Music News

Jacobs Ladder Visits L.A., Avoids the Tar Pits, and Returns With a New Album

Even 207 years after Lewis and Clark dared to make that first incredibly dangerous cross-continental trip, millions of Americans -- like local prog-punk trio Jacobs Ladder --continue to head West, looking for fame, inspiration, intoxicants, babes of both sexes, and giant bags of cash.

Needless to say, most of these wannabe superstars will fail. They'll hitchhike to Hollywood. Sign with some agent in a low-rent strip mall. Audition for a few TV commercials. Or try to scam their way into a recording studio.

They'll drag themselves to another thousand auditions and/or studios. Resort to a full-time gig waiting tables. Get addicted. Get evicted. Get fired. And finally, in the most unfortunate cases, begin performing strange acts in rundown motels just to buy a double patty, fries, and Diet Coke at In-n-Out Burger.

Luckily, Jacobs Ladder's three members -- singer and guitar guy Oren Maisner, bass player Sammy Gonzalez, and drummer Brian Hernandez -- are supersmart dudes. And when they were planning their own trip to Los Angeles, they vigilantly avoided the tar pits.

A scout was sent to survey the situation. And some ground rules were set. For one, this wouldn't be a permanent move, only a working vacation. For another, it would last no more than three weeks. And lastly, they would spend almost every waking hour in producer Carlos De La Garza's Music Friends Recording Studios in Eagle Rock, California, hammering out their new five-track album, the Back to Life EP.

So thanks to pre-planning and foresight, the weirdest thing the boys of Jacobs Ladder have ever done in an crappy L.A. motel room is turn out the lights and go to sleep. "Well, we spooned with each other and shared beds," laughs Maisner.

During daytime hours too, the mayhem and mischief was kept to a minimum. "You know, we went to West Hollywood to rent our gear. We visited the landmark first-ever Guitar Center and I put my hand on the Les Paul imprint, which was cool," Maisner says. "But we were pretty much in straight-on work mode while we were out there."

And now, still innocent and unscathed, Oren, Sammy, and Brian have returned from the West Coast with their minislab, the Back to Life EP, which will get its hometown unveiling at Churchill's Pub next Friday. "We are going to take the stage at 11:15 p.m. We are going to get the audience involved. Maybe even get them on stage with us."

In other words, expect fun. Expect business. And expect to share beds.

Jacobs Ladder's album release for the Back to Life EP with Arboles Libres, Deaf Poets, Hit Play, Addax, Danse Macabre, and others. Friday, April 8. Churchill's Pub, 5501 Second Ave., Miami. Doors open at 8 p.m. Ticket-and-EP bundles cost $10 via See the Jacobs Ladder EP Release Facebook event page. Call 305-757-1807 or visit

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S. Pajot