When one mentions “Temecula,” the first thing that typically comes to mind is its gorgeous wine country.
Old Town may also quickly come to mind, with its rustic charms, or perhaps the area’s affordable bedroom communities.
In a nutshell, those three things define Temecula to those who live outside our valley.
Rarely does someone mention Temecula’s music scene.
But, with the national attention local favorites The Brewer Boys received as recent finalists on “X Factor,” as well as The Vault and The Merc being viable gig stops for local and touring bands, our sleepy little wine town is waking up to find that music thrives in the “951.”
Local alternative rock band Fly By Night may also have a say in the matter.
Great Oak High School sophomores Mitchell Hoskins (guitar/vocals) and Aaron Liwanag (drums) co-founded their punk-pop band back in 2009, and have since created a huge buzz, especially after winning numerous Battle of the Band competitions in Murrieta, Temecula and Fallbrook.
Their biggest victory to date, however, came last year at the Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival Battle of the Bands, where they took home the grand prize of $5,000 worth of Fender music gear and a new Gretsch drum set.
They were the youngest band in the competition.
“We were a bit surprised to win, but at the same time, we’ve worked hard to get to where we’re at,” said singer Hoskins. “Being young and the underdog … it’s refreshing to be validated in what we do.”
While band’s sound can easily be traced back to the melodic and emo influences of My Chemical Romance, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Eat World, and Paramore, Hoskins considers Green Day the primal force behind Fly By Night’s sonic direction.
When performing live, they typically intro their shows with Green Day’s version of the John Lennon classic “Working Class Hero.”
“I can’t say The Beatles are a direct influence on what we do, but anywhere you go, you run into them,” said Hoskins. “So subconsciously, they’re there.”
Of course, as the lead guitarist and vocalist, Hoskins takes center stage when the band performs live, but Liwanag’s fluid and confident David Grohl-esque backbeat style is an integral element in the group’s sound. After all, a band is only as good as its drummer.
“I pretty much figured out things on my own — I just like hitting hard,” admitted Liwanag, when asked about his drumming style. “But, I’d say Mike Fuentes from Pierce the Veil has been an influence too.”
And how does hailing from Temecula dictate what Fly By Night is all about?
“We’re at the epicenter of three distinct scenes — Orange County’s punk, San Diego’s hard rock/metal, and LA is really close too,” said Hoskins. “So, there’s some of each in what we do. But at the same time, I think we’d make the same music regardless of where we lived. We just play what we like — it’s not a conscious thing.”
Look for their first record release as well as a healthy dose of live performances in 2013.
“We’re finishing pre-production of our LP — finishing up the writing,” said Hoskins about their upcoming first release of all original material. “We’re also planning a mini-tour soon, like maybe a week long. But we’re still in school, so we just can’t get up and go on a national tour.”
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.