Petaluma brings psychedelic pop to Sacramento State


Sharlene Phou - The State Hornet

Members of the psychedelic pop band Petaluma hold a practice sesion in their garage studio on Sept. 20 ahead of their performance at City of Trees music festival. The band halts practice by 9 p.m. so as to not disturb their neighbors.

Ayah Abukhazneh

Originally an electronic duo, Petaluma has evolved into a full 5-piece band that produces hip-hop sounds and psychedelic vibes.

Petaluma was co-founded by lead vocalist Rob Habel and guitarist Pat Sweeney and is made up of drummer Melissa Garcia, keyboard player David Baez and guitar player Ty Marshall. The band specializes in what Habel described as experimental, psychedelic pop music.

“We never really set out to make a specific sound,” Habel said. “We just decided that here’s a bunch of things that we like, here’s some old-school drum and bass from the ’90s and early experimental hip-hop, how about we throw in some crazy psychedelia, and everything just took off from there.”

The band released its self-titled debut album in January, and it is available on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, CD and digital download. The unique artwork found on the album’s cover depicts a distorted human face with eyes and mouths floating in different spots. It was produced by Marina González Eme, an artist from Madrid to whom the band personally reached out to over the Internet. Eme created the art after listening to Petaluma’s music.

“When you think of some of your favorite albums, I’m sure you can picture what the album art looks like–and when listening to something–that art is going to be your go-to thought every time you hear it,” Habel said.

Garcia, who is also a junior environmental studies major at Sac State, said she looks forward to performing on her own campus and showing off the band to her friends. As a student, Garcia balances her classes with band practices and performances held over the weekend.

“It is hard, but I haven’t had any issues so far,” Garcia said. “We practice two days a week, sometimes three- We have shows on the weekend and other things that we do for the band that do take up some time, but I feel like I’m able to manage it. It does take some sacrifice and master scheduling as with any band, but it’s worth it.”

The band meets for practice every two weeks at Habel’s home in a makeshift garage studio complete with instruments and homemade sound absorbing panels. Per an agreement with his neighbors, Habel and the other members of Petaluma stop playing by 9 p.m.

“I’m amazed that everyone is so on board (with the band),” Sweeney said. “It’s important as members to have a commitment to the band and to set aside time from work or school, and just make things happen.”

Petaluma recently made its City of Trees debut on Sept. 24 where they performed original songs from their new album—written by Habel and Sweeney—at the popular Sacramento music festival. Some other local venues where Petaluma has performed include The Press Club and LowBrau. The band is set to perform an outdoor Nooner concert on Oct. 4 at Serna Plaza.