what is real."

SoCal Tennis Pros play with Wax Children, Ladyheat and Spaceships at the Continental Room, 115 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, (714) 469-1879. Mon., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.

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