Photo and article by Mike Botica, Editorial Intern
The Dec. 21 renaming of the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 13th Street after American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland was a homecoming celebration, that coincided with a gift-wrapped opportunity for San Pedro band, 20 Eyes.
The band’s performance of their song Wait for Me was aired on live television and written up in the Los Angeles Times.
“I’ve played it once or twice acoustically at small shows and stuff,” said Wolf Bradley, 20 Eyes’ lead vocalist and guitarist. “So to play it and then have that many people there watching [and] to get written up about it in the LA Times was really exciting, because that’s as big of a debut as we could’ve hoped for.”
To have the debut coincide with Copeland’s return to San Pedro made it extra special. Bradley, keyboardist Chance Famighetti and drummer Andrew Macatrao were children 20 years ago, when Bradley’s mom Sandra took the teenaged Copeland under her wing and guided her into the world of ballet.
Bradley said Copeland has become like a sister to him, no matter the demands of their careers.
“She’s never seen me perform as a band,” Bradley said. “We did like a little secret impromptu acoustic show for her. It was super cool,” he said.
20 Eyes isn’t Bradley’s first run at celebrity. Random Lengths wrote about him and his four-piece band, Last Day Off, in 2009. Only Bradley and Macatrao remain from that band. With a few weeks to reflect on the late-December whirlwind of attention, it seemed time for an update.
Mike Botica: Are there any unexpected influences that you guys took from growing up in the ballet scene?
Wolf Bradley: For me, it’s been performing. I’ve been performing since I was three. Andrew and I met 10 years ago. He was performing in ballet even before we started the band. Also, listening to such classical and classic great music like The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, or things like that. It’s like the pop music of that era — super catchy, but very full of art and creativity.
Andrew Macatrao: They both have a lot to do with staying in time, they just go hand in hand.
WB: I feel like I forget how weird it is that we do ballet to some people. Well, not “weird” in a bad way, but just like “interesting,” because I’ve grown up with ballet and we’ve all taken ballet for a while … the most that it’s helped us performance-wise is being so comfortable performing on stage, because that’s where we like to be.
But Misty and Wolf aren’t the only artists from their household. Wolf’s mother, Cindy, was in a punk band called The Whigs, and played shows from San Diego to Los Angeles before the band eventually found their way onto KROQ. Now the former punk rocker runs the San Pedro Ballet School, but Wolf is well aware of her past life.
MB: Wolf, your mother was in a rock band in the ‘80s. Tell me more about that.
WB: She was in a band called The Whigs, and lived in San Diego for a while, but then all their shows kept getting shut down by the cops, so they moved to San Pedro. And then they started playing around LA a lot, and they got really big in LA for a little bit. This guy named Rodney Bingenheimer, who used to be huge on KROQ, he had a show called Rodney on the Roq, and he was the first person to play her on the radio. And he really took a liking to my mom and they were playing (her music) all the time. My mom’s favorite band is Blondie, and he knew Blondie (Deborah Harry), and they talked on the phone. I have a lot of their music, and it’s so weird to think about her as a singer and as a “punk” person, because she’s so conscientious and careful now being a mom, because I’m sure she was different back then. Going crazy… (he laughed).
Cindy introduced Wolf to ballet at a young age, and it was through the ballet school in San Pedro that Wolf met up with Chance and Andrew, later forming their first band together. Andrew and Wolf first started Last Day Off as a way to play the kind of music that they loved as children, but soon their hobby grew into something more.
MB: When did Last Day Off end and 20 Eyes start?
WB: Andrew and I started the band [Last Day Off].
AM: … in 2007 (continued) and 20 Eyes began in 2011.
WB: We were originally called, The Ballerhinos. I was 14, and we kinda just wanted to do Blink-182 songs and just write fun pop-punk songs. Then we got a little more serious about it and changed our name to Last Day Off, switched out some members, and we were still just playing pop-punk stuff. I feel like if we hadn’t done Last Day Off, 20 Eyes wouldn’t be as — what we think is good — as it is now. It really prepared us to be on stage all the time musically. But 20 Eyes started because it was time for a change. We didn’t want to play music that we were writing when we were 15 or 16, and we decided to change the name, change the style a little bit, and we’re constantly changing; there’s always room for evolution in music.
Wolf says the band is demoing more than 50 new songs, hoping to further refine them through performing, and eventually put out a full-length debut album as 20 Eyes. The band is also working on a TV pilot, a comedy show based in San Pedro about the band’s strange encounters with fans and musicians while on the road and playing at venues.
MB: How do you see the future of 20 Eyes?
WB: I’d like to get the songs out there, because we have a lot of songs that we’re very passionate about that we love a lot that we play all the time, but it’s all just a matter of getting it to a wider audience. Because we have songs that I think are deserving of an audience and constantly gonna get better and better, so … we can grow along with our fan base that we already have and turn that into something, touring more, start to get more real radio play here, and things like that.
AM: To put out a full-length album would be amazing [and] do a lot more touring.
WB: That’s what I love about being in a band. Performing is half of it, and writing is half of it, and I love writing so much. Just doing that, writing new songs. Hopefully put out another new song soon. It’s happening very organically, too, because we haven’t paid anybody to get our song out there. People have just been globbing onto it and spreading it by themselves, and I think that’s really exciting.
MB: Who are some of your favorite artists?
AM: Blink-182 was one of the first artists that I was inspired by, Travis Barker’s drumming. Of course, Green Day. A few ska bands that my brothers listened to, Reel Big Fish. No Doubt, they have one of my favorite drummers.
WB: When I was really young, I just listened to whatever my dad listened to, and my dad was more of a disco guy, which was really random because before that he was more of a metal guy, so I really liked Metallica. My mom liked a lot of punk stuff, so I really like The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, and all those really quintessential punk bands, Buzzcocks. But then when I discovered music I was in like 6th or 7th grade, Green Day came out with American Idiot, and I was like, “That’s what I love. That’s the thing.” My first concert was Green Day, and from then on in, they were my favorite band ever. But I love The Beastie Boys. And, it’s horrible to say it, but I love Kanye West and I love hip-hop. We listen to, like, everything now. I love Grouplove and Foster the People and Young the Giant, all those kinda indie bands that came out in like 2011 and 2012.
Chance Famighetti: My dad was always into blues, and that got me into playing the piano. I started the piano when I was four, and since then I’ve been really into that kinda stuff. And then, early on, I got into really poppy rock, like Maroon 5. That was always my favorite. And now I’m super into hip-hop, as Wolf said, and we’re all into alternative stuff.
WB: Oh, I think the best band that’s come out in the last 10 years is Cage the Elephant. I love Cage the Elephant, their songs are always good. And David Bowie, which is crazy that he’s dead now. My mom, that was like her favorite person besides Debbie Harry. So when I was younger, Ziggy Stardust, that whole album and that era was really cool to me.
Check the band’s Facebook at www.facebook.com/20eyesmusic and Twitter at https://twitter.com/20eyesband, for live dates and upcoming shows.