Growing up in Orange, Casey Sullivan was heavily influenced by two bands: Sublime, a group he claims to listen to almost every day, and the Beatles. When an Austin-based promoter asked if his band Seedless were interested in sharing the stage with Sublime With Rome, he says, the group jumped at the opportunity, even though they at first thought they were being put on.
“Any time you have a chance to be on a lineup with those guys, you have to take it,” he says. “But it sounded too good to be true.”
Despite not being on tour at the time, the group played one warm-up show in Arizona before zipping to Texas, then making the 28-hour drive back to Orange County. The whirlwind journey may sound glamorous to outsiders, but the roots for the show were planted years before.
Formed in 2006, Seedless' current status took a while to cultivate. Originally called Lost In Cali, the quintet adopted their current name based not on their love for seedless fruits, but rather because they felt it was an accurate depiction of their sound.
“We weren't feeling our first name and didn't like saying it,” Sullivan explains. “Our music doesn't really have a certain style to it. And since it cuts across all genres, we thought it's seedless, since it doesn't stem from any seed of music. Seedless seemed like a good basis of what we wanted to call it.”
The band's early days saw Sullivan and drummer Shay Pino jamming before they met Grant, a bassist whose band had broken up. As a trio, they started playing shows in Newport Beach in front of friends; it was through a friend that they found rhythm guitarist Joe Bakhos. A few shows later, at a bar in Anaheim, they encountered Matt Liufau, who excitedly told them how much he enjoyed their reggae-rock sound and inquired about joining the budding group.
During the band's formative days, everyone had a role in putting together the music and keeping the ship moving. The group collectively came to the conclusion they didn't want to be merely a garage band, so they divvied up responsibilities on the business side of things, at least until they were able to enlist a manager.
Things started picking up after they recorded a demo at 17th Street Studios in Costa Mesa. Sullivan says the positive response to the recording opened up more doors locally, including a gig at the then-Galaxy Concert Theater opening for the Dirty Heads in 2008. The momentum continued to build as they opened for the Expendables and Rebelution, and their music was being played on KROQ's Locals Only program. It also didn't hurt that Seedless' live shows started to become seamless.
"Everything got better,” Sullivan says. "Gigs started popping up, and the recordings and live show got better. People were getting pretty stoked.”
The band's success can be attributed to a strong DIY mentality that Seedless have had since their earliest days. And they haven't lost sight of the hard work that has gotten them to this point.
"We're in the mid-tier right now,” Sullivan says. "We're always looking to get to the next level of being a musician and paying the bills.”
While it's easy for them to look back on their years of pounding the pavement, it took one moment to show them that things are headed in the right direction. A few weeks ago, Bradley Nowell's sister, who is a fan of the quintet, invited Seedless to the home of the late Sublime front man's father. After spending a day with the Nowell family, it reaffirmed the vision the group outlined when they formed seven years ago.
"It was surreal, eating hot dogs and hanging out with [Nowell's father],” Sullivan says. “I'm still influenced by that band today, and to get their endorsement, wow! That was one of the biggest moments of my life.”
With a busy slate of shows, in addition to a slew of new material on the way, this could be the beginning of a long run of memorable moments for Seedless.
Seedless perform at the Roxy, 9009 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 278-9457; www.roxyonsunset.com. Sat., 7:30 p.m. $12-$16. 21+.