Tommy Castellanos shreds out a chord on his guitar, Joe Johnson gives his bass one more pluck before muting the strings, and Kevin ¨Bagel¨ Nagle pounds his drums into oblivion before we all hear a loud knock on the garage door.
¨Monterey Police Department, open up!¨ says the unidentified officer.
This is how the night before their October 21 show came to an end for Tommy and the Pieces. It is also the end of them ever practicing in the Monterey neighborhood near Dennis the Menace Park ever again.
I met the band at their now-former practice space a little after 6 p.m. I met up with Bagel just as Joe showed up, then followed the two into Bagel’s friend’s garage, packed to the brim with boxes, band equipment and just general crap. Tommy arrived shortly after, and we all packed into the garage and began the rehearsal.
Tommy formed his band when he came here from New York. Being a completely self-taught guitarist and singer, he just needed to find a drummer and bassist. Enter Bagel, the former drummer of the once-great, now-broken-up local band Glass House. The two met at a party on Asilomar Beach after Tommy had performed at the East Village Coffee Lounge.
“I was just kinda casually talking to him about how I wanted to make a band,” Tommy says into his mike while Joe strums his bass. Bagel had asked if Castellanos wanted him to drum for him. “And I was like, ‘F— yeah I want you to play drums for me!’”
Joe is the seventh or eighth bassist the band has officially had, but he is by far the most talented one, according to Bagel and Tommy.
“Joe is like Zeus baby kid,” Tommy says. “He, like, fell out of the sky like a lightning bolt….It’s like we have Flea in our band.”
Joe stays humble as Tommy goes on to praise Joe for being one of the driving forces in their band. Tommy says he feels challenged to limits when playing with him because Joe expects a lot out of them, but when they hit their mark, that’s when they feel like world-class musicians.
“My number one most amazing influence is Dave Grohl,” Joe says of the ex-Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman. “I could go on for hours about Dave.”
The night after the rehearsal was their show at the Press Club in Seaside. The entire band was dressed to the nines in their best Halloween costumes. Joe was a sexy black cat, Bagel was a sexy cop, and Tommy was a lumberjack. They played for a little less than two dozen people; they didn’t get much energy or reaction from the crowd, but they still rocked the show all on their own. Tommy was hopping around and shredding on his guitar like a madman, Bagel gave it his all killing it on the drums, Joe was cool and collected throughout the whole show, rocking each note on his bass. They played with energy, and one could really feel that they loved what they were doing.
The band’s sound is an amalgam of many different styles of music. Tommy grew up in Florida, Georgia and New York before coming out here to play music. Between his self-taught style, varied tastes in music and Bagel and Joe’s background in the CHS band, they have a really varied, interesting sound. Tommy has compared the feeling of Joe’s bass playing to the feeling you get when you down an organic drink out of mason jar. When Tommy plays, you can definitely feel the inspirations of early ‘60s pop music, like the Beatles.
Tommy and the Pieces is really a genre-crossing band, and it definitely comes through when you hear them live, from punk rock-esque song such as “Wake up the Neighbors,” which has some Blink-182 influences, to “Move on Vacation,” which has this really sweet “Island in the Sun” vibe, like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean sipping on a margarita with your significant other. In their song “Baby Girl” you can really feel a jazzy swing feeling. Their style is all over the place, but in a good way.
“It’s like Bossanova!” Johnson says about their sound.
The band plans on releasing its debut album sometime this month, so be on the lookout for the release of the album and the date of their concert to celebrate the release. For now, you can find some early demos of their songs on Soundcloud. Just look up Tommy and the Pieces and have yourself a rockin’ good time.