On our first day in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris Tran, Jeff “Fej” France and I head North to Marin County. We meet Isaiah Mitchell at a coffee shop in San Rafael, 15 miles beyond the Golden Gate bridge.
Isaiah is an old friend of EQD who I’d first met when Earthless played the Levitation festival a few years prior, and is one of the chillest dudes to shralp the gnar guitar. The four of us sit talking about some of the other shoots we’d done on the trip, and about our plans for his. We suggest a simple studio set up - short interview, play through some pedals, no problem.
Off hand, Isaiah jokes about renting a generator to shoot near a redwood tree preserve. Our audio engineer on the shoot, Fej, hears the idea and I could see his brain begin churning. Using a hardware store located serendipitously across the street, we are able to find all the supplies needed to allow our rental van to power an amplifier and pedal board.
We follow behind Isaiah in his pickup truck as he whips it around the green, winding, San Geronimo Valley back roads, leading us to the spot he has in mind. It seems perfect - a secluded, bare hill juts out into a valley, surrounded by redwoods. We’d only managed to secure about 200ft of power cable but luckily, that was the exact length from the van to the sweet spot on the hill.
Just as we get Isaiah plugged in and ripping (and man, the sound that afternoon was simply majestic - loud, spacious, wide open), a pair of park rangers pull up behind our vehicles and start heading our way. We look at each other and dejectedly grumble, but the rangers end up being totally cool with the shoot. “Oh, just making a video for fun? That’s fine, looks like a nice location - just don’t fly any drones.” After they drive off, we resume and within half an hour we have the music and interview all shot.
After the shoot, we hit nearby Two Bird Café and slam some delicious sandwiches on their back deck as acorns sporadically drop from the tree canopy high above us with startling bangs. We talk about the state of the SF Psychedelic Rock scene mainly, but also surfing, skateboarding and traveling - Isaiah was leaving for a gig in Greece the following day. We finish our meals with hawks soaring high above after sustaining only one acorn injury (our videographer Chris took a direct hit to the top of his dome) and part ways with Isaiah, leaving him to prepare for his travels. We head West towards the coast through more of those forests with trees whose immensity make you feel like you’ve been hit with some sort of shrinking ray. Being in such deeply gorgeous nature, and with how ideally everything fell into place, the whole day felt like it was imbued with such a magical energy. Seems like that’s how it goes in San Francisco.
Brad Thorla is EarthQuaker’s fourth longest tenured employee, currently handling Inventory Systems Management, Artist Relations, Field Production for video shoots, and you’ll usually see him at trade shows. He plays drums in the EQD house band, Relaxer, and his photography can be found on Instagram via @bradleythorla.