It’s time to break out our passports, open those street maps and do a little globetrotting with the first in a new regular feature for Already Heard, as band members open up to us about the place they call home. We’ll be finding out more about the people, the culture, the venues and most importantly the bands and music scenes that define cities and towns across the globe.
First up, as they celebrate the release of sophomore album ’In Droves’, Black Map guitarist Mark Engles gives us his guide to San Francisco and the Northern CA scene’s influence on the heavy rock trio’s high-octane sound.
”I grew up in San Jose and Los Gatos, CA, but San Francisco has been home for two Black Map members the past 15-20 years. It’s a very dynamic, diverse and beautiful city.”
Its People and Culture:
”Well, SF is definitely famous for its architectural and natural beauty. Its dense urban landscape is perched upon rolling hills at the tip of a peninsula. There’s a very diverse population of people from all over the world living here. That makes for a cultural city that is proud of its art, cuisine, and open minded views.”
The Music It Inspires:
”The diversity of culture is reflected in the music seen. Since we have people from all over living here, there’s not one genre that dominates the music scene. We’re proud of our many professional venues as well.”
The Local Music Scene:
”I think as music scenes go, the late 1960s were the first years that SF was really put on the map, but like I’ve said, there really isn’t one genre to put onto SF. We’ve had all sorts of talented musicians call come out of our clubs. There was a huge thrash scene here in the early 1980s that definitely influenced my life.”
Its Most Famous Musical Sons and Daughters:
”Bands like Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, etc made the city a mecca for that cultural movement in the late 1960s. The Summer of Love, or what have you. For me, growing up in rock, metal and punk, I’ve always been proud that bands like Faith No More, Metallica, Primus and NOFX, just to name a few, call SF home.”
The Venues We Visited:
”Cactus Club in San Jose, Berkeley Square, Bottom of the Hill, Slim’s and The Fillmore all shaped my early music experiences. These were just some of the spots I’d see my favourite bands before they became huge. There was always this sense of energy and anticipation that we were witnessing something special. The motivation I had as a teenager to one day be on those same stages was invaluable to keep perseverance.”
The Venues We Played:
“For Black Map, Bottom of the Hill in SF has been extremely welcoming for us as we build our live story. Places like Slim’s and The Fillmore are always an absolute privilege to play.”
The Influence Home Has on Our Songs:
”I’ve definitely been a part of writing songs with influence from SF and the Bay Area, but it’s normally a bit on the ambiguous side. The dynamic beauty and continual curiosity of this city is implied in many of Black Map’s tunes. We’re definitely not going to write ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ part 2 though.”
‘In Droves’ by Black Map is out now on Long Branch Records / SPV.