Los Angeles is an unsolved mystery that’s shattered into hundreds of pieces: mirrors, daggers, broken things. In Los Angeles, DIY punk isn’t one thing. It’s not a unified scene, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a wide, fissured spectrum, a spectrum that also gets routinely shattered or too-thinly sliced by subgenre. It’s fractured by the immense geography of Los Angeles itself. People—punks included—become isolated by rivers, freeways, social class, customs, race, transit lines, and invisible lines that separate neighborhoods, sometimes mid-street that you’d never know about until you live there yourself or are shown by someone who does. Further deepen that segregation with generations-old neighborhood pride and prejudice, to friends parting ways over ego, to hubris, and issues of trying to become the police chiefs of their punk scenes. The isolation and separation doesn’t end at doorsteps. It goes deeper, more personal, to the spelling and slanginess of the words, to birthplaces, to skin color, to the darkness or lightness of skin color within a skin color. To blood, family, things you have no control over when you come into this world.
Welcome to Los Angeles.
Generacion Suicida’s a four-piece band. They play icy, angular, catchy punk with oscillating male/female voices creating a serrated edge of paranoia and anxiety. It’s right up my alley. I highly recommend their entire catalog. (Their debut album Con La Muerte a Tu Lado was just released and it’s amazing.) Two of its members are from South Central L.A. One lives in Koreatown, another in Anaheim, OrangeCounty. None are from East L.A. They sing solely in Spanish and remind me of bands from other countries, mainly Umeå, Sweden—in the Ny Våg tradition of the Vicious—and Copenhagen—Gorilla Angreb and No Hope For The Kids—which sort of brings the sound back home to California because those Scandinavian bands borrowed heavily from Los Angeles’s past (late ‘70s Dangerhouse, especially). The irony didn’t escape me. I’m more conversant in the language of songs of many bands that are based 5,317 miles from Razorcake HQ than I am in some of the bands that live less than twenty miles away. It’s not like I’m trying to be willfully ignorant of punk in my hometown. That’s just the nature of the beast here in L.A. One mile past the last bus stop often is the end of the world.
Los Angeles is its own country.
The up side is this: some of the best DIY punk in the world has been and is being made in Los Angeles. We have a rich, diverse heritage. One that’s as great as it is totally fucked and frustrating. But it’s this real fight to be heard—even in your neighborhood—to make meaningful music that gives it such vitality, such uniqueness. What do White Murder, Wreck Of The Zephyr, Thee Undertakers, Toys That Kill, Neighborhood Brats, Rough Kids, Spokenest, and Generacion Suicida have in common besides they’re active punk bands in L.A.? Not much, except they all rule in their own distinctive ways. And that’s what keeps being a punk in L.A. exciting.
Interview by Todd Taylor and Rene Navarro
Interview assistance by Richard Davila and Jimmy Alvarado
Tony: Guitar, sing
Kiwi: Drums, vocals
To read parts of this interview online with some pictures, bang.
To read this interview, zine-style, without and electronic device, that would have been awesome.