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9o’clock is the New Forty is ready for the Fair. Alec Bloomberg, Parker Bullard, Eric Lawrence and Bradley Patin / Laura Austin Photo

‘9o’clock is the New Forty’ takes center stage at DEF

By LAURA QUEZADA  News Review Staff Writer– Burroughs High Economics teacher, Eric Lawrence, and his band, 9o’clock is the New Forty, take to the Desert Empire Fairgrounds Grand Stage for two nights: 6pm on Friday, October 21 and 6:30pm on Saturday the 22nd. All you need to do is pay the fair admission of $5.00 and the shows are free along with all of the other exciting free things to do at the fair. (See next week’s News Review.)

   “There’s a lot of interest in my band at the high school,” says Lawrence, “but the kids don’t get to see us a whole lot because we are playing in bars. I absolutely love it when someone comes up to me in a bar and says, ‘I was in your class four years ago,’ but there’s a window of time that passes between graduation and turning 21. So a lot of the kids haven’t seen my band.”

Lawrence not only plays for former students, he also plays WITH former students. Bass player Parker Pullard is a former student. In his other band, Hot Tub Metal Machine, he plays with former student Kenneth Ramone, in addition to the drummer Zach Bell and the bass player, Chris Glenn, who is the brother of a former student.

9o’clock is the New Forty is generally known for their heavy metal music, but for the Fair, they are bringing back some of their Classic Rock covers and lightening up the show to fit the family crowd. They are saving their originals and heavier sounds for their October 29 Halloween gig at Five Fingers Pub. (Yes, originals. They are hard at work in their home studio recording their first album.) “Our original stuff, for the most part, is a bit too heavy and raucous for this kind of setting,”  he says.

Lawrence is an enthusiastic frontman for the band. He is billed as a singer/guitarist. His bandmates are Pullard on bass, Alec Bloomberg on guitar (they trade off playing rhythm or lead), and Bradley Patin on drums. These fellows work hard on their music and it shows. 

As an added bonus, they are quite entertaining. You can’t help but enjoy watching as the music takes hold of Lawrence and he leaps, kneels, and gyrates. None of this is rehearsed, “The music just makes me do it. I’m not like that in practice. In practice, things are very academic. We’re very much like, ‘Let’s figure this out. Let’s get the music tight’ because all this has to be automatic for that other stuff to happen.” 

Lawrence is as enthusiastic about teaching as he is about music. When he was majoring in economics in college, 2008 happened. He was an economics major during an economic downturn. His future as an Investment Banker did not look promising. He began substitute teaching at Chico High and found, “My days at the high school just went so fast.” A quick career change and after earning a teaching credential, he jumped on the fast track and landed a job at Burroughs High in 2011. “That was one of the most remarkable years of my life. I loved those kids. Everybody was so welcoming to me.” His then fiance, and now wife, was hired at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. “It all just fell into place.” They both are happy with life in Ridgecrest and are truly home.

“Don’t stop chasing your dreams,” encourages Lawrence. It had been ten years since he had been in a band. His college band was pretty successful and played in clubs and parties at Chico State. He was the silent one playing guitar in the background. He never stopped playing, he kept his “chops” up. “A lot of the time I started to feel like it is just too late.” Then he and Bullard were groomsmen at a wedding and found music in common. They started playing together and found they had the right chemistry. When they grew to a point that they needed a drummer, Patin fit right in. The newest addition, Bloomberg is also in the groove.

“Our personalities mesh very well,’ says Lawrence, “Which is almost the hardest part. There’s a lot of good musicians, it’s easy to find good.  But ones you can work with, and put in hours of practice time every week and still have chemistry and to work well together and be productive, that part of it is very difficult.

 “I’d encourage anybody with those kinds of aspirations instead of focusing on necessarily being the best, the real goal in any art should be to find your own voice. A lot of my favorite musicians aren’t people that necessarily had the fastest fingers.  I would encourage any young musician or any young artist to think about is how do I find my own voice through my art? That’s something I’m very lucky to have been able to do along with my bandmates.”

It is never too late to find your voice, even if you are approaching the 9o’clock of your life.