Local bands and musicians from San Jose, CA

Jam out to local talent from yesteryear + today.

Two guitarists and a drummer performing on a stage.

Sleep was a genre-defining heavy metal band from San Jose.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

We’ve shared five music legends who had San Jose connections — and thanks to you, dear readers, we’ve got more bands with local roots to let you in on.

These bands are certifiable San Jose originals — and we’ll keep this list of musicians from yesteryear + today rockin’ with more additions as they come.

We’ve also got a Spotify playlist for you auditory learners out there. 🎧

🎶 Sleep

This doom metal trio debuted in San Jose in the 1990s, and most notably coined the term “stoner metal,” for their psychedelic + heavy sound — comparable to Black Sabbath. When they released “Sleep’s Holy Mountain” in 1993, they were heralded as the leaders in the genre.

🎶 Skankin’ Pickle

Made up of students from Westmont + Los Gatos High School, this 1980s band combined ska, punk, dubstep, swing, and new wave. They went on to form Dill Records in 1991, based out of Monte Sereno, to release their debut album “Skafunkrastapunk,” and toured until 1996.

🎶 Jupiter Sun

This band formed in 1992 out of an East San Jose garage and played at SJSU’s amphitheater + popular SoFA concert venue, F/X. Their indie, shoegaze sound appealed to the rising pop scene, until they eventually split in 1998. Give “Zookeeper” a listen.

🎶 The Forgotten

Before touring across the US, Europe, and Japan, this punk band started in the South Bay in 1997. They brought their alternative, punk revival sound to Downtown clubs like Johnny V’s — and some members still perform occasionally at Las Vegas’ annual Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival.

🎶 T9

Formed in 2002, this garage band began playing in a studio on the corner of Taylor St. + Ninth St. (hence the name) and mixed styles of reggae, ska, funk, blues, and R&B. The band often played at the Voodoo Lounge, Agenda Lounge, and Toons. As far as tunes, we’d rec “Spend My Life.”

A close-up, fish-eye perspective of three men in punk clothes standing in a construction site.

Move over Green Day.

Photo via POUNDERS


This pop-punk, power trio was formed in San Jose in the early 2000s. Known for their live performances, snappy rhythm + catchy hooks, the group recently played at last year’s Make Music San Jose event. Fun fact: Drummer Justin Imamura founded Trash Punx — a San Jose clean-up crew making a difference today.

🎶 Inka Inka

Formed in 1989, this Bammie-award winning reggae band from San Jose proclaimed a socially and environmentally conscious message with their music. Their second album, “Reconsider” reached the Top 20 on college Billboard charts before the group disbanded in 1996.

A Latina woman with long, red hair wearing a hoodie.

This San Jose-born rapper has gone global.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

🎶 Snow Tha Product

Born Claudia Alexandra Madriz Meza in San Jose — this rising rapper began performing at the age of six with her grandfather’s mariachi band in Redwood City. She began exploring hip hop when she moved to San Diego, and since then, has produced several albums and received a Latin GRAMMY nomination.

🎶 Hook Herrera

This East San Jose-born blues musician became a fixture in the Bay Area’s music scene in the 1970s, and later performed throughout Texas in the 1980s-1990s. Besides the guitar + harp, Hook was most known for his harmonica playing.

🎶 The Chain Gang of 1974

This indie-electronica project is the brain child + alter ego of San Jose-born DJ Kamtin Mohager. After touring with 3OH!3, Kamtin started his solo career with an EP of 1980s-inspired synth-pop. His work has been featured in film + video game soundtracks.

Got more local music recommendations? Keep em’ coming.

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