Super Fans 

Nine obsessive fans of local bands explain why they drool over homegrown talent.

Even the most obscure bands accrue rabid super fans. Maybe it's crytophilia, the love of secret things. Maybe it's easy accessibility, or the idea of "owning" something few other people know about. Heck, maybe it's just great music. We tracked down nine fervent followers of local groups, including three of super-fan magnet Loquat, to grill them on their obsessions. "When I like a band, it becomes one of the focal points of my life," said Alan C. Miller of Davis. "I'm about as whacked as they get." We'll just see about that.

So what's the big deal?

"Catchy, beautifully written, pop-folk songs; hilarious live shows; and the fact that he's cute doesn't hurt." — Sarah Stromska, San Francisco [Matt Nathanson, San Francisco]

"They have a certain carefree whimsicality in their songwriting that mirrors the way I feel about life." — Jacob DeCaye, Millbrae [Animal Liberation Orchestra, San Francisco]

"It's the soundtrack to the best ride you've ever taken — down the coast, windows open, sun shining, slightly breezy, and warm." — Raul Sanchez, San Francisco [Loquat, San Francisco]

"Their voices, guitars, clothes, lyrics ... everything! I worship them!" — Els Carcangiu, Hasselt, Belgium [The Matches, Oakland]

Silent stalker or fan club president?

"I know every one of them. I talk to them at gigs, we discuss their music." — A.M. [Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Oakland]

"I'm a silent stalker. Matt doesn't know how special a place he has in my life." — S.S.

"They unfortunately know about me too well ... especially when I text them, asking about getting into their shows for free." — R.S.

Share the band with others?

"I have not stopped playing him for my friends, and if I tried, they wouldn't let me." – Oliver Dougherty, Golden Valley, Minnesota [Grip Grand, Oakland]

"One friend, at the end of the concert, he just had this look on his face. He said, 'I have seen God.'" — A. M.

"Matt's shows have become sisterly bonding events." — S.S.

"Just today in my Altered Books class I played all of It's Yours to Keep and Secrets of the Sea for the class." — Kaelah Thomson, Franklin, Tennessee [Loquat, San Francisco]

Fondest memory related to the band?

"As my friend and I were driving around town, 'Hard and Good' came on my iPod. We both could recite the entire song and did so together. It was a beautiful moment." — O.D.

"They played in a one-room school house in Petrolia that fit fifty people. I drove up five hours, saw the band play three hours, then drove back five hours and had to go to work the next day." — A.M.

"High Sierra Music Festival, 2006. During a specific song everyone in the crowd started throwing thousands of tortillas into the air." — J.D.

"One summer day I went out for a walk with my iPod and the first song hit me and I just had to start running. Their music made me imagine the feeling of being chased by a horde of monsters." — Jordan Rodman, Falmouth, Massachusetts [High on Fire, Oakland]

Best thing they've done for you?

"Sing a swanky song about smokin' nuggs." — J.D.

"They exist! And I asked them if they could wish my sister a happy birthday, and they did." — E.C.

"Give me some heavy, crushing, pounding, demolishing audio to listen and escape into when I am either exercising or relaxing." — J.R.

Embarrassing moment related to the band?

"Told my co-workers. Ever since, it's been a constant stream of teasing." — S.S.

"The bassist, Anthony, came to one of my house parties. The theme was wild animal or formal wear. When I made my entrance, in a furry panda costume, my dog went crazy and successfully bit the nutsack! Ouch." — Rudy Berd, San Francisco [Loquat, San Francisco]

"One night I was drinking really hard at a friend's house, ALO was playing in the background and I went outside and puked all over myself (not because of ALO, because of the drinking)." — J.D.

Most obsessive thing you've done?

"In November I flew 2,300 miles from Nashville to San Francisco to see Loquat play their CD release show at Bottom of the Hill." — K.T.

"I drove to Visalia to watch them play in a pizza parlor." — A.M.

"Five months after the Matches left Belgium, I was still screaming their name." — E.C.

"Asked to be their merch man for a show. I don't think I was much of a salesman, but I had the best seat in the house." — R.S.

"Participate in this interview." — O.D.

If you could hang out with them, what would you do?

"I would immediately go into the studio and lay down some beats for Grip to spit over." — O.D.

"It would be interesting to spend time going grocery shopping with the singer and her husband, the bass player." — R.S.

"I'd prolly enjoy going roller skating with them." — J.D.

"I'd say Super Mario Brothers, anyone?" — K.T.

"Talk, laugh, have fun ... hug them." — E.C.

Favorite physical characteristic of a band member?

"Zach, the keyboardist and vocalist of the band, sounds like a fat guy. But when you see him in person, you realize that he is a skinny guy!" — J.D.

"Drummer Des Kensel's arms and the drumming skills they possess." — J.R.

"Shawn, his eyes — wowwie!" — E.C.

And if they suddenly became very popular?

"I don't think this would happen because of the nature of the band. They'll never be big in the big sense, because they'll stick to what they believe in." — A.M.

"As long as Grip Grand is happy, I'd send him my blessings. After I finished that, I would brag incessantly to all of those around me." — O.D.

"I'd be kind of bummed. I'd be happy that he was making more money, but I'd hate to have to start seeing him in large venues." – S.S.

"I'd feel very happy for them! They should be huge. Bigger than Jesus and big in Japan even." — R.B.

Ashamed of your obsession?

"Hell no!" — R.B.

"I wear it with a badge of honor." — A.M.

"No, but I'd be extremely embarrassed if he ever found out about the way I talk about him." — S.S.

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