A local punk band is hoping that one of its songs becomes an anthem for Sacramento’s fledgling professional soccer club.
City of Vain frontman Steve Ross, 30, wrote the guitar-driven “Song of the Republic” in his West Sacramento bedroom, recording the chant-worthy vocals in his closet. On Feb. 20, Sacramento Republic FC posted the song to its Facebook page with the announcement “Press Play. Listen. Repeat.” It was accompanied by a photo of FC co-founder and River Cats owner Warren Smith in headphones, pumping his fist at his desk. The City of Vain website (www.cityofvain.com) is visible on his computer.
While “Song of the Republic” isn’t an official theme song, it has the potential to be embraced as one, sharing similarities with the Dropkick Murphys’ 2004 rendition of “Tessie,” that fan-favorite battle hymn for the Boston Red Sox. In addition, Major League Soccer has a history of employing punk rock anthems, including “D.C. United” by Bad Brains and San Jose Earthquakes’ “Never Say Die” by Rancid’s Lars Frederiksen.
Republic FC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Erika Bjork said “Song of the Republic” wasn’t commissioned by the team, but potentially could be played at games during the season, which kicks off next month.
Ultimately, the song’s involvement with the club is the hands of the Republic supporters, she said. So far, the tune has close to 100 “likes” on the band’s Facebook page.
“We’re very much a startup team with a crowd-source mentality,” Bjork said. “If our fans love it and want to hear more of it, we’ll listen to that.”
Melding elements of hardcore, ska, oi! and pop music, City of Vain has been together since 2010. In addition to Ross, guitarists Newell Dunn and Drew Boyce, drummer Andy Simpson, bassist Mario Maynor and keyboardist Minh Quan make up the group.
Ross initially wrote and recorded “Song of the Republic” at his home using Logic, a digital recording program, to capture all the instruments as well as the sing-loud, sing-proud “Let’s go, Sacramento!” vocals. He then played that track for the band, which used it for rehearsals. They later recorded the single at a studio in Rocklin.
Ross, who grew up in the Arden-Arcade area and graduated from El Camino High School, custom-fit “Song of the Republic” for the soccer club, even including the team’s motto “Urbs Indomita” (or “indomitable city”) in the lyrics. The song’s opening couplet – “From Poverty Ridge to Roosevelt Park / Republic supporters, they show their heart” – refers to two well-known Sacramento areas.
The motivation behind the song is rooted in local pride, Ross said, adding that he felt compelled to create a fight song for the Republic because he believes the team is elevating his hometown.
“Here’s an opportunity for us to get behind something we really believe in,” Ross said. “We’re not going to run out on the pitch, so the next best thing we could do is to write a song.”
Ross said the band’s interest in soccer – “or football, depending on which side of the pond you’re from” – came from touring overseas with bands from Newcastle and Belfast and from attending professional matches. “It’s like going to a rock concert, but instead of watching musicians playing, you’re watching guys kick a ball around,” he said about the games.
That rock concert energy is in part derived from the fans who help celebrate and motivate their squad – and intimidate opposing players – by loudly singing established chants and cheers.
Ross said a friend of the band helped get the song to the club’s organizers and to the supporter group Tower Bridge Battalion. He admitted that after he recorded it, he had some initial reservations about sharing the track with the team and the wider world. “There’s a level of hand-wringing on the musician side of getting involved with a professional entity,” Ross said.
The band met with Sacramento Republic representatives, including Bjork, at midtown’s Alley Katz bar – ground zero for many Republic supporters – in mid-February to discuss the song and its possible inclusion with the club. Ross said the club liked City of Vain’s punk rock spirit as well as the fact that the band is a homegrown entity, “which made us feel comfortable.”
Bjork said Sacramento Republic wants to elevate any local band that creates music about the city. “We’re all about embracing what comes from our fans,” she says. “If they want to create songs that inspire them, we’ll do what we can to support it as long as it’s positive and embraces Sacramento.”
“Song of the Republic” isn’t the first tune to canonize the city and its soccer club. A “glory, glory Sacramento” chant established by the Tower Bridge Battalion debuted as a YouTube video last July and now has more than 31,000 views.
Sacramento Republic opens with a road match March 29 and is scheduled to debut in Sacramento on April 26 against the Harrisburg City Islanders from Pennsylvania. Republic FC has 14 home matches scheduled in the lower-division USL Pro league.
After months of talks, a tentative deal was recently reached to build an 8,000-seat stadium at Cal Expo for Sacramento Republic. Cal Expo’s board of directors is expected to formally approve the deal Friday. Construction is expected to take several months, with the Republic’s first few home matches potentially taking place at Hughes Stadium on the Sacramento City College campus.