Local Band Goes Beyond L.A.

El Vaquero Arts and Entertainment Edit

Typically, lunch time at Glendale High School consisted of bad cafeteria food, cramming for an exam, which followed lunch, an occasional cat fight, and what seemed like impromptu entertainment courtesy of the Associated Student Body.

But on one particular instance, a screeching guitar, booming drums, a thudding bass, and a voice reminiscent of a young Belinda Carlisle and a riotous Kathleen Hanna, broke through the monotony of the Friday afternoon with a bang.

A crowd of students flocked before the outdoor rally platform and watched enthusiastically as Go Betty Go ripped through their set. A blended sound suggestive of The Ramones, The Go Go’s and added to that, sassy Spanish lyrics that can burn just about any ex-boyfriend, was enough to steal some attention not only from the student body, but from the world.

GBG is composed of four girls, all brought together by chance encounters and their mutual love for music. But just don’t call them “a girl band.” Their beginnings date back to the spring of 2000 when the band had its first rehearsal at the garage of guitarist Betty Cisneros, the same Betty from which the band got its name. With Cisneros on guitar, Michelle Rangel on bass, and sisters Aixa and Nicolette Vilar on drums and vocals, respectively, the group ventured from gig to gig looking to make a name for themselves.

The continuous rehearsals, bar and club gigs here and there, appearances at the local television station KJLA, and the occasional lunch performance at Glendale High eventually snowballed into something bigger. The years of perseverance and self-promotion paid off, but at the cost of some sacrifices.
Then students at GCC, the Vilar sisters were forced to drop-out of school in order to pursue their budding musical career.

“We just got too busy with the band,” said Vilar. “There was no way that both of them [school and the band] could be done at the same time.”

As the drummer, not only did Vilar take charge as the backbone of the group, she took

her duties as the band’s spokesperson very seriously, especially when it came down to booking gigs.

These gigs managed to snag the attention of some record label personnel, eventually leading to a deal in 2003 with Side One Dummy Records, a key factor that Vilar credits for the success of the band.

In 2004, the girls were invited to play a couple of Southern California dates on one of the most successful events of the summer, The Vans Warped Tour. This year, they were welcomed once again to play on the East Coast tour dates, sharing the stage with such established acts as The Offspring, Tsunami Bomb and Dropkick Murphy’s. But, living on the road for months at a time
can have its share of troubles and incommodities.

“There are times on tour when you don’t shower for days. We live like gypsies constantly moving from town to town and eating really bad food,” said Vilar. “It’s hectic. You miss your life at home and you wonder if you’re doing the right thing.”

With a record label backing them up, it was time for them to put out a full-length album. Thus far, the group had its music featured in a Vans Warped Tour compilation CD, “L.A. County Line,” a compilation CD showcasing the best local bands in L.A., a three- track demo, a song especially written for Activision’s Fantastic Four video game, and their “Worst Enemy” EP, which the girls did an in-store for at the Tower Records in Glendale.

In January, the band finally confined itself in a studio and started writing new material for the album. The end result was “Nothing is More,” a record that combines new material as
well as some gems the group limited to its shows and to a three-track demo.

Sitting in the producer’s chair for this album was Ted Hutt, a member of Flogging Molly, a seven-piece outfit known for its unique hybrid of punk rock and Irish folk music.

Like with the EP, the group re-visited Tower and treated the fans with a live performance and signing. Some of the lucky attendees also received tickets to the group’s record release show at the Troubadour, in Hollywood.

Kids of all ages, some of them students at Glendale High who remembered vividly the special lunch time performances, and the others, family, friends, media, and music aficionados alike, showed up in support of the band.

Ripping through their set, the band took some time to thank everyone for coming to the signing. As they stepped off from the stage, the crowd began to ask for the infamous encore. They re-grouped, giving the crowd what they wanted, “otra,” one more. The look of satisfaction on the girls faces did not seem to dissipate. One after another, the fans showed their love and support for their local band.

The show at the Troubadour proved to be a success. And as Vilar recalls, it was definitely an experience worth remembering.
“It was a sold out show and the energy was incredible,” said Vilar. “Our record was only two days old and everyone at the venue was singing all of the new songs.”

Now that their album is out, the band is ready to head out in support of their latest material. A North American tour is at hand which includes a couple of shows in Calif. and Nevada, playing along side with Flogging Molly. Following these tour dates, they will go out on tour sharing the stage with Relient K, Mxpx and Rufio.

They have gone beyond just being a local band. Fans in Mexico, Spain and other European countries all await eagerly for a world tour, and so does the group.

“People in Europe just want us to go already, and we honestly can’t wait. People are just excited and waiting for us to enter new continents,” said Vilar.

There is no doubt that GBG has come a long way from those days in a garage in Glendale. From playing gigs here and there all throughout L.A., playing little kids’ parties for pizza and punch, this band is living proof that perseverance and self-promotion definitely pays off.

“Just do what you love, and don’t let anyone stop you,” said Vilar. “Be true to yourself, the ones who love you, and be sure to pick up our new record.”