Loud, Fast and Wild: An Interview with Orange County’s humble DIY mastermind. (Matthew Ciaccio-Stevens/Courtesy)
Orange County is no stranger to innovation and expansion; From sprawling shopping malls, a veritable eruption of boutique restaurants and clothing stores as well as an endless, unceasing rise in entrepreneurial spirit.
If someone has an idea and some funding, then that idea is likely to see some variety of development. However, for all the innovation and growth that Orange County has to offer, few campaigns see a level of fruition that is sustainable enough to maintain and fewer less experience a degree of success that encourages further development.
Perhaps, this trend is simply a symptom caused by a lack of resources, low public response or insufficient funding. Perhaps it is something deeper that causes us to waver, something more intrinsic to the spirit of fulfilling a purpose in a community.
Whatever the reason may ultimately be, the threat of failure is usually enough of a deterrent to dissuade even the staunchest of dreamers.
However, as is evident by contemporary tales of hardship, attrition and triumph; every dream is worth pursuing and every goal is worth a shot. And to that effect, maybe being a deadbeat isn’t such a bad thing.
Local Deadbeat Agency is a mixed media company founded in September of 2016 by Matthew Ciaccio-Stevens and is situated out of Garden Grove, California. The LDA has its origins in the OC DIY music scene and is characterized by the emphasis it places on providing a network for independent bands primarily in California and worldwide.
Aside from booking services, the LDA also assists local and out of state bands with touring, promotion and merch sales. As such the LDA primarily hosts events out of two prominent OC venues, namely Beatnik Bandito in Santa Ana and Programme Skate Shop in Fullerton, these events cater towards fans of Pop-Punk, Emo, Indie and Hardcore music and if the turnout is any indication, Ciaccio-Stevens is very capable at what he does.
It should also be noted that the LDA hosts charity events for various organizations such as Movember, The Wise Women’s Shelter and The OC Food Bank. As a prime representative of the DIY community, there are few people or groups that match the caliber of work that the LDA is doing within the local music scene.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with the heart and mind behind the Local Deadbeat Agency for a discussion.
What is Local Deadbeat Agency?
“Local Deadbeat Agency is an apparel company that works with musicians and creatives; both locally and worldwide. We do our own apparel section, and will do the same for bands if they need it.”
Where did the name Local Deadbeat Agency come from?
“This is always my favorite question. So back in college, I was in always doing temp work, so when I’d be in between work, I’d get hired out by a friend’s mom to do odd jobs. These would range from dump removal, painting, general repairs and whatever else it was she or her friends needed. I had always had the idea of an apparel but couldn’t think of a name. I always liked the idea of something that would be sold in Hot Topic (which is still a genuine goal of mine). Anyways, I was cleaning this guy’s garage out and he was just an absolute d***head. He was treating me like a piece of trash and I was like, “Man if I keep doing this deadbeat labor, I better make business cards. I’ll call myself the local deadbeat so I don’t have to travel far for these stupid things anymore” and then it just clicked. It was the last odd job I did and a month later the first run of clothing was in development.”
Is LDA a personal project, do you have a team?
“It’s a personal project but it’s definitely backed by alot of people in my personal life. My girlfriend Cierra comes to every single event and runs the merch table while I’m running around trying to make sure everything else with the show is running on time. My cousin Joseph runs security and door at the majority of the shows too, because yet again I seem to be running around. And on a closer note my Mom has been letting me run this company out of her garage, living room, dining room and everywhere else I end up having inventory scattered.”
Your merchandise is iconic, what made you decide to pursue self-promotion for your agency?
“I never thought of it as self-promotion, but I guess that’s a good way to word it. What I am is a Deadbeat. With that comes a lot of assumptions and speculations. I like to think I break a lot of stereotypes that way. I just print shirts I think look cool, and that people will also enjoy. I remember in one of the classes I was taking for my business degree, a professor said “There are two types of businesses you never start 1. a restaurant and 2. a clothing company. That always is in the back of my mind. I mean it’s definitely true, anyone can print some dumb saying on a shirt and call it a company. It’s what you do with that dumb name that makes you stand out. Sometimes I make “bad” business decisions because of it, but like, that’s what’s sick about owning your own company. For instance, We’ve re-released our Sucks 2 Suck design on a shirt after it being gone for a year because our friend Kaela wanted one. We also made them into hats literally because she said she wanted one. So why not make 30? LOL.”
Any plans for expansion in the future?
“There’s always room to expand. I’m blessed to have accomplished what I have in the little over 3 years I’ve been doing this. I started out with 55 Shirts, 15 Hats and 40 Cassettes. I’ve since released thousands of shirts, hundreds of hats and hundreds of tapes. Not to mention all the other cool little things I’ve gotten to put my face onto. I guess in the big end goal of selling out, I’d love to receive a phone call from a Hot Topic rep saying they’re buying me out, and all these DIY bands get their name in a shop that all these high school kids are shopping in. I try to set realistic goals and hope to meet them.”
Do you feel like you’re making a difference for people in the local music scene?
“I genuinely believe that I’ve been able to help musicians in the local scene. Southern California is flooded with musical talent of all calibers. When I was in high school, my favorite thing was to go to the small Ska band who’d be playing Chain reaction as a “local band showcase” to 20 other high school kids. I’d be stoked to buy their burnt CDs they wrote on with sharpie, or the spray-painted tees. That’s all I wanted to do when I started this. I wanted to help bands get better and bigger as bands. We recently added S.S.Something (Orange County Pop Punk) to our management roster, and these are literally high school seniors. These kids genuinely love to play music, and to love what you do and to do it for the fun of it, is what I love to see. I’m taking them on their first tour in May (this is the first leak of that information, whoops). Bands from any and all genres deserve to play shows. I have worked with people who show genuine appreciation of the hard work I put in, and I’ve got bands who believe they’re too big for me. It’s a give and take deal. I put my energy into bands who deserve my energy and ultimately, I don’t have to work with assholes if I don’t want to. I wake up every morning and look in the mirror and decide, yep this is what I want to do.”
Should you find yourself in search of excitement in Fullerton or Santa Ana on any given day, consider checking Facebook or Instagram for that iconic skull logo; chances are that you’ll find a live event worth visiting. Additionally, if you should happen to run into Cierra at the merchandise table or Matthew inside the venue; say hi and buy them a Coke. Deadbeats tend to love an ice cold Coke