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The mayor of San Diego music

By Jen Lothspeich

Tim Pyles elevates local music one band at a time

He can be heard on local radio airwaves, he can be seen Saturday nights on television, and he can be encountered at rock venues nearly every night of the week; and he is arguably, the most interesting man in San Diego.

Local music guru Tim Pyles is essentially a native, having lived in San Diego since age 4 and growing up as what he calls a “Mod Ska kid” of the ’80s and a raver in the ’90s. He said his love of live music reignited in the late ’90s while his radio career began in 1997.

The crew from 91X’s Loudspeaker radio show: (l to r) Lou Niles, Tim Pyles, Andrew Rowley and Al Guerra (Courtesy Tim Pyles)

Fast-forward 20 years and this long-time passion for live music has translated to a position as honorary mayor of the San Diego rock scene.

“I’ve always supported the local music scene, from [the time I saw] Johnny Kat at the Presbyterian Church on the top of Mount Soledad in junior high, to the show I saw last week,” Pyles said. “I just want us to be all we can be, not what people expect.”

The support Pyles provides comes in myriad ways — from hosting 91X’s Loudspeaker radio show, to booking bands at the Casbah and contributing to NBC’s music platform, SoundDiego.

The radio show hosted by Pyles dedicates three hours to San Diego music both old and new.

In addition to playing music by bands he has a history with (like The Loons and Buckfast Superbee for instance) and the newest in town (Sights and Sages and Creature Canyon, among others), he also interviews other notable figures in the local scene.

Thorn Street Brewing in North Park recently launched a new craft beer, “Rock the Pale,” and its newly released cans pay homage to The Casbah, which Tim Pyles has long been associated with. (Courtesy Tim Pyles)

Pyles and his co-hosts, of course, invite bands on to promote new releases and upcoming shows; but other guests he’s hosted in the last month have included everyone from the owner of the new Re-Animated Records shop in La Mesa to local brewers who have a craft beer, “Rock the Pale,” dedicated to San Diego’s quintessential rock club, the Casbah.

The latter are the people behind Thorn Brewing Company in North Park — also the new sponsor for Loudspeaker — who are an ideal fit for Pyles’ audience, many who may have already tried the beer on tap at the Casbah or at the brewery’s Thorn Street tasting room.

“It’s a tasty beer,” Pyles said. “[July will be] the first time they get their beers in cans and the cans [of Rock the Pale] will be instantly recognizable as an homage to the Casbah … the metal flames that adorn the Casbah are on the can.”

The same bands that Pyles is quick to share his airwaves with also undoubtedly turn up at that aforementioned metal-flamed Middletown club. While San Diego has its share of recognizable bands, Pyles seems to most enjoy giving stage time to those that fly under the radar or are even in their formative years.

“The thing that keeps me going is finding that next great band,” he said.

Thorn Street Brewing’s newly released cans of “Rock the Pale” (Courtesy Tim Pyles)

He referenced a South Bay band too young to actually get in the club and whose members have to wait outside before and after playing the venue. Leave it to Pyles to name-drop an underage band with a following of 50 people on Facebook.

“You have to check out Ignant Benches!” he insisted.

Thankfully, the most interesting man in San Diego is also a man of his word; he’s booked the band of teens to play the Casbah on July 11 with other locals, Noble War and Nite Lapse.

Just one instance of how, for as much visibility as Pyles has promoting bands on Loudspeaker and SoundDiego, he does an equal amount of behind-the-scenes work shining a spotlight on artists he believes in. Credit or none, it all reflects on his genuine dedication to San Diego music.

For a man who has so many gigs, Pyles has created a career with a unified goal of exposing local bands to the masses.

And the San Diego music scene has certainly reaped the rewards of having Mayor Pyles to back it.

—Jen Lothspeich is a wine-drinking, cat-cuddling native San Diegan who dreams of writing a best-selling true crime novel. Find her on Twitter at @Jen_Evel

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