Heading East: The musician

Andy Duvall found room to grow in Oakland

"It was so hard to find a place I could afford," says Andy Duvall, former drummer for Zen Guerilla.

This week's Guardian takes a look at San Francisco versus Oakland -- and asks whether the big city may have lost its caché to the East Bay


Andy Duvall arrived in San Francisco in 1995, moved with some friends into a flat where his rent was $250 a month. It was a great town for musician, and for 15 years, he was part of the local scene.

Then he looked around in 2010 and realized that he was paying $750 a month for a tiny room with a housemate he barely knew. "It was so hard to find a place I could afford," Duvall, the former Zen Guerilla drummer who is now part of the experimental band Carleton Melton, told us.

So he packed up and moved across the Bay — and he's never looked back. "When I moved out, I was afraid I'd totally miss SF," he said. "But I got to Oakland, and now even if I could I wouldn't move back."

Duvall lives in a 900-square-foot place off 40th Street with his girlfriend; they split the $900 rent. "It just seems like there are more artistic and musical people around here," he said. "I'm surrounded by musicians, instead of worrying that the person downstairs is going to try to get me kicked out of the building."

Duvall's main worry now? He sees the pattern that drove him out of San Francisco happening again. "In five years, the same thing is going to happen to Oakland," he said. "This neighborhood is just exploding. It's good, I guess — but it's bad for the artists and musicians."

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