Local group will perform at two-day Deadfest on Pacific Coast in late November
FARMINGTON — Breaking new ground is hardly anything unusual for the local metal band Signal 99, a Navajo quintet that consistently has expanded its touring footprint over recent years and added high-profile associations to its résumé.
But come fall, the group will evolve into an act with an international reach when it performs in late November at Deadfest in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica, a two-day music festival featuring 30 bands.
Signal 99 frontman Chuck Haven said the group was approached about performing at the festival in early June by Michael Black, the lead vocalist for the band Taipan. Haven said he had gotten to know Black from shows in Phoenix when their bands had been on the same bill, and Black's attempt to recruit Signal 99 for Deadfest came at a time when Signal 99 already was considering putting together a European tour.
"We had a debate about it," Haven said, describing how he and his bandmates kicked around the pros and cons of the two ideas.
Ultimately, he said, economics won out — the expenses for a European excursion were going to run at least $10,000, while a trip to Costa Rica were going to be only a fraction of that, especially since the band will receive free meals and lodging during its stay.
But that still leaves Signal 99 to raise $3,000 for the airline tickets required to get the band to Playa Jaco and back. With that in mind, Haven kicked off a gofundme.com fundraising campaign today. The campaign will last approximately a month, as Haven said the band needs to buy airline tickets soon to secure a better price.
Although Signal 99 has performed extensively throughout the western United States — it is a featured act every spring at the South by Southwest Music and Media Festival in Austin and took the stage last year at the famed Hollywood rock club the Whiskey a Go Go — this will mark its first show outside the country.
That makes things a little more complicated, he said, noting that everyone in the band will need to obtain a passport, and there's a language barrier to overcome as he deals with promoter Diego Campos. Haven said he took Spanish lessons during his college days at the University of Arizona, but he said his command of the language is more than a little rusty.
He'll also spend his time learning what he can about the geography, customs and currency of Costa Rica between now and November. Playa Jaco is on the Pacific Coast, and Haven said the photos he's seen of it so far lead him to believe it's beautiful.
"I'm really interested in going," he said. "I've heard nothing but good things about Costa Rica. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and I don't want to just pass it up."
The band experienced another bit of international exposure earlier this month when Haven was interviewed by the online German music magazine HM Breakdown about the release of its new disc, "American Monster," which came out in February. That comes on the heels of Haven's signing of an endorsement deal in the fall of 2016 with Zemaitis Guitars, a Tokyo company whose instruments have been favored by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Metallica's James Hetfield.
"It's cool we get to do all these things," Haven said. "(The band) just started as a hobby, and now we're going places with it. It's exciting."
Local fans of the band will have three chances to see the group in the days ahead. Signal 99 will serve as the headline act at the second night of Alien Fest Saturday at Dulce Park in Ducle. The free festival begins Friday and features 16 bands over two days.
On Wednesday, the group will perform on a bill with Hemlock and the Masters of the Universe, Of Broken Dreams and Six Minute Suicide at the Man Fort, 485 County Road 226 in Durango, Colo. The all-ages show begins at 7 p.m., and admission is $10.
And on July 20, Signal 99 will perform on a bill in Kaibeto, Ariz., with Salvations Lost and Sage Bond in an 8 p.m. show sponsored by the K'ai'bii'to Chapter. Admission is $5.
Mike Easterling is the night editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.