The Third Degree with Eddie Solis (Part 2)

Last week we talked to Eddie about his band, It's Casual.  Today, we cover his metal club, the Relax Bar.  And in an amazing coincidence, it so happens that It's Casual is headlining the Relax Bar this Saturday night.  If you haven't had a chance to check the place out, here's your opportunity.

So how did the Relax Bar come to be?

I got to tell you, man, it really came out of nowhere. As you know, the Southern Lord office is right down the street and one day I’m passing by at lunchtime like always and I stick my head in, and see a little stage with a backline set up. Drum sets and some little amps, and I was like “Whoa, what’s going on here?”

I looked at the acoustics and the layout, and realized that this location in the middle of Hollywood, just west of Silver Lake, and across from a Red Line stop was pretty damn nice.  The language barrier with the owners – they are from Thailand – was not going to stop me.  They even understood my vision, and appreciated that I wanted this to be a place where everything underneath the metal umbrella is welcome, whether it’s experimental, progressive, black metal, death metal, thrash, hardcore – it’s all welcome here. Good hard rock.  We sat down and worked out the details, and it’s been in the history book ever since 2005.

A lot of small venues seem scared off by metal because of security concerns.  It’s all overblown and unwarranted, but have you had any problems?

You know, the deal I have with them, is that we have an armed security guard at the door. He’s there, because it is Hollywood – anything can happen.  But you know what, we have never had one fight.  I can say with a smile on my face that we’ve had no problems! I’ve had Municipal Waste do a secret show there with a big crowd, and it was all good.  Unholy Grave from Japan – same deal.  It was all ages, and kids with skateboards filled the place.  It was absolute chaos in there!  But nobody was there to fight.  When one went down, another would help them up.

So the violence, it doesn’t exist, really. The only time I see it is at huge corporate-sponsored metal festivals when they try to gouge people by charging $8 for bottled water!  And those people pay $88 of their good hard money to get into that show.

MUNICIPAL WASTE @ RELAX BAR


What the fuck is up with pay-to-play?

No way - we don’t do it.  But a lot of Hollywood venues do. My opinion on pay-to-play – I’m not going to say it’s right or wrong – is that when you sign a contract to play at one those venues, it’s fair because you know what you’re getting yourself into.  We like to have $10 shows.  We take the first 26 to pay for security and staff.  Everything over that goes to the bands.  With a capacity of 200, that leaves over $1000 available to the bands.  So I tell them, if you could each bring 15 or 20 people, you’re going to come out ahead.  Playing in Hollywood and making money – that’s a good thing.

What’s the most memorable show for you?

It’s a three way tie between Municipal Waste, Unholy Grave with Phobia show, and Torche with Clouds.

  

UNHOLY GRAVE @ RELAX BAR


Mine is the first show I saw at the Relax Bar. It was supposed to be Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound and Circle.  And it was sort of an accidental show, because there was a lot of confusion about the set times, and who was playing when, and where the bands were, and if they’d even show up on time.  The bassist for Assemble Head was there but the rest of those guys couldn’t make it.  And then Circle just appeared, they set up all their shit, and renewed my faith in music.  All in front of just 20 people that were crowded up by the stage.      

Yeah, I remember that one.  Their agent contacted me, and I think there was issue with their original venue, and I told her let’s just make this work. It has to happen, they have to play L.A.

Speaking of the stage, last time I was there bands were playing on the floor because I guess they thought the stage was too tight. Do you have any plans for an interior redesign?

I know we’re going to upgrade the sound system. The owners are looking to do that in the next couple of weeks, but the natural acoustics of the place sound really good.  As for the space, I tell the bands to put your backline and your drums on the stage, and let everyone else play on the floor. You get a natural drum-riser and the lighting in the room looks cool when you have all the gear up there.

Indeed – the place is a gem.