By: Robert Stinson
San Diego County is a veritable bounty of creative energy emanating from talented bands like Bad Neighborz, who have taken their cues from the rock/reggae genre that has become synonymous with the Southern California surf culture. Hailing from North County, this trio of misfits has made a name for themselves in the few months theyâ€™ve been together as a band, engaging their audiences with hypnotic tracks on their recently released EP, Sunny D, which blends elements of funk, dub, reggae and rock with upbeat, life affirming lyrics.Â What is most remarkable about these guys is their wiliness to give back to their community. On St Patrickâ€™s Day, the band pulled out all the stops and performed at a charity gig for a group of veterans in Old Town who whooped and jeered at their comedic onstage antics that were complimented by a stellar performance, which lifted the spirits of everyone in the audience. We were able to catch up with Caleb Wilborn (vocals, guitar), Jay Crew (Bass) and Mike Poulos (drums) of Bad Neighborz to get better acquainted.
How long have you guys been playing music together?
Caleb Wilborn: Well, itâ€™s been about four months now since we came together as a band.
What gigs have you guys played in the short period of time youâ€˜ve been together?
Jay Crew: We opened up for The Devastators, which was an incredible opportunity to showcase our talents. We mostly try to play gigs in North County where our rehearsal studio is. We have a nice big rehearsal space that is like a Bad Neighborz fun factory.
CW: We ended up firing our last drummer and hiring Mikey, so weâ€™re more of a tight knit family now.
JC: There was a Bad Neighborz breakup previous to the family we have now. It was a band with Piers and Eric from Sunny Rude, but it didnâ€™t work out. We didnâ€™t connect that strongly as a band. I wanted Piers to stay, but he left to join Sunny Rude instead.
How did you guys come up with your name?
JC: Actually, thatâ€™s a funny story. The name came about because we were rehearsing in a garage and one of our neighbors started stomping on the garage door, asking us to turn it down. We thought, â€œHey man, itâ€™s 3:00 PM; we have plenty of time to play before we should shut down. He was like, â€œYou guys are being bad neighbors,â€ so the name kind of stuck from that point.
Mike Poulos: When I was 17, I was in a band in Northern California. We were put on citizenâ€™s arrest by our neighbor for playing music too loud, so I actually have a record for being a bad neighbor.
You guys are quickly developing a loyal following. Why do you think people are so receptive to your music?
JC:Â For the most part, I think people are receptive to bands that play in the rock/reggae genre, and we have that kind of upbeat sound that is appealing to a wide audience.
What are you guys doing when youâ€™re not in the studio or rehearsing?
CW: Surfing, skating or video blogging.
Are you all from North County?
MP: Iâ€™m originally from Northern California, but Jay and Caleb grew up here.
What bands do you guys turn to for inspiration?
CW: Anything with a good beat, especially Pepper. When they first moved here from Hawaii, I was 17 and they lived right next door to my best friend who taught me how to play the guitar. We used to hang out with them before they got big, so they were a really big inspiration for me. You know, most bands have their separate lives and have band practice once a day or not even. The way to make a band successful these days is to have a well-rounded team and to market more than just the music. Secondly, you have to be together all the time. Thatâ€™s why things are happening for us.
How do you guys feel about the San Diego City Councilâ€™s defacto ban on medical marijuana facilities?
CW: I think if youâ€™re concerned about me being free to burn, pass it to the left and watch me take my turn.
Why do you think people are so uptight towards cannabis use, especially when studies have proven its medicinal properties?
CW: People just need to lighten up. I mean, our founding fathers grew hemp. If those people would just look to the past, they would see that cannabis has been used as a medicine for centuries.
What bands would you like to eventually tour with?
CW: The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rebelution, Pepper, Dirty Heads, and 311 for sure. I have to give a shout-out to our road dog Tommie, who played with Jack Johnson, Adrian Young, and the bassist from Oingo Boingo on his album.
Itâ€™s pretty cool that you took time out of your schedule to do a charity concert for veterans. Contrary to your name, you guys seem to really care about your community. Is taking care of our veterans a cause you guys feel strongly about?
MP: As soon as we were offered this opportunity, we jumped on it with no hesitation at all. It was an awesome opportunity to play for the vets and see the smiles on their faces.
JC: The way I see it, these men fought for our freedom. Regardless of your political affiliations, these men deserve our respect. I come from a military family, so Iâ€™ve always respected those who choose to serve their country.
CW: Look for Bad Neighborz getting involved with a lot more charity events. Weâ€™ve already done some work with Surfers Healing for Autism, which hosts surf camps all over the globe.
Check out Bad Neighborz video blogs and links to their social networking sites at http://www.badneighborz.com/badblog