Drummer Daren Taylor hits it big, does homecoming concert

May 30, 2013 

The Airborne Toxic Event. That's drummer Daren Taylor on the right.

SPECIAL TO THE BEE

Before Daren Taylor played drums in the band The Airborne Toxic Event, before he had a radio hit, or a slot on the main stage at the Coachella music festival, he played in a local punk rock group, It'll Grow Back.

That's my band, FYI.

You'll forgive me for dropping the name.

Before that, Taylor was in a ska band called Dr. Rocket and the Moon Patrol, whose name alone should tell you something about the music it played.

I was in that band, too.

We were a bunch of friends from Kingsburg High School who started as all good garage bands do -- knowing next to nothing about music.

We had instruments and a passion to play, which we did for close to five years.

We were underground, to say the least, and made zero money, but there are surely some who remember the band. We released a CD and did a cross-country tour in a converted ambulance that broke down just about every time we crossed a state line.

When the band broke up, some of the members gave up music altogether. They went on to pursue other passions.

Some of us went on to write about music.

Taylor moved to Los Angeles and met Mikel Jollett, a singer and would-be novelist who was looking to start a band.

The pair locked themselves in a rehearsal space for four months and drank and sang and jammed for 20 hours a week and started The Airborne Toxic Event.

The band -- Jollett and Taylor, plus Noah Harmon, Steven Chen and Anna Bulbrook -- plays Saturday night at Visalia's Fox Theatre. It will be accompanied by the Tulare County Symphony.

This would normally be where I'd push you to get out to the show, but you'd have to find a scalper to get tickets.

It's been sold out for almost two months.

That's the kind of popularity the band has.

They're not like Beyoncé big or anything, but they did play the national anthem at a Los Angeles Lakers game. They've also been on just about every late-night show you care to mention. Most recently they were on "Jimmy Kimmel Live." They have done most of the major music festivals -- Coachella, Lollapalooza, Fuji Rock, the Reading and Leeds Festivals and Sasquatch! -- and were one of Rolling Stone's Top 25 bands on MySpace, when the social media site was something people used.

The band's latest album, "Such Hot Blood," was released in April and landed in the top 10 on both Billboard's rock and alternative rock charts.

You may have seen the band's documentary "All I Ever Wanted: Live from Walt Disney Concert Hall" on Comcast or heard the band's 2009 song "Sometime Around Midnight." It was the No. 10 Most Played Song on alternative radio for the year.

The Visalia show is just one of a full tour, but it's the one Taylor is nervous about. It's his homecoming and the band's first Valley stop since breaking into the big-time. The last time the band was in the area, it was just a pit stop in Fresno between gigs. They did play Fresno in 2007 at Tokyo Garden, which is the best hole-in-the-wall venue in town, but still a hole in the wall and packed out at 60 people.

It was a couple weeks after that show that the band was on "Last Call with Carson Daly," and things began to take off.

The audience for this weekend's show will be slightly larger and no doubt filled with family and friends -- including me.

Show information

The Airborne Toxic Event, with the Tulare County Symphony, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Visalia Fox Theatre, 300 Main St., Visalia. This show is sold out. Details: snvfoundation.org

I'm not name-dropping Taylor because he is famous, but because he is a friend and a heck of a drummer and he worked hard to get where he is. It's also a reminder that musicians -- even the most popular ones -- come from somewhere and that somewhere usually helps get them where they are.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6479, jtehee@fresnobee.com or @Joshuatehee on Twitter. Read his blog at Fresnobeehive.com

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