Southern California rocked by Strange Weather

Kurt E. Johnson
Strange Weather is John “Chili” Munroe (guitar), Vinny Berry (vocals, guitar) Jon Gardner (drums) and Brandon Romero (bass), who recently joined the band.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Kurt E. Johnson

Strange Weather has moved south.

The four-piece rock band that formed in South Lake Tahoe began relocating to Ventura, California, in the fall. After something of a rocky transition, Strange Weather has settled into its new setting and is hard at work on honing its sound.

Strange Weather is Vinny Berry (vocals, guitar), John “Chili” Munroe (guitar), Jon Gardner (drums) and Brandon Romero (bass).

Kurt Johnson / Tahoe Onstage
Brandon Romero is the new bass player.

“We’ve been working our asses off,” Berry said. “We’ve got a bunch of new tunes, and a new bass player.”

Founding bassist Todd Christensen initially moved with the band, but decided to part ways after a few months, driven to pursue his own solo music. He left on good terms with the rest of the band, keeping in touch and promoting his former band.

To fill his shoes, Strange Weather secured the services of Romero, a Ventura-area bassist hailing from local rock bands Maclovia Sin and Jelly.

Another kink in Strange Weather’s move south came early on when Munroe broke his hand.

“It was a tough transition for all of us, personally and as a band,” Berry said. “Obviously, as a band because of Todd leaving and Chili breaking his hand. There were a lot of obstacles for us. We’re on the upswing now, just looking forward and trying to write songs.”

With its roots in guitar-driven hard rock, the band’s sound always has been recognizable and accessible. While they don’t want to lose that formula, the members are working toward a more unique and personalized style.

“We’ve been trying to develop a sound, and we’re trying to expand on it,” Berry said. “We’ve been known for very hard-rocking, heavy guitar riffs and that kind of stuff, and we’re starting to expand more into kind of a simple songwriting approach. We don’t really want to be locked down to the Pearl Jam, Led Zeppelin, in-your-face, big guitars (sound). We want to be able to get dynamic with it, bring it up and bring it down.”

Strange Weather has been working in new influences, with a focus on the entirety of the song-crafting process.

“We’ve been kind of listening to songs where it’s not about necessarily a good guitar player or a good singer, it’s about the song,” Berry said. “For certain songs we’re trying to do that a little bit more. We’re still writing the rock, party, good time in-your-face stuff, but we’ve kind of started listening a little bit more to Oasis and this great new band called Highly Suspect.”

The group is currently playing a fair number of crowd-friendly, cover-heavy gigs around the Ventura area, but make no mistake: weapons-grade original material and an ever-expanding touring footprint are both the immediate and long-term goals for Strange Weather.

“The original tunes are definitely what we are striving to do more of. We’ve got a couple of cover gigs down here, you know, three-hour bar gigs where we play cover tunes, but that’s more of a means to an end,” Berry said. “The end game would be to try to get booked onto a festival circuit or opening for a big name.”

With Romero up to speed on the group’s repertoire after an intensive, 40-song crash-course, Strange Weather is polishing and practicing, with its eye on the road. Tahoe is still on its radar, as well, with the band playing periodically in the Reno-Tahoe area.

“We’re really trying to get those stage miles and play in front of as many people as we can,” Berry said. “We’re doing a lot of exposure stuff just to get our names out there, and it’s working so far.”

-Josh Sweigert

Kurt E. Johnson/ Tahoe Onstage
Strange Weather was back at South Lake Tahoe on April 17, for a show at the American Legion Hall.
Tahoe Onstage
Todd Christensen takes in the show offstage.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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