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Band of Brothers 

San Diego rockers Western Settings benefit from a relationship with La Escalera Records


When opportunity knocks, sometimes it's a chance to help someone out. That is literally always the case when label mates of San Diego's La Escalera Records show up at each other's doorsteps looking for a place to crash while on tour.

"The label's motto is: without each other, we have nothing," explained Will Castro, label co-founder and member of punk rock outfit Western Settings, during an email exchange with the Source. "La Escalera means 'the ladder" in Spanish. It's pretty simple," he continued, "All bands help each other no matter what. If you're on a higher rung, you help your brothers that are on lower rungs. We're about supporting each other, setting up shows, lodging and sometimes feeding our brothers on the road."

As a result of that lend-a-hand-up approach, the fledgling record label already boasts an impressive punk-heavy slate of 22 upstart bands, including Castro's own group Western Settings.

With Western Settings, Castro—who plays guitar in the band—has blended the boyish sound of Sum 41 and Blink 182 with the anthem punk of modern groups like Japandroids. Released earlier this year, its debut, self-titled EP contains five tracks with titles inspired by the film The Princess Bride—the result of front man Ricky Schmidt watching the movie while coming up with names for the tracks—and churns for a dizzying 14 minutes.

The lead track, "Iocane Powder," is a spacious raging lament about a dear friend of Schmidt's dabbling in heroin. While in true punk rock fashion, the song "Mostly Dead All Day" fervently discharges machine gun drums and rocketing guitar for just over two and a half minutes.

To support the release of that EP, Western Settings is putting its association with La Escalera Records to good use. They're embarking on a 17-date tour with fellow punk rockers Success and Civil War Rust, combining accommodations, van transportation and of course—as the bands will be making two round trips up the West Coast—the cost of gas.

Along with the bands sharing the load, the other kinds of collaborations required to put together tours for bands that don't necessarily have huge draws in unfamiliar places—venue booking and show promoting—also seem to come relatively easy for the label. It's likely the result of the label's attitude toward those partners. (Its Facebook page regularly refers to associations as "family")

After all, as La Escalera's website asserts: "We are here to set the record straight on the loss of the relationship between the record buyer, the label and the bands. In the music world we are all family with common interests..."

Western Settings with Success and Tuck and Roll.

9 pm. Monday, March 31

Volcanic Theatre Pub

70 SW Century Dr.

Tickets $5 at the door.

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