Wearing the Hat with Band “Dawn Patrol”

by Bella Taylor February 29, 2024 13 min read

“Wearing the Hat” is a series where staff writer Bella Taylor showcases the incredible people in the Isla Vista community and all the “hats” they choose to wear as they bring their passions to life. 

From Left to Right: James Lloyd, Joe Vlietstra, Miles Carter, Caden Lane 

“Dawn Patrol” (@dawnpatrolband on Instagram) is a local band here at UCSB, formed by a close friend group of 4 guys who have a shared passion for both music and Isla Vista. Their tunes are enjoyed by students that you’ll find jamming out at their lively band shows, lucky Spotify users who stumble across their singles, and their parents, of course. After hearing them play live at our much loved Woodstock’s for “Pint Night Wednesdays,” I instantly fell for their alluring lyrics and moving sound. Their music is an honest representation of what IV feels like to many, always giving off that sunny aura of an endless summer and a good time.

I happily had the chance to sit and talk with each member of Dawn Patrol as they gave me the inside scoop on their music and goals for the future. As usual, we covered a few introductions and OG “Wearing the Hat” ice breakers first. 

James Lloyd, lead singer (and guitarist), is 20 years old and is an Econ and Accounting major from Woodland Hills, CA. 

What is something you truly value about yourself? 

JL: My willingness to try new things. I think that’s pretty cool about myself. Favorite spot in IV? 

JL: I was going to say Dev’s. Probably the parts over on the cliff. Those are always fun to go to for sunset there. 

Joe Vliestra is 22 years old, an Econ and Accounting major, from Chino Hills, CA, and is Dawn Patrol’s drummer. 

Go-To Freebird’s order? 

JV: Monster Burrito with steak and guac if I’m feeling rich. 

Favorite spot in IV? 

JF: I like the park next to 7/11. Little Acorn Park. 

Miles Carter, lead guitarist of Dawn Patrol, is a 20-year-old Environmental Studies major from San Francisco, CA. 

What is one item on your bucket list? 

MC: I want to go to Antarctica. Not many people can say they’ve been to Antarctica and apparently it’s not that expensive, so. 

Favorite spot in IV? 

MC: I’d probably say the benches overlooking Dev’s. Good spot for just sitting, chilling, pondering. 

Caden Lane, 21-years-old, is a Biopsychcology major from San Diego, CA, and is the bassist for their band. 

What is a day or moment in your life you’d like to relive?

CL: There was one time when me and Jeebs went out and it was nighttime and we went into the water and there was a meteor shower that night so there were some crazy shooting stars. 

Favorite spot in IV? 

CL: Inside Dev’s ocean water. 

Next, we got into the formation of their band and covered all of the beginning basics. 

How did you all meet and how long have you been creating music together?

MC: James, Caden, and I all lived on the same floor in Anacapa dorm and then me and James started playing guitar together right away, probably first week in I’d say. That’s how we bonded and got to know each other. And then throughout the year we would randomly play together a couple times a week. It wasn’t really anything like a band, we would just play random stuff. We kind of talked about the idea of it because we would see all the bands in IV. Caden knew a little guitar so I asked him to learn bass instead, and it went well. It took us a while to find Joe but we were randomly in a parking lot and heard him playing and we just took him and added him on. So last Spring, we started doing shows and writing songs. 

When did each of you get into music and learning how to play instruments?

JV: My dad was forced to learn piano as a kid but he always wanted to play drums so he made me play drums. It was a good blessing. In high school, we had the drum line so I got to play the drumset and that’s where I got my skills from and then practicing with all the boys here helped me sharpen up. 

MC: I started playing guitar in 2nd grade. I initially was going to play bass because my dad was a bass player in a bunch of bands so we went to Guitar Center to go get a bass and then I saw the guitars and I was like, “Hell nah, I want to play guitar.” So then I took lessons for a while and ended up going to a Perfoming Arts high school so guitar was my “major” in highschool. It was a super interesting school because I got to play for probably 2 hours a day, so it’s kind of always been a part of my life. My first guitar was a Jackson that I borrowed from my cousin, who’s name is also Jackson. It was just a normal, little, red electric guitar.

JL: My dad used to be in a band in college so he always had his guitars around growing up. I think it was during Covid when I was like, “I’m bored and I want to do something.” The guitars were all out so I just grabbed one and started messing around with it and taught myself guitar so I’ve been playing for around 4 years. 

As Miles mentions before, he asked Caden to learn bass instead of playing the guitar. Caden’s reaction to being a bass player now is as follows: 

“That was fine to me. I was never that good at guitar. It was more like, I just wanted to join the band. I learned a pretty easy instrument and I’m glad I did.” 

JL: My dad used to be in a band in college so he always had his guitars around growing up. I think it was during Covid when I was like, “I’m bored and I want to do something.” The guitars were all out so I just grabbed one and started messing around with it and taught myself guitar so I’ve been playing for around 4 years. 

James and Miles talk of the time that James became their lead singer: 

That was a funny story. When we first started our band, we found one drummer and we needed to find a singer too so we played with them a few times and then we tried making Miles sing too because we stopped playing with them and I was a little too scared to sing. 

MC: James is really good at doing impressions and he would always do little joking country accents or goofy singing voices and it would just sound really good so we were like, “Bro, if you would just sing normally, it would be cool.” It took him all of 

Summer break to go home and be in his house alone to send us a recording and we were like, “Dude, this is really good.” We just had to push him out of his little bubble. 

Do you all work together in song writing? 

JL: It’s mainly driven by Miles but he brings it to us as an idea and then we all kind of just mush it together to make a song.

MC: I’d say it varies from song to song. There’s a few songs like our next one that’s coming out soon that me, Caden, and James were all like, “Dude, we need to write another song.” So, we just went to one of those benches at Dev’s at night and I was like, “Alright, we’re not gonna leave until we finish this song.” So, we all wrote that one together and that was super cool. 

Coincidentally enough, Dawn Patrol’s first band show together was for Island View Outfitters’ Print Party during Spring quarter last year. I ask what that was like for them as their debut and how they have grown since then: 

JL: Yeah, it was pretty nerve racking because all we had done was practice before and even the practices were pretty low stakes. 

MC: It was scary, but I feel like we were all a little surprised with how well it went. It pretty much went as well as it could have and that pushed us to do a lot more shows after. 

JL: I think we’ve definitely grown closer as friends, which is awesome. As a musician myself, I’ve definitely become a lot more comfortable playing the guitar, especially since I sing too. It made me a lot better, so I’m very grateful for that. 

Miles comments how James “doesn’t show it off a lot, but he is very good at guitar.” 

Dawn Patrol performs a mix of both cover songs and original songs. Of the two singles that are out on Spotify currently, “Caught In A Lie” has over 11,000 plays since they released it in June of 2023. Caden’s response to this many people loving and listening to their music lies below: 

“At concerts, it’s cool listening to people sing along because they know the words. Compared to the first concert with IVO, it’s very different now with people knowing the words.” 

Everyone comments that it’s “sick, awesome, super cool, and weird,” but people singing along to their songs is agreed to be “the best part.” 

What are your goals as a band? 

JV: We’re gonna go on tour at some point, God-willing.

JL: Definitely recording an album soon. We have a lot of snippets and unrecorded songs that we just have to get in the studio and get them done so definitely an album in the near future. 

CL: Concert wise, we have some bigger ones coming up. We have a Battle of the Bands one at Soho on February 23rd. 

MC: If you like our band, you should definitely come because the more people that come the better chance we have at winning and if we win we’ll get to play at Shabang up in SLO. So, we’re really hoping for that but we got some good competition all from Santa Barbara. 

JL: We’re also playing at The Roxy in Los Angeles on May 4th. 

James elaborates more on how they book their shows that aren’t in Isla Vista: 

“For the ones downtown, Miles just emails a bunch of restaurants or they’ll email us. For the Shabang one, we applied for and then The Roxy one is like a nepotism thing. My dad’s band is having a reunion and they’re playing at The Roxy and they wanted us to open for them.” 

The music scene here in IV is known to be very different from other schools in the way that band shows are a very regular weekend happening here at UCSB. Live music is definitely appreciated by many as a way to enjoy free concerts and it’s a really special perk to living life as a Gaucho. 

What is it about the music scene at UCSB that is so special for you guys?

JV: I think it’s the willingness to just try for a lot of groups. That’s what we did, and that’s what I’ve done with some other bands. You just get together and you try. I think that the bands are willing to work together to put on shows is really big because it’s a hurdle to get people there and get all the equipment. So, I think the fact that there’s already a set culture of having the band shows is really important. I think just the collaboration and willingness to work together. It’s a lot of work to put on a show. You have to get all the instruments, you have to get the PAs, you have to get a house to play at. We’re fortunate enough to be more well-known so there’s more eagerness to play but I think everyone’s just really excited to come together and make a show happen. 

Miles follows up with the acknowledgement that

“there’s a very supportive atmosphere of the music scene here,”

and I thankfully couldn’t agree more. Dawn Patrol does not shy away from a chance to try something new and get out of their comfort zones, whether it be adding another song to their set list the morning of their first debut or handing over the microphone to their drummer for a little solo. Joe says he doesn’t typically sing but he’s also not nervous to. He states, “I think just being up there on the stage with my drums, I’m just gonna be having a microphone with it so it’s not that much different. That’s what I’m telling myself.” 

Miles makes note of one of the band’s favorite shows they’ve played together in IV that really sticks out to them: 

“A few weeks ago we played at a house with The Sweeps and Ray and Paul, and both of those bands are super talented so there was a big crowd. We played the 10 o’clock slot and there was just a great crowd. It was a good size yard on Oceanside and it was just one of the most fun ones we’ve ever done.” 

How do you think Isla Vista has shaped you into who you are today and how does that contribute to your music? 

JL: Talking about the scene and how everyone’s so willing to do things, I feel like I probably wouldn’t have even tried being in a band at all if it wasn’t like that here. That’s definitely a big thing. 

CL: Me too. I think it also reflects in our songs, too. Our songs are a little bit more “vibey” and less “hard rock.” I think at a different school it would be harder. 

MC: I also think having a lot of our friends living close to us is a huge help because all of our first shows always had a group of our friends there even if nobody else was there. They’re a big part of the process.

CL: I think we were able to get better really fast because a lot of people thought we were really good in the beginning because we had a portable crowd of friends that would come to every show. 

JL: And they still come, which is awesome. 

MC: Just having everything so condensed in IV is very unique and is what makes it different here from other colleges. 

When it comes to what seems like the expiration date on this exclusive way of life for many UCSB students, Dawn Patrol agrees that it is understandably “undecided” for what is next for their band once they all put on their cap and gowns for Graduation Day. Some of the boys speak more on this topic: 

JL: I think we’re just going to work at it as much as we can while we’re all here and depending on where we leave it, we’ll just decide when we get there. 

JV: We still have another year so that’s the general consensus. 

MC: We’re just rolling with it for now and trying to invest as much time now so we have a better chance of pursuing it after college. We’re still going to get our degrees, look into internships, all that stuff. 

Do you have some favorite music artists that you either gain inspiration from or that influence the music you make? 

MC: I feel like it’s all over. You can see by the covers we choose. It’s everything from Radiohead to Mac DeMarco to Lynyrd Skynyrd. There’s not really one subgenre that we focus on and I feel like we all have our different, unique influences that kind of affects how we play as individuals so we kind of have a cool fusion of a lot of different things. 

Island View Outfitters helped create Dawn Patrol’s first merch drop, that unsurprisingly sold out in half a day, last year and can still be seen on the backs of the “portable crowd of friends” they know and love as well as other fans of theirs. Caden comments that more merch with IVO is hopefully on the way, and how they are trying to find a new person in IV to assist in designs in order to continue their traditional effort of showcasing different artists each time, like they have with each of their singles’ cover art. 

What is something you guys can’t wait to do in the future? 

CL: To play our show tonight and for my finger to heal. I was cutting an avocado and I nearly sliced my finger off. I had to get stitches yesterday. 

JL: He can still play the bass tonight, though. He’s just that good.

CL: I just have to stick my finger up. 

JV: He’s not flipping you off, he’s just injured. 

Miles adds on that they’re really excited for their LA show, along with Caden’s healing process, of course. He continues: 

“Anything new, anything that’s a new step for us is super exciting. The first time we played downtown to the first good, night show we played in IV, it’s always a big leap and it’s super fun.” 

Can you give any advice to people wanting to learn an instrument, get into music, start a band, etc. 

JV: Take it easy on yourself. It’s really hard to be like, “Wow, that guy is so good and I’m never going to be like him.” But, at one point, I sucked. 

JL: Yeah, Joe’s got 10 years of experience under his belt and there’s only one way you can get 10 years of experience. You just gotta do it. 

JV: I think, also, people forget a lot of the time that it’s supposed to be fun so you can get mad at yourself and get frustrated but it’s supposed to be fun. Remember that you’re having fun. 

MC: You gotta be persistent. I think doing a little bit every day is better than doing a lot, like once a week. If you want to start a band, it took us a long time to get good. It took us pretty much a year from when Caden started learning bass and when we played a show. We got really frustrated at one point so I’d just say if you know that you want to do it, you’re going to find something in IV, or even not in IV. Just be persistent. 

Dawn Patrol takes one last chance to promote their new single “Better Than This.” Miles says to “go check it out when it drops and then after that [they] will have another single coming out in the middle of March!” 

Throughout our interview, the friendship between the 4 of them was very vibrant and obvious. They all carry this light humor that is super energizing, allowing for each of their personalities to shine through, and is something that is visibly a big contributor to their successful ability to create good music together. I think their acknowledgement and support of each other’s talents and interests is what keeps their dynamic fun and encouraging, truly making them a refreshing group to be around whether it’s through a simple conversation or at their band shows.

Isla Vista is undeniably a space that brings our community together and without it, we wouldn’t have incredible and inspiring music groups like this one to help shape our unique college experience in this little “Paradise on Earth.” Thank you, IV, and thank you, Dawn Patrol. 

“Dawn Patrol, out.” 

- Joe Vlietstra

Bella Taylor
Bella Taylor

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