Category Archives: INTERVIEWS

April Ventura & The Magnolias: An Interview

Christy Huber is a beautifully talented 25-year-old local San Diego musician and student. Her band is called April Ventura & The Magnolias, and she is studying communication studies and English at San Diego State University. Her audience members are lucky sons of bitches.

How did you, personally, get into music?
Ever since I heard the Spice Girls in fifth grade, I wanted to be a pop star. I would try desperately to get a “band” together with my three friends at school, but that never happened because my three friends later left me for the popular group of girls that made my life a living shithole for the rest of my grade-school days. But seriously, I actually got into the music I play now because of a series of people. My grandma was a country singer in her day and would always push me to play that kind of music. And her son, my dad, was my biggest supporter and would encourage me all the time to write more and play more. My friend Tony Campbell got me into pretty much all the music I like and am influenced by today. But  essentially, music runs in my family so I couldn’t really avoid it. I’ve been drawn to it ever since I was a little girl crawling into my dad’s bass drum in the basement and finding his [guitar] picks all over the place. I guess you could say it’s in my blood.

What bands have you been in, and what genre of music were they?
I’ve been in quite an eclectic range of bands. My first band was in high school and we were pretty bad. I named the band Tribal Beat Party and employed my non-musician friends to play random instruments. I think we’re still up on MySpace somewhere. I was in a couple bands in college, the first one being a ’90s metal band. Think Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones but a bit harder. I played bass for one show in Chicago where supposedly the Smashing Pumpkins played their first show as well. There were a few bands in between, covers mostly, in Chicago and Nashville where I lived for a few months. My last band was a great band from San Diego called Dead Feather Moon who are doing pretty well now. I’m in their music video for “Free Hand Blues” and it’s pretty awkward. I played bass for them for about eight months and it was fun, but I’m a writer and I wanted something more than what I was doing with them.

How did April Ventura & The Magnolias come about?
After leaving Dead Feather Moon and taking a year off of music and selling all my gear, I started going out to shows more and more. What actually set the wheels in motion was meeting my friend John Cooper from a band called The Howls. Seeing him with his own band and having success with it and writing great songs…it really inspired me. It took a long time to actually get the band I have today and make everything sound good. I went through quite a bit of players and different arrangements for the songs, and we just added in a pedal steel player recently which I am beyond thrilled about because it’s my favorite instrument of all time. I’ve had the concept of April Ventura in my head since my stint in Nashville in 2007, but it’s taken me up until this year to get it going. I knew it would be hard, and it was and still is, but it’s been well worth the work.

What type of music do you guys play?
That’s always a hard question to answer, because when I write I’m influenced by so many different people and bands. I guess you could classify it mostly as alt country with an occasional harder edge. I’m really influenced by Whiskeytown, Tom Petty, Neil Young and Jackie Greene. But on the other end some huge influences have been Black Sabbath, The Black Keys and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. If there’s black in the band name, I probably really like it.

What is your role in the band?
I write the songs alone in my room, and bring them to the band and they put their parts to it. I book the shows, promote and pretty much do all the boring stuff. I arrange practices and meetings and deal with all the organization and whatnot. I hate the term “band leader” but I guess that’s what I am. Derek (lead guitarist) is also a big part of everything. He’s basically my right-hand man, and he’s been through a lot with music. He’s toured and been under labels and knows the professional side really well. So if I do something stupid he’ll call me out on it. I’m really new to this so I’m still learning a lot about what I should and shouldn’t do, but my band has been through it way more than me so they help me out a lot. I’m like a kindergartener and they’re like the college kids in this business. I’ve got a vision and know what I want and how I want everything to go and they help guide me to get there.

Tell us about your band members, i.e. names, personalities etc.
Derek Dreyer is my lead guitarist. He’s one of my best friends here too. We fight like a married couple and we have a really strong dynamic. He’s known for being a very tasteful guitarist. He knows where to come in and where not to play. In my opinion, he’s the biggest voice in the band apart from myself and really knows where to go with the songs, and our ideas match up pretty well for the most part.

James Albers is our bassist, and he just joined recently. I actually met him at one of our Soda Bar shows awhile back and he came to a few other shows after and when he found out our old bassist had to quit he stepped right in and played the songs perfectly. He’s a really chill guy and we get a long great. He builds and fixes guitars on the side which is really cool and might come in handy someday as well. James and Derek and I all have a mutual passion for the game of pool so we hang out a lot and talk shit and try and beat each other in pool when we’re not playing shows or practicing. It’s good to be able to hang with your band when you aren’t doing band stuff.

Joe Camacho is our pedal steel player and he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met. His sense of humor is so sarcastic I sometimes can’t decipher if he’s being serious or making a joke, which I find extremely entertaining. He’s a great player and has played with some amazing bands so I felt really honored when he decided to start playing with us. He adds so much to the songs, and is really fun to hang with as well.

Steve Smith is our drummer, and he’s probably the nicest guy you’ll ever meet. Give that guy one tall Jack and Coke and he’s wasted. He’s actually a songwriter himself so he understands the dynamic of a band and the song. If anything weird ever happens while we’re onstage I always turn and look at Steve and he usually knows what’s up.

How did you come up with the band name?
My dad and I came up with it when I was living in Nashville five years ago. I think he got the idea from my grandma to come up with a stage name. I came up with Ventura, which is the title of a Lucinda Williams song, and I believe my dad came up with April. Magnolias comes from a Ryan Adams song called “Magnolia Mountain.”

What is your favorite song to perform?
My favorite song to play would probably be “I am Crazy.” I love heavy riff-based songs and this song is one of them. And I get to solo in it, which is cool. I’m not the best at guitar solos but I still think they’re really fun and I’ve played this one enough to not really mess it up too bad. Most people who see us say it’s their favorite song as well.(“I am Crazy” is track number 7 below.)

What has been your craziest rock-star moment thus far?
I haven’t really had that many rock-star moments, but whenever people ask me to sign stuff I think it’s really weird. My signature looks like two illegible blobs, so it’s really not that impressive.

Where do you see your band in the next year?
I’m hoping to have toured at some point in the next year. For being together for 10 months I think we’ve gone pretty far. We just played a show at the Casbah with two of my favorite bands ever and we’re about to go into the studio to record a full-length album. I’m hoping within the next year we’re playing better shows for more people and at some point releasing and selling an album that people are excited about.

Where and when can readers catch April Ventura live?
We play every Monday at The Riviera Supper Club in the Turquoise Room at 9 p.m. We also have a show Friday, Nov. 4, at Bar Eleven.

Where can readers purchase your album?
We have a live album recorded at Lestats for sale on Bandcamp, here, and we have a Kickstarter to help fund the album going up in a few days. Here’s the site for the project. Check back in a few days and it’ll be up and running.

For more information about April Ventura & The Magnolias, contact the band at aprilventuramusic (at) gmail (dot) com.

Follow April Ventura & The Magnolias on Facebook, Twitter and Reverbnation.