Thursday, August 26, 2004

Reason To Believe

My father used to justify his aversion to politics by saying that all leaders were corrupt, that no matter who won the election the poor people of the world would ultimately lose because politicians would always be in the pocket of the wealthy. He thought that big corporations were the secret hand that really pulled the strings behind the governments of the world.

Thomas Paine wrote "We have it in our power to begin the world over again." When I first got into punk, I believed that we, as musicians and artists, could change the world. That was a big part of why the punk movement was so exciting to me. I felt like we were doing things that hadn't been done before, that we were rejecting the establishment and building something new. As the original L.A punk scene eventually succumbed to drugs and commercialism, I lost much of that optimism. Hardcore punk went underground and then spread out worldwide, but by that time, I was out of punk and back into college.

In the early 80's, I went to Nicaragua to work with the people there and to learn about the changes that had taken place in that country after their revolution. Living there for a short time, I saw firsthand what my own government was doing to these impoverished people in the name of "defending our nation" against creeping Communism. It really opened my eyes to the way our media and our government worked hand in hand to spoon feed the U.S. public with the official story. I began to feel overwhelmed by the power of the invisible hand that my father had talked about.

I don't know when it happened to me, but I slowly started to adopt my father's hopeless and cynical view of politics. I still vote, sign petitions, and play my share of benefits, but for years now I've had the feeling that any substantial change was beyond what I could hope for. I can't afford to have this attitude anymore. I won't allow myself to go along with politics as usual without kicking and screaming and raising a fuss.

My government has gotten so far out of control and it's partly because of people just like me. I didn't vote for that man in the White House, but I can no longer accept that everyday, he is making decisions that I completely disagree with.

It's been a long time since I dared to hope that music could change the world. I've always resisted the impulse to preach politics to my audiences, but I feel I can no longer afford to be uninvolved in the process. I know that a lot of my friends feel the same way. Musicians and artists in the U.S. are often denigrated for expressing political opinions unless they support the status quo, which I find ridiculous since one of the most dynamic forces for social change during the past 40 years has been music, and specifically rock music.

It's time for involvement. Maybe we can't change the world with a song, but if enough of us get involved, we can change the leadership of this country come November, and that's a start.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Back To Work --- WAAH!

Summer vacation is over...I can't believe it went by so quickly. Today is my first day back to work. This week will be extremely busy for me:

Las Tres will be doing one song this Friday night at Grand Performances as part of a tribute to Los Lobos organized by Quetzal. It's a free performance and it takes place downtown in the California Plaza, if you're lucky you can find free parking on the street, otherwise you can pay to park in the underground lot. More details here, it's kid friendly! Check it out if you're a Lobos fan or if you just like good music.

This Saturday, August 28, Las Tres will be doing a full set of our own material, opening for Brian Grillo and Hot N' Heavy at Casita del Campo, located at 1920 Hyperion Ave in Silver Lake. This show will start around 8 pm, so come early for margaritas. Brian's got a new cd, which will be released in mid-September and this will be sneak preview for you all.

Stay At Home Bomb is getting ready to announce some local show dates. We have confirmed September 23 at the Echo with The Gears and Thee Undertakers, $8.00 cover and 18+. This should be a high energy show, so break out the Docs and get ready to slam!

One last thing, if you haven't already done so, please REGISTER TO VOTE!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Dresden Dolls Live

WOW! We were lucky enough to see the Dresden Dolls perform at the Troubadour last night and it was an amazing, inspiring show. They will be appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel show tonight (thanks to Falling James for the tip-off) so do check them out if you're a night owl.

Amanda onstage at the Troubadour 8/18/04
As I said, it was an inspiring show and I'm really leaning towards playing keyboards in C-Squad now. As I was watching the band last night I started thinking of how far women performers have come. PJ, Patti, Amanda (Dresden Dolls), Beth Ditto (from The Gossip)... There's a long list of women who can really kick butt. When I was growing up there were a lot of great female singers, but there were all the girly traps they had to get around. Do you know what I'm talking about? Dress this way, wear these clothes, act a certain way...All those things affected not just how they looked and how they acted on stage, they affected who they were and who we, as an audience, had as role models. The great women performers today seem to go beyond those girly traps; they can wear mini skirts and high heels, or dirty jeans, it doesn't matter. They're androgynous, passionate, intelligent human beings, who just happen to be women. It wasn't always that way. OK, I know all this feminist shit has got to be boring you.

Las Tres is going to be mixing at our friend's recording studio today. I will keep you all posted on our progress. Don't forget that Las Tres will be appearing at 8:30 pm on August 28 with our friend, Brian Grillo! Hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Pictures Please PJ Pla-Boy

We went to see PJ Harvey last night at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood and took a few pictures. Unfortunately this one is the best of the bunch:
The PlaYboy Liquor store in Hollywood is an uncredited source of inspiration for the late seventies L.A. Punk scene. Its location, within stumbling distance of the Canterbury, made it an indispensable part of the early community. I just wanted to bring that to your attention. Now let's have a drink!

Oh yeah, here's the one not so good pic of PJ Harvey:

PJ rocked hard but her guitarist was way too Moons Over My Hammy. Less ham, more jam please.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Interview Questions Part 2

Here are some more excerpts from a very recent interview Alice did for a doctoral candidate who is preparing her dissertation on American punk shit!
9) What drew you to the music? Politics? Energy? Lyrics? The fact that friends were into it?

A: I was drawn to punk music because it was original, creative, exciting. It made me believe that I could tear down all kinds of barriers. It (punk) also seemed very egalitarian to me, it seemed that anyone who wanted to could go out and form a band. I never felt inferior for being a woman, or for being Mexican American. In 1977 nobody seemed to care about that, except maybe Farrah Fawcett Minor, the subject of X's Los Angeles. The only ones who suffered from this egalitarian attitude were the bands that were too slick, because they were not considered punk. It used to piss off some of these seasoned musicians to see punk musicians, many who were playing instruments for the first time, play to packed houses.

23) Please talk about the role of women (as fans and/or musicians) in the LA punk scene.

A: There were more women involved in the LA punk scene than most people can imagine. The scene could not have existed and blossomed like it did without the women who were involved from the very beginning. There were women guitarists, drummers, bassists, singers, artists, journalists, photographers, managers, roadies: everything that had been done almost exclusively by men in the past was being done by women in the LA punk scene.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Vegas Roadtrip with Castration Squad

We made a blitzkrieg trip to Las Vegas this weekend to see Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers play. A friend lent me a CD by a band called the Dresden Dolls and we listened to it all the way to Vegas. It just got better and better with each listen. It's hard to describe what they do and I don't want to label them. It's easy to see they have given quite a bit of thought to the theatrics of performance, which is refreshing since I think that visual presentation is often overlooked by new bands. I, for one, am tired of bands that get on stage in t-shirts and jeans and then stand in one place during the whole set. Check out the Dresden Dolls' video for their song "Girl Anachronism". It's good to know that there's still exciting new music being created and yet to be created, despite what's passed off as rock music these days.

Dinah and the Grave Robbers had a ton of PUNK ROCK energy and Dinah rocked harder than I've ever seen her rock. She was amazing and has such presence. A young girl with blue hair was right in front, dancing and singing along with Dinah to every 45 Grave song. The cigarette smoke in the club just about sent me to the grave, though. My lungs can't take that kind of abuse (never could) and I've really gotten used to smoke free nightclubs, courtesy of living in California. Needless to say, we didn't win a damn thing in the casinos, but Castration Squad (Dinah, Tracy, Tiffany and me) was all-too briefly reunited, if only for a walking tour of the Hard Rock casino, as we tried in vain to find the Sid Vicious slot machine. We stared in disbelief at the Sex Pistols exit from the casino which read "The only notes that matter are the ones that come in wads" in big, ransom-note style letters. Surrounded by the glitz of the Hard Rock, it was so incongruous and cynical that I felt like a piece of me died.

Speaking of a "Piece of Me," that happens to be the title of a very cool song Tracy Marshak has just written for the new and improved Castration Squad! We've been working on new songs and contemplating reconstructive surgery on the old ones. Look for the Squad to rise from the grave around Halloween. Booking agents, send us your best offers!


Friday, August 06, 2004

She's Still My Favorite Ghoul

A group of us are very excited about going to see Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers play in Las Vegas at the Double Down Saloon this Saturday. Please come check out the show if you're in L.V., it's free! Here's a link to a very recent article on the lovely-as-ever Miss Cancer.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Interview Questions

I've been procrastinating for the past month on answering some interview questions. I finally got around to answering them today and I thought I'd post a couple with my answers. Feel free to comment!

Q: How did you first learn of punk rock? e.g. from a friend? from the radio? Magazines? Please describe your first encounter with the music. (If you can't remember the very first time, describe one or two of your earliest memories of punk.) How did you feel at that moment? What did you think of the music?

A: When I was in high school I used to read Circus and Creem magazines religiously. I saw an advertisement in one of those magazines for a new magazine called Punk, and I immediately subscribed.

My first taste of Punk Rock came from New York, from bands like Patti Smith and The Ramones. I remember seeing Patti Smith for the first time at The Roxy, in 1976. She looked so skinny and scrawny when she stepped on the stage. No make-up, no glamorous outfits, but then she started singing and she blew me away. She had this incredible sex appeal that came from strength rather than looks. She was doing something that I had never seen a woman do, she was rocking like a dude, and by that I don't mean that she was acting like a guy, I mean that she had the kind of power that up until then had been the exclusive property of male rock stars.

Q: What was your first punk show? Describe your reaction emotionally and intellectually.

A: In April of 1977 the Orpheum Theater had a show which featured The Germs, The Zeros, and The Weirdos. I was going out with Nicky Beat at the time, so he invited me to go hear him play drums with The Weirdos. I remember walking up to the venue and seeing The Germs outside warming up for their set by smearing food substances (whipped cream and peanut butter?) all over themselves. I went up and talked to them. They were very friendly and giddy.

The Germs opened the show. They played horribly, but were funny and very interesting to watch. The Zeros played a rocking set, but it was The Weirdos who brought down the house. When they were done playing, people were screaming for more. Some of the people started holding up three fingers to make a "W" and the audience chanted "Weirdos, Weirdos..." holding our W's up high.

The Weirdos looked and sounded like nothing I'd ever seen before. That's why it pisses me off when people claim that the LA punk scene was derivative of the English scene. New York punk came first and it was those bands that influenced the early LA punks. The Germs may have shown an Iggy Pop influence, and the Zeros may have been influenced by The Ramones, but the Weirdos were surely influenced by their own twisted lunacy and their art school backgrounds. The Weirdos were the most original band I'd ever seen, and they remain my favorite rock band.

Monday, August 02, 2004

New Old Stuff

Alice and Darby being nice to each other in SF, 1978.

We just found some more old photos and reviews which we've posted to the archives section of the website. Most of the stories that have been published about me and Darby Crash involve us getting into fights over torn bags or the merits of Nietzsche, but we weren't always scrapping. Most of the time we got along just swell.