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    Orange County rock band Robert Jon & the Wreck get boost from airplay on KLOS FM
    • July 5, 2023

    When Robert Jon Burrison first heard a song he wrote played on 95.5/FM KLOS last year, he said he felt like a kid in a candy store.

    It caught the frontman and guitarist of Orange County-based rock and blues band Robert Jon & the Wreck and his bandmates — co-founding member and drummer Andrew Espantman, lead guitarist Henry James, bassist Warren Murrel and keys player Jake Abernathie — completely off guard, but one of them was able to record video of the radio playing the song “Pain No More” on their phone.

    Burrison compares the moment to the fictional band The Wonders hearing their song on the radio for the very first time in the Tom Hanks-directed 1996 movie “That Thing You Do,” which was also filmed in Old Towne Orange.

    “That scene, where everyone freaks out, that’s what it’s like and that’s how it should be always for any band that gets any radio station ever to play their music,” he said while hanging out on the patio at Scarlet Kitchen & Lounge in Rancho Mission Viejo.

    Orange County rock band Robert Jon & The Wreck will headline The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, July 14. (Photo courtesy of Robert Jon & The Wreck)

    Orange County rock band Robert Jon & The Wreck will headline The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, July 14. (Photo by Rob Blackham)

    Orange County rock band Robert Jon & The Wreck will headline The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, July 14. (Photo by Allison Morgan)



    Following a quick run of shows in the U.S., the quintet is home for just a couple of weeks before heading back to Europe for headlining shows and festival dates. They’ll also be playing a hometown gig at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, July 14.

    “The hometown shows mean a lot more to us now,” he said of the forthcoming gig. “It really is a homecoming now because we don’t have the time to play around like we used to and it means a lot to see all of the people we know and it’s always a blast.”

    While “Pain No More” has landed in regular rotation on KLOS and Burrison was even a recent guest on music legend Matt Pinfield’s “New & Approved” show on the station, he said the sudden boost in exposure has been humbling.

    “Whenever I hear it now, it brings me joy every single time,” he said. “It’s not something I’m taking for granted because it’s something you do strive for as a musician. You write and record a song that you think is great and then sharing it with people live is its own thing, and what you get out of that is different than anything else. But having a radio station play your song because they like it and want to play it is awesome.”

    But Robert Jon & the Wreck is certainly no overnight success.

    The band has been at it since Burrison and Espantman met at Citrus College and began gigging at coffee shops up and down the West Coast back in 2011. As the full band formed, they played shows all over Orange County and Los Angeles, most notably Detroit Bar, which later became The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa. They’d opened for Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real a couple of times at The Coach House and began to find their own way traveling across country, booking small venues while out on the road.

    After building a healthy fanbase within the U.S., before the COVID-19 shutdown of live events and travel, the band managed to garner pockets of fans by playing small gigs and music festivals in the U.K. and Germany.

    “Since day one over there for us, it’s been crazy,” Burrison said. “It seems so far away, so the fact that we can get over there and we’ve been able to create a fanbase and now we recognize people coming to the shows and we’re doing well over there, it’s just crazy. I don’t think we thought about that at all when we started the band, we just wanted to tour the states and see what happened. The crowds over there have been so great and it’s a blast to go back.”

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    This time, they’re bringing new music as well. The band’s seventh studio album, “Ride Into the Light,” will be out on Aug. 4 and is led by the single “West Coast Eyes.” All of that time out on the road, networking and working tirelessly on new music paid off when it came to lining up the stars to record the album, which features legendary producers Don Was (The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson), Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell) and Kevin Shirley (The Black Crowes, Aerosmith), as well as guitar virtuosos Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith.

    “We did this one very differently than we’ve done anything else,” Burrison explained, still seemingly wrapping his head around the fact that he actually worked with the big players on this album.

    “We recorded two tracks with Was, two with Dave Cobb, two with Kevin Shirley and two with Joe (Bonamassa) and Josh (Smith),” he continued. “We just wanted to try out different producers. There’s eight songs on the record and each set of songs have their own vibe because they were written in these different timeframes and in different times and places of our lives. Each producer has their own unique take, too, so that’s what makes this fun for us.”

    Fans who have been paying attention may recognize some of the new material since the band toyed with many of the songs while out on the road. Since they spent the majority of their time en route to the next gig, a lot of these songs were written while traveling and fleshed out during quick soundchecks ahead of each show.

    “We did so much writing during those soundchecks and we’d play stuff that night just to see if it worked,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of time, but in those soundchecks we’d have three minutes or so to just jam and we’d see what we could come up with, make sure we recorded it and marked it, then saved it until we got back home to work on it. In the studio, there’s this pressure in just sitting in a room and writing, but during soundcheck, we were just jamming and we’d say ‘Oh that sounded cool’ and it kind of just takes the overthinking out of it.”

    Since forming more than dozen years ago, Burrison said a lot has changed for him professionally and personally. He’s now a husband and father, which brings about new and exciting aspects of life, but also different responsibilities and pressures on the road as he misses his family when he’s gone. Luckily he has Espantman, who has been there with him since the start. Other members have come and gone, but Burrison said these two are in it for the long haul.

    “We’re both playing chicken now like ‘Don’t you leave. You better not leave. I’m not leaving! You better not, either!’ he said with a laugh. “It’s a brotherhood that no one else can understand. I have best friends and they’ll never understand the dynamic Andrew and I have and we have wives and they won’t understand that dynamic. It just is what it is and I don’t see much of a future of us not doing something in music together.”

    Robert Jon & The Wreck

    When: 6 p.m. doors; 8 p.m. show on Friday, July 14

    Where: The Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano

    Tickets: $35 at 

    ​ Orange County Register