Huntington Beach-based rockers the Tickets believe they are on a divine mission: to save Orange County nightclub-goers from rock 'n' roll mediocrity.
Bryan Shaddix, band spokesman and lead guitarist, believes that mainstream pop's cynical love affair with image has tarnished its credibility and feels that the Tickets can provide the musical Tarnex needed to restore some of the lost luster to Orange County's stale club scene.
"Music is religion and we're leading a holy war against the Establishment," Shaddix said recently. "We're like musical messiahs leading the lost out of the wilderness. While most bands are slinging out warmed-over, image-conscious hamburger, we're out there serving people steak."
Even if you're a musical vegetarian, a quick listen will convince you that these self-proclaimed barroom messiahs are a chain-saw cut above standard pop Pablum.
Drawing from sources such as the Replacements, Nick Lowe, Lenny Kravitz, John Hiatt and Elvis Costello, the Tickets serve up piping hot covers and original tunes that have a lean, beefy sound reminiscent of the New York Dolls, Channel 3 and NRBQ.
In a typical set you're likely to hear songs like "Radio Girl" by Hiatt, "Sheena is a Punk Rocker" by the Ramones, David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars" and "Mr. Cabdriver" by Kravitz.
Shaddix, 27, is the primary artistic force behind the Tickets, providing virtually all of the band's original material. With more than 70 songs under his belt, Shaddix attributes much of his writing style to British rocker Nick Lowe.
"The thing about Lowe is that his music is so honest. His songs are not pretentious. They have an integrity that goes way beyond the big drum, big guitar sound that most bands use today as a substitute for talent.
"Musically I'm an optimist. But I'm not really a happy person, so I try to write myself happy. I search out the darker themes and find ways to turn them around."
Shaddix is the only remaining member of the original Tickets, which he created in 1983 while living near Seattle. In '84 the group moved to Los Angeles and recruited Marcos de la Cruz--then drummer for Katrina & the Waves. By 1987 an artistic rift had caused Tickets' original bassist and guitar player to leave the band and a few months later the current compliment--bassist Andrew Winston and guitarist Brian Martin--signed on.
The Tickets played frequent gigs at clubs like the Whisky and Madame Wongs, but it wasn't long before they tired of the cynicism of the Los Angeles rock arena and retreated to Orange County to polish their act and get material together for a debut album.
In the meantime they've managed to keep busy, supporting themselves entirely on the five to six shows a week they play at clubs throughout Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties.
Armed with a repertoire of more than 70 original songs, the group is now ready to begin doing showcase work again and is in the process of putting the finishing touches on 10 of their best tunes for an upcoming self-produced album.
Who: The Tickets.
When: Friday, Nov. 23; Saturday, Nov. 24, and Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 at 9 p.m.
Where: Louie Louie's, 777 S. Main St., Orange.
Whereabouts: Take the Garden Grove Freeway to Main Street. Club is at Main Street and Town and Country Road.
Wherewithal: No cover.
Where to Call: (714) 547-7020.