On Feb. 8, SOhO Restaurant and Music Club hosted three Isla Vista-based bands: Eternal Wave, Ray and Paul and Field Daze.

SOhO is a far cry from the typical Isla Vista band show venue, which can be characterized by an endearing sense of grunge and makeshiftness. There was something a bit surreal about watching the stage be professionally prepared and accoutred with high-tech equipment. With an emerald green backdrop draped behind the stage and a sparkling disco ball flooding the dancefloor in fuschia, everything seemed carefully in place by the time I arrived. 

I had the opportunity to meet with each band to discuss their origins, creative processes and inspirations. Because all three have established themselves in I.V., I was very interested to learn more about the relationship between these groups and the active live music scene that is such a hallmark of I.V.’s culture. 

I first met with brothers Ray and Paul Holmberg of the eponymous Ray and Paul. Originally from Marin County, the duo began making music prior to arriving in I.V. With Ray as the lead guitarist and vocalist and Paul playing drums, Ray and Paul released their debut album Ray and Paul Holmberg in 2021 and have also recently put out a single “Pelican.” 

We chatted about the prominence of music in I.V. The brothers told me that Isla Vista’s openness has provided them with the room to experiment and practice. Minus the occasional noise complaint, there is an impressive atmosphere of acceptance and receptiveness towards anybody looking to play shows and make music. 

“It’s so awesome that so many bands can just pop up out of nowhere,” Paul noted. 

When asked about any special meaning behind their songs, Ray explained that he draws inspiration from personal experiences. His writing doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and he even tends to center on themes such as mental health and depression. 

In terms of upcoming music, Ray and Paul have a couple of new songs written, enough to form an EP. A future release of these songs is just a matter of finding the money to produce it.

Ray and Paul will be performing at Shabang 2024, a music festival that takes place every spring in San Luis Obispo. There is also talk of a potential 15-20 show tour up and down the California coast, with maybe even a leg abroad. Ray and Paul’s Linktree has their social media and website attached, in addition to information about new songs and shows. 

I next sat down with Drako Alva, Travis Rushing and Coen Carlberg of Field Daze. With a sound that could be described as alt-rock with a hint of punk, Field Daze is famous in Isla Vista for their high-energy shows that are always guaranteed to include plenty of moshing. 

Alva, lead guitarist and vocalist, recounted how the band had formed at the beginning of 2021. He had been recording alone at the time and, wanting to play shows once people moved back to I.V. post-pandemic, he started to recruit some friends. This is how Rushing, their bassist, got involved. Carlberg, on drums, has only recently joined, replacing their previous drummer. 

Initially named Field Day, an ode to those free-spirited field days from grade school, they eventually modified it to Field Daze after learning that there was already a pop-punk band from the 90’s called Field Day. 

“Gotta respect the punk elders,” Rushing joked. 

Field Daze released their first album “OCEANSIDE” in 2022, and in 2023 put out two singles, “Over The Edge” and “DUI (Drive Away).” 

Their sound takes cues from a wide range of influences. It is impossible to narrow down a list of artists, or even a genre, that best inspires them. Alva and Rushing rattled off a handful of examples: The Frights, The Smashing Pumpkins, Turnover and Joyce Manor to name a few. 

Carlberg explained that this versatility was what attracted him to Field Daze, saying, “Something that impressed me when I first got introduced to the band was that it wasn’t just one idea. There was a sound, but there were a lot of different ideas that they pulled from. You can have something chilled out, something sort of indie, and then do more of a punk rock hardcore song. And I thought that was really cool.”

As for content and lyrics, Alva stated, “Everything I write is pretty personal … just kinda about what’s going. Different scenarios or situations will happen and I find it therapeutic to write about. Especially topic-wise, we don’t try to stay in a lane.”

I asked about their thoughts on I.V.’s band culture and how that environment has impacted their music career. 

Rushing said that, in his opinion, there are many pros and cons. He pointed out that the exclusivity of parties in Isla Vista can drown the band parties with people who aren’t there for the music.

“It’s an interesting dynamic considering that a lot of the people that go … sometimes it feels like, not really with our audience but with a lot of house shows on DP, if you can get in for free, people are gonna go. Not really for the music, but for a party that they can get into without knowing somebody or being on the list or the GroupMe.”

“Which at the same time isn’t a bad thing because music is supposed to be an inclusive thing,” Alva added. “We don’t want it to be like a frat party. But it hurts the scene a little bit.”

Simultaneously, though, such a vibrant scene presents anyone with the opportunity to get involved with music. Having a built-in audience, aspiring musicians can practice not only performing but also sometimes, like Field Daze, testing out their own material.

“It’s really cool to see a thriving scene,” Rushing said. “There are a lot of shows, a lot of bands, a lot going on. It’s cool to see so many people driven to put on a concert, do all the setup for it, DIY the whole thing out of sketchy outlets down from the second story window.”

Field Daze is currently working on another album, and are planning for a summer tour with stops all along the California coast. In the meantime, Field Daze will still be playing the occasional gig in Isla Vista and doing weekend concerts in cities and towns all over the state. Their Linktree has all the information about new releases, merch and social media.  

To wrap up the evening, I met with Eternal Wave. This four-act indie rock group consists of Jack Corliss (vocals, keyboard and guitar), Justin Memenas (vocals and guitar), Ethan Slaman (drums) and Liam Ryder (bass).  

Eternal Wave first emerged as an idea shared over text between Corliss and Memenas on New Year’s Eve in 2022. They wanted to form a band and immediately began sharing songs with each other and auditioning people. After about four months of workshopping, Eternal Wave finally put on a show in the spring. However, they explained that the group’s chemistry completely changed when Ryder joined. 

“I feel like the first show that we really felt together was the first show that Liam played with us, which I think was our third show ever,” Memenas said.

“It was this September, move-in weekend. It felt like the right vibe. It was just an insane show,” Corliss added.

The conversation turned to the influence of I.V. on Eternal Wave’s music. Corliss observed that I.V., as a hub for artistic expression, “has had a huge influence on [his] music because … it’s pretty much the reason why [he] does it at all.” 

“I was someone who played music a lot as a kid, but in high school I shelled up completely and stopped playing music because of the people around me. The culture at my high school was like sports and cheerleaders,” Corliss said. “Then I came to UCSB and saw Dead Set play during the fall quarter of freshman year. And it made me realize that the biggest mistake that I’d ever made in my life was to stop playing music. So I started playing music again.”

Memenas went on to describe how Eternal Wave attempts to channel the energy of I.V. in their music, capturing experiences that have been meaningful to them (like surfing together at Devereux Beach, which is how they became close).

“For me Isla Vista embodies the two things that I love the most, which are surfing and playing music. The ocean and surf culture is a big inspiration for us. That’s a huge reason why we all love Isla Vista and UCSB, because of the amazing culture of surfing and ocean and connection to nature that we have. We can express this love through our music [and] I think that’s why this sound resonates with so many people,” Memenas said.

I asked if it felt different to be playing at a professional venue rather than in a backyard in Isla Vista. According to Memenas, while the quality of sound is better and having staff to assist with setting up is hugely helpful, his mindset hasn’t changed at all despite the change in location.

“The goal of the band is to bring that feeling of ‘you’re on a balcony overlooking the ocean.’ We’re gonna bring that wherever we go.”Eternal Wave recently recorded four songs and, while they still need to work through some logistics, they are aiming to release music to the public sometime in March. The group intends to keep playing gigs in Isla Vista and hopefully other areas as well, like Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura and Huntington Beach. Their Linktree includes their Instagram and YouTube, in addition to news about upcoming releases.