Redondo Beach's Justin William Parker began jamming with guitarist Rick Gallego after Parker answered a Craigslist ad four years ago about a band that needed a lead singer.
While that band quickly dispersed, Parker and Gallego formed Bullhorn Messiah, which will open for guitar legend Gary Hoey Sunday, Dec. 17, at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach.
Parker and Gallego held a number of auditions to get a base player and drummer and found USC students Kevin Srivongse (bass) and David Horn (drums).
“We wanted to find people who could write their own stuff,” said Parker who works for Autotrader.com during the day. “There are a lot of people who are very talented musicians who are primarily in cover bands. They can play other people's stuff really good, but don't improvise.”
Bullhorn Messiah had its biggest gig to date when they played the Whiskey A Go Go on Oct. 6 when they had a “prime time” slot on a Friday night. It was a dream come true for Parker.
“I really wanted to see the name of the band on the marquee,” Parker said. “I wanted to take a photo of it, but when we showed up ... they only wrote 'BM.' I was like, 'Wow, that's not great.' We brought a lot of people, we sounded good. By the end of the night they had our full name up there. We impacted them enough during the show they went out there ... that was kind of cool.”
Parker joined his first band on a whim while a freshman in college in his native Michigan. He was hanging out at a bar with a friend from high school who was a drummer. One of their friends was going to audition to be the band's lead singer, but after a couple shots, Parker said “I want to audition.”
“I never sang in front of anybody; I did some karaoke,” Parker said. “I got the job and rewrote a couple of their songs and three months later, we were playing the Warped Tour shows.”
The band, Well in Doubt, played some shows on the 2003 Vans Warped Tour. One day while Parker was working a landscaping job, laying sod, he got numerous calls that his band's song was on the radio. They were one of four local bands to be played.
“The girlfriend of the bass player had dropped our CD off at the radio station. I didn't even know she'd done it. It was kind of crazy,” Parker said.
Well in Doubt folded after Parker moved to California after college. When he moved he had to start all over again. He found a band on Craigslist, Jugular, a dark metal/punk band. His twin brother John also moved to California and joined Parker on lead vocals. Jugular also dissolved, and his brother moved back to Detroit six years ago and started a family.
Parker went into the corporate world and left music behind for a few years before forming Bullhorn Messiah. The band's name comes from one of their song titles.
“It was the idea of the bully pulpit, man standing at the podium, barking at an audience, good or bad intentions,” Parker said. “We're seeing a lot of that lately ... someone standing up there, a bullhorn messiah, you're the messiah, they're looking at you like you're a spiritual figure. There's been good ones and there's been bad ones … it's a power.”
The band has 20 original songs that blend their influences. Parker “cut his teeth” on Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica and Pantera. Gallego, who has been playing in the LA area since the 1980s, is influenced by 80s hair metal and vintage rock. Srivongse and Horn are inspired by Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.
“When we jam and when we write music, there's a lot of really cool influences,” Parker said. “You can hear the different sounds coming through in some of the stuff we're putting together now.”
For more information, visit bullhornmessiah.com.