Sacramento’s Race to the Bottom are four guys who never imagined they would be in a band together. But, somehow, their mash-up of musical backgrounds and influences works to make the band’s sound – shaped primarily by 90s, alternative, and modern rock – so distinctive.
The band’s origins go back to 2005, when guitarist Joe Whitworth recorded a collection of songs in his home studio. Joe, whose guitar playing and songwriting are strongly influenced by Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots) and Vaden Todd Lewis (Toadies) wanted to form a band and perform his songs live. However, he had a hard time finding musicians to collaborate with. The problem? He lived in Fallon, Nevada. “There was no music scene in Fallon at the time,” Joe recalls. After moving to Sacramento, finding other musicians to work with got a lot easier.
In 2010, Joe began rehearing his songs with a vocalist, bass player, and drummer. After just a few rehearsals, it was clear that the bass player wasn’t working out. The drummer asked Jim Peoples if he wanted to come to a rehearsal to see if he was interested in joining the band. He did, and he was. “I liked the songs that Joe had written, and I thought that my style of bass playing, which is very ‘meat and potatoes,’ would fit the music well,” says Jim, who learned guitar by playing along to Ramones albums in his teens and later began playing the bass when he realized that it would give him more opportunities to be in a band.
Soon after Jim joined the band, the singer was out. The band’s second singer was with the band for about a year, but then relocated to the East Coast. His replacement was only with the band a few months. Then, the drummer left to pursue other interests. Admittedly discouraged, Joe and Jim pressed on.
Race to the Bottom’s current drummer, Sean O’Leary, was the next to join. While attending college at UC Davis, Sean had played the drums in the Cal Aggie Marching Band-uh!, known for its sometimes ridiculous, disturbing, and offensive antics. He had also drummed for several rock and jazz bands. Sean brought a level of technical knowledge and proficiency not always found in rock bands. “I liked Race to the Bottom’s music because it left plenty of room for interesting drum parts,” says Sean.
In 2014, with Paul “Rocker” Lewis on vocals, Race to the Bottom released Stereotypical, a six-song EP. Later the same year, however, the band was again searching for a new vocalist.
Race to the Bottom’s newest member is vocalist Art Barrera, who joined in 2015. As a kid, Art sang in his church’s choir. Later, he was the lead vocalist in the Latin alternative rock band Cambio De Piel, which was chosen to represent Latino rock on the Budweiser True Music Live Tour and was featured in an ad campaign in Rolling Stone magazine. He cites Robert Plant, Dwight Yoakam, and Elvis Presley as his primary vocal influences. Art responded to the band’s craigslist ad seeking a vocalist, and soon after met the band at their rehearsal studio. “There was a lot of music coming out of three people, and I wanted to be a part of it,” he recalls. Art’s powerful vocals and passionate performances were just what Joe, Jim, and Sean were looking for.
In 2015, the band released their first song to feature Art’s vocals, “Fateful Day.” The song received airplay on Sacramento radio station 98 Rock’s “Local Licks” show and was also chosen as one of the top five songs of 2015 by DJ Judge of The Cape Radio. A music video for “Fateful Day,” directed by Bob Yoshino, was a winner at the 2015 Sacramento Film & Music Festival.
In 2016, Race to the Bottom was chosen as winners of the 2016 Sacramento Area Music Award (Sammies) “Rock” and “Live Performer” categories. Joe, Jim, Sean, and Art are honored to be recognized for their contributions to the Sacramento area music scene.
Race to the Bottom will enter the recording studio in late 2016.