Fifteen years ago this month Bay Area power poppers Red Planet released their masterpiece Let’s Degenerate on Gearhead Records. Following a national tour the band that was hailed as the next Green Day by fans called it quits as the original members splintered into separate factions due to life circumstances.
Coming together for the first time since then, the original band will play Gearhead’s Gearfest 2016. The garage-punk hot rod exravaganza will take place at the Blue Lamp, 1400 Alhambra Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95816 Sept. 24, 2016. Doors open at 6:30 with Red Planet scheduled to take the stage at 10 pm. Space is limited and guests are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance from the Blue Lamp website. The cost is $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
Hailed as “Darn Infectious” by the SF Bay Guardian and raved about by the underground press far and wide, Red Planet played hooky power-pop new wave melodies inspired by The Cars, The Knack, and later-period Redd Kross. “This young, Ritalin-deprived quartet let loose with big barbed hooks, Diamond Dave-era Van Halen influenced guitar leads, and vocal harmonies inspired by a rich collection of British Invasion vinyl.” (Listen.com)
After releasing their debut full-length Revolution 33 in 2000 on Gearhead Records, the band was poised to explode to a wider audience with the release of their 2001 sophomore release Let’s Degenerate. Produced by award-winning indie producer Kurt Bloch (Fastbacks, Mudhoney, Nashville Pussy) and photographed by Grammy-nominated photographer David Perry, the album was rapidly climbing the indie charts with enthusiastic reviews and an ever growing rabid fan base. Fans were calling them “the next Green Day” because of their catchy-punk-laden hooks, Bay Area roots, cheeky attitude and incendiary live performances.
To promote the new record, the band went on a national tour September 2001 opening for the New York Dolls’ Syl Slyvain. Looking forward to playing to larger audiences and traveling the country for the first time, the band was fueled by high hopes and a brash certainty only a young band on the rise can harness. All done before the era of social media, the word of mouth buzz was excited and expectant. Then came the tragedy of 9/11 and every thing fell apart.
Playing to half-empty halls and struggling to get paid because promoters were losing their shirts due to low turn out, the band arrived home from the month long tour exhausted, hungry and demoralized. Drummer John Messier was the first to call it quits. Family demands, trying to make rent and frustration proved to be too much and the rest of band went on hiatus for several months to recover.
In 2004, with a replacement drummer, the band released their final record We Know How It Goes to critical acclaim but mediocre sales. Displaying a more introspective dreamy quality, the songs on this record reflected a more grown-up view of the world, where love doesn’t win out in the end, and dark things sometimes overpower even the most positive mindset. Produced entirely in-house by Red Planet guitarist Chris Dunn, the record resonated with a late-period Brian Wilson feel, more echoey layered production and less in-your-face punk rock enthusiasm. After several months, despite repeated requests for the band to perform these songs live, they officially called it quits and went their separate ways.
Gearhead owner Michelle was heartbroken, dashing high hopes that this band would be a commercial success. But more importantly, Red Planet was Haunold’s baby, bringing the band to Gearhead after stumbling across them opening for Kevin Second’s (7 Seconds) band Grand National at a small Sacramento club. “They played music like I grew up listening too. Power pop new wave with infectious melodies and a cheeky in your face attitude that only a great young band could pull off. I fell in love instantly.”
Now, after repeated requests for the band to play, they have agreed. All four original members, drummer John Messier, keyboards/ guitarist Chris Dunn, guitarist Jeremy Powers and bassist Gordon Evans, will once again take the stage at Gearfest 2016, scheduled for Sept. 24, 2016 at The Blue Lamp. Still based in the Bay Area, the band will play a selection of songs from their four Gearhead releases as well as some new songs. “I am over the moon with excitement,” enthused Haunold. “I can’t wait to see them and hear those songs that I still have on constant rotation in my Itunes played live once again”. Old fans are excitedly expectant and Haunold is hopeful the new generation of music fans who are pushing the sales of power pop vinyl at indie stores around the country will finally check out Red Planet.
Doors open at 6:30 and the first band goes on at 7 pm sharp. Red Planet will hit the stage about 10 pm sharing the bill with several other veteran bands from the late 90s, including Sacramento’s Troublemakers, LA’s The Rankoutsiders and Leesa G from the 80’s girl punk band The Creamers.
Rock 'n' Roll/Automotive Journalist, Influencer, Editor and Publisher of Gearhead Magazine,