Summers in Los Angeles are custom built for simple, laid-back punk rock fun. It’s too hot for black leather jackets. Bullet belts rust from sweat. Pants don’t help. Benny The Jet Rodriquez reminds me of the ninety-nine percent of L.A. that never gets on TV. They sound like morning haze burning off and giving way to 326 days of sunshine, cracks in the sidewalks from the roots of trees, 1960s AM radio, and Mexican food in strip malls. Simple pleasures.
The close friendship between Lauren and Joey is at the heart of BTJR. They play buzzy-melody, catchy punk that’s in line with Thee Makeout Party and Underground Railroad To Candyland. This isn’t stabbing music or kill dad music or hurt animals with firecrackers music. But it’s still undeniably modern, DIY punk in both sound and action. Think: cut-off shorts. Sleeve-optional shirts. Backyard grilling. Avocados in multiple forms. A San Pedro that celebrates Mike Watt. Strong female lead. Nationwide drives in vans with episodes of California-suspicious law enforcement.
Don’t you worry; Benny The Jet Rodriguez leaves their unique fingerprints. There’s no denying Lauren’s voice and lyrics. She exudes a perennial, rosy-eyed confidence when they play, conveying it with a clear, understated strength. Joey’s the anchor, the corn dog on a stick… on a stick (read to the end of the interview), the one who’s willing to take the fall. They work as a team. I want to say it’s sort of like Cagney and Lacey—if Cagney and Lacey smoked a ton of weed in their parents’ garage, weren’t cops, and one of them was a dude—but BTJR is nothing like that. They’re L.A., year-round summertime punk.
Lauren Freeman—guitar, vocals
Joey Centofanti—drums, guitar
Interview by Todd Taylor and Marty Ploy
Photo by Gabie Gonzalez
Songs: “In Love” and “Wish You Were Beer,” off of the Benny The Jet / Martha split 7” (Drunken Sailor)
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