But for most rockers of just about any stripe—and you might as well toss painters and some poets into the mix as well—the lure of the West coast is a trope that symbolizes American culture’s collective and individual search for completion. Going to California, whether you have an achin’ in your heart or not, means a return to an Eden-like source where creativity flows unchecked, where the beauty of the human form is revealed during endless summer nights and life’s vitality can be replenished amongst beachy groves of palms and vast farms whose luscious, fruity produce boggles the mind and fills the belly.
Here in Burque, a military outpost in the high desert situated on a mile high plateau merely 789 miles from the promised land, many a local band has made the move. It’s a brave thing, a manipulation of reality that says “fuck the uncertainty because we’re going to make it after all.” From Albuquerque aughts outfits like Karen and FOMA to their latter day successors like The Lymbs and Monster Paws, the trip to Califas marks a door to freedom—not to mention bigger audiences, more money and a chance to be seen by industry executives who still spend their weekends wandering clubs like the Whisky A Go Go looking for the next big thing—that cannot be opened out here in the Duke City.
The next wave of this movement waterward is already here. In a symbolically synchronous act, The Southwest Chief is boarding, getting ready to take leave of Alvarado Station as it twists and chugs and glides out from the desert and toward the sea. Somewhere in Barelas or the student ghetto, the air conditioner is being fixed on an older model car that will be lovingly filled with guitars and basses, amps and drum kits before it heads out to Gallup and Flagstaff and Kingman and Needles before descending into the azure and green oasis “out there.”
That’s right, Adult Beverage is heading to El Lay, dudes. The project of Cali transplant Dillon Cullinan, the up-and-coming rock outfit—including drummer Zach Leyba and bassist Cole Neese—is playing their last local gig at Sister (407 Central NW) on Monday, July 3. After that, the core of the ensemble—Cullinan and fellow guitarist Higinio Martinez—are making the trip.
The two musicians stopped by the new and ultra-fab Alibi headquarters a couple of days ago to talk about their proposed entrada and subsequent conquest of the Western Lands. Here’s a record of their conversation with “I’m not ashamed to admit that I couldn’t make it in California” Music Editor August March.
Weekly Alibi: Dudes, tell me a little bit about the last time you’ll be playing live in Burque.
Dillon Cullinan: We’ll be playing with Train Conductor and Crime Lab at Sister on July 3rd.
Hmm ... Crime Lab, that’s Oskar Petersen’s band. His dad Carl was the publisher of Weekly Alibi for years and years.
Higinio Martinez: Every time I see Carl, every time I hang out with him, I’m like, that was an important musical experience. He always has something interesting to say. It doesn’t make sense at first sometimes, but then, holy crap ... when I think about it ...
He’s an intense dude, that’s for sure. And a great songwriter. Oskar is so talented, too. But anywho, let’s talk more about your project, like, you two are moving out to Cali. Where are you going in the Golden State?
Dillion: You know, we’re not sure yet, we’ll probably be inland, in the greater Los Angeles area.
It’s a little cheaper in North Hollywood; the closer you get to the coast ... it gets really expensive really quickly, right?
Higinio: Yeah, we were checking that out the other day. It’s surprising how two mile’s difference [toward the coast] equals hundreds of dollars, rent-wise.
But aren’t there some really cool music communities in that part of the state, even in Orange County?
Higinio: We played a show in OC, at a DIY spot. We played with some awesome bands.
Dillon: Uniform totally rocked.
Higinio: Yeah, that band is still high school and those guys shredded. We were, like, so impressed. There’s a level of professionalism you hear out there that’s on a different level than what you hear in Burque.
With that kind of competition, why did you decide to move out to Cali?
Higinio: It’s kinda a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that arose suddenly. Dillon was planning on moving back home anyway ...
Dillon: Yeah, I was already planning on doing it ... I wanna get involved with a little more film music, be near the ocean, my family is out there. I grew up in Venice.
So for one of you, it’s a return to your roots, for the other a new adventure. What are your plans once you’re there?
Higinio: We’ll probably choose a different name, recruit some more musicians and start recording!
So, is this the end for Adult Beverage?
Higinio. We’re all still good friends. I’m from northern New Mexico, so I’m sure I’ll be back some day.
Locally, what’s been the reaction to these new developments?
Dillon: They’re telling us all to fuck off. [August March laughs heartily].
Higinio [in a stilted, witch-like voice]: Yeah, get the hell out of here!
Dillon: Seriously though, we’re losing, well not losing, but a huge amount of our fans, the people that come out to our shows, are close friends of ours. We have a ton of friends that we’ve made by playing shows.
I noticed that you guys play at a lot of house parties and house shows. Has that increased your band’s popularity here in Dirt City?
Higinio: Sometimes from our experience, I feel that those kinda shows can be hard, they’re easier to play but it’s difficult to get people out to underground shows.
Dillon: Especially if they’re on a Friday or Saturday. House parties feel crazy because everybody’s shitfaced.
Higinio: We enjoy the dynamic of playing places like Sister and Launchpad because it feels more serious. But house shows are good too. They’re like a community thing. We end up hanging out.
How is California going to be different for you two, creatively and existentially?
Dillon: It’s been great here. But I’m excited about the future. We’re essentially a noise rock joint. We’ve also got that heavy, shoegaze, dreampop thing going ... you know psych rock without the stoner rock stylings. We have catchy songs but we still like to make the crowd uncomfortable sometimes ... all of those factors go really well with the roar of the ocean, with the uncertainty of the sea.