Let's step backward, folks. It's 1996, and a hotshot young music writer, Laurie Notaro, is writing about some hotshot young Tempe guitar pop band, The Chimeras, for Phoenix New Times.
"The unofficial bio for The Chimeras has all the stereotypical ingredients of a rock 'n' roll miniseries: alcoholism, drug addiction and rehab, chronic depression and suicide," Notaro writes. "It's not a happy tale, but after nearly four years in development, the plot line finally seems to be aligning with what the band calls 'the right path.'"
The Chimeras are still around, sort of.
They've changed their name to The Pistoleros, not long after that article, and not long after they were signed to Hollywood Records, for which they recorded Hang on To Nothing. The record was well received, but ultimately failed to find commercial footing. The band was dropped from Hollywood, but soldiers on, cranking out a self-titled effort in 2000, and getting together a couple times of years for blowout shows like the one scheduled for Wednesday, November 21, at Crescent Ballroom.
The Zubia brothers, guitarist Mark and frontman Lawrence, keep busy apart from The Pistoleros, fronting Los Guys and The Persuaders, respectively. But the occasional Pistoleros reunion feels good to the brothers, and this upcoming show offers a chance to re-release the band's dusty power-pop debut, Mistaken for Granted, originally released under the Chimeras banner, but now appropriately rebranded with the Pistoleros moniker.
"We've been talking about doing a run of them for forever," Mark says in this week's print edition of New Times. "We only did the initial 1,000, and once those were gone, we just moved on to the next record and the next record and the next record. We're not the best businessmen. With a little more business acumen, it probably wouldn't have taken 15 years to get another run made. So with it being the 20th anniversary [of the band] and having never done it, we decided it felt like the right time."Mistaken for Granted
caught the attention of Hollywood, and it's easy to understand why. Released in 1995, the record straddles the line between bluesy alt-rock the the classic Tempe jangle pop scene. Indeed, the band formed while the Zubias were playing in Live Nudes, and teamed with former Gin Blossom Doug Hopkins to start a new project. "We just said 'let's do this,'" Lawrence says.
Though Hopkins didn't last long with the band, quitting in early 1993, one of his songs, "My Guardian Angel," made it on to the band's major-label debut in 1997. "Doug was in a bad way," Lawrence says, noting that the gifted songwriter's suicide in December of 1993 hit the scene hard, and had a deeply affected him (tragically, he discovered Hopkins' body in the songwriter's apartment).
Lawrence says with some shakiness that he's glad he didn't go down the same path as Hopkins, though he got close. "We're still here 20 years later," Lawrence laughs. "Divorces, suicides, drugs, alcoholism, all those 'isms' that go along with it. We're still doing it."
It's an underdog spirit that has been there for a long time. Notaro couldn't have summed it up any better when she wrote, "Quitting is one thing The Chimeras haven't done." Nor have The Pistoleros.
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The Pistoleros are scheduled to perform Wednesday, November 21, at Crescent Ballroom.