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Buzz bands

May 22, 2003

A reclusive approach to creating

Next time, give Aaron Espinoza a deadline. The driving force behind art-pop experimentalist group Earlimart, Espinoza spent months holed up in his Eagle Rock studio obsessing over the songs that would become "Everyone Down Here," the album just out on Palm Pictures' label. "I was homeless for a while and actually living at the studio," Espinoza says. "I remember going to the grocery store for supplies and thinking, 'Oh, no -- bright lights ... people.'" Of course, there was an upside, he explains: "I could be half asleep at 4:30 in the morning, come up with that one little piano line I'd been looking for."

As stealthily seductive as Earlimart's songs are, Espinoza seems equally proud of his work in what he calls "the collective" -- a group of artists that co-owns the studio, named "The Ship." In fact, Espinoza helped fellow Central Valley-to-L.A. transplants in Pine Marten finish their debut, "Beautiful Stakes and Power Poles," in only a month. It's the first release on his new label, Wild Hotels of the Sea. Earlimart performs Wednesday at the Derby; Pine Marten plays Friday at Spaceland.

Band's life documented

Culling the material that would end up on "Last Call" -- a collection of Betty Blowtorch demos, live tracks and interview snippets released this week on Foodchain Records -- proved bittersweet for Blare N. Bitch, guitarist for the ill-fated band. "In a way it was a lot of fun to do," she says, "but I had my share of crying over the CD too." Despite some inner turmoil, Betty Blowtorch was on the rise and on tour at the end of 2001 when frontwoman Bianca Halstead (who performed as Bianca Butthole) was killed at age 36 in an auto accident caused by a drunk driver.

In some ways, the collection, with its "ongoing little banter between songs, really gives you a good overall picture" of what the band was about, Blare says -- rock at its rawest and most raucous. Even so, fans have not heard the last of the brazen, bawdy foursome. Director Anthony Scarpa's movie "Betty Blowtorch and Her Amazing True Life Adventures" will have its premiere screening at 8 p.m. June 25 at the ArcLight Cinemas as part of the American Film Institute's music documentary series. Two years in the making, the film unearthed plenty of emotions for those Bianca left behind. "It's weird seeing her again," Blare says. "By the end of the movie, I'm numb, then I'm sad."

He didn't quit day job

The last place you'd expect to find the lead singer of one of Orange County's leading metal/hard-core bands is in a coffee shop at 5:30 a.m. Not that Brandan Schieppati of Bleeding Through enjoys the routine, especially after a late-night gig, but, he says, "bills need to be paid." Besides, some of his best writing happens on the job at the Zinc Cafe in Corona del Mar. "I have a pen tied to my apron and a notepad in my pocket. Some of my best stuff has come when I'm grinding beans."

The band played the New England Metalfest last week as part of an East Coast tour and returns for a date with the Haunted and Shai Hulud on June 1 at the Troubadour.

Fast forward

That brief wash of California pop that serves as the opening theme to "Julius & Friends" cartoons is a modified version of the song "Jennifer" from the album "Thirty-Seven Secrets I Only Told America" by Orange County resident Tony Carbone's group Bikeride....Supporting his 13-song disc, "My Wasted Youth," Matt Beckley, son of Gerry Beckley of America, returns to Genghis Cohen for a show on Saturday night.... Synthy shape shifters Maimou close out a string of Southland dates with a show tonight at Spaceland.... The Action Cats and San Diego's Rochelle Rochelle join two other bands for a benefit show at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Hub in Fullerton. The beneficiary? The venue. Its P.A. system was stolen last month.... And if you like a little politics with your punk, Killradio thrashes through a showcase May 29 at the Knitting Factory.

-- Kevin Bronson, with Erik Hamilton

E-mail us at buzzbands@latimes.com.

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