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Riff Raff 500 and other local bands keep their lineups in a state of flux

By David Espinoza

OUT WITH THE OLD. No one ever said it was easy keeping a band going, but Troy Lewis of Riff Raff 500 deserves an award. It seems the Menudo (the Puerto Rican pop sensation that brought us Ricky Martin) method of changing the lineup every few years has been the 8-year-old greaser punk outfit's secret to staying alive.

Last Friday's Catalyst gig with the Lonely Kings marked the final show for founding member/bassist Paul Netto, leaving Lewis the last original Riff Raffer. Coincidentally, the Catalyst gig was also the last gig for longtime drummer Thom White, who had to leave due to surgery. Guitarist Josh White, a.k.a. SB Josh, who's been with the band for more than a year, jokes, "Every time we play the Catalyst, we kick someone out--I guess I'm next." Musicians haven't been the only casualties: Riff Raff 500's management, which started just a few months back, is out of the picture.

The current lineup (subject to change at any time) includes former Cup Check members Nate Contos on drums and Jonas Davidson on bass. According to White, the crew hopes to follow up May's Watch Your Back LP with another full-length release next year. The band is also planning to hit the road in November for a two-week tour--aspiring bassists, drummers and guitarists between the ages 16 and 30 with lots of tattoos are encouraged to hone their skills while they're gone.


Perhaps Netto can hook up with frenetic melting-pot funk meisters Soba; the band is again looking for a new bass player. Back in March, the Colorado émigrés added jazz-trained Cabrillo student Bobby Hanson, but this Thursday's gig at the Catalyst with the Sneeky Creekans (who are looking for another guitarist) will be his last. What's up with all these lineup changes anyway? It must be that time of year.

Indie Mafia on the Web

I don't know how long it's been around, but the Santa Cruz Underground Music page (linked to Oliver Brown's www.kingturtle.com) is by far the most comprehensive list of local bands since the Santa Cruz Sucks! compilations on Bad Monkey Records. Set against a simple white background, all text and no graphics, www.kingturtle.com/scum is still in the process of getting its act together.

The mission to give local bands the resources to organize and promote their own shows is another self-empowering page in the DIY bible, though the list needs to be updated. On the local bands contact info page, there are bands listed that have long since left town, including Buddy's Riot and the Peggy Hills. There also isn't a link to the new local indie-rock online discussion group (www.egroups.com/group/scruz_indie), though destiny will no doubt bring them together. On the plus side, you won't find too many other webpages that list Estradasphere, Good Riddance and Slow Gherkin in the same breath.

Upcoming Shows

Just in time for its first release in eight years, the Tom Tom Club will be making its way to P-ville next Wednesday (Oct. 25). Always colorful, danceable and kooky, the Tom Tom Club (Talking Heads minus David Byrne) has been sampled by '90s hip-hop and pop artists almost to the same extent as George Clinton. With luck, this won't be another nostalgia show (a la Men at Work or the Alarm 2000) and will garner a new generation of '80s funk enthusiasts.

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From the October 18-25, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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