It can be difficult to define what it is to be a band in the Inland Empire music scene, especially when so many of the acts that congregate here both originate from places elsewhere and frequent venues outside of the area. Daydream Time Machine is a band composed of five members — Chris on lead vocals and guitar, Beck on drums, Roman on backing vocals, Gus on percussion and bass and Juan on saxophone and keys — none of whom hail from Riverside or its surrounding cities. But make no mistake, they’re as ingrained to the local scene as any of the previous bands we’ve featured on Radar Sessions (it’s almost a given at this point to say that they’ve shared bills with Dreamlover, Shinobi Ghost and Chola Orange).
They’re reluctant to claim their status as an IE band though, only taking ownership of it after I posit that they’re a limb of the ever-expanding register of artists who play shows at spots like Back to the Grind, Mission Tobacco Lounge and Pomona’s dba256. “We’ve been fortunate enough to play shows with our friends,” Chris says, “if that’s what it takes to make a scene then hell yeah, it’s awesome.” At the tail end of our talk, the reluctance they had in declaring themselves as a band embedded to the scene shifts to an eagerness when asked if there’s any bands they want to shout out. They rapid-fire call out, “Violet Minefield, The No. 44, Children, Sleep Club, Kiki Diago, Dreamlover, Shinobi Ghost,”not averse to showing recognition for the people that inhabit the local music scene.
Daydream’s been around for over two years at this point, but only recently has their momentum been doubled down, garnering new fans by performing more frequently in bigger spots like the Fox Performing Arts Theater in downtown Riverside. Here’s a brief timeline: Roman and Chris were in a punk band in high school and not long after that, Chris and Roman’s brother Raulie (who is credited as the songwriter) formed The Verunas; Beck would fill in when Raulie couldn’t make it and both Gus and Juan would join Daydream once formed after the dissolution of The Verunas. During their live sets the band is often accompanied by visual artist Mono Vision — other times they’re complemented by Stranger Liquids. He’s something akin to a secret weapon, buttressing the inbuilt psychedelia in their sonics with vibrant, colorful eye candy.
Their debut album, “Pursuit of Madness,” waxes and wanes between psychedelic anthems that put Chris’ fretwork in center stage (“No Majesties”) and airy atmospheric cuts like “Dios Apate” and “The Pursuit of Madness,” divvying up the the 34-minute record into a heterogenous eight-song sampler. It’s an album Chris hopes listeners experience from top to bottom — they take considerable effort in song arrangement and fluid transitions, as with the shift from “Dios Apate” to “Mistress.”
On their upcoming record, which pulls influence from David Bowie and Carlos Santana, Beck says, “We’re trying to make something sonically complex and well-rounded, with less of a focus on trying to be a rock band and crafting songs (like those) we take inspiration from … we take songs we’re inspired by and try to push forward with it.” Most excitingly, it’s an album to showcase more of Juan’s ace sax playing, as with the song “Lady Moonbeams.”
Where luck favored us in the past, shooting Daydream’s second song, “Lady Moonbeams,” saw no such favor. Chris’ guitar stopped working and, for a moment, it seemed that hope was lost in finishing up the session. In a Radar Session first, the band decided to proceed irrespective of the technical difficulties we couldn’t evade that prevented us from filming. And proceed they did, in high spirits, with a valiant effort to deliver the same explosive punch the song carries with guitar. For the band, it was a bit like a blessing in disguise that allowed them to toy with the dynamics between each instrument. Surely the experience exists only in memory, but it’s a testament to the tenacity they bring to their shows.