The Happy Booker
Randy Cash booted my band off a bill at Club 369 last winter. We were all set to open for some Marilyn Manson wannabes called the Genitorturers and got a call at the last minute that they were bringing their own opener or something like that.No big deal. We're not famous (not like the Genitorturers), and we hadn't really promoted the show all that heavily, but the cancellation did find me with nothing to do that night, so I went to the show.Now, I'm not saying I was glad we'd been bumped, but there's something about opening for a band with a dominatrix-outfitted female singer caterwauling death metal while a threatening black-rubber dildo swings between her thighs. The last thing I heard before leaving was the band's, er, front woman taunting the crowd after a number, shouting: "WHAT'S THE MATTER? YOU AFRAID OF A LITTLE GIRL WITH A BIG BLACK COCK?!!!" I guess I was.Saving my band from the clutches of the Genitorturers might have been the best thing Cash ever did for us. That is until the next day, when he called me and said he wanted to make up for any hassle that the cancellation may have caused. He offered us a night of our own at 369 a few weeks later. We would headline, pick the openers, call the price of the tickets, and take the door. I accepted. Club promoters who go out of their ways for bands are about as common as an upbeat little tune from the Genitorturers. And when you ask people about Cash, it seems you can't find a critic."He's just a really nice guy," says Linda Jemison, owner of Linda's Doll Hut. The two have worked together a number of times in recent years, booking showcases at 369 or just comparing notes. "We help each other a lot in general, sharing information-good and bad," she says. "He really knows how difficult it can be to run a club in Orange County."Ed Udhus-drummer for the North County band Zebrahead-remembers Cash turning it around for his band in their early days. "When we started out about two years ago, it was really hard for us to get a show, and he just gave us a shot on a Sunday, at about 4 in the afternoon," he says. "It worked out really well, and ever since then, he's been more than instrumental in helping us out. Randy basically started the ball rolling. He is by far the coolest guy." X founder John Doe agrees. "Randy is a character," he says. "He's not just some sort of average creepy booking agent. He's doing it because he loves music. He loves hanging out, and he's trying to create and maintain a scene." And how would rock veteran Doe rank Cash among booking agents? "No. 1," he offers. Pretty high regard for a guy who has only been in the booking business for a few years. But Cash has managed to overcome the odds since taking over Club 369 four years ago. The Fullerton club that was known throughout the '80s as heavy-metal hangout Goodie's had just been acquired by current owner Greg Howell, who changed the club's name to reflect its capacity and was eager to shake its notorious reputation as a pay-to-play haven for hair bands.Cash, who then played guitar locally, remembers the pre-369 days. "When it was Goodie's, I was in a band called Hit 'n' Run, and I thought it was a dump," he recalls. "We would never play there."Cash changed his mind, however, when he played at the club just after Howell acquired it. "After it was 369, our guitarist booked us, and we played there. I thought, 'God, it looks different,' and Greg took me back and showed me the sound system, and we got to talking," he says. It was one of Hit 'n' Run's last gigs. Cash began working with Howell soon after, confident that he could play a role in the creation of a club that would be an ideal springboard for the local scene. "I wondered what it would be like to have a guy who knows about the bands and actually knows what he's doing-who wasn't a drunk or a drug addict," Cash recalls. "And I just thought, 'I'm that guy; I know it.' I knew I had the ability to take everything I had learned and create a club where you could go in, and the guy knew record labels, and he would help you out and treat you well. You'd never feel dissed; you'd always feel like someone respected you."Four years later, it's a role that has made Club 369 one of OC's more important rooms and Cash someone worth knowing."If someone wants a record deal, it's good to get in front of him," says Todd Singerman, whose management firm represents Motorhead as well as 369 alumnus Zebrahead, which will issue its debut release on Columbia in October. "He gets A&R guys out there because of his credibility and when he mentions something, people listen."More recently, Cash has expanded his role at 369, getting behind some of the bands that have played there, pairing them with management, booking showcases, and even-as with Zebrahead-helping them get signed. "I saw them once," Cash recalls of Zebrahead. "I asked if they had management and then told them to meet with me the next day to discuss some things I could do for the band. They're a bunch of nice guys. We met at Denny's in Costa Mesa, and I said, 'I can get you a deal, but it's going to take six or eight months."Three months later, Cash hosted a showcase "for every bigwig in the business," he says. "We had Tony Ferguson from Interscope, who signed No Doubt. We basically had everybody."For Cash, it was a definite high point. "One of the A&R guys who was coming out to see Zebrahead called me and said, 'Randy, if someone were to blow up 369 tonight, they'd take out about 80 percent of the record business right then and there.' There were so many people there. It was just the greatest thing in the world." According to Singerman, Cash's instincts are going to land him a job far from Club 369. "When he did Zebrahead, there were 11 labels out there. People trust him because he's accurate. In my mind this is a guy who really deserves a big A&R job," he says.Perhaps sometime, but not in the immediate future, says Cash, whose responsibilities right here, right now, don't include much time to think about the future. "People like me and Linda [Jemison] are working our asses off trying to create some respect between the bands and the clubs," he says. "And it has gotten to the point that if something shitty happens at 369, it's a direct reflection on me, and Greg knows that. He knows that I'm not going to let something terrible happen."Even if occasionally, something does. "We've had our occasional fights," Cash says. "I get a little too mouthy. A guy came in and hit the singer of Lit, and those guys are like family to me. When that happened, I think the whole club was out there, and there I was, mouthing off to a guy about twice my size." From his vantage point at Club 369, Cash has developed an understanding of the OC music scene that is still lost on some of the people he comes across. "Me and Adrian [Young, drummer for No Doubt] were standing there watching this band," he recalls. "They were an angry, angry band with a girl singer, and she wasn't getting much of a response from the crowd. She comes out just before their last song and says: 'You know what? I'll tell you something about OC. You can have your fucking No Doubt 'cause they're just a bunch of fucking poseurs!' So Adrian is standing there, and there is no one in the pit, so he just walks up and flips her off."The band ended, and I had to go check on something backstage. I heard her talking to her manager, and she goes: 'I hate Orange County. It sucks! And some punk kid just flipped me off for no reason!'"That was great!"
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.