Underground Punk Beneath the surface of the local music scene, punk still percolates with young audiences.
Thursday, January 22, 1998
Hey punks! Feel like there''s something missing on the local music scene? Feel like you''re being ignored or even banned?
Well, it could be true. Since August last year when Youth Brigade played, the Skate Station in Sand City, a major venue for punk bands in Monterey County has shut down for concerts and it''s future availability is sketchy at best.
But fear not, punk rock is alive and well, even if it''s gone farther underground and only rears it''s ugly head on special occasions.
Normally, you might have to go to Santa Cruz or San Francisco to hear really loud, obnoxious music, but thanks in part to Andy "8 Ball" Christ, all you need to do this weekend is get to Salinas for a "fabulous evening of in-yer-face punk rock that will blow yer balls off."
8 Ball''s band, The JonBenet Stranglehold (which recently won the Worst Band Name award from Mac Macdonald of the Monterey County Herald), the Vigilantes and Psychosomatic will be playing a show at Ground Zero Coffeehouse, 1021 S. Main St., starting at 7pm. Get there early, the place is small.
The JonBenet Stranglehold is fast, loud and relentless. They used to be Tiny and the Mexicans but after the singer left, they wanted a change and "to get people''s attention," according to 8 Ball. "I hope the name is offensive, the whole episode (with JonBenet Ramsey) is offensive to me. There are so many problems in the world and for someone to whine about my band name shows where their priorities lay."
The Vigilantes, a new band from Gonzales, has former members of Tribal Dimension and this will be their first show. 8 Ball describes their music as "straight ahead, 4/4 punk rock. They wear military gear and just fuck everything up."
Psychosomatic hails from Salinas, a thrash/metal band "with an attitude. They''re gearing up for a CD release and ready to expose the masses," says 8 Ball.
While local punk bands still seem to be underground, just the way they like it, punk has had something of a revival lately, with the huge successes of the Bay Area''s Green Day, Long Beach''s Sublime and No Doubt, from LA. But at the local level, the success of the big bands is irrelevant or worse.
"Personally, I don''t consider any of those bands as ''punk rock,''" 8 Ball says. "That''s just media labeling, it''s a bunch of horseshit. I remember when they were nothing.the reason they''re ''successful'' now is they found their niche and stuck to it. We could go into the whole selling-out theory or what punk rock is, but the debate''s old. Just from my experience, punk has to put out their own music. Why would you want to hook up with some corporation who doesn''t give a shit about you or your music?"
In an area that is saturated by jazz, classical and rock music, the growing punk scene represents a need for something different. Much of the audience is young- high school and college kids who can''t get into local clubs even if they want to. A Coast Weekly cover story several months ago found many who criticized the lack of youth activities in Monterey and 8 Ball agrees.
"The area tends to ignore youth," he says. "It''s set in its way and has a fear of the unknown. I want to provide these kids with a different outlet. They end up having to make their own fun... a network of people make these shows happen, whether it''s advertising, security, just getting bands paid, it involves everyone who wants to help...even parents."
When 8 Ball arrived from L.A. one and half years ago, he claims there was pretty much nothing to the local scene. Bands like Lengua, Fury 66, Torment, 4 Hour Frenzy and Stub played occasionally, in an area from Santa Cruz to Salinas to King City.
"Punk bands were having the same problem most bands in the area have," says 8 Ball. "Bad Promotion. What good is a show if nobody hears about it?" Now, according to 8 Ball, through flyers and word of mouth, "we have bands coming from all over, and people coming to see them from up and down the coast.we try to give these touring bands a stop between LA, SF and so on."
Of course, one thing lacking for local bands (of all types of music) is the choice of venues to play. Since the Skate Station closed its doors to punk, due to complaints of "loud noise" by a neighboring business, bands are scraping to find places to play. "The Skate Station was the perfect venue for us, except the sound was somewhat bad, but what''s hypocritical with the situation of it shutting down concerts is they had a rave next door! What bullshit." 8 Ball says three spirits gallery in Sand City "seems to be the main spot now. They''re very supportive of the arts in general.it''s still real tough to find spots." Traditional venues in Monterey are bars, which a punk audience, not to mention members of the bands, likely can''t get into.
As in many cities, the reputation of punk rock seems to precede the bands, and mainstream club owners in Monterey are reluctant to book them.
"There is a stigma of violence and they simply don''t like it, don''t see a need for it or just don''t give a shit," explains 8 Ball. "I understand they want to protect their pocketbooks and their customers but still, lots of adults tend to frown on anything that''s anti-government or things that disturb their current way of life. However, there is still a need for some music that doesn''t put you to sleep."