Local band Looking West jams forward


Looking West performs at Topa Topa Brewing Co. on 104 E Thompson Blvd. in Ventura on Sept. 10. Looking West band member and El Camino High School student Dylan Brehm ‘23 said, “Looking West is when we are our best selves. The music brought us together and the brotherhood keeps us together.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Alejandro Hernandez

Who are Looking West?

Looking West is a Ventura-based band founded in 2017. Looking West band members include El Camino High School students Dylan Brehm ’23 (lead vocals and guitar) and Owen Neth ’23 (bass guitar and backup vocals) and Ventura High School student Evan Brehm ’24 (drums). The band is independent as they are not under any record label.

According to Looking West’s website, “Looking West is a trio of young musicians born and raised in Ventura County, California. Their original music is a unique blend of rock styles and genres. When not playing a live gig or at the studio, you can find them all hanging out at the beach.”

The name “Looking West” was first introduced in 2019, with them having no name prior. Dylan Brehm said, “Looking West to my recollection came because my dad always talks about the direction of the front of [Evan Brehm and I’s] house [and] the way it faces. We’re so close to the beach and the beach is supposedly straight west and we face west. I believe that the name probably came from us talking about how our house is looking west. Then I remember after that I really liked the name but I got a lot of pushback from these two guys [Evan Brehm and Neth].” 

Evan Brehm said, “We all remember [the origins of Looking West], [around] preschool or pre-K. There was this place called First Five that [had] music in an open classroom, and we were all there together. It was technically a music class. We didn’t really play [instruments] but like we were all introduced to that early. All of our parents enjoyed the same music so we were very influenced by rock. That was our childhood. All that together started some influence [for Looking West]. The first person out of us who started legitimately playing an instrument was Dylan.”

Dylan Brehm said, “I was doing sports and kind of on that trajectory for a bit. When I realized I couldn’t catch a baseball, and that I was afraid of it, I decided that maybe I should do something that I’m actually good at, so I asked my dad for guitar lessons. 2013 or 2014 is when I started playing guitar. Since then, it’s just been a great journey for me to keep learning new things, always learning new things. That’s just so much fun. I still take [guitar] lessons and I still might do vocal work with a vocal instructor as well just to teach me proper technique.”

Evan Brehm said, “I got my first drums in 2017, just a few months before the band started. So I didn’t have a lot of motivation at the beginning of the band until we started playing as a band.”

Neth said, “I started playing bass five years ago in seventh grade. From then on, that’s when I joined the band. Before that, I didn’t play an instrument but I was listening to a lot of music from my parents. So I was pretty much just born into a musical family.”

Dylan and Evan Brehm are brothers, while Neth has no biological relation to the other members. Evan Brehm said, “Owen is my second brother, now and forever.” Neth said, “We met each other at a young age and from then we’ve just grown as friends and brothers. I enjoy being in a band with them.”

Looking West considers themselves to be a new-age rock band. Dylan Brehm said, “We’re a new-age rock band [and] our sound is comprised of our influences. That’s all we can say unless you listen to our songs. You can be the judge of what genre of music we are.”

Neth said, “We have our own sound obviously, we’re not trying to sound like anyone else. We just were influenced by our influences and we take that and create our sound off of it.”

Dylan Brehm said, “I feel like what’s unique about us is that none of us are the ideal popular kid. We don’t really fit into any group per se. I feel like our music would be different if we were in those social circumstances. We definitely fit in some groups, but we’re kind of in our own group. I feel like that gives us an edge that makes us special.”

Pablo Torres ‘24 said, “I saw [Looking West] perform at [the] Surf Rodeo and they absolutely killed it. I think the band is a great band with amazing originals and great covers. My favorite song from Looking West is ‘Your Mind.’ I have met all the members and they are absolutely amazing people.” Graphic by: Alejandro Hernandez

Evan Brehm, the only VHS student in the band, said, “I don’t know if there’s a lot of musicians around [VHS]. I’ve been recognized by some people, but it’s never anything crazy. I mean, I’m just a regular kid. It’s not like anything has really changed. I don’t think the school has been touched yet [by] Looking West. I don’t think it’s gotten there yet. I’m hoping it will. I have seen a couple of Looking West stickers around [VHS], which is pretty cool. If not, I’m just happy to play music, but hopefully, it reaches some kids.”

As of Sept. 29, Looking West has eight songs officially included in their live performance setlist, meaning their live performances contain those songs. These songs are “Acting Sideways,” “Your Mind,” “I See a Man,” “Losing You,” “Organized Chaos,” “My Disease,” “This Window I’m Looking Through,” and “Throw Away The Nerves.”

Looking West’s first performance was Oct. 31, 2018, for a neighborhood event organized by one of Dylan and Evan Brehm’s family friends. According to Dylan Brehm, Looking West’s notable performances include the Food For Ukraine Cornhole Tournament at the Ojai Valley Moose Lodge on May 28 and the Surf Rodeo festival on July 16.

Dylan Brehm said, “I think the world’s gotten around that we’re an entity and that it’s worth it for people to come to see us play. That’s how we made connections for the Surf Rodeo, our first festival performance. They were giving us some first chances and they took some big risks by having us play main stage at the festival. That was a bit risky on their part. But I think it worked out for all of us.”

Daniel Rundle ’25 said, “I like Looking West’s music a lot and think that all of their band members are amazing musicians. I saw them perform at [the] Surf Rodeo and I thought they did phenomenally.”

Looking West hasn’t officially released any music, though people can view their live performances online. Dylan Brehm said, “Right now, the easiest way for you to hear us is through a couple of avenues. I think YouTube’s a great way because we upload live videos from our recent shows. For instance, we have our whole Surf Rodeo set on YouTube, so you can watch it and if you go to the description, it will tell you the order of the songs. If you’re interested, you can try to see what that concert was like and see what the experience was like and we want to share that. It’s Looking West on YouTube. You can find us in all our live clips on @lookingwest.band on Instagram. It would be @LookingWestBand on Facebook. Also videos and photos there. Our website, which is also lookingwest.band, has a video section where you can hear what we sound like and see if you want to come to see us play.”

Jeremy Longmore ’24, who viewed Looking West’s Sept. 10 performance at Topa Topa Brewing Co. on 104 E Thompson Blvd. in Ventura, said, “[Looking West is] a pretty good band. I don’t know them but they seem nice and chill.”

According to Dylan Brehm, the process of completing a song from conception to final recording varies dramatically in length by song. He said, “[Writing and recording music is a] process that is mysterious even to me. The writing process just happens spontaneously, it’s all spontaneous. You have to keep your ears and mind open, and then things just tend to happen. When they don’t happen, you know it’s because you haven’t been open enough. I would write a song and bring it to the guys but once it gets to that point, it changes, like a butterfly. It’s just really different. It’s a different species of animal.”

Looking West practices music during “jams” at Table 17 Studios, a private recording studio owned by Neth’s father. Dylan Brehm said, “[A jam is] just some friends playing together and the special feeling that comes with it.” Looking West’s first jam took place Dec. 16, 2017.

Dylan Brehm said, “It’s a different song live than it is in the studio, the way you play is different. When you’re playing live, you’re not conscious of what you’re doing because there’s so much energy. In the studio, you’re very conscious in a good way. I would say sometimes when you’re that conscious, it’s like hypersensitivity.”

Evan Brehm said, “You think you sound good and then you start recording. It brings everything you play under a microscope, you hear every little thing you do wrong.”

Dylan Brehm said, “We test our songs by playing them live. There was a show where we played one of our newest songs, called ‘Throw Away The Nerves,’ and we played it just once. But from [practicing in the studio], we didn’t really get to see if it’s ready for recording. If it’s doing well live, and it’s getting good reception, and if we enjoy playing it, it’s time to get in the studio and get our party on.”

Neth said, “[During the process of recording], we rehearse the song a lot. Our first step usually is to get a solid drum track. We can build up from there. If we got a drum track that stays on tempo, then we can just build from that and add bass and guitar.”

Looking West band members Dylan Brehm (left), Evan Brehm (center) and Owen Neth (right) sit during an interview with Ventura Rocks. Emma McKenzie ‘24 said, “I like [Looking West] a lot. Their music and vibe rock. My favorite song of theirs is probably ‘Acting Sideways,’ but I’m stoked to see what they come up with. I only know Evan personally, but they’re great [and] seem like a lot of fun.” Photo by: Mary Brehm

Dylan Brehm said, “I would say I am probably the de facto leader. Part of that is to do with the fact that I do most of the core songwriting for the group currently. For the most part, I write the skeleton of the song and then take it to [Evan Brehm and Neth] to flush it out. In that aspect, it sort of innately makes me a bit more of a presence.”

Evan Brehm said, “In a general way, Dylan would be the frontman. I think it comes with the whole guitarist and lead singer nature. Honestly, I like it that way. You can say that ‘yeah he’s the leader,’ but he is because of the role he plays [as lead guitarist and vocals]. We all bring our own part to the band. He’s playing his equal part as a leader.”

Looking West has one scheduled performance as of Oct. 1. They are expected to perform from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Main Street Stage in downtown Ventura. Looking West’s upcoming performances list is updated regularly at lookingwest.band

Dylan Brehm said, “In the near future, probably in the next couple of weeks, likely before Halloween, we will have our first single out. We’ll make an official announcement on our social media and website when we have everything set in stone. We’re in the final stages of getting it ready [and] distributed. It will be on all streaming [platforms] and anywhere you listen to music.”

Evan Brehm said, “We’re so stoked just to be where we are right now. We’re very grateful to be in the position we are now. We’re playing our live shows and taking it with a grain of salt to enjoy the experience. I think that’s honestly our future goal.”

Updated Oct. 1 to reflect Looking West’s Underwood Family Farms Harvest Festival performance cancellation according to @lookingwest.band on Instagram.