By Nicholas León
Not many still walk Bonita Vista’s campus who still remembers the name Brian Sumwalt. As a student at Bonita, Sumwalt was an inspired worker. With a GPA of 4.4 and a couple years of Sound Unlimited band under his belt, Sumwalt had built up a solid foundation for success. Sumwalt had a talent for math and science, so naturally, when he left high school he intended to pursue a career in architecture.
“I thought I was certain, and I thought everyone was uncertain,” Sumwalt said.
Looking at where Sumwalt is today, you would not have guessed that his original ambition was to be an architect and engineer. After all, playing around the world in a traveling band named Cage9 is a huge leap from sitting at a desk and working with schematics. As it turns out, though, Sumwalt is just fine with this unexpected life path.
“It’s awesome. It’s the best thing ever,” Sumwalt said.
The band Cage9 is an alternative rock band, and has opened for famous artists like Ozzy Osbourne, and even on televisions shows like Attack of the Show. It was started around 1993 in the country of Panama. Now though, they are based out of Los Angeles, which is how Sumwalt came to be acquainted with the band. According to him, it was during his second time seeing the band live that he was brought on board. He approached the lead singer and offered his services as a drummer.
“He said they needed a drummer, and three weeks later, we were on tour,” Sumwalt said.
Sumwalt thoroughly enjoys his time at Cage9. Most specifically he loves to travel. Being founded in Panama and based out of the United States, Cage9 tours in both countries. However, they also go traveling around the world, performing in places like Europe and far-away Japan. Sumwalt relishes in the traveling experiences, from the comfy hotel rooms to the days where he is riding in a smelly bus with five other people in at the same time. Recently, Sumwalt’s travails have taken him somewhere closer to home… his home, to be precise. Recently, Cage9 was in San Diego to play a venue and it gave Sumwalt a chance to see his friends and family.
“It’s a different vibe,” Sumwalt said.
The vibe he is referring to is the feel of playing in front of people he knows at a small venue, versus playing a large amphitheater full of unfamiliar faces. In all, Sumwalt has a preference for the more small-time and personal performances. Being home made him think of his time at Bonita Vista.
“Ask Mrs. Ronacher about me, she will definitely remember me because I was an a-hole.” Sumwalt said.
The Mrs. Ronacher he is referring to is the retired director of the Vocal Music Department, and someone who Sumwalt attributes several lessons to which he owes much of his success, the main one being teamwork. Sumwalt also recollects two teachers who are still employed at Bonita, namely Mr. Helle and Mr. Czajkowski. Sumwalt especially remembers Czajkowski and his music theory class. He also talks about what his plan was for himself back then and where he is now.
“Nothing’s ever concrete,” Sumwalt said.
Here in San Diego, when he is not touring with Cage9, Sumwalt has a side project, called the Little Galaxies. Sumwalt is a founding member of the alternative group, which often finds itself performing at different venues here in San Diego. Particularly, they performed at a small café in North Park known as Le Stats on December 20th. He also does freelance work as a recorder for various bands.
“I just don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket,” Sumwalt says.
True Sumwalt does not want to be caught broke if something happens to Cage9 but the reasons behind Sumwalt finding multiple income sources is not solely a monetary one.
“You could die any second. I just want to make a living doing what I love. I don’t want to waste my life behind a desk,” Sumwalt says.