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Getting Inked

8Stops7 got a record deal without moving to L.A., selling out or groveling.

February 23, 2001|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Except for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, no one ever gets signed from around here, right? So goes the party line.

A notable exception would be 8Stops7, a quintet of locals that was signed and is alive and well, chasing and living those MTV dreams without having to suffer through the whole L.A. schmooze thing.

Fillmore's Evan Sula-Goff, the lead singer of 8Stops7, will do an hourlong solo acoustic set at 66 California as part of the Young Songwriter's Showcase set for the last Wednesday of every month. The event is the brainchild of Brian Parra, who has his own group, the wacky American Cheese Band. The criteria are easy--be young (under 30) and have songs. Joining Sula-Goff on the bill will be Tina Poppy and the Mudlers.

8Stops7 played just about every local club in Ventura and Santa Barbara for a couple of years, then found the right management team, released an independent album, then enjoyed the bidding war. The group eventually signed with Reprise, where it continues to live long and prosper as well as tour extensively.

Part of the group's success has to do with a former unlikely venue, the Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura, once home to cover bands, but now the best place to see original, affordable local music. Even the dreaded karaoke has a part to play in all this, as Sula-Goff tells it:

How's the 8Stops7 biz?

It's good. Right now we're going in to do our next album and we're writing songs. We have two albums out, but only one on the label. We put out one ourselves called "Birth of a Cynic." The new one actually came out almost two years ago and is called "In Moderation." We sold about 8,000 copies of the first one, just around here. . . . I was in other bands, such as Water's Edge and Haven's Window, plus a couple of other bands that never had names. I've been playing in bands since I was 15.

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No one ever gets signed from around here, except Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and you guys. What happened?

I would have to say a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time. We didn't go to L.A. but actually stayed around here, and we hooked up with our manager. The first show we ever played was at Cafe Voltaire when it was still downtown, at like midnight. Everybody I knew showed up and totally packed out the patio. Then we just started playing around at the Victoria Pub, Nicholby's and Bombay. The Bombay is pretty much the only place besides the Ventura Theatre we play since we started touring as this band.

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Where did you guys go?

Pretty much you name it. New York to Washington to San Diego to Florida and everywhere in between. The most people we played for was 25,000 at a radio festival with about 15 other bands. During the first six months we were playing clubs, and maybe nine times out of 10, there would be nobody there. Then as we started getting more radio play, we'd start to pack them in at places like Spokane, Wash., a place we'd never played in our lives.

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Was the road what you expected?

It was better. I never really had any expectations. I just hoped that once we started that we would be able to survive as a band because I had heard all the horror stories. We've had a blast. I wouldn't trade all the experiences we've had together for anything in the world. For the most part, when you're touring, you only get to spend at the most a day in any town. Usually it's motel to gas station to club to radio festival and so forth. We got to spend a couple days in Seattle . . . a couple days in Key West, Fla., a day in Orlando, then stopped off here and there. It was just great seeing all the wide open country.

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What were some of your memorable gigs?

Oh man, I guess it would have to be certain pairings of bands we've been with. We played two weeks with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, then we played a week with Veruca Salt, both completely different bands but for some reason, we were opening for both of them. We've also played with bands like Biohazard, Anthrax, Slipknot and Suicidal Tendencies. We have some heavier tunes but nothing that would compare to those hard-core thrash bands, but the crowd was really receptive.

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How would you describe 8Stops7's music?

It's definitely like an alternative rock--it fits into that genre, or even just straight rock. We don't use any electronic stuff--we just plug in our guitars and run it through distortion, and that's about it. We have two guitar players, a bass player, a drummer and me. We do everything from heavy thrash tunes to ballads and everything in between. We all listen to so many different things, we just wanted to keep ourselves open.

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One of your bios says you guys are from Santa Barbara, but obviously, you're not. So where is everyone really from?

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