Lost but not without direction

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By Sonja Eide / Manging Editor

Music for a cause (Jonathan Flike / Special to Viewpoints)

By Sonja Eide / Manging Editor

The Lost Years are an up and coming band that is taking the music scene by force with their infectious message of persistence, perseverance, and  maintaining individuality in the face of overwhelming trials and tribulations.

Comprised of Joey Reynoso (vocals and band manager), Nigel Hamblin (guitar), Samantha Borish (vocals), Jared Martin (bass) and Ryen Fonseca (drums), the Lost Years channel the musical stylings of artists such as the Pixies, Hole, and Sonic Youth to create an authentic blend of ‘90s inspired rock and folk-like lyrically driven songs that tell markedly personal stories of pain, conflict, despair, and hopelessness.

But listeners should not be fooled; the band aims to inspire people to overcome their obstacles by telling stories in song, not to discourage people from optimism.

“One thing that always resonated with me and the music of Hole is when I had an eating disorder, the song that inspired me to get better was ‘Never Go Hungry Again.’ I thought if a song could save my life, I wanted to make music that could save the lives of others,” Reynoso said.

The band came into being when Reynoso and guitarist  Hamblin, who had previously worked together, teamed up in 2008 to create songs together which would tell past stories of debilitating anguish.

The two came up with the band’s name together, which symbolizes the “lost years,” a time when despondency took over, of  Reynoso’s life, the tragic difficulties he faced and the positive outlook he now has that he hopes to spread to others.

“I was speaking to a teacher at RCC and he was saying he really liked our name, ‘The Lost Years,’ because it speaks to everyone,” said Reynoso.

“Everyone has their own lost years and there’s different stories that add into that concept and you can connect to people on a human level. That’s one thing I really always wanted to aim for in our art—showing people how they can be empowered as a human being and  they can get past the hardest events of their life and also how they can make it into something positive and powerful.”

In 2009, Borish was brought on board.

The addition of her vocals brought a richness to the band’s work, some of which was re-worked and revised as time went on to benefit fully from her presence.

Reynoso’s jarring vocals contrast with Borish’s soft and sweet harmony  and the two sing ferociously above raucous instruments and creating a disjointed, chaotic clashing that intertwines to form a truly unique, dark and moving sound unlike anything else heard in the last 10 years.

Reynoso also speaks out about the stereotyping he faces as a gay leading man, and how that has made him become conscious as a musician to break through those stereotypes.

“Growing up it was always very hard. There was never that rock star figure you could identify with,” Reynoso said. “You’re always being compared to Freddie Mercury or someone who is extremely flamboyant, and it’s like no, I sing alternative rock.”

The Lost Years’ singer hopes to be an inspiration to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“I think we all need role models and we all need to see that LGBT people come in all shapes and sizes. I want to be an example to LGBT  Youth. You don’t have to be the gay fashionista that the media portrays you to be. You can be an individual; you can be yourself.”

The raw and intense emotion and sincerity of their music can be experienced to the fullest degree when seeing them live.

On May 10th, the Lost Years headlined an acoustic set with  local artists Kate Todd and Duyusimi as opening acts at the intimate Los Angeles venue, the Mint.

The set list included the popular favorite “Deeper and Deeper,” a song that has been compared to the Pixies’ “Where is my Mind?” and which explores the imagery of sex and eating disorders, and what Reynoso likes to call the piece the “R-rated version of ‘The Little Mermaid.'”

The band also performed several covers.

They opened  the show with a riotous version of Hole’s “Pretty on the Inside,” David Lynch’s “In Heaven” from the movie “Eraserhead,” and an eerie, slow-as-a-funeral-march version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”

Other songs included “She’s a Rose,” a piece about an ex-friend, and “Poor Seed,” which details the collapse of Hamblin’s relationship.

The group closed with “Drag Me Down,” which brought Reynoso to his knees as he crooned the words with the utmost of passion.

Throughout their time together, the group has never strayed from their deep desire to help others with their work.

When the disaster in Japan struck, the members of the Lost Years saw an opportunity to be proactive through their music and assist by releasing a live album.

The proceeds from the album will go to helping Riverside’s sister city Sendai.

Borish revealed her personal connection with what happened in Japan.

“I’m a quarter Japanese and I have family out there, who I still haven’t heard from, so that’s the main reason [behind making the album],” she said.

The other band members  also expressed their concerns for those affected by the catastrophe.

“If something like that happened in my life, I wouldn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t have the resources to put my life back together. We’re in a very privileged position as artists and as musicians and if we can make a difference, we should definitely try,” Reynoso said.

“We want to do what we can to help, and this is the one way we can,” bassist Jared Martin said.

The hopes the members have for the band’s future include continuing to play more shows together consistently, making music from the heart,  growing together as musicians  and to one day make it big, without, as Hamblin puts it, “selling out.”

The Lost Years’ album “Live at the Wire: Benefit for Japan” is available online at cdbaby.com for $5.99.

All proceeds raised  from cd sales will go to help efforts to rebuild in Japan.

The band also plans to have a benefit show at Back to the Grind with other local groups the Pocket Rockets and City of Thieves on June 4th.

They are currently  focusing on playing more shows and hope to release an EP later this year.

The Lost Years can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/THE-LOST-YEARS/.

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