For Eric Victorino of the musical ensemble The Limousines, Campbell was a gritty place to grow up in, but a place his heart never left.
Streets without sidewalks, skateboarding, coffee shops and liquor stores with questionable customer service--all these embedded into Victorino's childhood memories and onto the pages of his 2005 collection of poetry "Coma Therapy."
Victorino provides the vocals to the group's catchy, upbeat tunes that make sure to burrow themselves into your head and get your feet tapping under your desk.
Recently back from a European tour supporting Swedish indie-rock band The Sounds, The Limousines are getting ready for summer, with a DJ performance at Live 105’s 18th annual BFD on June 2 at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View and, for Victorino, a book release party June 16 in San Francisco. The music group picks up again for the Keloha Music and Arts Festival in Kelowna, Canada on July 6.
Campbell Patch Editor caught up with the songwriter/vocalist of the two-man musical group to talk more about the Orchard City, his roots and publishing company Orchard City Noise and Books.
Campbell Patch: Where did you grow up?
Eric Victorino: I grew up in Campbell! I lived in a little house on Lovell Avenue, right by the Dairy - a little liquor store where my friends and I would buy our candy and later, our cigarettes, because they sold to minors. Although I'm sure they've gone legit by now. They just recently tore my old house down and I managed to grab a kitchen tile from the pile of rubble.
Patch: What schools did you go to?
Victorino: I went to Hazelwood elementary and Rolling Hills Middle School, then ... Westmont kicked me out in my junior year because my mom moved out of the school district, even though I was living across the street from the school, showing up every day and getting good grades, they said I couldn't go there anymore because my legal guardian was living outside of the district. I've kinda never forgiven them for that.
Patch: What teacher stands out in your memory and why?
Victorino: Mrs. Ota was my favorite teacher at Hazelwood and Mr. Ferry at Westmont. He really encouraged me to be creative, the fact that he had published a novel made him a rock star to me. I think if it weren't for him I wouldn't be smart enough, or dumb enough, to believe in my art.
Patch: Who influenced you growing up?
Victorino: I think my Mom had a nuanced way of instilling something in me that boiled down to a really simple idea, to try to be happy.
Our family was poor, we weren't going to college, we hardly had money to eat at some points - so all my brothers and my sister were taught was that being happy was more important than the things we had or the positions we held. I grew up knowing I was just as good a person as the people in those big houses in the hills, probably even better.
Patch: What was your favorite place to hang out in Campbell?
Victorino: I grew up at the . We were Coffee Kids in Campbell-Land. I met the girl who would become my wife there when I was a kid. I met almost every single person who matters to me at that coffee shop, back when it was called Campbell Coffee Roasting Company.
For a couple of years I actually literally lived at the Pruneyard. I wrote about it in my book "Coma Therapy" quite a bit - I wrote a poem called "Campbell, California" because I love the city so much.
Patch: How did your city influence you?
Victorino: I'm not sure what I believe about "vibes" and stuff like that, but I feel like there is something really special going under the ground beneath Campbell Avenue. I have written so many lines, so many verses just walking along that road with my headphones.
Campbell was a place without sidewalks, it wasn't Monte Sereno. It was grimy and tough. Being a kid, skateboarding in Campbell was like being in a gang, getting high in San Tomas park and skating until our legs felt like jello - eating until we puked at Taco Bell. I loved being a kid in Campbell.
Patch: Has your view of Campbell changed over the years? How so?
Victorino: I think it's growing up. Cities grow up just like people do. They start off with a lot of personality. Their own opinions and unique outlooks - some of them are rebellious and combative, then they start to mellow out, they get jobs, they start to appreciate things they used to think were silly. Like good food, wine, grown-up conversations and stock options...
Patch: Where do you live now?
Victorino: I still live in the Bay Area and I'm in Campbell a lot. My wife Sarah is a stylist over at and she's really well established so I'll probably always be hanging around... I even proposed to Sarah at the base of the Water Tower and have it tattooed on me, so everywhere I go I have it and 95008 "Home Sweet Home" written on my body.
Patch: What was your first instrument?
Victorino: My first instrument was whistling. I learned how to whistle at a really young age and always impressed my mom and my aunts by perfectly whistling Talking Heads and Bruce Springsteen songs to them. Then I got a guitar. I've been playing guitar for 20 years and I still suck.
Patch: What role does writing play in your life?
Victorino: Writing is how I sort myself out. It's how I preserve how I feel sometimes. I get a lot out of it professionally, I make a living telling stories in songs and on pages, but even if I had never recorded a song or published a book I would still have been writing for as long as I can remember until the day I die. It's important to me.
Patch: Tell me about the name of your label Orchard City Noise and Books and your plans for it.
Victorino: I named the company after Campbell, I'm proud to be doing something based in my hometown and my PO Box will always be right there in Heritage Village.
For now its purpose is being served as a vanity label and publishing company for my own projects. We've released three book editions, two 'zines, two vinyl records, two CDs and two audiobooks since we started in 2005. Everything has either been under my name or music by The Limousines.
Later this year we'll be releasing some music by other artists, plus a new Limousines album and a project by a great local writer named Chad Hall. We've sold nearly 10,000 books, over 100,000 digital downloads and plan to keep growing. I think it would be fun to hold an office space / retail spot somewhere on Campbell Avenue someday.
Patch: If you could revive a now-dead writer and have a chance to ask anything, whom would you revive and what would you ask?
Victorino: I would bring Hunter S. Thompson back and ask him if he regrets killing himself.
Patch: How would you describe The Limousines to people that haven’t heard your music yet?
Victorino: The smartest perverts you've ever danced with.
Patch: Tell me about your latest video, "The Future" (explicit) and what did you hope to achieve with it?
Victorino: We shoot for the stars when we make music videos and our video for Internet Killed The Video Star was very elaborate, so when we decided to make a video for the Future (which is conceptually a much darker song) we knew we had to go bigger than last time.
We thought destroying the Delorean from Back To The Future in the first 30 seconds of a video would be a great way to start a video where all our friends die in various gruesome ways. We were kind of unhappy with our record label when we sent them our synopsis for the video for the Future, so when they said no to the budget and tried to block the project we saw that as our cue to leave the company.
We paid for the whole production out of our own pockets and we're very proud of what we made. Director David Dutton deserves a ton of credit for helping pull such a huge production together.
Patch: Parting words?
Victorino: Keep Campbell Weird.