Heyday Events is an independent production company and record label in Temecula that gives freedom to the artist, something that artists are hard-pressed to find in a world where music is mass produced.
Robert Rankin Walker started as an intern with Heyday Events in 1996 and was moving his way up until the original owner decided to sell the company to him. Heyday Events, which was founded in 1988 is not just a record label; the company deals heavily in the event and production side as well. They produce around 150 to 200 concerts a year, Walker said.
Along with producing their live shows, which can include stage rentals and laser shows, Walker said he signs several bands a year to the label. If that wasn’t enough, he recently came out with his own album, “The Sun Machine is Coming Down,” which is available on most online streaming services and on CD.
“Heyday keeps growing,” Walker said. “I’m really fortunate and unfortunate with the way the music business went. As soon as downloading and streaming took over, you couldn’t really make a viable living doing independent bands. But because Heyday has always been a label, it will always remain a label, and that’s why I still release albums through Heyday,” he said.
They also do car shows and movies in the park.
“The label isn’t as much of the focus as it used to be,” Walker said. “Years ago I was on Interscope records, and I know what it was like to be on a big label but not necessarily focused on it. When I signed with Interscope I thought it was the greatest thing in the world, this is the same label that signed U2 and a lot of other really big bands. I was thinking, ‘This is great,’ but you realize when you start with the big label that just is basically bringing you to the starting line,” he said.
Heyday Events works to break that barrier between artists that feel like they aren’t getting enough say with the big labels by allowing them freedom with Heyday Events, and Walker decided to promote this position when he took over the company.
“When I took it over, I decided that every artist I was going to sign I’m going to sign as a non-exclusive deal, to where they can leave our label at any time for any reason,” Walker said. “They were never actually trapped into any type of contract. Of course, our contracts are based on licensing the music, but the band was always free to go somewhere else if they chose.
“I never believed in screwing the artist,” he said, laughing.
Walker said he focuses on two sides when it comes to the label.
“There are the bands we work with that have been there and done that, so we’ve done a lot of the 80s and 90s bands,” Walker said. “Love and Rockets, Tommy Tutone, The Church and then there’s a big surf band called The Safaris, and they had a popular song called ‘Wipeout,’” he said.
“There are the artists that only might be known in a local area, be that Temecula or San Francisco,” Walker said. “The goal was not to get No. 1 hits. I was fortunate to work with a lot of bands that had those, but that wasn’t the goal with an independent record label.”
Heyday Events used to be known for doing a lot of surf and rockabilly music.
“That was kind of the niche market because major labels weren’t really releasing those,” Walker said. “So back in the 90s and early 2000s if you were a surf band, there was really only one label to be on and that was Heyday.”
Gino Meregillano of the band Gino and the Lone Gunmen has worked with Walker several times over the years.
“I first met Robert at a show,” he said, adding that a lot of working with Heyday Events was based on Walker himself. “He’s a good guy, and I like working with him.”
Gino and the Lone Gunmen released “Idle Hands” in 2014 with Heyday Events.
Band member Deric Fernandez of Subsurfer has known Walker since high school.
“He was always known as the music guy,” Fernandez said. “He was always known as the guy who was in the band, and he sang and produced albums and he was really at the forefront of music early on.”
In 2015, Subsurfer traveled to Chicago to record with Steve Albini, a musician and record producer, alongside audio engineering.
“The difference working with Heyday is they absolutely give you some freedom,” Fernandez said. “As long as it matches and meshes with kind of what Heyday is about, he’s not the kind of producer who’s going to come in and say you need to change this or change that, he gives the artists a lot of freedom.”
Lexi Howe can be reached by email at email@example.com.