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Could Los Saints be Chula Vista’s version of Cage the Elephant?

The indie rock band Los Saints standing in a field
The indie rock band Los Saints back is (from left) Emiliano Garcia, 20, Angel Mariscal, 22, and Gianluca Exposito, 20.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

With a full show calendar and upcoming EP, the San Diego indie band is quickly making a name for itself

Los Saints — South Bay’s latest bedroom pop band — has a very specific goal: getting to the musical level of Grammy-award winning rock group Cage the Elephant.

“They do a really good split between electronic, punk and still keeping it rock, like classic rock,” says frontman Angel Mariscal.

Cage the Elephant’s discography is definitely a strong influence on the sound of this Chula Vista-based indie rock trio. The three 20-something San Diego natives have been playing music for years, but their newly formed band — just shy of two years old — is finally getting its footing on the local music scene in a post-pandemic landscape.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista where they filmed their music video. Left-right, Angel Mariscal, 22, Gianluca Exposito, 20 and Emiliano Garcia, 20. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Mariscal — who does the band’s vocals, guitar, bass and synth — is joined by drummer Emiliano Garcia and guitarist Gianluca Exposito. It’s a bit of a family affair; Mariscal and Garcia are cousins and Garcia befriended Exposito back in elementary school. And just like family, there’s lots of love between the members ... and a little bit of tension.

“It’s kind of a challenge when you know that whenever you’re gonna see each other it’s because you have to work on (material) — it doesn’t really give you time to just hang out and relax,” Mariscal says, adding that he and his band mates are very focused on the success of their music.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista where they filmed their music video. Left-right, Angel Mariscal, 22, Gianluca Exposito, 20 and Emiliano Garcia, 20. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Los Saints, which became a concrete three-piece in December 2019, had big plans to hit the ground running in 2020. So when the pandemic canceled its on-stage debut last March, the group bunkered down and went into creation mode, releasing singles like “I’m In Need” and “As Bad As the First.” The band has also been perfecting tracks for its upcoming EP, recently recorded over a three-day period in Los Angeles.

“We really capitalized on that (extra time) and we could focus on things other than preparing for shows,”Garcia says.

In addition to new music, the three Gen Zers — Mariscal is 22 years old; Exposito and Garcia are both 20 — also concentrated on producing a wealth of internet-friendly content during lockdown, from song-related skits and visual teasers. The band currently has artsy music videos for singles “Let It Out” and “It’s Easier When You Jump,” which were both shot outdoors in Chula Vista.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista where they filmed their music video. Left-right, Angel Mariscal, 22, Gianluca Exposito, 20 and Emiliano Garcia, 20. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Los Saints’ carefully curated feeds suggests an obsession with aesthetics, yet this content curation is about more than just keeping up with the indie rock Joneses. From danceable music videos to sappy song lyrics, the band members are all about connecting with listeners.

“I just hope that through our music, people can also get to know us personally — like you can just talk to us no problem, in person or (online),” Mariscal says.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, from indie rock band Los Saints in Chula Vista, Angel Mariscal, 22
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Now that San Diego venues are reopening, the band is swapping time making music in Mariscal’s bedroom for performing on local stages. And despite the quick turn-around in securing shows — such as at Kensington Club on Sept. 18, plus September and October gigs at Soda Bar — this change of scenery hasn’t been the easiest transition.

“I’m still trying to figure out how to move on stage, talk to people who are listening, things like that,” Mariscal admits, adding that Exposito and Garcia have past show experience with previous bands, but live shows are a relatively foreign concept for him.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Aug. 25, 2021, from indie rock band Los Saints in Chula Vista, Gianluca Exposito, 20
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, from indie rock band Los Saints in Chula Vista, Gianluca Exposito, 20. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Los Saints’ commitment to its hometown has grown both Mariscal’s confidence and the band’s following. In addition to booking gigs at local venues, its calendar is filling up with last-minute shows at Chula Vista spaces — specifically, in living rooms.

“It’s just like a community here in Chula Vista,” Garcia says of the local house show scene, adding the gatherings draw mainly high school students. “After a while, everybody knows each other.”

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, from indie rock band Los Saints in Chula Vista, Emiliano Garcia, 20
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, from indie rock band Los Saints in Chula Vista, Emiliano Garcia, 20. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Los Saints’ debut EP is expected to be released this fall. Although song details are under wraps, its track list draws a lot of inspiration from Cage The Elephant’s latest album “Social Cues,” which Mariscal notes “sparked our direction and helped us find our sound on the EP.”

Listen to Los Saints on Apple Music or Spotify and watch the band’s music videos on YouTube. For show updates, follow @lossaintsofficial on Instagram.

Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista
Chula Vista, CA - August 25: On Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021, the indie rock band Los Saints back at a location in Chula Vista where they filmed their music video. Left-right, Gianluca Exposito, 20, Emiliano Garcia, 20 and Angel Mariscal, 22. (Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Los Saints at Soda Bar

When: 8:30 p.m. Sept. 22

Who: Los Saints will open for Dear Boy and Devora. (Fun fact: The band recorded its EP with the help of Dear Boy’s drummer Keith Harrison.)

Tickets: $15.06

Online: sodabarmusic.com, check the site for updated COVID-19 rules


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