Another completely different interview with Generacion Suicida ran in Razorcake #77. It’s available here, in all its printed glory. If you enjoy high quality, full-length interviews with DIY punk rockers and would like to support Razorcake, please consider a subscription to our bi-monthly fanzine.
All photographs courtesy of the band.
Generacion Suicida is a band I recently discovered. I’ve never seen them live, despite residing in the same city—Los Angeles—as its members. In fact, before a friend recommended this band to me, I had never heard of them. Yet, like a newly discovered star, they existed prior to my discovery. They have full histories—steeped with personal stories, those of their scene, and their own band.
Despite the world being so seemingly connected today, scenes—like the continents of old—somehow manage to often stay separated, insular, and self-contained. Sometimes, a few dozen miles in each direction filled with class, capitalism, and a maddening social structure can be just as divisive as a body of water. Sometimes, those divisions are put there on purpose.
It’s through touring, recording, and independent media that a stifled voice can make itself heard. Once that voice does crash through those visible and invisible walls and makes its way onto a slab of vinyl, what comes across is sharp, harsh, and full of emotion.
With their first full length release, Con La Muerte a Tu Lado, we get a really enjoyable record, sonically full of influences by The Vicious and Masshysteri. Lyrically, it’s a language all its own. It’s more Spanglish than Spanish, but still a foreign language to most English speakers. The message, whichever language you speak, remains the same: this place is fucked.
Interview by Todd Taylor and Rene Navarro
Interview assistance by Richard Davila and Jimmy Alvarado
Tony: Guitar, sing
Kiwi: Drums, vocals
Todd: Name an album in your collection that you’re embarrassed to admit that you like. For instance, because of my Dad, I know pretty much every Kingston Trio song ever recorded.
Juan: I like CCR. (Credence Clearwater Revival)
Todd: Nothing wrong with that.
Juan: Has absolutely nothing to do with punk.
Mario: My dad on my eighteenth birthday, he gave me Elton John vinyl. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, I think. [laughter] I like it, though. It’s a good double LP.
Todd: It’s a commitment. That’s awesome.
Juan: He likes the Beatles.
Tony: Who? Me?
Kiwi: I like the Beatles.
Rene: I love the Beatles.
Kiwi: I really, really love the Grease soundtrack. [loud laughter]
Rene: I’ve got a better one. I was in Grease in high school. Backup dancer number seven, or some shit. All the punk kids were in drama. All five of ‘em.
Tony: I listen to everything. There’s a lot of pop bands—punk is just more aggressive pop. That’s what I think.
Tony: Actually, most times, even if it’s the really hardcore stuff. The good hardcore bands have a pop side, then a hard side. Hooks.
Todd: Otherwise, it’s just….
Todd: Noise or a blur.
Tony: All the bands—that’s the chemistry for all the good songs. I have several Beatles records. Several Beach Boys. CCR. I have a lot of that stuff. Oh, I know which one. I have Judas Priest’s Rocka Rolla. That’s good.
Juan: Nah. That’s pretty embarrassing. [laughter]
Tony: You know why I have it? Because I found it in the garage.
Todd: What makes your neighborhood unique to you? What’s an image—or a unique person—who helps define your neighborhood?
Tony: Clarence is kind of like the neighborhood bum. He’s been there forever and he always comes up to your door. He’ll knock and be like, “Ehh, can I borrow five dollars?” And you give him five dollars and then he’ll come back at night. He’ll give you your five bucks back and then a few days later, he’ll come back and he’ll borrow it again. He borrows from all the neighbors, back and forth, five bucks. But he’s really nice. He’s really cool. We’ve known him forever. Nobody’s scared. My Dad used to always tell him, “Don’t come at night,” ’cause he scared my Mom.
Kiwi: We had The Happy Guy. He would always sweep the sidewalk, dancing. He’d be in the middle of the street and just sweep through the streets. Just The Happy Guy.
Tony: What I would say would define our block, is there’s a corner store. It used to be a liquor store but now it’s all sealed up. A small group of people, mostly older Black people in their thirties, forties, they’re always kicking it there, always drinking their 40s, always barbequing. They’ll bring out their couches. They took over the whole parking lot. The cops come by once in a while and just throw away their 40s. Then they come back. They live next door. Probably just people who live in the apartment who don’t have a backyard.
Todd: It’s nice to be outside.
Tony: It’s pretty cool. They’re partying.
Todd: Sometimes I’m really jealous of that—days where I’m like, “I don’t want to do anything today. I just want to go to the park and drink with you guys.”
Tony: We don’t have a park anymore. Now it’s a high school. It sucks.
Todd: Learning. [laughter]
Rene: Lyrically, as I was going through all of your songs, I found one song that was interesting. “Y te llaman la mil amores maldita zorra”… I hear groans. I read it. There’s no way… I had to upgrade my Google, too. “I can’t find the lyrics, Todd.” He’s like, “Yeah, they’re there.” I called my IT guy at work. “Listen, man, I have some serious documents I need to get out of my computer…” So, my question is directly to the female member of the group, Kiwi. Does it make it at all uncomfortable to sing along to lyrics to “Mil Amores,” which you basically call someone out.
Todd: Rene, translate that into English.
Rene: I lived in Mexico for thirteen years, but I better Google it anyway. Everyone knows who Zorro is. Zorro. You’d assume “zorra” is a female fox, but it takes on a different meaning. Whore. Slut.
Rene: Something like that. Not nice things.
Juan: Something bad that you’ll get slapped for.
Rene: Does that at all make you uncomfortable, that specific song? You’ve mentioned that you guys have had issues with people asking you about that.
Juan: The band from Spain.
Rene: So if you guys already have a staple answer…
Kiwi: Well, for me, personally, it doesn’t offend me at all. When this song was written [to Tony], it was just like expressing yourself and I think a lot of people are afraid to say certain words, but that’s how they really, really feel. Why not just say it instead of sugarcoating your feelings?
Rene: So you didn’t write the song.
Kiwi: I didn’t. [laughs]
Rene: And it doesn’t bother you to sing those words?
Kiwi: No, it doesn’t bother me. I think I respect them because I respect his feelings and his opinion. He has a reason why he wrote them. That’s it.
Tony: I think a lot of punks these days, they try to be really PC, but I think PC punks are just stupid. Really? C’mon. Just because I say this or that, doesn’t really mean anything. People get offended over every little thing these days. Recently, we got asked, “What do I think about the fact that I called a woman a slut” or whatever. In Barcelona, a lot of women may get offended over my terms. But, I’m like, it’s just the way I felt at the time. What’s wrong with the way I want to express myself if I’m mad at a particular person? There’s nothing wrong if you want to be a slut, or if you want to be slutty. If it’s wrong to be called a slut, I don’t really care, you know? I think too many people these days get hung up by certain words or certain terms and, quickly, they’re like, “Fuck these guys because they said ‘bitch.’”
Tony: Or political people. For example, I heard a story recently where a friend of ours was somewhere in the Midwest and he said, “Quit being a little bitch.” In the hood, we talk like that. That’s how we talk. But they were like, “I want these guys out of my house. ‘Bitch’ is a derogatory term for a female.” I’m like, “Really? It really doesn’t mean anything. I don’t think they’re referring to any girl or anything like that.
Rene: But, is this song a specific reference to a female?
Tony: Yeah, because I was going through a breakup.
Todd: There we go. We got to the bottom of that one.
Mario: I think when you’re mad, you just say things, but you don’t mean it.
Kiwi: It’s your feelings. Express what you feel.
Todd: I don’t want to sound too much like a diplomat. I can understand both sides, but it’s also context and the whole feeling of the band is more important to me than taking one thing in isolation. That’s another thing, too. Living in Los Angeles, we’re not living in HypotheticalLand. In some places, they’re really isolated. It’s dominated by a certain culture, whereas, in Los Angeles, a lot of things are churning around all the time. PC stuff. Although, I understand the basis for it—like let’s not be assholes to one another and let’s be respectful of one another. I’m one hundred percent behind that, but when it gets down to the word police, I’m like, “I don’t know what to say anymore. I feel trapped. I’d rather not talk.” And that’s not good.
Tony: And we shouldn’t be like that. Really, you could say whatever you want. I can understand disagreeing with somebody, but you can always respect other people’s views.
Todd: And respect them and have them respect you.
Tony: And just leave it at that.
Todd: Sometimes it’s coded, too. They’re going to pick on something they can pick on.
Tony: And like I said, I’d rather be straight-out than have someone sugarcoat it or talk behind someone’s back. The song “Dices” is about the same thing, pretty much.
Todd: You don’t have to name names. What have you avoided that people you grew up with didn’t? Bad things. I’ll give you a list to show you where my head is on this: unexpected children/pregnancies…
Juan: I’m the only one with a kid…
Todd: …You wanted the kid, I’m assuming.
Todd: …rampant drug abuse, prison, even diabetes. There’s a gamut of things—people I grew up with went all over the spectrum.
Juan: Me, it’s probably gangs. Most of my cousins—girl cousins and guy cousins—are in gangs. I’m like the only guy who stands out from my whole family.
Todd: Do you think that tattooing and punk rock have helped you get out of that?
Juan: Yeah, especially punk. When I was in high school, that’s what pushed me away from all that.
Tony: Same thing with me. I grew up with a bunch of punks, but all those punks are also in a gang. It’s weird. When everyone started getting into that, I was all, “Well, I got into this because I didn’t want to be a gang member.” So, again, I was singled out.
Juan:It’s weird. I’ll go to a family party. Everybody’s super gang banger and here’s me with tight pants and a band shirt. They’re like, “What the fuck? You’re fuckin’ weird.”
Rene: Yeah. I get that. Wait—did you say that there was a punk gang?
Rene: I want to hear about this.
Juan: There’s a lot.
Tony: I actually can’t speak about it or I could get hurt.
Kiwi: It’s like punk crews.
Tony: Punk cliques, punk crews, punk gangs and they’re pretty serious, to be honest.
Juan: They go at it, actually, with gangs, too. Real gangs.
Tony: I actually don’t know how big it is, but it’s been around since I was a kid. It started off when I was fifteen, when we were little. It’s gotten pretty big. They go to shows.
Todd: Numbers-wise, how many people are we talking?
Kiwi: South Central, most of the people we know are in that crew.
Tony: Just from a picture I have in my head, like a real picture that I’m seeing, it’s probably at least forty. Probably a lot more.
Juan: I personally don’t know any punks who are in gangs, but I know real people who are in real gangs.
Todd: It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
Rene: Would you say that it’s almost an extension of what you know growing up around gangs and then getting into punk—that you kind of have to protect yourself from cholos because cholos will mess with you if you’re punk?
Tony: It’s kind of weird and in the hood, growing up, the ones who really messed with us mainly, because of where I’m from, were more like the Black gangsters. But even then—we’d go buy weed at this house, back when we had to buy weed from houses [laughter]. Now, it’s not like that. We’d go over there and I always remember this Black gangster guy. He’s like, “You get into punk?” We’re like, “Yeah.” He’s like, “I’m into Suicidal Tendencies.” “That’s cool, you know.”
Rene: Always Suicidal. The guy—you think he’s about to mug you. “You like Suicidal, dog?” “Yeah.”
Tony: We know some Suicidals, too. There’s always stuff like that. I think that gang (the punk gang) was probably to protect itself from the whole East L.A. thing. There are gangs in East L.A. that are punk. They would go over there and fuck with them. Slowly became one of those things where, “Hey, I’m gonna go to a show in this part of town. Want to come with me?” “Sure, and I’ll have your back in case of anything.” It slowly became a real thing. That’s what I think was what happened, but I’m not really sure, though.
Todd: We’ll put a question mark on it.
Rene: Dot dot dot.
Tony: My Dad, he was born in Mexico, but he came to the U.S.A. when he was eighteen and he acts like an old Chicano guy. People always tell me, “Oh, was your dad a gang banger?”
Todd: “Is he a veterano?”
Tony: He acts like that, still.
Kiwi: He has a lot of stories about it, too, about L.A.
Tony: Yeah, he’ll talk non-stop.
Kiwi: “The milk was twenty-five cents.” I was like, “No way.”
Tony: My Dad is like sixty, so he talks like an old man.
Kiwi: “Disneyland was a dollar something.” I’m like, “No way.” He has the ticket. A dollar and like forty-five cents.
Tony: It’s true.
Juan: Now it’s like a hundred bucks.
Tony: My Dad tells me stories where he’s like, “I worked really hard and sold my car to buy your brother—my oldest brother—he bought him an Atari in 1977 or something like that. And he’s like, “You should have seen the look on all those white people when I walked into Sears. They’re like, ‘What’s this guy doing here?’ You should have seen the look on their face when I bought the Atari for Christmas.”
Click to hear Con La Muerte a Tu Lado