A MyWay Parter The region's best entertainment guide Events Dining Movies Music Onstage Recreation TV/Radio Destinations Classifieds Contests Tickets Yellow Pages

 Sacramento Search


View Map
Get Directions

Music - Details
Phallucy finds a future

By Chris Macias
Sacramento Bee
Published: 12/16/2001

Eight years after breaking up, a popular local rock band regroups and releases a new/old album

The trip to Hollywood should have come eight years ago, when Phallucy was one of Sacramento's leading alternative-rock bands. But on a recent November morning, cases are stuffed with instruments and duffel bags are packed as the band hits the highway for a gig on Sunset Strip.

A suitcase is loaded with copies of "Valium," an album that was recorded by Phallucy in 1993, yet unreleased because the band broke up shortly after its creation. But Phallucy is now back in business, at least for the time being. Along with a string of warm-up shows, including a gig at Hollywood's illustrious Viper Room, the band is embarking on an 11-day tour of the West Coast with Team Sleep, a side project of Deftones singer Chino Moreno.

Phallucy, which plays next Sunday at the Colonial Theatre on Stockton Boulevard, showcases a slightly different unit than that from the early 1990s. While the band's lineup shifted umpteen times during its heyday, Phallucy circa 2001 features the group's core: singer Dave Garcia, 34; guitarist Sonny Mayugba, 31; and drummer Abe Cunningham, 28. Chris Muñoz, 30, formerly with local rockers Phibe's Infernal Machine, handles Phallucy's bass slot.

Phallucy, from left, Abe Cummingham, Chris Muñoz, Dave Garcia and Sonny Mayugba.

Drummer Abe Cunningham is spending some of his time off from the Deftones getting back together with former bandmates in Phallucy.

Lead singer and keyboard player Dave Garcia is one of the founders of Phallucy, which will complete an 11-stop tour with a concert next Sunday at the Colonial Theatre.

Chris Muñoz plays the bass during a late November rehearsal by the reunited band Phallucy. Muñoz is a new addition to the popular Sacramento band that broke up in 1993.

Members of Phallucy, from left, Sonny Mayugba, Abe Cunningham, Dave Garcia and Chris Muñoz, rehearse in West Sacramento in late November before hitting the road on a tour that brings them back home for a concert next Sunday.

Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezuca

Few local bands could resurrect themselves after an eight-year hiatus and quickly score a choice gig at the Viper Room. Renewed interest in Phallucy comes in great part via Cunningham, who now drums for the Grammy-winning Deftones.

"There's been a natural, curious buzz about Phallucy," Cunningham says. "Our (Deftones) side projects, like Team Sleep, have been getting a lot of attention. I've been stoked to watch 'Valium' come out, even though it's strange that it took eight years."

So the road to Hollywood looms, but first it's time to travel back a decade to Sacramento's burgeoning alternative-rock scene for some background.


In the early 1990s, the number of Sacramento-area bands that had hit the Top 10 could be counted on a peace sign salute (Tesla, Club Nouveau). Cake was still playing in coffeehouses, Papa Roach was barely in high school and the Deftones were drudging through the backyard party circuit.

The now-defunct Cattle Club, housed on a nondescript stretch of Folsom Boulevard, was home base for Sacramento's alternative-rock bands, and Phallucy was among its top draws. Phallucy was the first local act to pack the venue to its 400 capacity. The band also shared bills around town with such heavyweight groups as Smashing Pumpkins, Run-D.M.C. and Green Day.

Thrash-funk was the sound du jour, but Phallucy carved its niche with an artsy brand of heavy metal, courtesy of Garcia's moody wailings and Mayugba's chunky yet textural guitar playing. Cunningham started his drumming career with an early version of the Deftones but couldn't pass up an opportunity to join Phallucy around 1990.

Moreno, one of Cunningham's chums at McClatchy High School, had no problem understanding why Cunningham would jump the early Deftones ship.

"(Phallucy was) the biggest Sacramento band at the time," says Moreno. "Me and Abe were in 10th grade and he had Phallucy's first demo tape. We had one of those Walkmans with the dual inputs, and we'd stick the earpieces up our sleeves so we could listen to it during class. I remember that Abe and I were standing in the lunch quad one day and he said, 'Dude, Phallucy asked me to plays drums.' And I was like, 'Man, you're sorry if you don't do it.' "

With Cunningham on board, the band continued to rock local clubs and toured Northern California and the Northwest in 1992. The band also strived to continually change its sound. While Phallucy honed strong Jane's Addiction and Black Sabbath influences, the group also experimented with saxophone excursions courtesy of Josh Coker and episodes of freak-out jamming. Phallucy had enough punch to keep the funk-metal masses and emerging grunge fans moshing faithfully, but the band's increasingly heady sonics led to some lulls in show attendance.

"We were kind of losing fans," says singer Garcia. "In general, a lot of people thought we were boring. We weren't really grungy -- my voice was more high pitched and didn't have that Eddie Vedder sound -- and it wasn't funky. Other bands were coming up and we were going through a transition. It was hard to get people into our sound when it was a little different than what was going around."

Still, Phallucy pressed forward and completed work on "Valium" in 1993. It was to be its first full-length CD, but mounting personality conflicts broke up the band and the album was ultimately shelved.

Following Phallucy's demise, Mayugba co-founded Heckler magazine and Garcia received a degree in fine art from the University of California, Berkeley. Cunningham rejoined the Deftones, which eventually became a platinum-selling hit, while Mayugba and Garcia formed the power-pop band Daycare.

A few bootleg copies of "Valium" have surfaced over time, and Garcia got word last year that an acquaintance was going to target Deftones fans and sell copies of "Valium" on the Internet site eBay. Instead, Garcia and Mayugba decided to remaster the album and release it themselves. Mayugba called Cunningham while he was on tour with the Deftones to discuss rekindling "Valium," and all parties agreed to push forward. Still, there were a few mixed feelings.

"At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to revisit Phallucy," says Mayugba. "It was what it was, and you kind of move on. But I never stopped playing a lot of those Phallucy riffs. That band is and was a very special band for all of us. It was heavy and intense, and the fact the album never came out is weird."

Once Cunningham found a break from touring, he and his former Phallucy bandmates holed up for two days to remaster "Valium." Five thousand copies of the album were released on Sept. 11 via Mayugba's Blackliner Records, and a few live shows were scheduled. But with support from Cunningham and Moreno, a handful of Phallucy gigs quickly snowballed into a full-fledged jaunt with Team Sleep -- swanky tour bus and all.

But first, the band was to jump headfirst into the music scene with a warm-up show at the Viper Room. Fueled by a couple of months of rehearsals and a lot of nervous excitement, the band set off for Southern California.

Tinseltown tales

Saturday night on the Sunset Strip. Sleek BMWs and super-sized SUVs with 20-inch rims roam the boulevard, past the valets at the swanky hotels and chi-chi restaurants, while foot traffic treks toward such nightclubs as the House of Blues and the Whisky a Go-Go.

The Viper Room, co-owned by Johnny Depp, is one of the Strip's most infamous watering holes. In 1993, actor River Phoenix collapsed outside of the club following a drug overdose and later died. Brawls at the Viper Room involving such celebrities as Nicole Eggert and Tommy Lee quickly made gossip columns, and the threat of paparazzi has resulted in the club's strict "no cameras" policy. The nightspot remains a choice destination for the über-hip and famous, and impromptu concerts have featured such musicians as Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sheryl Crow.

Each Saturday night, the Viper Room hosts "Club Favor," a mix of hip-hop DJ dancing and rock bands presented by Cypress Hill percussionist Eric Bobo and Los Angeles promoter David Salko. Via Cunningham's friendship with Bobo, and a thumbs up from Salko after hearing samples of "Valium" online, Phallucy is plastered on the Viper Room's marquee, to appear on Nov. 17. The date also coincides with the birthday of Cypress Hill rapper Sen Dog, so his buddy Everlast and members of the Cypress Hill crew are hanging out as Phallucy prepares to play.

The Viper Room itself isn't much to speak of. The room, awash in dull, reddish-brown paint, is lined with a half-dozen booths and holds about 200 people. Still, the club's hipper-than-thou reputation and small confines make the Phallucy members nervous, very nervous. As C-Minus, the DJ for Korn, spins Eric B. and Rakim's "Move the Crowd," Mayugba fidgets with his guitar rig and can't decide which setup works best. Prior to the gig, Garcia spends a chunk of time changing from one outfit to another.

With the clock nearing the band's 11:30 p.m. set time, the members of Phallucy lock into a group hug. The crowd -- a mix of young women in their club-hopping finest and guys in both urban and preppy gear -- turns toward the band after an introduction by Bobo. Mayugba keeps his head swung back with eyes closed as the fuzzy chords to "Kristy" kick in. Cunningham, who is used to rocking sports arenas, hasn't been this exposed in ages. Garcia and bassist Muñoz direct their gazes anywhere but at the audience.

Stiff stage presence aside, the band's music locks in mightily. Cunningham's attack and rapid-fire fills on "Firebug" test the tenacity of his drum heads. The Viper Room's sound system is surprisingly punchy, and Garcia's vocals, which veer between tender and torrential, ring with a sturdy force.

The audience responds in cool but appreciative fashion. Some of the club's more hip-hop-inclined patrons pay little mind to Phallucy, and one inebriated fellow heckles the band, but the majority of the crowd offers solid applause between tunes.

Phallucy's show whips by in 35 minutes, and afterward the band unwinds with a few drinks while C-Minus pumps another round of hip-hop mixes through the loudspeakers.

Outside, Garcia is cornered by a new Phallucy fan. "I know good music, and I thought you guys were awesome," she says. "Where can I get your CD?"

The festivities continue all night, both a half-mile away at the band's hotel room and at a nearby after-party hosted by Club Flavor's promoters.

Some catch a few hours of sleep before the hotel's 11 a.m. checkout, and then a pit stop is made at Swinger's, a trendy coffee shop on nearby Beverly Boulevard.

At Swinger's, supermodel-tall waitresses in go-go boots serve a noontime breakfast. Mayugba occasionally nods off -- the result of his all-night bender -- as Cunningham scarfs a tofu scramble. Muñoz is away visiting family and friends, while Garcia still hasn't surfaced since leaving the after-party for Malibu with some newfound friends. It's been a whirlwind 24 hours, and the band is still buzzing about its show.

"Man, I was hella nervous," Cunningham says. "Overall, I thought it went pretty cool, but I got scared when it came down to it."

"I was nerrrrvous, dude," Mayugba says. "Even just thinking about it now makes me terrified. Right when we started playing, I was like, 'Oh, my God, this is it.' And it wasn't just any crowd, but a Hollywood crowd. I was tripping off that."

Phallucy's future

Since the Viper Room gig, Phallucy played in San Francisco with Swarm (formerly Death Angel) and at Old Sacramento's Scratch 8. The band's show next Sunday culminates its 10-day tour with Team Sleep.

Phallucy's itinerary back in the old days was rarely this busy, though the question remains as to how long the good times can last. After the holidays, Cunningham will be immersed with the Deftones as that band starts work on its new record. Phallucy gigs will thus be few, and the band doesn't have a firm game plan of what comes next.

Cunningham, however, insists that Phallucy isn't just a hobby while the Deftones are on break.

"It's not a side project," he says. "It feels too good for that. This band stands on its own two feet. There will definitely be some juggling involved, but taking this on the road again could be the next thing. I could go on tour and play two sets: one with Phallucy and one with Deftones."

Mayugba and Garcia also want to get back to work with Daycare, but the rejuvenated Phallucy has led to some tasty musical adventures. The moody metal on "Valium" still sounds relevant, while the band has even written a few new tunes and added Garcia's keyboard playing as a fresh melodic element.

"In the past two months that we've been playing again, we've all brought some really good things to the table and are complementing each other," Garcia says. "For me, there was a high level of doubt with how this was going to work. We've had our differences in the past, but over the years we've matured."

The satisfaction of finally releasing "Valium" and playing shows just might be enough. It's taken the band eight years to come full circle, but what a closure it's been.

"On one level I'm like, 'Yeah, let's get a manager and get a label and do it big like Deftones do it,'" says Mayugba. "Then again, we're putting this album out, we're going on tour in a bus and the shows are gonna be good. So if we get to the new year and nothing (more) happens, I'll still be happy in general."

"To this day, I'd thought about the music we had made," Cunningham says. "It was cool to come back after all these years and be ruling in Hollywood."

About the Writer

The Bee's Chris Macias can be reached at (916) 321-1253 or .


Click on map to zoom in
Add to My Organizer Add to My Organizer

Add to My Links

7 p.m.

Team Sleep

Colonial Theater
3522 Stockton Blvd Sacramento, CA 95820
(916) 454-1700

Get Directions
Get A Map

Book Stores
Coffee Shops
Night Clubs
Record Stores

 Find a business near you
Business Name or Type

Distance Search

Back to Top | Events | Destinations | Dining | Movies | Music | Onstage | Recreation | TV/Radio | Classifieds | 
Contests | Yellow Pages

Feedback | Advertising Info | Help | Terms of Use |

Copyright © 2001 MyWay. Portions ©2001 All rights reserved.

v. 2.8b wchb6