Those of us at the University of California, San Francisco know Bryan Garza as a member of the facilities management team. By day he helps those of us on campus with various tasks but by night, he fronts the indie rock band Scissors for Lefty.
Scissors for Lefty got its start in 2000 in San Luis Obispo, when Garza met the Krimmel brothers -- drummer James and keyboardist Peter. The three shared a love of classic pop music, including the Beatles, while also drawing inspiration from 1990s alt-rock icons like Björk and Radiohead. Originally channeling a musical vibe akin to early REM, the band started to develop a more original style, taking direction from shoegaze groups and the musicians' own idiosyncratic personalities.
In 2002, the band relocated to San Francisco and added two more Garzas to the lineup: Bryan's brother Steve on bass and their young uncle Robby on guitar. The addition of the new members allowed the group's sound to continue to evolve. With Robby on guitar, Bryan could focus on being a charismatic front man and less on chords and riffs.
In 2005, Scissors for Lefty self-released its debut album Bruno. Bruno got the band noticed both at home and abroad. In the Bay Area, it earned the group loads of gigs. Songs from the album were re-recorded and released as singles on the legendary UK label Rough Trade (responsible for bands like the Smiths).
In 2007, the band released its sophomore album Underhanded Romance on L.A.'s Eenie Meenie Records. Drawing comparisons to other bands of the time, like the Strokes, the album piqued the interest of many and earned the band spots on tour with the Dirty Pretty Things and Arctic Monkeys.
By now, the band's definitive sound was really taking shape. Audiences could dance to Scissors for Lefty, thanks to songs with catchy synth riffs. They played the big British summer music festivals, like Reading and Leeds. At home, they performed in showcases at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and the College Music Journal Festival in New York.
Scissors for Lefty's 2006 single "Ghetto Ways"
After tours across the United States and Europe, Scissors for Lefty found its way back to San Francisco. Things went quiet for a while, as the band toyed with new songs, built their own studio and took on day jobs during the great recession. They experienced another lineup change when Steve Garza left to become a professional triathlete. The band solved this problem by "kidnapping" yet another Garza -- cousin Eric -- to play bass.
Scissors for Lefty's live shows are completely electric. On stage, the band is clearly having fun, and the vibe travels into the audience, inspiring dance parties and sing-a-longs. Bryan Garza totally owns his role as a front man, charming everyone in the crowd, wooing them one by one. In November, the band played a rare acoustic set at the UCSF library, as part of the Arts and Events music series. Though the members of the band were apprehensive about performing their dance-pop songs stripped down, they pulled it off without a hitch, displaying their musical versatility to the UCSF audience.
2012 saw the band playing shows all over California. Currently, Scissors for Lefty is putting the final touches on its third album, Drugstore Perfume, due out in early 2013. You can catch the boys here in The City on December 21 at Bottom of the Hill or in Walnut Creek on January 15 at the Red House. In March, the band will travel to Austin for the annual South by Southwest music festival. For more info, check Scissors for Lefty out on Facebook.
This piece originally appeared in the UCSF student newspaper, Synapse.