Going Above and Beyond with Naked Walrus at The KLOS Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival
The KLOS Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival will take place at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA on April 7th, featuring The Offspring, Pennywise, The Vandals, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, Unwritten Law, Los Kung Fu Monkeys, and L.A. own Naked Walrus! Sabroso Festival is the ultimate experience of craft beer from local breweries, gourmet tacos from top chefs, food trucks and restaurants plus Lucha Libre wrestling & Live Music.
Arrive early as Naked Walrus will be kicking off the show with a raging blast to the senses! Dakota Gartner of Naked Walrus will be on the job and ready to rock in more ways than one. In addition to performing with Naked Walrus, Dakota will be behind the scenes working Event Production throughout the entire day. In the interview with Highwire Daze Online, Dakota discusses the excitement of both performing onstage and behind the scenes at the upcoming Sabroso Festival, experiences participating on the Vans Warped Tour, upcoming Naked Walrus recordings, and a whole lot more! Read on…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Naked Walrus, and how long the band has been together.
Hey there, I’m Dakota Gartner, I sing and play guitar in the band Naked Walrus. We’re based in L.A. – we live in Burbank to be exact. So we’re in the Valley. We’re been in L.A. for about six years, but our band started in Santa Barbara – so we’ve kind of been going up and down the coast for our entire existence.
What are your impressions of the local Los Angeles music scene and how does Naked Walrus fit into the scheme of things?
I’ll start with this – I call L.A. the necessary beast – especially for industry people and bands alike. It’s a place that you need to go to in order to stay relevant – but at the same time there’s a disconnect – and it’s an interesting one. There’s so many extremely talented people, that they put each other off in a way. We would fit into what I would call the “L.A. Rock Scene.” We’re kind of on the outside spectrum of alternative rock, which is still popular – but at the same time Indie has kind of taken over the L.A. scene. We kind of find ourselves fitting into interesting spectrums – whether we’re playing with Indie bands or really, really punk rock bands or we’re playing with metal bands – it’s always kind of like an in-between.
We’ve done Warped Tour. We’ve been in this band for six years now. We like to say that “Burbank is the new Rock and Roll that is Los Angeles!” It’s this interesting thing where we have a lot of our friends bands and ourselves that all starting happening on this one strip of basically Hollywood Way in Burbank. But yeah, I would say we are an Alternative Rock Band that is fitting in with the rock and roll scene in L.A. – but in an interesting new way because we’re all learning how to do these genres all over again.
What could one expect from a live Naked Walrus show at Sabroso?
We only have 25 minutes, so as little talking as possible and as much rocking as possible is what we are going for. We have been really honing in on our set over this past year. We went on Warped Tour – we did summer festivals – and we did 75 shows in between that. We’ve just been road-dogging it. So I would say a culmination of us really trying to hone in on the specifics of alternative rock, but also just rock out! I like jumping onstage. I like to give it our all. We just always want to pack a surprise for you too. No matter what, if you go to a Naked Walrus show, there’s going to be a moment where you’re like “Wait! Wasn’t there…?” And that’s kind of what we’re trying to do.
In addition to performing, you also have some other duties at Sabroso. Why don’t you tell us about what you’ll be doing?
Yeah, so it’s kind of a crazy position I put myself in. Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve worked in event production and touring production for the last ten years, simultaneously to being in a band. At Sabroso I’m actually going to be running all the dressing rooms and hospitality for all of the artists. So I’ll be working with Oscar and these people getting what they need – riders and whatever – and then simultaneously be playing it.
It’s interesting when you have a managerial production position simultaneously to be being an artist. Sometimes I call it the curse of knowing too much. You really understand all of the ins and outs of the industry. It’s part of what fuels my love to be creative with this project and kind of think outside of the box. We named our band Naked Walrus – we didn’t name it something super trendy without vowels. And the reason was because we were trying to do something that we love – and hope that people would pick up on along the way. And I think that Sabroso is a combination of that. It’s multi-leveled. We are a bunch of guys that love working in the industry and performing in our band. I think that we represent a new generation of entrepreneurial musicians and artists.
That’s the name of the game – that’s the bar now – you’ve got to be multi-faceted. And then simultaneously, I want to show people that just because you’re onstage doesn’t mean you can’t be working. And simultaneously, I want to show people who are working that just because you are working doesn’t mean you can’t be onstage And I think that’s going to be, no matter what my life goal throughout being an artist – is the process of going above and beyond, and showing the both artist and the crew alike – that you can achieve your dreams and get even beyond that – better than you can even imagine!
How stressful is this going to be on a scale of 1-10?
I think it’s going to be an 11! The thing is, I’ve learned in my profession how to work on very little sleep, so that will be the key to this in a way. At the end of the day, I don’t work in a profession where I’m saving lives – and so I try to go back to the nuts and bolts and use communication to make it where everything is calm and collected. We’ve done this before on Warped Tour, where we were working and then playing. I’m really excited. I think this is going to be the first of many of other people seeing our band a lot. We are going to go above and beyond.
Now that we are talking about the Vans Warped Tour, what do you think about the fact that this is the last year?
I see it as the phoenix rising from the ashes. Kevin Lyman is one of my best friends – he’s my mentor – he has taken care of me – he has taken care of our band. He’s been taking care of our whole scene for over 25 years! With that, he has created these amazing communities in every scene full of kids that are passionate about not only music but all the things that come with it – the brands that are doing the non-profits – the philanthropy that you could be a part of. There’s so much of that. I worked with him for six years. In the process of that, he always said that wanted somebody to take on the torch from him. And I think now it’s up to our scene to carry on that flame. Maybe the Warped Tour won’t be travelling the country, but that’s because physically the way and size that event is, it’s a lot more difficult than it was in 1995 when it started. That being said, the spirit of it, Kevin Lyman, all of us that worked Warped Tour and played Warped Tour – we will always have them in part of us and we will use it in everything.
Personally I hope it goes back to the venues. I love festivals. And I like said, you’ll see our band playing a lot of these things over the next couple of years. But more so than anything, I love a good venue show. So that type of stuff – it’s something I hold so near and dear to my heart. And I think that the festivals don’t necessarily get that community culture to really resonant. But I hope that this community will harness what we have right in our hands and make even better decisions to make these music genres thrive. And that’s what it will really come down to at the end of the day.
And regarding Naked Walrus – do you have anything new coming out?
Actually we were just tracking last week. We worked with a producer – his name is Curtis Douglas out of Arizona – and he’s done all of our electric albums. This will be our fourth release. We have a five song EP – we have everything tracked and we will soon be mixing and mastering. We’re going to take a little time to release it. I don’t want to stop doing everything – I don’t want to stop playing the shows – but at the same time, in order to make this release as awesome as the opportunities we’re getting – like playing Sabroso and some of these other things that are coming into the works, we’re going to take a little hiatus towards the end of this year to make it bigger and better. We have music videos we want to do. We have people we’ve always wanted to work with within the mixing and mastering process. So we’re really gonna kind of kick it and make it so the audience can digest this new thing in the way that’s its perfect. So I’m really excited about that.
Over our last album cycle, we’ve kind of grown into this whole image we call “anti-boy band marketing.” It’s kind of like covering up our faces and making people think “What is this? Who are they? Why do they do that?” We now are going to play into that artistic vision and just add other creatives that can do bigger and better things too. I’m really excited – it’s fantastic and I can’t wait to for people to hear what we’re doing. But unfortunately I don’t think people are going to hear it until this time next year. But we will get it out there…
(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton)