Growing up my musical influences have been pretty wide open. My parents were into rock of just about any kind and my mom listened to a lot of early Elvis Costello, so that certainly had some small underlying influence. But I was a skater in the late 80's, which meant plenty of exposure to most things fast, heavy, odd, or weird. I remember skating to a diet of Faith No More, Oingo Boingo, Fat Boys, Anthrax, Beastie Boys, & the almighty Suicidal Tendencies. I say almighty, because ST was my gateway. I got "How Will I Laugh Tomorrow" on tape and it opened the door. That was probably like 4th/5th grade. That album and their Self-Titled saw me through a lot. I went through a time of stuff like Nirvana and Pearl Jam (and I will still back both of those bands), but by 8th grade I was coming to punk full blown. And by early high school when Bad Religion/Rancid/Green Day exploded, there was Suicidal Tendencies, still as relevant as ever. As things just progressed, I got into faster stuff, the early DC stuff in my opinion, is required listening whether you align yourself as punk or hardcore or even metal. One thing to another, I was that kid who read thank you lists and found other bands. I also tuned into KSPC 88.7 (Claremont Colleges) a lot and taped the shows. It exposed me to things like Gorilla Biscuits, Straight Ahead, Earth Crisis, Flux of Pink Indians, Nation of Ulysses, Reinforce, Into Another, Parades End, Ten Yard Fight, and tons more. I also had a friend whose brother was ahead of us a few years and way into the Riverside Scene before us and got me into bands like 411 and Strife.
When and why did you decide to go behind the scenes within the hardcore community?
From pretty early on, I wanted to do something. Like lots of people, I always wanted to be in a band. Despite a few short-lived attempts, that never panned out. Some friends and I took a very quick turn at a distro, but most of the time we bought stuff and sold it to ourselves (haha). The more I went to showcase, the more I got to know other people in Southern California and the more I got to know people like Joe Lujan. Joe is THE Joe as in Joecase. Joe has always been an incredible person towards me. From back when I was just another one of the kids going to shows, he remembered my face, got to know me and was just an all around good guy. As I got older and started to help friends bands out Joe was a guy who would give you the time of day to at least give your band a chance. People like that and music like this made me continually want to do something. The exchange of ideas and the fact that in a lot of ways I really found out a lot about myself through this music. Even at its very base, it was a place to scream and have a cathartic moment in an otherwise hectic week, month, year, lifetime.
Discuss your involvement with record labels.
I've been fortunate enough to have done some things with helping a few local bands record and even get some stuff into local shops. I've also been very fortunate to have lived next door to my good friend Andrew Gomez who is the man behind Glory Kid Limited and was extremely fortunate to be the resident test press listener for a lot of releases until GKL relocated to Washington earlier this year. I also consider myself stupendously lucky that at like 15/16 I was able to intern for about a year at Rotten Records who had re-issued DRI's back catalog along with the new record at the time, Full Speed Ahead. They were also the label for Acid Bath, STG, and a local-ish pop-punk band, Kiss the Clown. Their owner Ron was a super nice guy. I guess he had done a ton of booking in the past. He had another guy, Dean, working there who taught me a lot. Dean was in turn, interning at Hollywood Records around the time Seaweed and Suicide Machines put out records on Hollywood, so I ended up with exposure to more than a few bands I might not have at 15-16.
What venue(s) have you booked shows at?
My first experience with booking a proper show was probably Studio S in Hollywood. It was a record release show for the band Drop It! They were a local band and friends of mine. It was them, Fortunate Sun, Eaten Alive, and others who frighteningly escape me at the moment. Overall, it wasn't a bad show. Where Eagles Dare were going to play but couldn't make the trip.
I did start a venue with my friend Nate. At the time, Nate and I both worked for our local YMCA where we had met working as camp counselors. I was also working year round in our Childcare Programs and we had this Store front/Shop type building in an Industrial Strip Mall kind of thing. Basically we only used in when school was out, so it sat a lot of the time. We got the idea to approach my supervisor and ask if we could do shows. Amazingly, she was up for it. I wrote up a small proposal, did a floor plan, and haphazardly, we got the SOS Project off the ground. Our first show was Knife Fight/Mother Speed. Officially, we called the shows "YMCA Fundraisers" and were able to have insurance coverage. We had little to no overhead as the building was covered in rent & utilities and most of the time that something got broken, the person did it accidentally and owned up to it and paid up. We were able to pay the bands quite fairly, kick money back to the Y and still have a few bucks to take volunteers to the local In N Out after most shows. Those In N Out trips are a whole OTHER story. For about a year and a half the SOS was able to do a lot of good shows. We all worked hard for that shit, especially Nate.
Eventually the Y didnt need the property and pretty abruptly, we were done. Nate went on and did another short lived venue in Riverside (Parkview) before he & I met up again, this time with Andy from Glory Kid. Andy had been in touch with a local legened, Tina Bold (seriously, Riverside local scene great) who put us in touch with Joe from Voodoo Glow Skulls. Joe was trying to do some big community type thing and do local shows. We were gunna handle shows. It hit some snags, but he put us in touch with the Pharoah's Den in Riverside and SOS Booking was born. I hung on for 6-10 months, but I just didnt have the time. I was working full time and was just getting pulled in 5 different directions. Eventually I bowed out. Nate, as a lot of people reading this probably know, still does SOS Booking with a core group of dudes who were there in the original SOS days and they do an amazing job of shows when Nate isn't on tour with Xibalba, or busy fighting fires (seriously, great dude, since the day I met him when he was 16).
What band(s) and/or show(s) are you most proud of booking and why?
The SOS Project pulled down some big shows, a lot of which early on were thanks to Sami Begloo from Judas. There was a Verse/Guns Up! show that I thought was gunna bring the place down. We had the First Step on a week night and maybe 30 people showed. Such a blast to see a band I really like, literally in my backyard. We had a fest very early on, (Not So) Chino Fest- named so because it was supposed to be in Chino. It had a ton of local bands as well as Shook Ones, Ruiner, Sinking Ships. It was great. We had a few shows where we pulled down around a grand at 5-6 bucks a head and were able to kick so much back to the bands. That always felt good, giving a band what they deserved. We did a March Moustache Madness show with Life Long Tragedy, Set It Straight, & Final Fight- that was great as well. Also, a personal favorite was having My Revenge! play. I love that band, plus their drummer wrestled all comers after the show. It was pretty fantastic. Sometimes, the after show antics were as much fun as the show. It was great to have a space, that as long as we took care of it, we could basically hang out, have shows, even have bands crash there. I believe the first Geeks show was also at the original SOS Project. But truly, probably the moment it really sank in what we had been lucky enough to do such a thing, was when Joe from Showcase called me up to ask me about a show. A touring band was hounding him to do a Saturday show but Joe knew they were playing the SOS on Friday and Chain Reaction on Sunday; and he didn't wanna book a show that was basically already going on in the same area twice. To me, that was kind of a "Woah" moment personally because the Showcase, that was where I grew up, that was a Venue.
Discuss your download blogs, What We Want We Must Create and It Follows.
What We Want, We Must Create came purely out of a desire to give back. I had stepped away from SOS Booking almost fully and really wanted to still contribute. It started as a way to share lots of things I had accumulated over the years- records, demos, fliers, etc. I love the digital age and the ability to share and acquire. But I also love vinyl and the discovery of new and unknown things. Other people, such as SITP, were doing that and I wanted to contribute. Talking is rarely something I do little of (three sisters and no brothers I suppose plays a part there), and when it comes to music (or baseball) I can just go on. So, a blog with music from my own collection and a chance to share a little history, it was a nice outlet for me as the workload of my job increased and my SOS participation decreased. What We Want had a distinct 90's slant for most of its reign. Eventually, I wanted to incorporate more than just that, but it didn't feel quite right, so I basically nixed it after a real labor of love, the 411 "Discography".
It Follows started up this year. I'd made one or two stabs at doing another blog, but never got so far. Then I just forced myself to focus and do it. Its gone on fairly steady in 2011 and I have no intentions of stopping. It Follows still goes with the similar formula, but Ive tried to include a bit more of the local flavor and a general Hardcore/Punk/Indie flavor as a whole. The response has been great.
What sorts of criteria do you use when deciding what downloads you're going to post?
Out of print, unreleased, or artist sanctioned only. I won't do leaks and I won't do currently available stuff unless a band or label says its okay.
I love when bands send me their stuff to post- its win-win. I get to hear new music and I get to hopefully give a band at least a little bit of exposure.
I also won't do anything racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise hateful.
I love to pull things that are out of print and scan the covers, rip the songs, and share. It genuinely gives me enjoyment to put something out there, fairly known or obscure, and share it.
I also like to share records that might be somewhat available on a CD or collection, but their original release is lost to that reissue (such as the Justice League "Think or Sink" 7inch).
And, of course, old fliers, interviews, ads, etc. Nothing better than making a public documentation of dating yourself.
Have you posted any downloads that are exclusive to your blogs? If so, what download(s)?
Probably some local stuff for sure.
I did a Former Members of Alfonsin "collection" and called it 'Let's Not Forget the City Burning in the Background". More or less, there was nothing out there and info was supremely limited so I compiled songs and into a format that flowed, re-tagged and ordered everything and posted. Somewhat similar to what I did later with the 411 "discography." There's an Over My Dead Body live set thats all me, same with a Champion live set- I own the masters and was the one that had them recorded from the soundboard.
I've seen quite a few of my own rips/posts turn up in other blogs. I'm always glad to share as long as the blog pays it forward and at least says where they got it. Ive tried to spotlight blogs and even posts of records I love that someone else did, just gotta give that credit where its due. That's not to say Im gunna email someone screaming at them, its just a nice courtesy to not claim other's work. I try to take the time to do a good write up, scan the record, and make a good rip, it does take a little bit of time.
How long have you been Straight Edge and why did you choose to become Straight Edge?
Since I was 17, and I'm 32 now... so what, 15 years. I smoked a little pot in high school, drank vodka maybe 5 times.I giggled, felt groggy. But it never did too much for me. That all happened from about 16-17. In that time, I saw a lot of close friends just dive head first into getting stoned or drunk and just do nothing with themselves. They didn't have money for shows, no money to hang out, and they started to get more into speed and other stuff. Remember, I'm from Riverside/IE in the early/mid-90's, Speed Central. I saw a lot of lives get chewed up fast, even teachers and other people. My own dad hadn't been around for about 10 years because smoking weed and drinking was more important than working and raising my sister and I with my mom. So, it formed a lot of opinions in me. I just remember feeling like, yeah, Straight Edge, that works for me. I never had some mass amount of edge friends, no crew. A majority of friends still drank and smoked, it wasn't some exclusion thing for me. It was just some thing for me. It worked for me and it does work for me. I mean, if someone wants to drink or smoke, that's their deal. For me, this is what's right. A drink isn't going to kill someone by the sheer act of having a glass with dinner. Smoking, I still think cigarettes are a total waste, but I know many smokers who would agree there. We could just go on and on here (haha).
What are your thoughts and opinions of Straight Edge hardcore bands whose core members are no longer Straight Edge, particularly those bands who do reunions shows, tours, records, etc.?
I've had different opinions over the years. I think reunions as a whole have to be evaluated carefully in punk/hardcore. Many times you're talking about bands who stood on some kind of principles or platforms, and if they are going to play those songs, it seems they should maybe have some aspect of that still in their lives. I'm also all for bands busting their asses and putting in the time and being rewarded with being able to survive. Like a band like Sick of It All or a person like Ted Leo. These are people who have given their share, my share, and two other people's share of work and effort- they deserve everything the get from their hard work. But if a band that was say, very staunchly Straight Edge wants to reunite and play all the edge classics while none of them are any longer, thats their business, but it isn't for me. I'm not going to shout them down for it, but it just isn't for me. Not because I am still edge, but because I would feel the same way if say, someone like Dick from Subhumans was some kind of corporate shark who vocally renounced everything his band has said, but still wants to tour the Subhumans and make money off it. I don't think anyone should be exactly who they were at 15, when they're 35. There's things we all said then, that should make us cringe now, but if the core of you isn't at least somewhere in line with what you were about then, why just go through the motions of it?
Feel free to shamelessly plug any of your other musical or non-musical endeavors here.
Buy Glory Kid releases (glorykid.com), Andy is a hardworking dude and does great artwork as well (cargocollective.com/andrewgomeziv). Also, his new band (with a lot of other great dudes), Burn Your Life Down, is working on a new ep. Their demo is available on the It Follows Blog. Also, I still work for a YMCA and just did a week of Youth Camp, any of you out there, we're always looking for volunteers for Youth Camps in the summers and even winters. Great weather, great activities, three meals a day, a bed, its a killer experience. I do it, because I feel like it's a great way to help filter many of the things I've learned through Hardcore & Punk into the lives of young minds who might not be lucky enough to be pre-disposed to like loud, obnoxious sounding music. All too often we forget how lucky we really are that we like this and not radio fodder. Seacrest Out!