Out of the garage
Ale Mania and Beaters are built to last
By Seth Combs
Out of the garage
The last time we sat in a room with members of The Sess they were on cloud nine. Or at least it seemed like they were.
The Sess was one of the hottest acts in the San Diego scene, and the garage-punk band seemed to be on a similar trajectory as other local acts like Crocodiles, Wavves and The Soft Pack.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Mere weeks after CityBeat’s August 2008 profile, in which we declared, “San Diego’s most dangerous band is probably too good to last,” The Sess, indeed, broke up.
Fast forward to the present. Jeremy Rojas and Andrew Montoya are sitting in the makeshift studio that Montoya built in his North Park apartment, listening to a mix of “Obamanation,” a song by their new band, Beaters.
“Dissipated. Naturally. Turned into chaos like anything else in the universe,” says Montoya when asked about The Sess’ breakup. “Slips out of control, whether it be individually or as a whole, simultaneously.”
That’s about as clear an answer as you’ll get about The Sess’ breakup. That and, as Montoya later adds, there were just “too many dicks to last.”
There’s something to be said for a band that breaks up at the height of its initial buzz, but after The Sess ended, Montoya, Rojas and keyboardist Aldo Bustos kept going. Their new bands could be seen as proper solo projects, with Ale Mania being Montoya’s baby. The former Sess drummer is now on bass and vocals, surrounded by guitarist Rojas, Bustos and Atoms drummer Melissa “Christy” Beats. Theirs is a rhythmic sound, with the bass and drums never letting up and Bustos’ keyboards giving it all an early New Order kind of sound on tracks like “Lustful Fistful” and “Chaotic Formation.”
Beaters, on the other hand, is Rojas’ creative outlet, with Montoya back on drums and joined by Bustos and bassist
Craig Barclift from local punk band The Powerchords. Fans of The Sess will see similarities in Beaters, but only on the surface. The aggressiveness and pace of The Sess are still there, but the sound is more grown-up, incorporating more melody and hooks on “Fishage” and “Obamanation.”
“In The Sess, Andrew wasn’t a main writer of the music, but in Ale Mania he’s the main writer,” Rojas explains. “His musical tastes run pretty deep. But so do all of ours. We don’t just sit around and listen to garage and punk all day. We listen to all kinds of shit, and we want to play all kinds of shit.”
The musicians maintain that Beaters and Ale Mania are in the infancy stage, but Ale Mania’s first two shows—one opening for Grand Ole Party at Soda Bar—had music geeks buzzing in the same tones as when The Sess first started playing. Rojas says Beaters will be ready to play live by late May, and both plan to put out records and singles later this year. They believe this is the real deal and that whatever The Sess was, it was all leading up to the present.
“I just like to play and write music,” Montoya says. “There’s really no pushiness to make this happen. Everybody shows up when they’re supposed to show up because they want to do it. All I can be is stoked on that. There’s still a lot of work in putting music out, but in this case, it seems to be a lot easier now than it’s ever been.”
“I’ve always compared playing music with other people to having sex,” Rojas adds. “The more you know, the more you grow.”
Ale Mania play with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Vivian Girls and DJ Mario Orduno on Wednesday, April 15, at The Casbah. www.myspace.com/esoesguey. www.myspace.com/wearebeaters.