Mean Dinosaur
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Mean Dinosaur

Band Rock Reggae

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By Jim Trageser

What would cause a couple of veterans of North County alt-rock and metal bands decide they needed to start a reggae band?

"The way it felt when I was playing it ---- it just felt natural," explained Brandon Turner, rhythm guitarist for Mean Dinosaur (playing Friday at the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos).

Bassist Sam Hartjen finds another appeal in reggae as opposed to some of the other styles he's played: "People can dance to it."

The two longtime friends met in junior high in Escondido, then attended Orange Glen High School together. They played in a variety of bands, ranging from punk to metal, and found varying degrees of success.

Turner's previous band, Parkhurst, was breaking up last summer when he began assembling Mean Dinosaur. (As for the name, it's taken from the title of a song a friend of theirs wrote.)

"Our plan was to take our time and build our sound," he said in an interview earlier this week.

But after only two rehearsals, the band was booked into Theatre-X in downtown Escondido. More calls followed that gig, and the take-it-slow road map was tossed aside.

"After that first show, we've never stopped," Turner said.

Hartjen said that at first he was a sub for the band's original bassist, but when the slot opened up permanently, he grabbed it. Turner's cousin, Edward Fugatt, was looking for an excuse to not join his parents in moving out of the state, and so became the band's drummer. The singer, Jesse Estes, was a mutual acquaintance they knew from bands that he played with on the coast. The rest of the band is rounded out by lead guitarist Jeremy McCall, keyboardist Evan Jones, percussionist Evan Magnus and trumpeter Arjay Pantig.

After a year of steady playing and regular practicing (although Hartjen said they usually have fans at rehearsals ---- "Even our practices are shows"), the band has finished its first CD, which is being released Friday on Luke Chandler's Escondido-based Above Ground Records.

Hartjen, who also plays bass in Chandler's band, Reason to Rebel, said, "We were planning to come out with a CD for the band and Luke came on and said, 'Hey, let me do it.' "

With the label covering all the studio and recording costs as well as the production headaches, Turner and Hartjen said they were able to simply concentrate on the music.

When the band first started, "half our songs were jam songs and we had no idea how to end them," Hartjen said.

During the past year, they've written a whole album's worth of new material (and then some). Turner said new songs are written by the whole band.

"I write a guitar riff, Jesse sings his lyrics," and Hartjen added, "Everyone throws in their parts."

After Friday's CD release show at The Jumping Turtle, Mean Dinosaur is going on a 10-day West Coast tour with Reason to Rebel, and is following that up with a Southwest tour in November that will take it to Texas.

Beyond that, Turner and Hartjen said, the band just hopes to keep building its fan base to where it becomes a full-time job.
- North County Times


By Shahrazed Encinias

North County has just released a band from Escondido into the Jurassic-jamming, music wild.

Mean Dinosaur debuted its first, self-titled compact disc on Sept. 14 at the Jumping Turtle in San Marcos.

Local reggae bands One Drop Redemption and Oceanside's Irieside opened up the CD release party, getting more than 175 fans riled up for Mean Dinosaur's performance.

A jam-packed venue with no air conditioning was not an obstacle for the band to rock out the rest of the night.

The body touching and sweat dripping fans didn't care about their current physical situation, all they wanted to do was party and that's exactly what they did!

Girls, girls, girls. No, not the lyrics to Motley Crue's strip club anthem, but the stage during Mean Dinosaur's performance. The trumpet player, Arjay Pantig, and rhythm guitarist, Brandon Turner, were lost in long legs, dancin' down. There were girls everywhere and they kept coming on stage "Raising Hell."

Fans were dancing and singing along with Jesse Esses, lead singer. With one beer in his hand and the other on the microphone he was the epitome of a rock star, enthralling in the music craze and surrounded by women.

The show was fun and full of energy. Mean Dinosaur sounded great and looked like they were having even more fun.

From the beginning until the very end, the eight-man band put on an entertaining show. Mean Dinosaur ended the night by playing fan favorites "Fly Away," "Bitter Truth" and "Love."

The band was jamming and enjoying themselves as much as the fans were. Pantig, Turner, Esses, drummer Edward Fugatt, bassist Sam Hartjen, lead guitarist Jeremy McCall, keyboardist Evan Jones and percussionist Evan Magnus were on-stage showing nothing but thrill and excitement. On behalf of Mean Dinosaur, Esses said it best, "this is the show you'll be telling your kids about!"

This celebration has kicked off a 10-day tour through the West Coast. They will be performing alongside local rock band Reason to Rebel.

"We'd hope to be touring about now," Turner said. "It's been hard work, but totally worth it."

Mean Dinosaur has been together since May 2006. The original members came together in Escondido and recruited Esses from Oceanside. Turner explained how they have been playing as many shows as possible in the past year and have

recollected fans from all over.

"Without fans we'd be extinct," Turner said.

- The Telescope


Discography

2007 Mean Dinosaur Self-Titled - AboveGround Records

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Bio

Reggae vibes and rock sensibilities combined with sweet soulful vocals create the ultimate party. Mean Dinosaur's efforts have paid off as they continue to perform to amazed audiences nationwide. Multiple tours along with positive critical reception have also insured their place in the SoCal music scene. What make the band truly uniquie is its ability to turn any gathering into an unforgetable celebration.