Professor Colombo Find New Energy In Old-School Rock-n-Roll

Professor Colombo (Credit: Larissa Jaks )

Sitting at The Blue Beet in Newport Beach, Eric Roebuck was withering away watching bands. It wasn’t that he wasn’t into the music that he booked for the club, instead, he was plotting his next move. As a singer, Roebuck scoped out other Orange County-based musicians, hoping to find the right set of musicians who he could form a band with.

Enter Adam Ditt, Henry James and Mike Trout — no, not that Mike Trout.

Having known and been playing with one another since their days at Huntington Beach High School, the trio have been performing throughout the area for a number of years.

Watching the trio known as Kaleidoscope perform, Roebuck was floored and knew he had to play with them.

“They were fucking great,” he recalls. “They were 17-year-old hippie kids, and the Blue Beet guys made me promise I’d book 21 and over bands. They were dressed in all hippie gear — bell bottoms and sunglasses and shit. I had no idea that they were 17.”

Looking older than their age, the trio passed the eye test. They then passed the charisma and ear test. On stage, the band had top notch ability to match their gear.

Roebuck was convinced.

Afterwards, he spoke with the trio and despite having and being in different bands, they started jamming together. Roebuck went through a number of bands based on which musicians were available at the time, and some of them didn’t work out. As for the trio, they were bouncing between their own various bands.

Some time passed before the quartet finally got together. In December 2015, they joined forces for a show at Marine Room in Laguna Beach.

“It was a paying gig and I needed a band,” Roebuck says. “So we all got together and did that one.”

Thus, Professor Colombo was born.

Even though they all maintain side projects, Professor Colombo has become the group’s main outfit. A month after that show, Roebuck booked the band some studio time and they knocked out their first album, which was released in April 2016. The singer had most of the material ready to go by the time they stepped into the studio, and his bandmates figured out their parts quickly.

“I knew we needed a record to get our foot in the door in a lot of place,” he says.

Professor Colombo continues to gig around Orange County and perform up and down the California coast. Packed shows at places like Viper Room in Los Angeles stood out, as did the band’s DIY ethos after they booked several tours on their own.

“We just kept playing bigger and better shows and kept building and getting really tight as musicians,” he says. “A couple of guys have been in and out — but the core has always been there.”

Professor Colombo just finished their second album, which was recorded in November in Roebuck’s garage and have been finishing it since. Despite recording with a few people, the band was comfortable doing in themselves, and are happy with the end result, which will be out on March 31, titled Professor Colombo 2.

“We’re just a roots, old school band at the heart of it,” Roebuck explains. “These days, rock and band stuff gets too polished in the digital era. Once a band gets in the studio, they become polished and the sounds aren’t they as they are live. You hear the term ‘radio friendly’ a lot, but radio is dead — as everybody knows — so that doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Why would I compromise the root sound of it to get this other spot? That’s why we did it on our own without any other input.”

For now, Professor Colombo has modest goals. On top of their new album, they’re working on heading to the East Coast for some shows and in L.A. as well.

“Let’s see where this one takes us,” Roebuck says. “The other one was rough and thrown together, and we’ve made some leaps since then, and we’ve gotten to where we want to go.”

Professor Colombo perform with Moonsville Collective, Victoria Bailey, Jerry & The Rest with Magic by Christopher Wonder at The Wayfarer on Sat. March 31. For full details and tickets, click here.

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