The music business is never easy on struggling young rock bands, but to use the words of the old blues song, times are getting tougher than tough for Orange County groups.
The Daddyo's, the rockabilly-turned-surf punk party band, has had its share of disappointments, but because the group has survived for four years, the band members have learned to accept the frustrations as an integral part of their trade.
For instance, the band's future started to look up last year when a local entertainment magazine scheduled an interview with the Daddyo's as its cover story.
"The story never came out because the magazine went out of business," said Daddyo's guitarist Young Hutchison during an interview earlier this week at a Costa Mesa restaurant, where he was joined by lead singer Mike (Pink) Arguello.
Next, after nearly a year of work to finish their new five-song mini-LP, "Joys of Inflation," the group sent a copy to KNAC-FM in Long Beach, one of the few Southern California radio stations with a history of giving air play to local bands. "The next day KNAC went heavy metal," Hutchison said.
Add to that the current tenuous state of the Orange County club scene--last week's closing of Spatz in Huntington Harbour and the uncertain future of the Golden Bear in Huntington Beach--and you've got a potentially depressing atmosphere for original music groups.
"We're not up against anything every other band hasn't had to put up with," Hutchison said. "It's the nature of the game."
Like another Orange County band, El Grupo Sexo, the Daddyo's are known as much for its wild stage show, which comes to Safari Sam's in Huntington Beach on Saturday, as for its original songs.
During one performance last year at the Golden Bear, for instance, the group was joined on stage by a 300-pound Tahitian dancer who performed with flaming tiki torches while the band members littered the club with confetti and party streamers.
"To this day, that's the show that everyone keeps bringing up. Everyone who was there remembers that one," Hutchison said. "The next time we played there, which, needless to say, was quite some time after that, Mike ran on stage during the encore with a vacuum cleaner. I don't know whether the owner got the joke. But we're getting really good at looking like we are completely blowing it while still delivering the music."
Hutchison insists, however, that the group's theatrics are more than just an attention-getting gimmick. To the Daddyo's, the visual element is an important way of avoiding the repetition that plagues many bands who perform frequently on the local music circuit.
"It's really hard when you're a local band to keep playing the same clubs and drawing audiences," Hutchison said. "It's not like you're a touring band that comes to an area once a year, gets a lot of hype on their new songs and then leaves. There are very few local bands who write enough songs to have new material for each show. But the stage show is something we can change each time."
The Daddyo's was formed in 1982 during the Southern California rockabilly revival--hence the '50s-sounding name. The group was created as a one-time band to play for a party, not as a vehicle to pop music stardom. But Hutchison said a strong reaction to the new band convinced the musicians to continue performing "to find out what we'd stumbled onto."
The original members of the Daddyo's--Hutchison, Arguello and lead guitarist Gary Wilson--are joined by bassist Terry Adamo and drummer Mitchell James. They have also recently added a horn section to give more of an R&B edge to some of the songs.
Although the Daddyo's music has moved away from its early rockabilly overtones to a synthesizer-based dance sound, the name has stuck. "We had the bright idea one time to change our name to the Party, but we started getting all this hate mail," Arguello said. "So the Party was over."
Taking a philosophical tone again, Hutchison said: "I think the best way to go is just to do what you do the best you can. If it's popular, then that's the best you can hope for. If it's not, then at least you're doing what you like."
"And if this doesn't work," Arguello joked, "there's always professional wrestling."
THE BEAT GOES ON: Saddleback College-based radio station KSBR-FM (88.5) will broadcast the first segment of a new four-hour documentary on reggae music at 8 p.m. Thursday. Part of the station's programming commemorating Black History Month in February, "Reggae: The Beat of the Heart" was co-produced by reggae authorities Malika Lee Whitney, author of the biography "Bob Marley, Reggae King of the World," and Jonathan Blunk, who has a reggae radio show on an East Orange, N.J., listener-supported radio station.
The remaining segments of the documentary will be aired each Thursday in February at 8 p.m., preceding KSBR's own "Reggae Showcase" hosted by Jim Otto.
LIVE ACTION: The James Harman Band will play Safari Sam's in Huntington Beach on Feb. 7. . . . The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be at the Coach House in San Clemente on Feb. 16. . . . The Four Freshmen and the Limelighters return to the Crazy Horse Steak House in Santa Ana on Feb. 17.