Such Nice Boys!
"Woo! Alex rocks! Woooooooo!" squeals a voice from somewhere to the left as members of Lit, OC's latest modern-rock success story, are ushered through a crowd gathered outside Las Vegas' Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and into the tangle of legs and purses and whatnot stuffed into a rented limo parked outside.
This would be cool if there were an Alex in the band, but there's not. Instead, there is an Allen Shellenberger, the friendly, earnest drummer whose charming smile makes him an instant confidant; a Kevin Baldes, the impish bass player with a sentimental streak; and a Jeremy Popoff, the cell phone-carrying, multitasking, media-conscious guitar player whose ambition is certainly, after 11 long years, paying off. There's also supposed to be Jeremy's younger brother, A.Jay Popoff—the quiet, reserved, heartthrobby lead singer—but, alas, he flew back to Orange County this afternoon, so sick he couldn't talk much less play the show Lit was scheduled to play tonight with San Diego's Unwritten Law at the Joint, the Hard Rock's own midsize venue.
Jeremy raises a toast from somewhere across the limo's flesh mountain: "To platinum album sales in a few days!" As drinks are uncorked, another chorus of "Wooooooooooo!" drowns out your thoughts.
Don't let this scene—that of every bad rock-video clich on wheels, barreling down the Las Vegas strip—mislead you. Sure, by the end of a dizzying Vegas jaunt with Lit, you will see excess the likes of which you'd only heard about before: debauchery, shenanigans, cheap thrills, loose women, expense accounts, drinking, gambling, hooting, hollering, a mysterious tinfoil-wrapped package, and oral sex in a public restroom. But, oddly, none of these crimes of judgment will be committed by the band members themselves. Which is not to say that the Vegas-loving Lit boys mind a good time. It's just that these days, being a rock star leaves little time for partying like one.
Ever since "My Own Worst Enemy" became this summer's Song That Just Won't Go Away, the boys have had their hands full signing posters, shaking hands and following a rigorous schedule. And so they must vicariously whoop it up via "The Family"—a catch-all term for the assortment of label people, crew, hangers-on and friends who comprise the entourage and who, like play dolls used in child therapy, get to express all the things that Lit, caught suddenly in the headlights of public scrutiny, no longer can.
Inside Mr. Lucky's 24/7, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino's coffee shop, the guys from Lit sit ogling the butts of foxy passersby and lamenting tonight's cancellation. To join them, you will first use a restroom playing Sugar Ray, take an elevator playing the Offspring, turn left at the display of Gwen Stefani's sequined T-shirt, and pass the handwritten lyrics to Sublime's "What I Got." Save for the persistent chiming of slot machines, you may as well still be in Orange County.
"Dude, I was just at the ticket counter," begins Jeremy, sliding into the booth. "I was trying to go see if the Unwritten Law guys were here yet, and somebody was buying tickets for her daughter and overheard me saying we were canceled. I feel like such a dick, man! The ticket girl gave her a refund right there on the spot, but it's just fucked. She's like, 'My daughter baby-sat just to earn money to buy these tickets.'"
"Oh, my God," Allen says with a sigh.
"Son of a bitch!" Kevin offers dramatically. "We have friends coming in we couldn't stop in time. There's just so much on this show, and it's crumbling in front of us right now. We've never canceled a show—not in 10 years! One time, we even played a jam show when Allen had a broken arm—and he played with a broken arm!"
Allen looks dispirited. "It's a weird feeling, like a nervous uneasy feeling. We don't know what to do with ourselves."
"Yeah, I mean, not only have we never canceled a show, but we also have always wanted to play the Joint," says a resigned Jeremy.
"It's Vegas!" Allen wistfully adds.
For their devoted, seeing the Rat Pack-loving, Cadillac-driving, fuzzy-dice-owning Lit in Las Vegas—"their spiritual home away from home," as you will read and hear repeatedly—is akin to seeing the Pope in Saint Peter's Square. So it's not without merit that Lit have registered at the Hard Rock under fake names (after much skullduggery, you find out the names have been taken from Reservoir Dogs) and are kinda sorta maybe trying to keep things on the down low.
For all of that, here they are: exposed. Mr. Lucky's 24/7 lies on the periphery of the Hard Rock's casino, in plain view of the concert venue's ticket counter, which has yet to announce that Lit isn't playing, and in plain view of the fans who have begun to gather to buy tickets for the night's show and, hope against hope, get a glimpse of their heroes. A nervous teen with a camera and her mom approach the table.
"Hi, I was wondering if I could get a picture with you both?" she asks.
Jeremy's hard-rock looks—a 6-inch braided goatee, tattoos, body pierces and spiky bleached hair—make him easily identifiable. "Sure," he says as he and Kevin slide out of the booth.
"Think I should go over there?" Allen asks you. "She didn't know who I was."
He hesitates for a moment and then, deciding that she just didn't see him because his back was to her, gets in the shot.
"It's been getting progressively"—and then he stops himself. "I mean, it's rad and everything, but there have been times when it's just been, like, 'Whoa,' you know?" asks Jeremy, easing himself back into the booth and perhaps trying to put words to feelings so new that it's difficult for him to say whether he knows exactly what he means. "It's a strange concept when you're in the Midwest and two girls follow you around for, like, seven or eight days. They buy tickets to all the shows, they get hotel rooms, they have a car, they know where we're staying at all times, and they know what we're doing. There are fans who know our schedule long before we do, and I don't know how they do it. Yesterday, in New York, we walk out of our hotel to walk over to RCA before our thing on MTV, and there were two hardcore fans waiting in front of the hotel. We'd just gotten there the night before at midnight. I have no idea how they knew where we were staying."
"We had one guy who had a really shitty Kiss tattoo right here," says Kevin, pointing to his upper arm. "He asked if we could all sign his arm so he could get it tattooed."
"We're like, 'Please don't,'" says Jeremy. "In D.C., some girl got the dot of the 'i' of the Lit logo—it's like a starburst thing—tattooed on the back of her neck."
"Perfectly tilted and everything!" adds Kevin.
And how does that make them feel?
"That's fucking really weird," says Jeremy fervently. He pauses for a moment. "Oh, well. How bad can it be?"
But it's not really a question. It's a subtle cue to change the direction of the conversation because he's savvy like that and not about to risk being perceived as a star complaining about fame, something for which the public has no tolerance.
"There are worse problems," Jeremy continues. Allen and Kevin, suddenly humbled, nod in agreement. "It's not a problem. It's just such a new thing for us. It's just such a weird experience that we're still learning about—learning how to do it and learning what our boundaries are and what we can and can't do. So it's always those situations where you don't even know what your limitations are until you've gone past them, and then you go, 'Oh,' and kind of back up."
For 11 years, the members of Lit have worked and struggled and convinced themselves that this kind of success is what they want. For 11 years, they've imagined how they will act and, it's safe to assume, how they hope they'll never act. And like anyone who gets what he wished for and discovers (as is always the case) that it's a little different from what he expected, they're stuck in that weird position of trying to make sense of it all in a way that sits right and still allows them to be the anti-rock stars, forever bending over backward for their fans, forever polite and pleasant, forever grateful and humble, never forgetting what it was like to want this.
"Growing up, I was the biggest Iron Maiden fan ever," says Jeremy, leaning forward. "I worshiped them, you know. And a few years ago, I met Bruce Dickinson, and he was such a dick. It totally tarnished my image of him. I was devastated. That's why we always try . . . I mean, there are days [when] we wake up at the crack of dawn, go do radio, go do press, go to sound check, do another interview, do the show, and then do something after the show like a meet-and-greet, and we never get shitty with our fans. That's just total bullshit. It would really suck if there were ever a situation where a kid was stoked to meet us and got denied somehow. Or if we were assholes accidentally or the fans felt like we didn't appreciate them somehow."
But what about the fans who just won't let up?
"They love signing autographs, but I'll pull Jeremy away from signing autographs sometimes, and we'll argue about it later," says Brian Schechter, an affable spiky-haired guitar tech nicknamed "Wonderboy." At a show in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, the band waited backstage for a while. Jeremy wanted to watch Fuel, Wonderboy remembers, "So we walked out there, and he just got surrounded, and finally, I had to say, 'Okay, guys, that's enough,' and I pulled him away. They're so devoted to the fans, but all they are is human."
While it's impossible to turn on the radio these days without hearing Lit (surely you've heard the ubiquitous bouncy first single, "My Own Worst Enemy"), it is possible to live in Orange County, where they kicked around the scene for more than a decade, and feel like they came out of nowhere. Name changes are part of the confusion. In 1994, Lit were called Stain and were something like the house band at Fullerton's Club 369. At 369, they built their initial following playing something a little more like the Soundgardens and Korns of the world than the infectious grinding pop they're known for today. After a legal battle involving the name Stain (someone in Ohio had copyrighted it), they changed their name to Lit and released Tripping the Light Fantastic in 1997 on Malicious Vinyl, a label that subsequently folded. They signed to RCA in late 1998 and were thrown into the studio instantly. "My Own Worst Enemy" was "leaked" to radio early, before the album had even been released, which meant that everyone had to bust their asses to get A Place in the Sunout while radio listeners—who are potential album buyers—were still excited about the song. All went as planned: the song was No. 1 on modern-rock radio charts for 11 weeks, the album is certified gold and looks like it will be platinum by the end of the year, and they've been touring nonstop—including two dates at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre with the Offspring—since February. They could probably count their days off on one hand.
But what doesn't make sense, and what's strangely missing from most stories you'll read about the band, is what was going on before their 369 days.
"I don't think they have anything to be ashamed of," says Lit friend and Vegas compadre Craig Reinhardt, when asked about Razzle, the cheesy metal-riffic Sunset Strip band that preceded Stain. You will hear these exact words from no less than four Lit camp members, leaving you to wonder: What's there to be ashamed of? In the wake of record credit-card debt, blow, the S&L scandal, and jelly shoes, bloated butt-rock is probably the least heinous artifact of the 1980s.
You quickly get the feeling the subject is forbidden. You look for a way in. But lo! Opportunity knocks!
"Hey, look, Jeremy," you say, poking Jeremy and pointing to a sign that reads, "Razzleberry's."
"Oh, yeah," says Jeremy noncommitally.
Kevin swoops in. "I had some pie the other day. Guess what flavor it was? Razzleberry!"
Consider In-Pursuit-of-Razzle-Take-One to be a raging flop.
Jeremy Popoff, eldest son of a radio-DJ father, attended Anaheim's Cypress High School for three years "and then every other school for the rest of [hislast] year," ultimately getting his diploma through independent study. "I felt like I was wasting my time at school because they weren't teaching me how to be in a rock band, and that's all I really cared about," he says.
At 15, he joined a band called Dreams, which he describes as "Cheap Trick meets Blondie or something" but which you've heard was vaguely cheese-pop-metal. Meanwhile, younger brother A.Jay had begun jamming with junior-high friend Kevin, high school friend Allan, and another friend from high school named Sean. It wasn't long before Jeremy left Dreams to join his kid brother.
"I was kind of involved with them just because they were my friends and A.Jay's my brother," he recalls. "At one point—this is probably '87—I sort of bailed on what I was doing and started playing with those guys, and that's how it started. Razzle's the name that A.Jay and Kevin came up with."
(A word or two on ages: you've been told that Jeremy and Kevin are 27, A.Jay is 25, and Allen is 29. Perhaps this is true, but you just have this gut feeling that it's not. Jeremy says he joined Dreams at 15 and that he left that band and joined Razzle in '87, which, if he's truly 27 now, would also be when he was 15. Plus, Lit's close friend Steve Lynch, drummer of Burnin' Groove, who used to play shows with Lit, says in passing, "Jeremy's a little older than the rest. He's like the older brother." Oh, what a tangled web!)
According to Jeremy, Razzle quickly built a following through "hardcore guerrilla promotion." "Within a year, Razzle was probably one of the top-drawing bands on the Strip," he says. "We'd sell out the Roxy and the Whiskey and Gazzaris. Every time we'd play, it would be sold-out early.
"We were making money," Jeremy adds. "We'd walk out of there with a couple of thousand bucks, and back then, that was pretty insane."
In defense of ridiculous clothes and hair ("Their hair was, like, all one length and looking really healthy and nice," Club 369 promoter Randy Cash is quick to tell you), remember that this was the late '80s, and the music climate was, well, different. Sebastian Bach—Skid Row's skinny, doe-eyed, longhaired, leather-panted front man—was the reigning sex symbol. Bon Jovi was selling 20 million records. Orange County didn't have nearly as many clubs or the reputation that brought the industry to those clubs. Bands that wanted to make it played the Sunset Strip, and most young bands that wanted to play the Sunset Strip had to buy a chunk of tickets and sell them themselves—a practice known as pay-to-play.
"We'd have friends' bands that called it pay-to-play, but we were so good at promotion and had such a good following that we didn't even have to push our tickets. They'd just sit in a pile, and usually by a week before the show, they were long sold-out," says Jeremy.
Still, to struggling bands, pay-to-play was seen as a method of ensuring survival of the richest, not the most talented. Bands that did it were often resented, though Jeremy never says so.
What he does say is that the Sunset Strip scene grew old. In 1993, Razzle—now with hed(pe)'s Chadd (now Chizad) playing second guitar—decided to start over. "For the last year of Razzle, we were feeling like we had sort of outgrown what we were doing. I mean, not the music—the music was always changing and growing—but just playing the Strip and having that whole group of fans, and I don't know," he says, his voice trailing off. "There was just something about it that we weren't stoked on." So the four musicians (they parted ways amicably with Chadd) called it quits for six to eight months and re-emerged with a whole new bag: Stain.
"They came to me, and they had this demo tape, and they said, 'We really want to get going. We want to make this club our home,'" says Cash.
"We completely started over," says Jeremy. "We didn't want to be limited by any preconceived ideas as to what we were, so we didn't use any of our [Razzle] contacts. We just started out cold calling clubs and once again built a following up."
"I felt like it was almost a team effort, like they became part of the family," Cash says of the Lit success campaign. "They had a huge network of people in their support group because they're not jerks and they never burn bridges or sever ties. I love those guys, and the fact that they made it as big as they have, it's almost like one of your brothers, someone from your family making it. And it seems like the bigger they get, the humbler they get."
Undoubtedly, part of Lit's success is their unflagging niceness. They make people want to help them. "When they come into the office, they go down the hallway and say thank you to each person, and to me, it's like you'll bend over backward for them because they're so gracious," says Patty McGuire, who works for RCA and is an assistant to Lit's A&R man, Bruce Flohr.
Cash talks about the time, recently, when the guys came by the club. "It was one night after they had played some big show, and they had to get up, like, first fucking thing the next morning to go to some other state, but they wanted to come by and see everybody because Burnin' Groove were playing, and all their friends were there.
"A.Jay was losing his voice, and I remember he went into the backroom, and he goes, 'Dude, I'm so stressed about my voice,' and he was thinking to himself that this was the first time he'd been back in a while. He wanted to talk to all these people, and he was so happy to see everybody, but he couldn't talk. And I was joking around, so I go, 'Dude, people are going to think you're stuck-up,' and he's like, 'No way! You think so? Don't say that!' He was all worried about it."
And did anyone think he was stuck-up? "No, no," Cash says. "Everybody knows that A.Jay's just the sweetest guy. Those guys are just the nicest, nicest guys."
"You know, I don't know what kind of leather they make these seats out of, but sometimes I could swear it's fish," says Jeremy flatly, as we climb into a stinky rented Vegas Cadillac en route "to do radio."
"Fuck!" spits Allen. "Oh, this is killing me! Why haven't they changed it?" He points to the marquee ahead which still reads, "LIT AND UNWRITTEN LAW—TONIGHT."
"Dude, I wish I had a fucking picture of that!" says Kevin, looking back at the marquee. You hand him your camera, and he leans out the car window to snap the picture.
Lit will go to three radio stations this afternoon, where they will be interviewed by three DJs who look wildly different from one another yet all have that same smooth, deep FM voice. They will tell the story of A.Jay's sickness three times, and each time, it will become embellished a bit to the point where, finally, he's "deathly ill" with "a really bad, severe case of strep throat." Three times they'll explain that they've never canceled a show and that they feel weird and terrible but are relieved that there will be a make-up show honoring ticket stubs from tonight, so it's really "two concerts for the price of one." Thrice they will introduce "Ziplock"—a kind of sappy song about being caught up in your own life and maybe neglecting the people around you and feeling guilty—and thrice they will apologize for it not having a crazy fun story behind it like the besotted, regretful tone of "My Own Worst Enemy." ("Most of our songs are either about 'things are cool but they might be fucked-up tomorrow' or 'things are fucked-up but they'll probably be cool tomorrow,'" says Jeremy, who along with A.Jay takes song-writing credit.) And then, at the end of each interview, they'll read "liners," which is where they record themselves saying something like, "Hi, we're Lit, and you're listening to Extreme Radio!" Then someone at the station will ask if they can "snap a couple of shots for the trades," and then everyone will shake hands, and we'll be off to do it all over again. Fans, including a girl Allen met at the Warped tour who has driven out from Phoenix, surprising the hell out of him, it seems, will pop up unexpectedly as the band attempts to make its way from one radio station to the next. And though you'll begin to register an overwhelming existential claustrophobia by the end—as you understand a little more what a day in the life of a rock star is truly all about—the rock stars themselves will be nothing other than friendly, nice, unassuming and good-spirited.
"It's interesting because from where I sit, being a music director, certain bands have reputations," begins a solicitous feathery-haired DJ named Shark, who is making small talk with the band before the interview. "Certain bands are dicks. These guys are assholes," he says, pushing the faders up and blasting another popular modern-rock breadwinner. "I interviewed [the singer], and he's a fucking prick. I hope he's not a good friend of yours. He was a real asshole to me, and he's been an asshole to about 10 people I've known. You guys are the exact opposite. Everybody says you guys are really, really nice, from record people to other radio people. It's cool to have that reputation."
During the interview, Shark will talk about how it's funny because Lit is a "cool hard-rock" band—"[but] I don't want to categorize you,"Shark adds—and all these 13-year-olds think they're so cute. "When I made the announcement that the show was canceled a little while ago,"Shark says, "these girls are like, 'What do you mean, they're not playing?' It's obvious their CD collection is, like, you guys and Backstreet Boys, which is, Whoa! Hello!"
"Ouch!" says Jeremy, not because they've been lumped together with the Backstreet Boys, which is what Shark originally thinks ("No, no, no, no, no! That's not a diss or anything!" Shark quickly adds), but because one of their anti-rock-star commandments is "Thou shalt not speak ill of any band or any style of music." Earlier in the day, Jeremy asked Kevin if he had called Joey from 'N Sync yet. It appears the two bands struck up a friendship while mixing albums in New York. Hang out with Lit long enough, and you'll begin to feel guilty for ever raising your eyes at such a friendship.
"We're not against any bands," Jeremy explains patiently to Shark. "We just think what's great about music today is that the lines are sort of blurred, and people are just into all kinds of stuff, and that's great. We don't want anybody to categorize our music, and by the same token, we wouldn't expect anybody to only listen to one kind of music."
"So true!" Shark offers. "I mean, here you guys are a with a killer song that is a lot harder than Sarah, but we can play Sarah McLachlan and Lit, which I think is very, very cool!"
Everyone's looking for something real and something genuine. But by its nature, the music industry fabricates. Bands that want a shot at big-time success know that railing against the artifice of the industry will get them nowhere—although that, too, sells some product. Most learn to package themselves, which is precisely what those who would knock Lit can't stand.
"We didn't have to sit down with them and ask, 'How do you see yourselves?" says RCA's McGuire. The band knew. "They're like, 'This is what we're about: poker, Vegas, chicks.' And you listen to the songs, and they totally have a vision about what they are and where they're going, and we're like, 'You know what? We can roll with that.' The hardest thing is to get an image."
(Now, another word or two, this time about the Vegas thing: it has been beaten into your head that Lit are Las Vegas. You can't turn around without being reminded that the Popoff brothers collect vintage Cadillacs. The CD art is a festival of stylish, hip '50s-era Vegas iconography. Jeremy wears shoes with flames on them. You witness some hair gel and shiny shirts. By the end of the night, the guys do some gambling. But at no point do you find yourself thinking, "By God, Lit are Las Vegas!" Of course, such a big deal has been made of the Vegas thing that anything short of Jeremy opening his wallet and having a cocktail onion and a pair of dice roll out would set your mind to thinking. . . .)
The odd thing, though, is that while some may find Lit's shtick a little too contrived and belly-ache over authenticity, the national audience—removed from local music-scene politics—doesn't care that Lit are conscious of things like image and selling records, doesn't care that Lit have changed their musical style over the years. They like the music they hear now, and it means something to them. They connect with "My Own Worst Enemy." They could be that guy in the song. To their fans, Lit are genuine.
"Lit have their own identity," says McGuire. "They are who they're projecting, and fans pick up on that."
"Think about it: 11 years ago, they set out with a dream to be on MTV," says Schechter, the band's guitar tech. "Any band that says they don't want fame or stardom is fucking ridiculous because you set out to be in a band to play in front of people. And the more people you play in front, of the better you feel about your band. If the chance comes along for you to pursue those goals to the fullest extent, should you give a fuck what 50 people in your hometown might say because they saw you at your second show?"
By dinner, after a few drinks by the Hard Rock's flashy tropical-desert-paradise pool, things begin to unravel a bit. It seems that after Unwritten Law's set, Lit are going to go onstage and, using Unwritten Law's equipment, play just one song—"My Own Worst Enemy," of course—without A.Jay. They will invite audience members up to sing along karaoke-style.
Allen is worried about having to play on someone else's drums. "I just wish you'd told me earlier," he says a couple of times, most likely meaning he wishes he'd known before he'd indulged in pool-side margaritas. Kevin is excited to play, though. He reminds Allen that he's playing on borrowed equipment, too. "But a bass has four strings," Allen says. "They're always in the same place."
"Yeah, but it could be some guy's weird guitar with weird tuning," Jeremy chimes in from across the table, holding the hand of his fiancee, Michelle (they're getting married this week), who arrived a little while ago. Having been with Jeremy for nearly 10 years, she has no doubt seen and heard all of this before.
Allen just shakes his head. You ask him if he's ever had a dream in which he quits the band. You figure that the tension of being in a band—even one as cohesive as Lit—must come out somehow, and maybe it's in dreams. Allen looks at you like you're speaking in tongues. "No, never!" he exclaims. "Why!?"
"They're like a little family," says Schechter of the rapport between the band members. "They feel like they're all they have."
You will hear this repeatedly from those closest to the band: they're the best of friends, they have an amazing chemistry, they think alike, they talk to one another about even the smallest decisions, and they want to same things. You will notice that they rarely call one another by their whole first names, instead using "Al," "Jer" and "Kev," and you will see that they've become so close that they've adopted one another's speech patterns, including the use of a made-up word, "tam," which you find out later is Lit-speak for "lame." (Jeremy spoke earlier of the fear that being stand-offish would be perceived as being "all fucking bitter and tammed-out.")
"We're the only two boys of two children," says Jeremy of his relationship with his brother. "We've been close since the day he was born. Our parents got divorced when we were pretty young—we were, like, 7 and 9. That's about the time we started listening to Iron Maiden and the heavy-metal stuff. We lived with our dad for a while. Our mom wasn't really around, and our dad worked, so for a few years, it was just the two of us, and we sort of took care of each other. But, you know, knowing Kevin and Allen for as long as we have, there's definitely a brother relationship with those guys, too. We act around one another the way brothers act, not the way colleagues or partners or adult friends act with one another. I mean, Kevin is 27, and we'll be standing somewhere, and he'll just, like, grab an ass cheek and fucking rip one right there, and we'll start cracking up, and then we'll just look at one another and go: 'What the fuck are we doing? We're in our late 20s, and we're still fucking around like we're little kids.'"
In the morning, you run into Kevin and Allen, who are leaving Las Vegas. They're getting a ride home with friends. The idea had been tossed about to stay in Vegas for the following night's Motley Crue/Scorpions show ("Dude, how rad would that be if we were playing at the Joint tonight and opening for Motley Crue and the Scorpions tomorrow night?" said an excited Kevin the day before when a promo came on the radio). But Allen stayed up all night gambling and going to a strip club with Artie, their bald radio-promotions man. "I'm up, and I'm leaving," he says. "I promised my little girl I'd take her to Raging Waters," he says. "By this time tomorrow, I'll be on a water slide!"
You bid adieu to the boys and make your way to the taxi outside, passing again the bathroom playing Sugar Ray, the elevator playing the Offspring, the hand-scribbled Sublime lyrics and the No Doubt display, and your head swims with thoughts about Orange County and the scene at home and what it takes to be a successful band and what happens when you achieve that kind of success. You remember something Jeremy said at the coffee shop yesterday when you asked if they felt they'd made it. "The weird thing is that you work and you dream as a kid of being a rock star, and you spend all these years thinking about it and planning for it, and you bust your ass, and you get to a certain point where you've achieved a certain amount of success," he says.
"When you're trying to get there, you're frustrated because you're trying and it's not happening, and it's a whole different feeling when you're sort of there and you're thinking, 'Aw shit, how the fuck are we going to stay here?'"
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.