Classic Southern California Hardcore: RIYL Underappreciated Punk, Questionable Life Choices, Loving/Hating Ronald Reagan

Duane Peters

If there are two things that The Kids find cool these days, it’s old music and being (or at least advertising yourself as) a fuck-up/outcast. For example, nobody is debating the musical merits of Madball or Terror (who are both great), but anyone who doesn’t think that at least part of their semi-newfound popularity isn’t owed to dumb little kids drooling over their reputation of being on the wrong side of the tracks or the vintage of the band members is fooling themselves pretty hard. No doubt about it – punks and hardcore kids love championing the idea of people who have ‘have been through some stuff’  – particularly when they are old. How else can you explain how anyone under the age of 25 even kind of tolerates Keith Morris?

Given that this is the case, I have always kind of wondered why The Youth of Today have not gravitated more towards old LA and Orange County punk/hardcore the way they did with other “classic” 80s bands from the east coast (ala Minor Threat, Cro-Mags, Bad Brains, etc). Aside from essentially being the birthplace of hardcore and setting many important trends that radiated out to the rest of the country, the Southern California scenes (particularly LA and Orange County) were full of fucked up weirdos with “legendary stories” that you’d think sheltered suburbanites would be all about.

But I’m not here today to write another longwinded rant about how Black Flag “laid the groundwork for the DIY touring circuit” or whatever…you can read about that in about 50,000 other places. Instead, I would like to share some underappreciated cuts of classic LA/OC hardcore, that, if pretentious newjack hardcore kids had any sense, they would name drop to other pretentious newjack hardcore kids as they mill about trying to outdo each other before OFF! goes on. I’m not saying you have to like these bands to look cool to your friends, but if you are into the idea of worshiping old fuck-ups and celebrating debatable life choices, you might as well show the west coast some love so you can set yourself apart from your other friends who are presently swinging from NY’s collective nutsack. Trigger warning: old people music ahead.

Although TSOL are definitely big guys in the OC hardcore pantheon, I feel like kids these days don’t really know who they are. This is pretty unfortunate, because dated Ronald Reagan references aside, they were definitely very sick, and way ahead of their time as well: They played hardcore about as early as anybody ever was (circa the late 70s, pissing off the old, artsy first gen CA punk scene in the process), and then continued aggravating their audience by morphing into a more melodic, quasi-goth band (waaay before being a “tortured artist” hardcore band was even really a thing). Eventually they turned into a hair metal band with no original members, but that’s a whole other story. How you know they are fuck-ups: Although he has long since reformed, lead singer Jack Grisham has a very long legit rap sheet that includes assault, car theft, arson, and just about every other terrible thing a human can do short of murder. A number of the other members of the band were not exactly angels either, and when old dudes talk about how they dropped out of punk because “the shows got too violent”, they often cite TSOL as the beginning of that trend.

China White are another Orange County band who, as far as I know, never really recorded much, but were well known in Southern CA for their Danger Zone EP. Fun fact: I used to beef with their original singer (not on this recording) on the OCpunk message boards over politics about a decade or so back, annoying him and his friends to the point where I was receiving death threats from crazy old OC punk lifer guys semi-regularly. Oh, to be young, and say a bunch of really dumb shit on that easily could’ve gotten my ass kicked… (Protip: don’t aggressively argue with people who could beat you up on the internet, ever. Not unless you enjoy wondering if or when you might get jumped at shows, anyway.) How you know they are fuck-ups: This band named themselves after the type of heroin that Germs frontman Darby Crash used to kill himself in 1982, and that many others in the early LA scene were strung out on at the time. If nothing else, this certainly reflects a mindset a significantly more bleak and grounded in the depressing reality of the time rather than than some dork flirting with satanic images to look edgy.

D.I. will always hold a special place in my heart because they were the first ‘real punk’ band I saw where the singer, Casey Royer (the original drummer of The Adolescents, whose song “Amoeba” you may remember from the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 soundtrack) was just hanging out in the audience after his set, and was super nice and approachable – thus being my first experience with the whole “no division between band/audience” thing that fans of Real Hardcore find very important. Although musically, The Adolescents and D.I. were pretty similar, D.I. never got nearly as much attention nationally, which is unfortunate because they are, next to Adolescents and TSOL, possibly the definitive example of the dark but melodic 80s OCHC sound. How you know they are fuck-ups: In 2011, Casey Royer was discovered by his 12-year-old son passed out in front of his tv, overdosed on heroin. Fortunately, I’ve heard that since then (and following a brief subsequent jail stint for child endangerment and heroin possession), he has cleaned up his act and is touring again with DI.

Shattered Faith are another band who, when I think of OC punk/HC, are one of the first to come to mind. I went to middle school and high school with their lead singer’s son, who for better or worse got me into punk in the first place and was a pretty big influence on me at the time. Years later, in 2008, I found out last minute that Shattered Faith was to play this shithole in Raleigh. I ended up being one of 9 people there to see them (two other audience members were in a band they were on tour with). A couple of the other audience members were white power skinheads who, in their private 2-man mosh pit, somehow managed to knock me into the stage, smashing my face on the corner in the process. There have been many surreal, awkward moments in my life that I owe to my time spent hanging out in punk and hardcore circles. However, few of them compare to that of being a tiny, scrawny Jew, bleeding profusely in the middle of an empty bar, as a Nazi skinhead comes over and apologizes profusely through broken front teeth while wiping blood off of my face with his grimy bare hands. Punk sucks. How you know they are fuck-ups: Coming up when bands like Millions Of Dead Cops and The Dead Kennedys were in their heyday, Shattered Faith were a conservative Christian punk band with pro-Reagan songs. While there isn’t anything inherently regrettable about that fact, it does speak to the sheer lack of fucks given, and extremely weird social climate of Orange County at the time (which persists to this day).

Political Crap were fronted by Duane Peters, a lifelong fuck-up best known for being a pro skateboarder (inventing a bunch tricks, and popularizing skateboarding amongst punk rockers and HC types in the process), and later on as the vocalist of US Bombs (who, if you are old enough, you may remember as the house band on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend).  How you know they are fuck-ups: Although Duane will always be one of my favorite skaters and frontmen, he unfortunately has lived a pretty rough life – continually on and off of hard drugs, no front teeth from smashing his face against concrete so much, locked up for battery at one point, and most recently, he went completely missing for a number of days, prompting friends and family to post worried Facebook statuses asking fans for leads regarding his whereabouts. Thankfully, he has since re-emerged, but I hope that even this late in the game, he can at some point pull a Jack Grisham and get his shit together.

While I personally don’t think they are very good, Circle One are one of the more notorious LA bands and deserve mention here. Formed in 1980, Circle One’s lead singer John Macies is best known for having started P.U.N.X., a BYO-style booking organization that arranged local shows for no more than $5 each (preempting Fugazi’s $5 only show policy by about 7 years in the process), doing tons of drugs, beating a bunch of people up, and founding a hardcore gang known as The Family, which was a weird almost cult-esque Christian hardcore gang. How you know they are fuck-ups: Macies and his crew gained a pretty serious reputation for violence at shows and elsewhere, and there are numerous accounts of him getting into physical altercations not just with other gangs, but the cops themselves. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This all came to a very sad end 1991 when Macies, in the grip of severe, untreated mental illness, lost his life on a Santa Monica pier during a shootout with the Santa Monica PD. In case it needs it to be spelled out, there is nothing remotely “cool” about this story – just another unfortunate consequence of years of accumulated drug use, mental illness, and erratic behavior left unchecked.

Although it’s hard to argue that the best and most influential hardcore band to come out of San Diego isn’t Fight Fair, Battalion Of Saints were the first and, for a while, only hardcore band of note to come from there. BoS had a decidedly more British vibe than the vast majority of US hardcore bands playing around this time, which came full circle when Terry “Tezz” Roberts of UK hardcore/d-beat inventors Discharge joined a 90s reunion version of the band. How you know they are fuck-ups: Aside from lead singer George Anthony, literally every original member of this band is dead.

I could easily keep going, but for the sake of anyone who may somehow still be reading, I’ll leave with this classic cut from LA’s Channel 3. Lots of Southern California bands had songs about owning guns, and given the amount of crime in LA and the amount of conservatism in Orange County, I was never entirely sure whether any of them were intended to be sarcastic or not.  Fuck-up cred: None really – although they did essentially turn into a street punk band in the early 2000s :(

So, there you have it: when it comes to old hardcore scenes with a history of terrible conduct and poor decision-making, New York (or if you are trying even harder, Boston) are not the only two horses in town. One could stand to reason that this idea of sheltered little kids glorifying and mythicizing the horrible behavior demonstrated by the bands/crews that they worship is at best stupid and embarrassing, and at worst could get you primed for a serious ass beating if you wind up around the wrong group of people (I should know, it easily could’ve happened to me multiple times). However, the purpose of this article is not to judge, merely to inform. When it comes down to it, I feel that informative articles such as this provide a service to naïve little punk/HC kids similar to that of a needle-exchange program for junkies: Regardless of how you feel about the target audience’s pattern of behavior, you acknowledge that they are going to continue engaging in these activities for at least some period of time, so better that they have access to resources that will encourages safer, more scene-credible practices rather than leaving them to do something even more destructive such as jocking Floorpunch or something.

Discussion: Who is your favorite seminal Southern California punk/HC band that I left off this post because they are already on 80 other “greatest punk/HC bands of all time” lists? If scene cred is a marketable commodity, then does crime really pay after all? Does anyone born after 1989 think any of this sounds even remotely good? What do you think will be the next “old school” scene to get jocked once people get bored with New York (and, to a lesser extent, Boston)? Is the tendency to reward bands who engage in bad behavior with attention and popularity a defense mechanism contrived by the bands’ audience through which they are able to pat themselves on the back – vicariously through the bands they worship – for placing 4th in society?

Goon it up

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Danny Worsnop quits ASKING ALEXANDRIA to focus on his #hardrock band

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 8.21.37 AM

IDK why but I think this video is amazing, like I keep waiting for the punchline to come but it never does. I feel like it would be a skit from an episode of SNL where Danny is the host, and he shows everybody that he is actually really self-aware by making a totally over-the-top, douchey “hard rock for military wife demographic” video like this where he skewers all his own cliched mannerisms and everyone is like “hey maybe that guy isn’t so bad! In fact, I kind of like him now,” like how they are with Channing Tatum now. Only all the lion-mane haircuts, blazers, and guys who look like Russell Brand characters are 100% non-ironic, and it makes me uncomfortable because they’re totally serious.

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TITLE FIGHT debut their crappy new song in Vogue (srs)

title fight vogue

Listen to the song here (warning: do not operate heavy machinery while listening as it may induce drowsiness)

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 9.40.37 AM

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The “crappy hxc bands jocking 90′s alt-metal” thing is worse than I thought :/

power wrench

I’m going to admit something here for the first time: sometimes, my predictions about scene trends are a bit far-fetched. Sometimes I make a “prediction” about how some weird trend is going to be The Next Big Thing, when in reality it’s just one or two bands doing some weird thing that I don’t ever expect to get bigger than that. For example, when I recently predicted that the Next Big Thing in hardcore would be ripping off lulzy 90′s alt-metal like RHCP, LEEWAY and INFECTIOUS GROOVES.

I mean, THAT could never happen, right?? It’s just TURNSTILE rehashing LEEWAY and UGLY KID JOE’s steez, right?? That could never actually become a thing, right?? RIGHT?!?

Wrong:

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these bands were playing your favorite SYWH genres (or something similar to them) long before they even existed

music-history
I always thought the music scene followed a similar pattern of *a small handful of bands come up with a unique and innovative sound, become popular off it, then a second generation of bands copy those first gen bands and become moderately popular off it but not as popular as the first gen bands, then an inordinate number of local bands do the same thing  but no one ends up caring about them cuz they’re all the same (which is where I get the content from my “bands that never got anywhere then disappeared” posts)*.

But lately I am finding more and more examples of bands that were so ahead of the curve that they don’t fit into this mold at all and will probably go uncredited for unknowingly creating genres long before those genres became a thing. Here are my favorite examples of these types of advanced bands that have managed to slip under the SYWH radar until now.

Crabcore


Attack Attack invented the trancecore breakdown, right? No? Perhaps its origin can be traced back a bit further to those British fraggles in Enter Shikari? WRONG! Apparently it was actually this crappy Eulogy records band. This is probably the most clear-cut example of “it’s not about who did it first, it’s about who did it best” because this band is almost unlistenable to me. Regardless, they do deserve their credit. Shout-outs to Andrew for making me aware of this band.

Srscore 

Bands like The Ghost Inside and Counterparts have gotten big in the scene within the last few years but metalcore-tinged melodic hardcore (or melodic hardcore-tinged metalcore for all you elitists) has been a thing since the 90′s. Shai Hulud would be a good example of this but I think lots of people already know that band because Chad from New Found Glory was in it, so I am using this lesser-known Christcore band to display a prehistoric version of this style.

Neon Pop

Forever The Sickest Kids are widely thought of as the Kings Of Neon within the SYWH community, but they definitely weren’t the first band to play synth-ridden powerpop that’s heavy on the autotune and marketed towards girls who wear colorful Osiris high-tops and training bras. The lyrics to this song are soooo cheesy. I don’t know if he was thinking of all the potential poon he would get while writing this or if it’s actually indicative of his personalty, but either way it fits the music perfectly. The music video version of this song isn’t as good but peep dat OG neon aesthetic.

Hollistercore

Hollistercore, for all those unfamiliar, is late 2000′s pop rock for lack of a better term. This song was a big hit on Canadian TV and radio back in 2001, but it easily could’ve blended in with Fearless records’ roster circa 2008. I think it is catchy enough to contend with any of the best songs on The Maine’s first and only good album (Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop).

Easycore

I always know how to spot a poser when they tell me that Lifetime was the first easycore band. Lifetime had NOTHING to do with easycore. But around the same time that Lifetime was first getting popular, Strung Out was releasing classic EpiFat skate punk albums that had some surprisingly EZ moments. Check out the moshy riff at 1:28, it totally sounds like a sped-up version of something from “Rise or Die Trying”.

Tr00 Pop Punk

Although Saves The Day are largely regarded as the original tr00 pop punk band by leading pop punk scholars, that’s not to say there weren’t other bands playing this brand of feelsy (ugh, I hate that word) pop punk before the obvious TSSF, post-ez TWY, etc. This song totally sounds like it could’ve been a Man Overboard single or something.

Deathcore

I always thought the roots of deathcore could be traced as far back as All Shall Perish’s forgettable first album and shoddy Suicide Silence demos from when they were mostly known for their Family Guy samples, but apparently not! This band was playing music in 1998 that is so similar to deathcore, that I think it would be unfair to not mention them while discussing the genre’s roots. I have no idea what this band’s influences were or what genre they were considered at the time, but I am befuddled and partially disturbed at how advanced they were. Big thanks to Aleksander Abdulov for showing me them.

AtTheGatescore

I got a few complaints for not including these guys in my ATTHEGATESCORE post and the reason why I didn’t is because I don’t think they’re very good. I prefer talking about bands I like. All things aside, this band was innovative and definitely one of the first (if not, the first) band to play this style of metalcore.

R&Bcore

If R&Bcore catches on (fingers crossed that it will), Issues are undoubtedly going to be seen as the sole pioneers of the genre, as we are just now seeing bands attempt to jock their sound (Palisades I see you). Although this song only came out 4 years ago, it is from before Issues was even a band, so I would consider it pretty advanced.  That part at 0:54 sounds like it could’ve been sung by da gawd Tyler Carter himself.

#ezcrab

I didn’t want to include too many crappy bands in this post but #ezcrab is one of my favorite genres and I have to credit these guys for playing it (albeit, very poorly) 3+ years before it became a thing. This band actually evolved into a far superior crabcore band called “We Are Danger” and after that band fell through, the drummer became a part of the notorious AskingAlexandriacore band “Capture The Crown” and then eventually quit that band to become a solo Country artist (srs).

Which of these bands do you think was the most advanced? What are some other examples you can come up with of bands playing music that sort of resembles faux-genres that were created soon after and are mostly only relevant in the wébsite Stüff Yoû Will Hàté?

 

Posted in bands i like, bands u may have slept on, bands who are just ok, christian bands i have never heard of, cool stuff, crabcore, deathcore, easycore, forever the sickest kids, fossilcore, fossils, hardcore, lulzy bands, lulzy videos, metalcore, mosh 4 christ, old shit, party like its 2008, pop-punk, scene music, sceneology, shitty deathcore bands, should I even be posting this, songs worth blogging about, stuff i liked when i was a teen, stuff u should know, SYWH Reader Bands, sywh vocabulary lessons, tr00 pop punk, trends, u heard it here first, what do u think, what we think about stuff, youtubes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: New TURNSTILE video!!!! *official*

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Bands u may have slept on: ONE LIFE CREW

chubby fresh

I am kind of hesitant to write this post, because I am 10000% certain it’s going to attract tons of autistic europeans, 19 year-old merchswap dorks, and other undesirables, but I get asked about ONE LIFE CREW a lot so I figured I might as well go for it.

Setting the stage
As I have explained before, there were basically two sects of 90s hardcore that rarely overlapped. There was the basement DIY vegan house show sect (basically like Tumblr is today) and there was the more clean-cut, mosher sect (similar to the fanbase that say ADTR has these days)– the Victory Records scene. The DIY vegan crowd absolutely hated the Victory scene of the 90s for the same reason they hate it today: losers hate winners.

The entire debut EP, “Pure Disgust” starts at 2:00.

OLC’s debut
In 1994, Victory released OLC’s debut EP “Crime Ridden Society,” and kicked off one of the bigger scene-shitstorms I have seen to this day. The main point of conflict was their song “Pure Disgust,” which was about immigrants and had lines like “You dirty fucking leeches – you must GET OUT!” In retrospect this was an obvious, heavy-handed troll, but the hyper-PC 90s scene fell for it and there were all kinds of embarrassing letter-writing campaigns, zines full of angry rants about “banning them from the scene,” etc. The whole thing came to a head at this show in 1996:

This is OLC at the infamous 96 Cleveland fest. Some kid (I never really found out who it was) said some shit to Mean Steve about 1:25, Steve chases him into the crowd, a bunch of skinheads beat the kid up. There’s a bunch of milling around then another fight around 5:30. The girl screaming “stop it!!!” was my girlfriend at the time lol.

While this will be disappointing to the euros and merchswappers reading this hoping for some zany stories about how wild and krazy and violent the 90s were, in hindsight it was really not a big deal at all and it’s kind of embarrassing that anybody ever took them seriously at all. The “fights” in the above videos are really more accurately characterized as “scuffles,” and the whole thing was just dumb.

OLC were mostly pretty crappy, but “Real Domain” is a fucking banger with some hilariously on-point lyrics: “You ignorant kid. Punk rock, backwoods fuck. Rebel against the norm, try to rebel towards me.” And of course the hilarious chorus: “Now you must pay the price. We don’t dance we just fight. Violence, Cleveland style. Numerous injuries, you’re ruined.”

Were they actually racist/homophobic/thugs/etc?
No. Loundmouths who said and did a lot of dumb shit that probably should not have been said or done, yes, but no more racist/ignorant/thugged out than any other white person from the greater Cleveland area (interpret that as you will). Other than John Lockjaw punching a kid once (for good reason), I never saw any of them get in a fight, and there were a LOT of fights at shows in Cleveland at that time. They were like 5 years older than us and much bigger (read: fatter) so it seemed like they were tough, scary guys but in retrospect they were all bark and no bite.

Super cringy intro from their 1998 album. Lots of edgy, taboo words and really clumsy attempts at trolling the scene.

A couple funny stories about OLC

• I once ran into Chubby Fresh (drummer of OLC) at the mall. He was walking around with the guys from Warzone, who were playing that night. We ate at Taco Bell and talked about how good Straight Ahead were. He told me that I could be in “the One Life Crew” because I was straightedge. He was always a nice guy to me.

• The SKARHEAD song “YAS” is partly about these guys. The part about “fake gangster from the Ohio sticks” and “played your state and where the fuck were you” is a reference to when MADBALL came thru town with either SKARHEAD of CROWN OF THORNZ (can’t remember) and called out OLC/INTEGRITY from the stage.

• Chubby Fresh now has a motorcycle “lifestyle” store called Bike Styles. John Lockjaw is now known as John Tole, and has a successful career as a standup comedian (and he is hilarious).

doesnt belong on rise

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peep the new HIT THE LIGHTS song

SkipSchoolStartFights

HIT THE LIGHTS is one of those weird bands where it seemed like they should have gotten big, but never really did for whatever reason. They had great songs that kids liked, a solid image (neon/ez with a slight hardcore edge for a little cred), but then they just kinda fizzled. I thought they could at least be the poor man’s ALL TIME LOW, but it wasn’t meant to be, and they just sort of went quiet for a while. I thought at least they would get some kind of “seminal underrated pioneers of ezcore” status, but even that seemed to elude them as they released an album of weird, moody rock.

With that said, it looks like they are back on track with a new song called “Fucked Up Kids.” I’m not gonna say it’s the best thing I have ever heard, but it’s definitely not bad– could have been on the “Coast To Coast” EP (although it’s not in the same league as the god-tier title track). These guys always seemed like good dudes, so not only am I happy to see them back in action, I have to think that this is another early sign of a pending neon/ez revival. GET STOKED ON IT! (only mid-to-late 2000s kids will get this zany TWY reference)

i like arab music better

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THE BAD CHAPTER keep the “metalcore cover of top 40 song” thing alive in 2015

The golden years of metalcore top 40 covers were a glorious time to be alive: OM&M “Poker Face,” SURRENDER THE DANCEFLOOR “Just Dance,” TDWP “Still Fly,” MISS MAY I “Swing,” and all the later installments of “Punk Goes Pop” (after they stopped putting actual punk bands on them). It seemed like the top 40 covers would never end, but they did: they pretty much died with MySpace, and left a hole in all our lives.

But there is still hope! THE BAD CHAPTER are now signed to InVogue Records and about to drop their first album featuring a sick RNBCORE cover of “Bang Bang” by Jessie J/Ariana Grande/Nicki Minaj (Ariana/Nicki, if ur reading this i just want u to know that i think ur both like SOOOOOO talented also ur really cute haha sorry i just had to say that but yeah haha).

Stoked to see the return of this important scene trend and can’t wait for THE BAD CHAPTER album to drop!!

thumbs up 2014

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Song premiere: TOMMY BOYS “Atlantic Grandeur”

Check out an exclusive new song from the upcoming TOMMY BOYS album on Other People Records– FFO of soft grunge bearded twinkle daddy basement emo revival!

Preorders at bit.ly/tommyboyspreorder

Follow Other People on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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