“The punk and hardcore scene in the high desert has always had a super unique niche to it and has always been filled to the rim with DIY resourcefulness," says Jesse Contreras, guitarist of Apple Valley, CA hardcore band, Ursula. Though I've lived in Southern California since 2006, I've yet to visit his region, so Jesse offers up some more info about the band's homebase. "During the early '00s, we had a rad DIY venue (Fly/Trilogy Theatre and later Karma) that brought a lot of national touring acts through the high desert. It served as a great stop in between Corona (Showcase Theatre) and Vegas for national touring acts. But when we didn’t have our local DIY venue, it led to us constantly having to be creative in order to have shows in the area. I can recall locals bringing generators and construction lights out to the middle of the desert off of Apple Valley RD to hold generator shows, one-off coffee shop gigs, warehouses, grange halls, house shows, etc."
That DIY spirit is alive and well in everything Ursula does. In the beginning of 2018, the group released Meet Is Murder, its debut release. “I think the biggest highlight was how much traction the record picked up and the postive feedback we received on it," vocalist Whitney Marshall tells me. "Because of that and booking shows nonstop, we've been fortunate enough to meet new friends in the scene and other greats bands along the way. We booked a DIY tour last summer and had a blast.
"It's just rad to see your stupid thoughts, feelings, and experiences actually be something many can relate to in musical form, and be able to create this art with your friends and make new art and memories and hopefully help others along the way. Otherwise, I don't see the point in all of this.”
Ursula is part of the Indecision Records roster, a label owned and operated by Dave Mandel, that has also issued released by such bands as Throwdown Ensign, and Shiners Club. “We connected with Dave through Programme Skate and Sound (the Cheers of SoCal punk/hardcore, credit goes to Eva for that awesome comparison)," Jesse tells me. "We got added late to one of the Downcast reunion shows, Dave was at that show and saw us there. Dave and Programme got in touch with us later on in the week and asked if we were interested in having the two labels co-release Meet Is Murder on vinyl."
Urusla drummer Jesiah Henricksen also chimes in with his thoughts on Dave and Indecision Records: "The first time I met Dave goes back to 2001 at a venue in Ventura named Pat's Wherehouse. It was probably the 3rd hardcore/punk show I had gone to and had saved up some money to buy CDs, I think I left that show with 6 or 7 Indecision Records releases [laughs]. Staygold had played that show and quickly became my favorite band. I have been following Indecision Records ever since high school. There have been so many good bands on the roster, but bands like StayGold, Faded Grey, Death By Stereo, and Over My Dead Body were some of the ones that I kept on constant repeat all through high school."
Next month, Ursula will be releasing Regurgitate, a 4-track EP. Whitney gives me the lowdown on her lyrical perspetive this time out: "The topics this time around aren't too far off from the feels of Meet Is Murder, hence the title name Regurgitate. All we hope is that what we release is something that can be relatable. We are all angry and this is our outlet. Self-analysis is something that will never not be. Our being is always under construction. Life is the challenge and the people in it can either be a bonus or a parasite [laughs]. I'm quite apathetic and ironically, like most people, a misanthropist. It's something I am still working on, clearly! It's just nice to have others to be angry with and at the same time make some badass music about it as well as having a fun times. In the meantime, I am trying to practice the whole PMA thing and just keep to myself, for the most part. I've got fat stacks of unused lyrics or random word vomit sitting around awaiting to be plugged into the guys' musical recipe.”
As new track "Outta Yr Element" below represents so well, Regurgitate rips as hard as Ursula does on stage. Jesiah tells me he usually handles the drum tracking himself, but this time out he brought in some help. "It was a pleasure to work with Nick (Champion Heart Media) during drum tracking. He gave me production advice: gave ideas about fills/patterns, and kept an eye on how tight my timing was and how hard I was hitting. I think I always will prefer to have another engineer record me from now on for the very reason of having a outside objective perspective on my performance and patterns."
Regurgitate closes out with Ursula's killer cover of "Salvation," the 1996 hit single from The Cranberries' third album, To the Faithful Departed.
“We started playing 'Salvation' shortly after we released our first EP," says bassist Justin Hoover. "We all liked the idea of having a cover to sprinkle in to live shows. Plus, most of our favorite bands have done a cover or two...and why not follow in those footsteps? So, we all suggested a couple songs and narrowed down the choice to The Cranberries or the Cardigans...we're big fans of '90s rock [laughs]. 'Salvation' felt right so we started playing it live. People seem to enjoy it and we like playing it, so we recorded it for Regurgitate."
Before parting ways, I get Jesse's thoughts on Ursula's plans now that Regurgitate is about to be released. “We want to play as many shows as possible in order to support the EP, but we’re also going to be taking some weekends off in between to write for our debut full-length being released by Indecision Records hopefully by the end of 2019. We’re currently in the planning stages of setting up a two-week tour at the end of August/beginning of September that will conclude in SLC at Here’s to Life Fest at The Loading Dock. It’ll be cool because we’ll be playing primarily cities that Ursula has never visited before (Austin, Ft. Worth, NOLA, OKC, Chicago, KC, etc.). We’re just about to start booking so if any promoters in those areas are willing to help us get a show set up please contact us via email at Ursulaapplevalley@gmail.com or through Instagram DM."
Upcoming Ursula shows:
Apr 20 - Perth, WA @ Rosemount Hotel
April 28 - Riverside, CA @ Pixels w/ All That Groovin, Jasons, Ukelele Hiro
May 03 - San Diego, CA @ Til Two Club w/ Naked Aggression, The Voids, The Venemous Pinks
May 04 - Fullerton, CA @ Programme Skate & Sound (record release show) w/ CoolSide, American Standards, Stay Wild, Cel Damage
Jul 26 - Fullerton, CA @ Programme Skate & Sound