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Local band celebrates record release with Claremont show

Local heavy rock band Ojos Rojos is releasing a new five song EP Friday, “Sons of Love and Death,” and will be celebrating with a free 10 p.m. record release show at The Press, 129 Harvard Ave., Claremont.

The Claremont-based band blends the riff-heavy psychedelia of desert rock with the snotty but tuneful Manchester sound: Think California high desert gods Queens of the Stone Age combined with Black Sabbath and Oasis, with a dose of My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain thrown in as well. It’s big, heavy, stuff with a strong through line of melody. “We’re a loud, melodic, guitar-heavy band,” said vocalist, drummer and co-songwriter George Serrano, “and we’re not afraid to have a hook.”

Ojos got its start in 2006 and in 2007 released its debut disc, “13.” The group has since put out 2010’s “Disappear,” and now, “Sons of Love and Death.”

Mr. Serrano, 46, has modest hopes for the new record.

“We just want to put it out there,” he said. “In today’s market, it’s really hard to tell what you can accomplish. I just want the record to get to as many people as possible. You hope for tons of people [to hear it], but we’re just happy with getting a small underground following. If that’s all we can get that’s great with us.”

The financial realities of working in an “underground” band—another way of saying they’re off the radar of mainstream consumers—can be harsh. It’s a vocation that requires one to simply love the job enough to keep doing it.

“It’s a little grim out there, to be honest,” Mr. Serrano said. “But at the same time, you just have to have that punk rock attitude and just do it and keep going and stay busy.”

Ojos’ new EP is a warm up of sorts for the band, which was on hiatus for a few years while Mr. Serrano worked with the Los Angeles group The Warlocks. During the recording of “Sons,” bassist Luis Vera and guitarist Rhett Delang both left the group. The new lineup, with longtime Ojos guitarist Aaron Emil, Mr. Serrano, and new members Tom Hill on bass and Daniel Conrad on additional guitars, will be back in the studio in the fall to work on a full-length record.

Ojos Rojos is a rarity in the rock music world, a collective, with all members sharing writing credits.

“We do it because we feel like we couldn’t have done it without that person,” Mr. Serrano said. “We like to keep it pretty vague. We all write stuff, but it just makes things more fair this way, and people don’t think they’re getting cheated, like they’ve maybe been cheated in other bands.”

Regardless of the state of today’s music business for smaller acts, it still means something to take your job seriously.

“It is special,” Mr. Serrano said. “Even though it might not seem like its getting anywhere. It’s really special to do your thing and put it out there. That’s  the most important thing for us right now.”

The best-case scenario for “Sons” is that it expands Ojos Rojos’ fan base, giving the group fuel to keep working, writing, recording and playing shows, Mr. Serrano said. It’s all any independent musician wants, really: to build an audience.

“We just want people to pick it up and listen to it on Spotify, however they listen to music, just get it in their rotation,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll like it and just allow us to do it more.”

Tonight’s release party at the Press gets underway at 10 p.m. with local noise-experimental-rockers Amps for Christ (aka Henry Barnes) opening the show.

The band will have “Sons” CDs for sale, with vinyl coming in about a month. The new release is also on all the regular online download and streaming spots. The Press is at 129 Harvard Ave., Claremont. More info on Ojos Rojos is at ojosrojosmusic.bandcamp.com.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

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