Interview with Lead Singer of 37th Parallel: Brad Guesman

On Sunday, June 1, around 24,000 people will pour into Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View to attend LIVE 105’s 20th Annual BFD. This acclaimed alternative music festival has always been a staple for Bay Area music lovers.

Many high schoolers see BFD as a warm welcome to summer, as it typically takes place during its first weekend. This year, however, LAHS sophomore Brad Guesman and MVHS sophomores Eric Dyer, Philip Chang and A.J. Pelayo will have the chance to take the stage. Their band 37th Parallel won LIVE 105’s local band contest, and the band will be the opener for BFD’s local band stage. Read an exclusive interview with Brad below, and check out more info about 37th Parallel here:

When did your band decide to enter the contest?

We actually decided to enter the contest after placing second in live105’s Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Battle of the Bands. I think my bass player is the one who officially signed us up, but I got to meet and talk with the live105 guys at the Boardwalk and they said they liked our music. Either way, I think we got a good word put in for us.

What did the contest entail? Did you have to audition, put up songs, etc.?

It was pretty simple- send in an epk (electronic press kit) of sorts, and then see if you make it to the top 20, as chosen by live105 judges. After that, there was an online voting round, which determined the top band.

Did you think you had a shot at winning?

Being honest with this one, no- but then again, do you ever with these kind of things? We went up against bands that had already put out their debut albums, had professional photo-shoots, and even made professional music videos. It seemed pretty unlikely that a few high school kids with one recorded song and a handful of pictures taken at an abandoned naval air base could beat out 19 pro groups. But somehow, it happened.

How did it feel to win, and how did you find out that you won?

Funny story. The band has a running group text that we use for communicating rehearsal times and important info about gigs/recording. I got a few texts on that group saying “We won!!” and stuff like that. Because we like to mess with each other, I thought the other three guys were screwing with me, and so I listened to the radio station for another half hour before they announced our name again. Winning feels good, but when I first found out I couldn’t really process it. I felt like I needed to take my mind off of it and distance myself from it before I could really appreciate it- so I watched “Blade Runner.”

How many songs are you guys going to be able to play? Do you know when you’re going to perform?

Well, it’s a huge event, and we’re not a huge band yet, so we’ve got probably the least significant slot in the whole thing. It’s 11:30 on the local band stage for half an hour. Nonetheless, we’re happy to be able to put this on our epk and gain some “instant credibility” for booking other gigs.

Have you gone to BFD as a spectator in the past?

I actually haven’t been. I was thinking about going last year, but instead went to the bridge school benefit concert, which had a great lineup. I’m interested to see what it’ll be like- it’s a mix of a lot of different genres. There’s dance, alternative, indie, soul. One way or another, I’m going to enjoy being a spectator as much as I’ll enjoy being a performer.

Do you know how many people are expected to watch you perform?

That really depends- we need people to come watch us! It’s earlier in the day, so there won’t be a ton of people there, but anybody who’s going to BFD should come and see us! I really can’t say what the crowd size will be, but I hope that it’s at least in the three digit range.

Are there any bands performing at BFD that you’re excited to see? What’s it like to know you’ll be performing at the same festival as some internationally famous musicians?

My drummer and I are both huge fans of the band Fitz and the Tantrums, who are one of the headlining acts. I also like New Politics, and I remember seeing Foster the People at Bridge School one year. Once again, it’s near unbelievable that we get this opportunity, and we want to take advantage of it the best we can. More than that though, we want to put on a great show!