In the decade since he first emerged in San Diego’s music community, few have had as varied or colorful a career as Chris Leyva. He’s been a manager, songwriter, label owner, concert promoter, videographer, graphics designer and more — not only for his own group, but others, as well.
While he is perhaps best known for his activities behind the scenes, he said making music himself comes first.
“I never really considered myself anything other than a musician,” he said. “The business stuff happened by default. I needed stuff done and I saw where I could help others. It’s simple as that. Necessity makes us head in directions we didn’t expect sometimes.”
On Friday, May 30, Leyva and his band, Falling Doves, will host a CD-release party for their new album, “Ready to Go,” at Mother’s Saloon. Opening will be indie rockers Dante’s Boneyard. The choice of venue was no accident.
“It’s my home away from home,” Leyva said. “I played my very first show there, back when it was Dream Street.” Ocean Beach figures in the album’s creation as well. It was partially recorded at Leyva’s former apartment on Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
The Falling Doves have had a volatile lineup since their inception, currently consisting of guitarist Mike Dorsey, drummer Jason Knight and, for this special show, local bassist Mark Wikowski.
“All the lineups have basically been just a bunch of friends making noise, you know?” Leyva said. “But time marches on, and I’m feeling like the last man standing. All of those friends of mine now have babies and all that. It’s only a matter of time before I succumb to life and normalcy, but I still have a few sunsets left in me.”
The album contains music written from throughout Leyva’s musical career, with songs chosen from demos and old favorites from the more than two dozen albums in his discography.
“It started off as just taping some demos,” he said. “But then I realized I wasn’t happy with some other versions of songs in past albums, so I ended up re-recording a few and wrote some new ones in the process. Those new ones are important to the whole thing, like ‘Glass of Wine,’ which kind of stamps where my writing is at these days, both lyrically and musically.”
He points out that life on the road can make coming up with new music difficult.
“Traveling really does not give me any free time, but I keep a notepad and a recorder handy for melodies between flight trains and commutes,” Leyva said. “Finding time can be hard. But sometimes situations out there give you inspiration, so it’s a bit of a trade-off, I suppose.”
He acknowledges that the life of a touring musician is harder than ever, but he said he is happy to continue rocking as long as he can.
“Making music? It’s the best job you could have,” he said. “Just being a musician can be a good thing. There was a study about a guy with a guitar and a guy without one [it was the same guy] in an elevator. Supposedly, people smiled at the guitar guy, identifying with him and thinking things like ‘I wish that was me,’ and all that. Same guy, same situation, but no guitar and he never got a second look.
“Honestly, I think people know it’s not easy to do this, so they kind of throw us a bone,” Leyva said. “Sometimes you get a smile, sometimes they buy you a drink.”
Music has consumed Leyva’s life for as long as he can remember, and he said he intends to keep it that way. “I don’t want to sound cliché, but I’ve been singing and writing as far back as I can remember,” he said. “I will say there was a definitive visual on television and radio in the ’90s that made me want to pick up a guitar. It’s the same old story. Boy listens to a band, the music speaks to him and he becomes obsessed. It’s almost like puberty, where you can’t stop thinking of girls and all that. Like a deep crush, but it’s music.”
• FALLING DOVES: Friday, May 30 at MOTHER’S SALOON, 2228 Bacon St.,
9 p.m. 21 and up. For more information, visit http://www.motherssaloon-ob.com.
Read more: San Diego Community News Group – Falling Doves readying to soar with CD release party at Mother s Saloon