LOS ANGELES EDITION /// Thomas
Paris — Copenhagen — Brussels — Paris — Berlin — 3 years on the road with my double bass — Berlin — Stuttgart — Los Angeles
Americans have this open hearted innocence we cynical Europeans have somewhat lost. And that American dream stuff — it still exists! Here in America — if you want to invent or start up something, nobody’s gonna stop you from doing your thing. The general positive and open attitude makes endeavours easier.
I moved to L.A. six years ago to live in a sunny place where people are friendly and open minded. I’m a musician and had toured US quite a bit so there were already local friends and connections. My wife is American so it was fairly easy to try living here.
Over the years I’ve played upright bass all over the world for psychobilly bands like The Raving Pharaohs, The Swindlers, Frantic Flintstones, Betty & The Bops, The Love Cowboys, Kings of Nuthin’, Astro Zombies, Guitar Slingers, Rezurex and Mutsumi Yanagiya and the Rat bones. I’m currently playing in bands The Surf Rats and Heathen Apostles. Last year took us to play in US, Europe, Japan and Brazil.
Over the years I’ve played and recorded upright bass all over the world for psychobilly bands like The Raving Pharaohs (my 1st band), The Swindlers, Frantic Flintstones, Betty & The Bops, The Love Cowboys, Kings of Nuthin’, Astro Zombies, Gotham, Guitar Slingers, Rezurex and Mutsumi Yanagiya & the Rat bones. I’m currently playing in bands The Surf Rats, Heathen Apostles and Frantic Flintstones when they play outside Europe. Last year took us to play in US, Europe, Japan and Brazil.
I started playing music way late, when I was already 19 years old. A Parisian street musician showed me the basics of upright bass — the position, the strings and the notes. Soon I walked into a bank, got a loan, bought my own bass and started to playing on the streets and subways of Paris. Few years later my country band broke up on the road and left me stranded on the streets of Copenhagen. After some hard months a Russian psychobilly band picked me up from a street corner and taught me everything I know about playing upright bass. I owe them everything.
L.A. is not an easy city for musicians. There are tons of bands here and venues like to use it to their advantage. If you are a small, mid level or underground band — that will be their excuse to not to pay you for your work. For this reason, many bands that make a living out of music on the East Coast actually avoid coming to California. Living out of music often means touring 11 months a year — it’s a hard road. These days, the way I see it, there is no band worth fucking up your life.
I miss the European mentality, healthcare, unions and social system. When you drive few hours in Europe, you’ll reach another country, culture, cuisine and language. It’s pretty incredible. Traveling tends to widen your way of thinking. Surprisingly many Americans suffer from some kind of strange lack of curiosity and never travel outside their borders.
The 10 month summer is a treat! L.A. attracts an interesting variety of people from other countries and states. It’s a very special location — drive 30 minutes and you’ll be on a beach; 1,5 hours and you’ll hit the desert; 2 hours and you can ski on snowy mountains and 2,5 hours and you’re in Mexico. More European friends have visited me here than ever did in Stuttgart!
L.A. Weekly magazine lists the live shows of the city pretty well. For punk gigs, check out the legendary The Smell in Downtown L.A. (www.thesmell.org) or Alex’s Bar in Long Beach (www.alexsbar.com). Rockabilly and psychobilly scene of L.A. is alive pretty much thanks to Latin locals — there is always something going on at Spike’s in East L.A. (http://www.spikes-bar.com/)