“It’s been a real odd position for me, as it blurs the lines from artist to marketing and advertisement guy,” says Falling Doves frontman Chris Leyva of his side-job as SoCal music-brand ambassador for Sapporo Beer. “I oversee endorsements such as supporting local bars with entertainment support and promotions, all the way to choreographing marketing and events.”
It’s a gig with envious perks, representing the brand at events such as Fashion Week L.A., at the Playboy Mansion, and for the 94/9 Sapporo House at Coachella this year. “I was there to meet [performers], exchange words, and pack their car with beer. We also secured beer for the dressing rooms of the Grammys, and I got to go to the Beatles 50th anniversary CBS special…it blew my mind. I sat behind Tom Hanks and his wife, and three rows from me were Paul McCartney and Ringo.”
Leyva recently found himself backstage at a private performance event in Fullerton for Duesenberg Guitars, though all he knew in advance was that Tom Petty’s longtime guitarist Mike Campbell would attend. “I was invited to help with beer endorsement and promotional materials.”
He describes a surreal preshow tableau that began with bumping into Alice Cooper. “Steven Tyler is yelling on his phone, Marilyn Manson was peeling the label off his beer, Mike Campbell was deciding what guitar he was gonna play… I’ve only seen these people from a distance, or on TV, so I felt like I was in a movie. I wondered at what point I was gonna get found out, or kicked out. So I pop a beer open and there was Johnny Depp.”
Thus was born a rare photo op. “The security guy goes to let Mr. Depp know his car is waiting, and I think he thought I was in the backing band. So this press guy goes, ‘Can you get in the picture?’”
Falling Doves, Dante’s Boneyard
Friday, May 30, 2014, 8 p.m.
Mother’s Saloon, 2228 Bacon Street, San Diego
Being mistaken as a performer is actually part of Leyva’s job description. “My contract states that I need to perform at least once a month. To maintain my position believable, I need to be firsthand on the scene as a performer and industry dude. If I’m not playing, I’m no different than a radio promotions guy or an ad man. So far, I’ve performed over 40 shows for them, promoting beer from the stage and behind the scenes.”
Falling Doves will debut a new CD on May 30 at Mother’s Saloon in O.B.
– story by J. Allen Sanford – SAN DIEGO READER