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Exclusive Interview: The Rise of Pancho & the Wizards

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Local Legends, Pancho & the Wizards stand out as one of the loudest voices in San Luis Obispo's music scene.


With five years under their belt, the DIY torchbearers have continuously given back to the community by hosting house shows and slaying stages with notable acts like FIDLAR, the Garden, and Hooveriii.

Like many other bands who enter the rabbit hole that is psychedelic garage rock, Pancho & the Wizards started out as an outlet for expression. Another jam band honoring the rock gods, according to vocalist/guitarist Tristan Wildey, "that was kind of the joke. I mean I'm not that good at jamming, but I was like let's be the Mucho Wizard Jam Band."

Over the years, around 10 people have contributed to the group; however, the current incarnation with Keegan and Trevor is a bit more serious. Taking time to focus on writing new songs and getting them out to the people, Pancho is ready to break out of the local scene and start performing abroad.

Diving deeper into the fuzzy, spaced-out tones of bands like Frankie & the Witch Fingers and King Tuff, Pancho & the Wizards have really started to chip away at uncovering their own sound.

Their most recent album, Cemetery, is a solid nod in that direction.

Released on vinyl in collaboration with the 805 beer company, Cemetery is the much needed fuel for any headbanger's journey. Don't be surprised if it becomes the spring board that lets them take their tunes on the road.

I had the chance of catching up with vocalist Tristan Wildey before his set at a local house show. You know, back when DIY shows actually happened...pre social distancing.


Here's what he had to say:

Q: So you’ve released your most recent album, “Cemetery” on vinyl? A: Yeah, this is technically kind of a soft release for our physical record. We have vinyl that we’re selling today. We released the album digitally online through Spotify and Apple Music a few months ago, but the records just came in, so that’s exciting. That’s why we’re here tonight. Q: How’d you go about getting the record pressed? A: Well actually, we’re friends with the people at the 805 beer company. One of the guys from Firestone Walker came out to one of our shows and he knew we were about to come out with an album, so he suggested that they release it for us on vinyl.

So they funded the project and then in exchange, they get to use each of the songs from the album in a commercial or something. They also got like a hundred of them to keep and give away for promo. Q: From what I know, you guys started up as kind of a jam band back in 2015... A: Yea, that was kind of the joke. Well I mean I’m not that good at jamming, but I was like, let’s be the Mucho Wizard Jam Band. It was actually different people than what it is now. It was before Keagan’s time, he was my friend and we’d hang out, but a bunch of people have been in the band.

There’s actually been ten different people in Pancho & the Wizards. But yeah, this incarnation with Keagan and Trenton is a little more serious. We’re actually focusing on writing songs and putting them out. Q: Did anything push you guys to become more serious? A: I don’t know. My big goal’s always been to play shows with bands that I like and I was like, we’re not going to get good shows unless we’re serious. It’s always nice getting paid too. Q: So you’ve been a part of the local DIY scene here in SLO for the past 4 or 5 years, have you seen it change much? A: Well, SLO’s kind of interesting because there’s a lot of noise regulations and it’s really hard to have shows. Not to be cynical or anything, but a part of me thinks that this will get shut down before we get to play. (Luckily, the show raged on and Pacho got to slay the stage.) You know, we’ve played tons of shows, house shows and all kinds of stuff. Every DIY venue that’s around ends up disappearing after a while just because the rules are so strict here, but we see new stuff popping up all the time. Q: Do you think DIY culture in general is still popular? A: Yeah, I think it’s still pretty popular. As long as people want music, they’ll find a way to make it. It’s a lot different now with the Internet too. Most of the time when we do a DIY type show, we just post on Instagram: DM for address.

You know, message us, so that we’re not like, hey everybody come to the show. We’re not putting up posters around town or anything. It’s just like, if you wanna come, hit us up on the Internet and we’ll tell you where it’s at. I think that helps too, not getting it shut down.

Q: So you’ve started playing shows in towns like Ventura and LA, are you going to keep trying to play as many shows outside of SLO as you can? A: Yea, we’re actually going to play Ventura later this month. We’re hopefully going to record another new album in January or February, so yeah I wanna play in LA a lot more. There’s a chance I might move down there too and if I do we’ll still play together, but hopefully we’ll be able to do more stuff out of town. Ya know I love playing out of town, but it’s just hard to book shows. You have to make friends in other places.

Q: Do you have any places other than LA that you’re looking forward to playing someday? A: Mexico. Yeah, somebody actually hit us up about potentially going to Mexico but that’s not a for sure thing yet. I’d love to play Mexico. I’d love to go to SXSW and I’d love to go to Portland. Those are like my three. Do you have any? (Keagan) San Francisco. (Mikey walks into the room) Did you say you want to play in Portland? Yeah, he’s going to live there. (Mikey) So you’re going to play in my basement, or what? I’ll play in Mikey’s basement, yeah. (Mikey) They already throw shows at the basement I’m moving into.

Alright dude, we’ll be up there. I have a bunch of friends up there. Nick Normal, On Drugs, Ah God. (Mikey) On Drugs, that band is so sick. Yeah, we know those guys. (Mikey) I could probably get you guys a show with On Drugs... Hear that? Mikey could get us a show with On Drugs. (Mikey) That actually needs to happen and the Charities need to come up too, but that’s a little bit of a different style. Let’s do it, maybe in like March. (Mikey) Sounds sick. Q: What’s been your favorite Pancho performance so far? A: The Fremont was sick. Yeah, we opened for Fidlar at the Fremont Theater. I don’t know, I have a few bands that I really like that we’ve played with. The thing that excites me more than anything is playing with bands that I like. We’ve played with the Garden, POW!, Hoover iii, Richard Rose. Q: Nice, do you have any plans for the next year other than playing more shows? A: Well like I said, we’ll hopefully do another album. I don’t know, I just want to play with more people that I like and put out some more music. Just try to do as much as we can. That’s always what I’ve wanted to do and I feel like we have more accessibility to do that now. Do you have any goals for the next year Keegan? Not die. (Keagan) Maybe tour. Yeah, maybe we’ll tour over the summer or something.

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