Surf City ska/reggae rockers HB Surround Sound say they have one goal - to be bigger than Aerosmith.
With a vivacious stage show and praise from big-name musicians, like Rancid's Tim Armstrong, the quintet is well on its way.
Hailing from Huntington Beach, the guys of HB Surround Sound always knew that music was their calling. After establishing themselves in 1999 after graduating from Marina High School, the band worked diligently to make its way into the music scene.
It opened for the popular Huntington Beach metal band, Avenged Sevenfold, in the early 2000s. Despite playing a different genre of music, HB Surround Sound's music was well received by the crowd.
"That's how cool Avenged Sevenfold is," Jake Bushnell (vocals) said in an interview on Main Street in Huntington Beach. "We sound totally different than them, but they were our friends and decided to put us on their show. We played some reggae stuff but mostly punk and metal kinds of songs. The crowd was like, 'Alright, this is different' and liked it. That was great."
However, after playing together for six years, the band split up to get "normal" jobs and lives. Bushnell remained in the music scene. In 2009, while a tour manager for The Dirty Heads, he missed performing and decided to try to put the band back together.
"I literally, on the [Dirty Heads] tour bus, one day decided, 'I want to do this again,'" Bushnell said. "And so I called the rest of the band and asked if they wanted to play again. They said yes, I told The Dirty Heads that I was going to go back to my band and we just went for it."
Despite dreams of making it big in the music scene, the guys decided to be realistic and remain at their day jobs, which include retail sales and teaching, as well as give themselves a one-year deadline to gain notoriety.
Since its revival, HB Surround Sound has shared the stage with popular acts, such as The Dirty Heads, The Aggrolites and Bad Religion. The group will tour with Sublime with Rome, Pepper and Cypress Hill this summer. Following that, it will embark on a nationwide tour with The Dirty Heads and Matisyahu in the fall.
Blending sounds of ska, reggae, punk and alternative rock, HB Surround Sound has a genre that is all its own. However, Bushnell has been frequently told that his voice resonates that of punk outfit Bad Religion's Greg Gaffin.
He was even told this by Armstrong, whose bands Rancid and The Transplants play a significant role in the modern day punk scene. Armstrong said that HB Surround Sound echoed Bad Religion mixed with Operation Ivy and Rancid.
While some may claim that HB Surround Sound is at a disadvantage by playing non-mainstream music, Doug Cooper (guitar) sees this differently.
"We're being true to ourselves and we kind of stand out from the rest of the bands we play with," Cooper said. "So, it's kind of refreshing."
Cooper noted the group's performance at the Cali Roots festival in May, and said that despite its different sound, the crowd enjoyed HB Surround Sound's music.
"We noticed that there were a lot of really good reggae bands there," Cooper said. "When we played people had to stop and go, '[HB Surround Sound] is different than anything else that's going on, but it's still kind of the same yet totally different.' That hopefully gets us remembered by people. So, I think it works out for us."
What also sets HB Surround Sound apart is its choice of performance clothing, particularly the inclusion of suspenders.
"We want everyone to know that we mean business," Bushnell said. "Most bands are up there in T-shirts and sandals. Have fun. We're wearing boots and suspenders because we have a job to do, and that's our uniform. We're here to give a show that people paid to see. We feel like, if you look like everyone else in the crowd, then what is the crowd paying for? I want other bands to be bummed out when they see us."
HB Surround Sound will perform at the House of Blues in Anaheim on June 30 and at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine on July 28.
For more information and to view a full list of tour dates, visit hbsurroundsound.com.