For Saint Luna, time is always of the essence. The Pacific Beach-based alternative rock band made up of five 20-somethings is constantly in search of more opportunities for everything: rehearsing, partying, living.
Despite this feeling, the release of Saint Luna’s self-titled debut album on January 26 proves their three years as a band has been time spent wisely. From playing intimate shows at their San Diego State frat house to selling out a handful of local venues, Saint Luna continues the band’s progression while showcasing their artistic evolution.
Consisting of Paarsa Heidari (drummer), Wick Hauser (guitarist and vocalist), Bradyn Jace (lead vocalist), Tanner Lampugnale (bassist) and Charlie Black (guitarist), Saint Luna formed at SDSU during fall 2020.
“I feel like this album shows how diverse we want our sound to be. We don’t want to be just some post-Covid indie band,” Jace says.
The band’s self-titled debut consists of nine tracks, led by three singles: the romantic “Rare Sight,” the punchy “Revolver,” and an acoustic version of “I Feel It.” The collection of songs channels post-punk and psychedelic rock influences with a resonant theme of time, or a lack of it.
The concept of time is all over the album, from the stark urgency of “No Time” to “Two Hands,” where the fear of crucial moments slipping away can be traced back to the two hands on the clock, to the lunar cycles of the moon (aka “luna”) that dictate the passage of time.
As they continue barrelling through young adulthood, the band’s first-hand narratives make up the bulk of the album. “Another Girl” recounts Heidari’s real-life heartbreak that spiraled into late-night dissolution with a psychedelic guitar riff. Hauser’s hazy experience reaching the drinking age milestone as the self-described baby of the group on “21.”
“Get Some Rest” beckons the age-old question of to go out or not to go out, with pounding drums and a thumping call of “And I want ya don’t need ya / Everybody’s got something to say / And I want ya don’t need ya / Got me feeling some type of way.”
During the early stages of the pandemic, frat brothers Heidari, Jace, Black and the band’s original bassist Max Katz (whom Lampugnale took over for in 2023), took advantage of their collective downtime by jamming together. The musical chemistry was nearly instant, with the quartet coming together to play Weezer’s “Say Ain’t So”—a bonding moment that kick-started the band.
“We really didn’t know until our first show (and our TikTok that went off), that we actually had something that was worth working toward; not just for fun, not just for parties,” Heidari says.
A month after formation, the group played their first show for friends on campus and had one of their early TikTok videos go viral. The latter was also how they connected with Hauser, who joined the band after covering one of their songs.
In the two years that followed, Saint Luna crafted a dreamy surf rock sound comparable to Australian group Surf Trash and local surf rockers Sun Room, but with a more alternative edge. During this period, the group released several singles detailing their adventures, including tales of infatuation (“Goldfish”), elation (“Feel It”) and embracing the freedom of college life (“Katz’s Garage”).
But soon Saint Luna found themselves focusing too much on recreating their social media success and hit a rut. After what Jace coins as a “band drama moment,” the friends regained their confidence and willingness to take risks—leading to a more layered and ambitious sound on their debut album.
Now, Saint Luna sheds the wide-eyed optimism of their early material and is a natural foil for the breeziness of the stereotypical SoCal lifestyle. The drawn-out instrumentals and prolonged feelings of isolation, like the section on “Two Hands” where Jace eerily sings “Sinking, swimming, I don’t know anymore / Sinking, tied up, feeling insecure,” veer the band’s sound away from energetic surf rock toward moody desert rock or in their case, “moon rock.”
That said, there are still plenty of fun moments on Saint Luna, like the electric grooviness of “Johnny,” and the charming sincerity of “I Feel It (acoustic)”. Plus, everything has a distinctly local touch, from name-dropping 54th Street in El Cajon on “Johnny” to engaging in hijinks at Studio Diner during the “Rare Sight” music video and the band’s album recording sessions at PB’s The Music Company.
With the release of their debut album, Saint Luna is preparing for a jam-packed year with a free album release concert, more San Diego shows, a Bay Area tour, and who knows—maybe another album. In 2024, time will be their greatest asset.
“I think we celebrate our wins briefly … but come Monday morning, it’s back to the drawing board, and we’re back to work,” Black says.
Catch Saint Luna at South Vacation Isle on January 28.