Save Music in Chinatown 12 preview with The Schizophonics

The Satellite, Los Angeles (February 22, 2017)

I distinctly remember the first time I saw The Schizophonics. Following the last day of the San Diego Comic-Con in 2013, a bunch of us went to see El Vez’s Punk Rock Review at Bar Pink and holy cow! The opening band was not only a red-hot, garage punk and soul dynamo but they actually played with the former Zero as well. I was in the front row, hoping my dropped jaw wouldn’t get detached by singer Pat Beer’s out-of-control guitar playing. Next, I saw them in Pomona, opening for the newly reformed Drive Like Jehu and they were just as sweaty, animated, and nearly impossible to take a decent photo of. Nonstop rock!

After seeing them rip it up with El Vez and then the Little Richards last summer, I finally got to see the proper lineup in quick succession at The Echo and Cafe NELA. At this point, I started saying hi to drummer Lety Beers and becoming friends with them on Facebook or else it wold be getting a little weird. One thing lead to another, and now the trio is one of two San Diego bands coming up to play our twelfth all-ages punk rock matinee on Sunday, May 7 to raise money for the music program at Castelar Elementary. The other commuters will be My Revenge with Hector from The Zeros–a real plate-of-shrimp development!

This is actually perfect timing, since The Schizophonics just released a 10″ EP and have a full LP about to drop. A perfect opportunity for a quick Q&A with Pat and Lety about their past, the new music, and the Save Music Chinatown cause. Plus bonus answers from bass player Brian Reilly.

Bar Pink, San Diego (July 21, 2013)

MW: The first time I saw Schizophonics was with the punk review with El Vez at Bar Pink! How did that bond form with him?
LB: At some point we made friends with Pony Death Ride, a San Diego duo that knows Robert. They took him to see us at Bar Pink and he really liked us. That is such a huge compliment coming from him, let alone him asking us to play with him. He does a Punk Rock Review that he wanted us to back him up in that’s composed of a lot of his early punk influences. That was the first time we ever went on tour and our first time we ever had such an intricate set to learn. He definitely has taught us to be a better band and taught us so much about putting a show together. He’s our band guru.

MW: Am I crazy or did you spell your name with a T back then? What happened to it? Have you come across people with tattoos with the old spelling?
LB: We DID! There is still a 45 out there on Munster Records with the old spelling. Then we realized there is no T in schizophrenic (and also wanted to get away from being called shitty) so we switched it to the correct spelling before we made more records and merch.

MW: Pretty sure the second time I saw your band was with Drive Like Jehu in Pomona. Do you feel like part of that whole tradition of San Diego underground music?
LB: I don’t see it as underground. We moved here in 2008 and didn’t know much about the music history until we started meeting talking to more people.

PB: That was a real honor because John Reis was a big influence on us when we started the band. His Swami radio show opened our eyes (or ears?) to how much cool unheard music is out there.

Glass House, Pomona (April 8, 2015)

MW: You play so often! Do you keep track of how many shows you’ve played so far? Who plays more, you or Mike Watt?
LB: Haha, they’re in my Google calendar or we’d be so lost!

MW: Your ratio of playing shows to releasing music is freakishly high. Is that on purpose? Is putting the songs on wax something you’re doing reluctantly or has it been a flood waiting to happen?
LB: When I joined this band I didn’t know how to play the drums, so I think some of that has been a learning curve with how to write and play songs to the point where we feel confident enough to record something we are happy with.

PB: The Ooga Booga 10” EP and Land Of The Living 12” LP are a mix of brand new songs and songs we’ve been doing live for a long time.

MW: The new EP is a real ass kicker! How did you split songs between it and the LP? What can we expect?
LB: The 10″ is a few of our older songs that we never really put out properly, along with a couple of new ones that we wanted to put on the Pig Baby release. “2017” was a riff that Pat had been working on that I really liked. I wanted to make sure the Pigs got that one.

PB: The two records have all different songs, and we didn’t want the 10″ EP to be like the songs that were left over after we did the album. So we wrote new stuff for that one until we had enough tunes we were happy with so both records to stand up on their own.

Cafe NELA, Los Angeles (December 17, 2016)

MW: What’s your secret to being on fire every single time for every single configuration (Schizophonics, El Vez, Little Richards, probably a ton of other bands I don’t know about)?
LB: Our favorite musicians and heroes are bands like Little Richard, James Brown, The Woggles, Iggy Pop, The Loons, and El Vez who, when they hit the stage, are like a bolt of lightning. That style of performance is what really moves us as music lovers so we draw so much inspiration from that.

MW: I think I told your about our show—how it’s for music education at an inner-city elementary school, how it is inspired by the punk rock tradition of the old Hong Kong Cafe. Got any thoughts about kids, music, life, and so on?
LB: We love seeing kids get into music!

PB: Music is one of the greatest things a person can have in their life. It carries you through the good and bad times, and it’s inspiring to see young people playing not just because they are the artists of the future, but because they are learning a skill that can give them peace of mind and strengthen their souls throughout their lives.

MW: I’m super excited about having you play our show and getting to see you on back-to-back days starting with Cafe NELA…
PB: So are we! Thank you for inviting us and thank you for all you do!

Cafe NELA, Los Angeles (December 17, 2016)

MW: Brian, can you tell us the best thing about being a Schizophonic?
BR: The best part about being a Schizophonic has got to be traveling and playing new cities. I’ve always been a bit of a wandering soul, so to get the best of both worlds is alright with me.

MW: Got any thoughts about music education, all-ages shows, and stuff like that?
BR: As far as my thoughts on kids in the music community, I’ve always loved it when a kid gets it and learns a new bit of music. Especially if it’s something heavy and on the garage vibe. I’ve been teaching kids for quite a while. To say it helps them form their identity would be a bold understatement. Find a kid that can mirror your playing and you’ll get a session player. Find one that can’t do what you’re doing? They’ll change rock and roll.

Find out more about the Schizophonics at schizophonics.com and get their brand-new 10″ EP from your favorite local record shop, pigbabyrecords.com, or the merch table. Get Save Music in Chinatown 12 tickets at eventbrite.com.

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Thank you for Save Music in Chinatown 11: Rikk Agnew Band, Ford Madox Ford, Rough Kids, Florida Mistakes

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My friend Daryl said that our eleventh Save Music in Chinatown show might have been his favorite one so far. And who am I to argue with a guy who holds down the fort at RazorCake magazine and KCHUNG?

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Of course Daryl and Gabie at KCHUNG are two friends who always carve out time from their radio shows to help us get the word out. I think it’s really cool that Gabie’s Crystalline Morphologies program is not only scheduled early enough that Eloise can go on the air, but is also archived for streaming and downloading.

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We get help from so many friends. There’s also Cyrano and Lotus (a.k.a. Steve and Max) at KXLU’s Molotov Cocktail Hour. On their show, we had Rikk Agnew on the air to pick songs from the great new Rikk Agnew Band LP, and vintage solo stuff, Adolescents, and Christian Death, and share Hong Kong Cafe anecdotes from his storied punk rock life, too. Super cool!

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At the show it itself, we saw a lot of old friends coming out to support the cause. There was LP3 and Carrie. Louie played for us with Evil Hearted You way back when and will return with LP3 & The Tragedy sooner than later.

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Bob Forrest has played for us twice, solo at our first show ever and then with The Bicycle Thief. Holy cow, I can’t believe that reunion happened at one of our little shows. Were you there?

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And how about longtime supporters Lisa Fancher from Frontier Records and David O. Jones from Alice Bag Band, Carnage Asada, Deadbeats, and a bunch of other cool projects coming out early enough to see Rough Kids?smic11-rough2

More old and new friends: Paul from Rough Kids with Paul and Nick from Escape Artist. Nick played for us in FourEyedFour and will come back with 16 Again one of these days!smic11-roughflyboys

There was an Alice Bag sighting, too. How rad was it for her to come out to Chinatown and say hi to Chip, who was co-headlining our show with Ford Madox Ford. Decades ago, they used to play in the Bags and Dils, respectively, right across the courtyard at the Hong Kong Cafe!

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I was especially happy to see my friend Jaime not only get time off from work to attend the show but jump on stage to sing with the Rikk Agnew Band. When I was in college, I used to go to the Anti-Club almost every weekend to see him play with the Chemical People on bills with ALL and Big Drill Car.

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After seeing him so often at shows and then Hollywood Book and Poster we became friends, breaking the barrier between stage (even ones a foot tall) and crowd. One small step on the way to putting on these benefit shows…

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Of course, there was my good friend Nate who helps behind the scenes of every single show. Although he’s elusive like Bigfoot, this time I got a blurry picture of him with Chip and Scott from Ford Madox Ford. But how did I miss photos of Vicki, Horace, and Clare–the latter two all the way from London?smic11-chipnatecrew

Besides being excited and grateful to the Florida Mistakes, Rough Kids, Ford Madox Ford, and Rikk Agnew Band and everyone who showed up, I don’t have a real story to tell except that a lot of people out there want to make a difference and help out in some way.

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I don’t have a radio show, play in a band, release records, or make awesome cookies. But if I can help those people get together to help kids in Chinatown receive music education at their public school, what can you do? What difference can you make?

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Thanks again to the Grand Star, the bands, the bake sale crew, raffle donors, everyone who came, and everyone who spread the word. We’ll do it again at the Grand Star on Sunday, May 7 and be ready for some top-shelf garage punk rock ‘n’ roll…

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Best blurry picture ^ v Gung hay fat choy!

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Save Music in Chinatown 11 preview with Matt from Ford Madox Ford and Cameron from The Florida Mistakes

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I was actually okay with The Rikk Agnew Band, Ford Madox Ford, and Rough Kids comprising our next Save Music in Chinatown benefit show. What a rad lineup featuring two legends of L.A. punk rock (Rikk from Adolescents, Christian Death, D.I., and a ton of other crucial bands as well as Chip Kinman from the Dils and Rank & File in Ford Madox Ford) and some of my favorite local punks, Rough Kids.

Then Matt from FDMDXFD mentioned there was this new local group called The Florida Mistakes that he really dug. And, oh yeah, his daughter Cameron is in it.

Whoa. How perfect would it be to have a father and daughter–each playing bass–at one of our benefits for music education? Here’s a quick Q&A with Matt Littell from FDMDXFD and Cameron Littell from The Florida Mistakes. Both excellent bands that I’m stoked to have play for our cause.

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MW: Matt, when did you get into bass?
ML: I started on guitar when I was 14 living in upstate New York. We had a college radio station in my town that was playing an amazing selection of punk rock and it really got me fired up to play. Literally no one in my town played bass so I bought a ’70s Gibson SG bass, spray painted it pink, and made the switch. That turned out to be a amazingly fortuitous decision and I’ve been in love with the bass ever since!

MW: What are some of the bands you’ve played in before Ford Madox Ford?
ML: I’ve played with a laundry list of bands thought the years. The ones that make the most interesting cocktail party stories are Terri Nunn (Berlin) and Quiet Riot.

MW: You can’t not tell…
ML: It sure seemed easy to “make it” in Los Angeles: It’s 1990 and I’m fresh off the boat in L.A., couch surfing and looking for work. Only days in, I answered an ad for “major label band seeks bass player” and mind-bogglingly found myself on salary playing bass for Terri Nunn’s solo record. She had just gone solo from Berlin and was trying out a more rock vibe. With the phenomenal Randy Castillo on drums (Ozzy Osbourne, Lita Ford), I felt like I won the lottery. Terri eventually ended up going into a less rock direction with other players. Fortunately, one of the tracks Terri, Randy, and I had recorded, “Confession Time,” was used as the lead song on her debut solo release.

MW: And Quiet Riot?
ML: The day I played bass for Quiet Riot: Apparently Chuck Wright, Quiet Riot’s then bass player missed his flight or some such snafu. The year was 1995 and after falling far, far from the heights of US Festival headlining status and “Cum on Feel the Noize”/MTV mania, the rest of the band was now valiantly holed up in some low-budget hell-hole studio in the valley trying to resurrect their career.

They had hired a songwriter I had once worked with to provide the song that they hoped, mistakenly, would put them back on the charts and turn it all around. The chosen song was a upbeat number called “Pretty Pack of Lies,” super catchy and memorable. This was the peak of the Seattle grunge sound and QR was hoping to hitch on to that bandwagon with this single.

They had tracked the song but it was in danger of being cut from the album if they couldn’t record a bass part and mix it by the release deadline. With their bass player awol and the song in jeopardy, my songwriter friend could feel his song publishing windfall evaporating and reached out to me to play. I had played bass on the publishing company’s demo for the track and he knew I had the song down.

At this point Quit Riot was in that very awkward stage where they were no longer cool in a “cool” way and were not yet cool again in an ironic/sentimental way. Offering a album credit I didn’t want at the time and saying that they didn’t have anything in the budget to pay me, I said no.

After receiving multiple calls from my friend refusing to take no for an answer, I caved and found myself spending a day with Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavaro, and Frankie Banali in the studio. They turned to be really sweet guys and it’s a blast to be a (tiny) part of Quiet Riot history.

MW: Cameron, did you grown up watching your dad play in bands? What did you think? When did you pick up a bass?
CL: I knew my dad was a bass player from band memorabilia around the house but he took bunch of years off so I didn’t see him play until I was a teenager. When he started playing again professionally I thought was it was cool! I started playing bass when I was 18. I got offered the bass spot in The Florida Mistakes and I’d never played bass before. I grabbed one of my dad’s basses out of the living room and jumped in.

MW: When you were starting out, did you go to your dad for tips or want to figure it out on your own?
CL: I figured it out myself. Bass playing is not rocket science…

MW: Tell me about The Florida Mistakes–what you do, how you got together… I don’t know much about your band yet!
CL: The Florida Mistakes started from a senior year high school project. In my English class they let us pick any creative outlet we wanted and work on it one day a week for 20 percent of our grade. We got an “A” and just kept rocking! We just released our debut EP and you can hear us on Apple Music and the other streaming sites. Check it out!

MW: Matt, it seems like everything you can get jaded about (from holidays to going to shows to Disneyland) becomes more interesting and fun again when you have a kid. Is it like that at all with music?
ML: Yes, I love Cameron’s band The Florida Mistakes. They rehearse in my living room and I find listening to them to be inspiring. It truly brings me back to my teens hearing it. They have been packing clubs at all their shows and a massive mosh pit always breaks out. It takes a lot of willpower to keep myself from jumping in!

MW: Cameron, now that you’re in a  band do you have access to your dad’s gear?
CL: Hell yeah! I literally have access to the coolest vintage gear a bass player could ever dream about; 70’s P-basses and vintage Ampeg SVT rigs!

MW: What do you think of playing a show together?
CL: It’s going to be awesome, I don’t have to shlep all my own gear!
ML: It’s a high point in my life for me. I can not wait!

MW: The benefit is for music education at the public elementary school. Any thoughts on the cause?
CL: It’s an awesome cause, I wish my elementary school had offered music education.
ML: We are stoked to contribute to this cause. Music education funding has been reduced or eliminated everywhere and it’s unfortunate. Thanks for including us in this, Martin!

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Check out Ford Madox Ford and The Florida Mistakes and as well as the Save Music in Chinatown event page on Facebook and ticketing on Eventbrite!

 

Save Music in Chinatown 11 preview with Rough Kids

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The first time I saw Rough Kids they were opening for Dillinger Four along with Night Birds and Underground Railroad to Candyland. What a bill and Paddy from D4 kept saying that anyone who didn’t pick up the Rough Kids LP was an idiot. So of course I bought the record and it ruled. Kind of like the power of The Buzzcocks and hooks of The Plimsouls–or is it vice versa?

I immediately thought of Rough Kids when I was trying to round out the upcoming bill with original L.A. punks Rikk Agnew (of Adolescents and Christian Death fame with his new Rikk Agnew Band) and Chip Kinman (from The Dils and Rank & File with Ford Madox Ford). Rough Kids have an old school punk sensibility but are firmly part of today’s underground. I hit them up cold and less than 10 minutes later they agreed to play. Hot damn!

A few weeks later, I crashed one of their practices to hear some new songs and do a short Q&A to get you all ready for the show…

E: Ethan – Vocals/Guitar
T: Tsubasa – Guitar/Vocals
P: Paul – Bass
L: Luis – Drums

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M: Were you ever kids while being Rough Kids?
E: I don’t think so. It formed at the end of 2008 and we were in our mid-20s. Not kids.

M: So in the tradition of Sonic Youth and Adolescents, not kids.
T: Not Kids isn’t as good of a name, though.
P: We have kids.

M: Isn’t it a challenge getting out when you have young children?
E: We didn’t have kids when we started the band. Now we all have kids except for Luis but he’s the newest addition and the closest one to being a kid. For as much as we play, though, I don’t think we’d playing more if we didn’t have kids.
P: This band’s very low demand.

M: Low demand on you or low demand from fans?
E: On us.

M: You guys all have balance in your life.
P: I don’t think we’d do it if it were incredibly taxing.
E: We practice once a week, maybe play six shows a year.
T: We try to play more, but we didn’t do a lot this year.
P: We have our second LP out so why would we want to play shows? They  could just listen to the record.

M: How did you wind up on Sorry State? I had your 7″ shipped to me way out from North Carolina!
E: We met Daniel, who runs the label, when he was touring with Shitty Limits. We had to buy a generator because we wanted to play with Shitty Limits somewhere behind a bunch of downtown fabric stores. Everything was tagged up and we had to cut our way through a fence to get back there with our equipment. Daniel’s band, Logic Problem, was touring, too, and we tried to get him to do our second 7″ single but never heard anything back from him. Later, we saw him post that it was one of his favorite records of the year! So when we recorded the LP, we hit him up again and he wanted to do it.

M: That cover song hidden at the end of the new record is pretty tricky and threw me off for the longest time.
E: We wanted to do what the Johnny Moped LP does. On the first track there are two separate grooves you can get started on, and either runs seamlessly into the second song. But we had to settle.

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M: When I was a kid I had a Mad Magazine flexi that had different endings to a song!
E: Kind of like that, but we were told that no pressing plant would guarantee our record if we tried. So we had a 45 RPM single in the middle instead.

M: Does the song start exactly where a 7″ would be? You could slice off the rest of the record and put it in a jukebox!
E: I never tried that!

M: A RazorCake reviewer called it one of the most brilliant cover songs ever and said you beat him to it.
E: He’s a super fan of that track. It’s from Shock Treatment, the Rocky Horror sequel or prequel. The movie’s not great…

M: I dug the cover because midnight movies used to be a subculture like punk rock.
E: I wanted every record we’d do from there on out to have one silly punk song from something from an obscure movie or TV show.

M: LIke Redd Kross singing a Partridge Family song?
E: More like punk songs that have been on TV shows like the Queen Haters from SCTV.

M: Fake punk from Quincy.
P: First generation punks covered “normal” songs like “Louie Louie” and “Good Guys Don’t Wear White” because that’s what there was. Now but we’re covering weird, bizarre stuff.
E: Songs we think you should know about but probably haven’t heard…

M: Is “Annima City” from a movie or cartoon or something?
E: No, I just didn’t want to call another song “Animosity,” so I made up a place called Annima City. Real clever….
P: Not clever.
E: Not only spelled wrong but differently in different places on the record.

M: And “Into the 2000s” wasn’t written in 1999 or 2000 because your band wasn’t around yet.
E: That was the 2010s, probably.
P: I joined in 2010 and it was already a song.

M: Was that retro future like when Disneyland redid Tomorrowland in bronze?
E: I just wanted to write a song where I could say “the ohsies” because I don’t like “the naughts” or “the oughts.” I’ve been using my made-up word forever and thought it would be funny to make it into a song.

M: So our benefit show is in Chinatown right next to the Bruce Lee statue and old locations of Hong Kong Cafe and Madame Wong’s… Have you guys ever played Chinatown?
P: I used to drive through it a lot when I lived in Highland Park. I looked it up and apparently Chinatown moved.

M: It used to be where Union Station is, but then they kicked everyone out and razed it to build the train station. The new Chinatown has Chinky or movie set architecture so everything has curved roofs and stuff. But I dig that my daughter goes to elementary school where the Weirdos, Dils, and Black Flag played. And now she gets to see bands like yours help raise money for the music program and and get exposed to DIY culture.
E: She’s into that stuff?

M: Totally! And yours?
E: Not really.
P: My son’s almost three. He’s into coloring and that’s cool.

M: You can skip right over kids’ music and play AC/DC and the Ramones.
E: Oh yeah, we force it upon them.
P: They don’t have a choice.

M: But this is a good show to take them to because it’s early and there are cookies.
T: I’ve been looking for a show like that so I can take my kids. The oldest one is six and I gave him his first guitar for Christmas. It’s a smaller Les Paul Jr. type made in Japan. We’re pretty stoked.

M: I think it’s super important for kids to see that concerts aren’t just for Staples Center and YouTube.
E: All my daughter knows is that I have to go play a “band show” every now and then, but she’s all right with it.

M: And when did you guys start playing music?
P: I was 10 or 11 when I got a guitar.
E: I was 12 or something.
T: 13 maybe.

M: Did you have hip parents?
P: I just whined a lot until I got one.
L: I got a drum kit to be in a band when I was 13. My parents were fully supportive, wanted me to stay out of trouble, and figured me bashing on the drums was one way to do it.
E: What was your first instrument, though?
L: My first instrument was bongo drums! I used to have some that my parents got for me from TJ. I got into it because we had a 1971 Ludwig in our living room. I went on it and figured, “All right!”

M: What were you listening to at the time?
L: Nirvana. I starting doing everything Dave Grohl did and realized how easy it was. That paved the way for me, man. But my mom plays piano, my dad plays drums and sings, my aunt drums, my uncle plays bass, my other uncle plays guitar, my grandpa was a singer and songwriter… So it was just a matter of time for me.

M: Do you ever play together, like on Christmas or something?
L: Actually, when my parents ask me to play for their church I’ll do it. I’m supposed to do it in three weeks. My mom makes me practice with them right before the gig like it’s a regular show. I love playing with my parents. It’s fun!

M: You just have to try not to spit between songs.
L: Like spit on the floor? I don’t have to do that with my parents. It’s easy. But with these guys, I gotta keep myself from throwing up on stage.
P: Do they put you behind the plexiglass on stage? That’s so weird.
L: No, but I’ve done that before. No fun!

M: How many years have you been with Rough Kids now?
L: Two years.

M: And were you a kid then?
L: I’m 29 now so I guess not!

M: So were those new songs you were playing in your space?
E: That was all new stuff we’re working out.

M: Is the process or are the songs different than the first two albums? Grappling with anything new?
E: Lyrically we don’t have anything old or new to say. Musically, maybe it’s a little different. A little more laid back and darker. mid tempo.
P: It’s our third LP, it’s gotta be. It’s an unwritten music law.
E: We have to go down that road. Do you like that band M.I.A. at all?

M: The Orange County punk band?
E: Yeah, the first albums were more on the hardcore side and then that third one took a real dive into darker, mid-tempo stuff.

M: And then Frank and Mark formed Big Drill Car… Hey, have you ever played a actual all-ages show with little kids dancing around?
E: Nope.

M: It’s like a real-life Peanuts cartoon! But you don’t have to worry about taking out cuss words or anything. Just play like you usually would.
E: Our lyrics are super clean.
P: It’s not like you can hear them anyway!

M: If you play six shows a year, how often do you do interviews?
E: No one wants to talk to us too much. This is the first one we’ve done in a while.
P: We’re pretty off the radar.
E: You just saw us at the Dillinger Four show, right?

M: Yeah, and Paddy sure pumped you guys up, but I read a RazorCake interview before that!
E: Oh, that was a while back–right after the first LP came out. We were probably getting okay by then.
T: We did an interview with KXLU…
E: I think her name was Hillary. My wife was in a band that played on KXLU 10 years ago.

M: She’s so much cooler than you!
E: Well, she had better connections. She was in a band called Christ Crunchers that didn’t last very long.

M: I’m still blown away by how you agreed to play our show 10 minutes after I asked, explaining that “Rikk Agnew has that effect on people.” That was the greatest quote ever. What are your favorite Rikk Agnew records?
E: All By Myself or the Adolescents LP.
L: Only Theatre of Pain is brilliant.
P: I was in an art show with him!

M: Tell me about your art.
P: Mostly screen printing. I did show posters in my free time for a real long time, but mostly collage now.

M: Is the collage like Jack Kirby’s weird Negative Zone stuff or Winston Smith?
P: They’re negative. They’re gross. And Winston Smith’s work is rad.
E: Paul did our last album cover, too.

M: Tsubasa, did you move from Japan to L.A. to pursue punk rock? When was that?
T: Pretty much, in 2004. I was 21.

M: What was going on then?
P: I graduated college.
E: I was in San Francisco.
L: I was a junior in high school trying to graduate.
E: A lot of bands were reuniting that you were playing with.
T: That’s true. My old band, Plastic Letters, played with The Gears and Weirdos. Nikki Corvette started playing again. A lot of old punk rockers.

M: You were living the dream!
E: I think you were responsible for getting them back together.
T: They were back together before.
E: I moved down here from San Francisco not longer after that.

M: You poached him from Plastic Letters?
E: No, they were already done.

M: And now you’ve lasted longer than most bands.
P: Rough Kids never die, man.

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Check out Rough Kids on Facebook and get tickets for Save Music in Chinatown 11 at Eventbrite.

Save Music in Chinatown 11 preview with Chip Kinman of Ford Madox Ford, The Dils, Rank & File…

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Since we started organizing the Save Music in Chinatown benefit shows, a lot of cool musicians from the neighborhood’s old Hong Kong Cafe days have come out to help raise money for music education at Castelar Elementary. There was Hector Penalosa from The Zeros, Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag, and Mike Watt from the Minutemen. And then there’s been The Gears, The Crowd, Channel Three, and The Adolescents. Wow.

Our eleventh show will be a double header of legends including the Rikk Agnew Band, with a key member of The Adolescents and Christian Death, as well a Chip Kinman from The Dils and Rank & File in Ford Madox Ford. Earlier in December, I went to Godmother’s in San Pedro and talked to Chip for a few minutes before Ford Madox Ford played a furious set that left his guitar destroyed.img_0640

You know, I found an old Hong Kong Calendar where The Dils played back to back nights. Do you remember those days?
I do and I don’t. I remember being there but I don’t remember the shows themselves. I remember the Hong Kong Cafe because we didn’t really play there that often. It was kind of special and it was kind of late in The Dils’ career.

But a two-night stand must have been a big deal.
It was a lot of fun and we were kind of a popular band, haha.

Although you didn’t play in Chinatown a lot, I love the idea of my favorite underdog cultures colliding there: my immigrant ancestors and Los Angeles punks. They don’t overlap much.
Not a lot. But I think artistically they did. In the early days of punk rock, when we first started, we were into reggae, Bruce Lee movies, and Burroughs. All that stuff seemed to blend together. One thing I remember about playing there was Golden City, which was my favorite restaurant at the time. I always get the same thing there, the noodles.

From the Grand Star, where our benefits take place, you can see the front of the old Hong Kong Cafe.
That’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it.

And old Dils songs like “Class War” and “Mr. Big” sound brand-new after the election.
They have legs, that’s for sure, and I do listen to it. A lot of the Dangerhouse stuff… I love punk rock.

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What about new stuff?
I listen to all kinds of stuff. People might not believe this but I like a lot of hip hop. It takes more chances and I like that kind of stuff. But it’s nothing I’d ever do.

How amazing is it for your new band, Ford Madox Ford, to be on the same label as X and then be working with Chris Ashford, who recorded The Dils, Blackbird…
That’s the best. I’m making my next record with Chris, who I made my first record with 40 years ago! Chris is absolutely great–such a great should and such a good spirit. I would do anything for him.

I love the idea that you guys are not only lifer and survivors but are still doing cool new stuff.
I hope so! We’re having a great time and when we play a lot of people who used to go shows come out to see us. But I’m actually trying to figure out how to break out because we have Dewey Peek in our band who’s 21. He’s a total badass and I want his generation to come out and see him.

I feel like in L.A. we have RazorCake and Burger compressing everything that’s old and new, punk and garage. It’s all the same now.
It is! It’s funny because I used to say four guys for blues, we’re strictly a blue bland. But on the way here I thought, “We’re a fucking punk rock band.” What we’re doing is radical and fun.

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What were you doing after Blackbird and Cowboy Nation and before Ford Madox Ford? Were you making music the entire time?
I put out something called My First Punk Rock Record by a band I put together with my wife, Dewey Peek, and Sean Antillon, and it was real ’77 style. All down strokes, all 1/8 notes, real fast–like 15 songs in 11 minutes. It came out on Fundamental Records from Chicago. It’s very hard to find but it’s a really cool record.

That’s some technical talk about punk rock. Did you take classes or anything when you were a kid?
I picked up guitar in high school, but my brother Tony was in high school band. He had more of a music education and could read music. Dewey took trumpet classes in school! It helped him out because he has a really good ear and hears stuff that I don’t.

So how did Ford Madox Ford happen?
We’ve only been together since last November, so it’s only been for a year and one month. My wife said, “Kids are grown up and out of the house. Start playing music. That’s what you do, so do it.” Supporting the family was pretty much a full time job, that’s for sure. So I said all right and dove right in.

It may not make money, but it’s cheaper than therapy.
And it does make a little money, it turns out. There’s the 7″ single on vinyl

It’s great. I like the B-side even more than the A-side!
“Before the Fall” is the first song we wrote. It has a first song quality and is so bizarre because we don’t know what we’re doing. And then we have the digital release, “Let’s Work Together.” And we’re working on the album now, and it will be out in all formats in early 2017.

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Get more info at the Facebook event page and tickets at eventbrite.com

Save Music in Chinatown 10 recap with SISU, Carsick Cars, Chui Wan, and Alpine Decline

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I was even more stressed out than usual about our tenth Save Music in Chinatown show. Was the previous evening’s Long Beach gig, which I also helped set up, going to turn out alright for the bands that were coming all the way from Beijing? Wasn’t it going to be extra difficult for the musicians, helpers, and attendees to make it to the Grand Star with Ciclavia happening on the same date that we set way back in the spring?

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It was less convenient getting to the Grand Star and parking cost twice as much, but everything turned out fine. Actually, excellent.

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Really, how could those who made it to the show not be blown away by the raw chemistry of the Alpine Decline duo, soaring and psychedelic musicianship of Chui Wan, or buzzsaw riffs of the power trio Carsick Cars? The urgency and excitement of a new generation of artists who are out of their minds and inspired by the entire history of rock being unloaded on China all at once?

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I was first introduced to Carsick Cars along with P.K.14 way back in 2007 when I stalked them for a magazine article and have been obsessed with Beijing’s underground music scene ever since. How amazing to see them in Chinatown.

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And then there were the dark, swirling sounds of SISU. I became familiar with the band when I interviewed Sandy as one of the Dum Dum Girls and became a fan of her main musical outlet as well as a friend.

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At first, SISU agreed to come out of seclusion to play as a stripped-down version for the cause but it wound up being a full-on headlining set with all four members along with a projector and fog machine!

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And then they played a cover of Sonic Youth’s “Little Trouble Girl,” arranging for a handful of kids including Eloise and her cousins to go onstage and sing backup. Wow.

For my favorite bands to play all-ages matinee fund raisers to support the unfunded music program at my daughter’s public elementary school in Chinatown is surreal. And for us to be embarking on our fourth year of shows is really incredible. We had no experience when we started this project and have gotten by only with the help of so many supporters.

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There are awesome bands, old friends and new friends, all of my family and so many community members, killer bake sale, and super cool raffle to make it a completely unique and excellent afternoon. But even better is the community that has grown over the years. To not only raise money and awareness to help kids but also create a scene in Chinatown is something we never anticipated and are always humbled by.

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Thanks to everyone who makes our shows possible, building on the punk rock tradition of the old Hong Kong Cafe and Madame Wong’s, and helping the largely underserved kids who live in Chinatown today. It not only gives them access to music education and a creative outlet, but empowers them with the DIY aesthetic.

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The next Save Music in Chinatown all-ages matinee will take place in January or February. Follow this blog or like facebook.com/SaveMusicInChinatown for news.

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See you there!

 

Save Music in Chinatown 10 is here

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You’d think organizing benefit concerts for the music program at our daughter’s elementary school would be be easy after three years. Not really. However, arranging for bands from Beijing whose records you can’t even buy at Amoeba probably isn’t the most sensible choice.

But how cool is it to have Carsick Cars, one of China’s most excellent and influential post-punk bands, playing to help underserved kids in Chinatown?

Or have Chui Wan return after blowing our minds at last school year’s sold-out show with Dengue Fever and Birdstriking?

Alpine Decline will be extra noisy and amazing, too. How have I missed them every time they’ve come through town before? Or even when they lived here?

My pals in SISU are coming out of hiatus to round out the bill. They were initially going to play a special set as a duo but have decided to bring out the entire band!

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We’re lucky to have so many friends that make the shows happen. Sandy and Jules from SISU came on to our usual KCHUNG show with Gabie and Daryl (listen HERE) and of course there was the traditional two-hour hoot and warmup that is the Molotov Cocktail Hour on KXLU, as well.

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And what about the flyer that Senon Williams from Dengue Fever volunteered to make? When the bands play in front of the poster-sized image on Sunday, they’ll be like The Clash in the “Complete Control” video!

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Plus supporters donating stuff for the raffle, families contributing to the bake sale, everyone spreading the word, and Nate behind the scenes… I hope Sunday’s show raises a decent amount of money for music education at Chinatown’s public school but no matter what happens (Is Ciclavia really happening  in Chinatown on the day we chose last spring?) I’ll be grateful for being part of such a rad community that makes it happen.

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See cool bands! Eat delicious cookies! Help kids in Chinatown! Get more info at the Facebook event page and save some dough by ordering tickets in advance at eventbrite.com.

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You can further support the Chinese bands that support us by seeing them in Long Beach on Saturday night and Cafe NELA on Sunday night:

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