Trouble at the Church
This is a story about the church. You
see, the church is this old rotten gray building on Pier Ave.
in Hermosa Beach. It used to be a house of God, but now it's
a house of chaos, since the whole So. Bay punk contingent
have moved inside. It's a crowd consisting of Black Flag,
the Last, Red Cross, the Descendants, the Disposals, the Urinals,
and friends, plus various people hanging out at different
times. It's a crazy place to go to, and a good example of
L.A. punk music existing outside of Hollywood & Chinatown.
In the wastelands of So. Bay, being
a punk is much closer to what it was a couple years ago than
it is now. People like Black Flag or Red Cross, with their
pinned-on pictures and scroungy look, often find themselves
living in a part of town that does not prefer their presence.
People at the church get threatened, chased, harassed, and
picked on by both surfers and policemen. One night when I
left the church to go home, I was pulled over by three squad
cars who searched and questioned everything just to give me
a ticket for a broken tail-light. The police often bust into
the church looking for weapons and "punkers."
Anyway, Slash got together a bunch
of them for an interview, including Ron Reyes, the drummer
of Red Cross; Keith, singer in Black Flag; and Joe Nolte,
leader of the Last; as well as Gregg, Jeff and Steve (who's
only 12 years old) of Red Cross. Plus some guy named Scott
who is 17 and ran away from home to live at the church.
Slash: So the police have become very
aware of you lately?
Ron: The cops know we're here, they
don't like us. One night these guys drove by and yelled something,
so one of us threw a bottle. They came back and there was
a fight. When the police finally arrived, they immediately
took up sides and started coming down on us without ever listening
to what we said.
Keith: When we first played down on
the Strand, the cops knew us.
Joe: There was a party after that Polliwog
Park thing and the cops didn't come in, they just stayed outside
and busted people as they left. Now, they come in a lot.
Slash: Is this kind of harassment any
different as in Hollywood? Like at the Masque or something?
Ron: In Hollywood, they don't get harassed
unless there's some kind of legit reason. Like a big crowd
or something. Here, they come around without a reason.
Slash: Personal Harassment...
Joe: Anybody who looks like us...
Slash: So why don't you just move to
Keith: 'Cause we hate Hollywood! That's
the big scene out there. Fuck that scene...
Slash: I heard Black Flag had some
trouble with it. Like getting dropped off good bills and stuff...
Keith: People thing we're real bad
boys or something. Everybody knows we're really just nice
guys... (laughter in the room) We all work jobs, so we like
to just get wild on weekends. Crazy every chance we get. We
were dropped off maybe three of four bills. One with X. One
with the Alleycats.
Slash: I heard you were recording now...
Keith: We're getting ready to make
an album, we can keep it together. We're getting all this
free time in the studio at like, one or two in the morning.
This guy wants to give us free time, so he can establish himself
as a punk-new wave producer. He wants to get Robo to use different
drum sounds. Lots of guitar overdubs. We're a "live"
band, we don't need that crap...
Slash: You don't care then?
Keith: Yeah, we do. But we're gonna
do it our way!
Slash: Who's it with?
Keith: It's gonna be Upsetter, with
Slash: Did you like San Francisco?
Joe: You walk into Mabuhay and get
Ron: It reeks... it reeks.
Keith: We'd go over real well at the
deaf club, 'cause we use lots of sign language. (he flips
Slash: But you did well?
Keith: The reception was great. We're
playing and people are going "commit suicide!" I
said, "Go kill yourselves, you fucking homo-pot-smoking
Ron: They're all dancing and at the
same time yelling "L.A. sucks!"
Slash: Joe, I heard you had a bone
to pick with Slash?
Joe: Yeah, I do. Slash editorial policy
has been to ignore the Last, because we're on Bomp or something.
For some reason, Slash categorizes us among the likes of 20/20,
the Pop, and Motels, and we don't belong in that category,
because the roots of the Last are basically hardcore. We've
been involved in the scene. We debuted at the Masque when
it was essentially a showcase for the Skulls... (at this point
everybody in the room screams "hooray for the Skulls!")
And our music is pop-influenced, but not any more than the
Buzzcocks, or the fucking Clash! Anybody who's seen us, know
we're not some fucking power-pop Knack clone. The Buzzcocks
are more wimp-rock than us.
Keith: Maybe we should throw a benefit
Slash: Why do you think the Buzzcocks
can get away with it?
Joe: Because they're from fucking England,
man! And it's hip to be from England! The only guy who mentions
us is Bo Clifford, who's on Bomp...
Slash: So you wanna be in Slash, huh?
Joe: It's a great magazine! I read
it religiously. I wish we could see our names in there. We
wanna be written about by the great writers like Kickboy!
Slash: Well, you're in the rag now...
Ron: The Go-Go's do basically the same
thing as the Last, and they get accepted...
Right around this time, we decided
to go up to get some pictures before the sun went down. While
we shot photos on the sidewalk, at least two motorcycle cops
cruised by and told us to get out of the street. Keith and
Joe went to the liquor store and came back with not 2 or 3,
but four six-packs of beer. They took some pictures around
the area, then Keith had to leave to go to work. So we went
back and finished the interview, while the rest of Red Cross
and a bunch of friends showed up. At this point, Slash began
to get the real dirt.
Slash: Let's get some dirt now. Who
wants to be rich?
Jeff: Joe does!!!
Scott: Me too!!!
Joe: Of course I do! There's no shower
in the church! There's no stove in the church! There's no
refrigerator! None of us have a car! We're all fucked! We're
stuck here in So. Bay and we're piss-poor!
Ron: I just want tall girls! Negro
Joe: Anybody who says they don't wanna
be rich is a liar!
Slash: So this isn't aesthetics or
anything, you're only after money?
Ron: I think everybody knows there's
no money in this...
Joe: It would be stupid to play music
to make money! It would be so much easier to go to law school!
Everybody down here is playing exactly what they want to play.
Ron: We played a full house with the
Germs and didn't make anything for it!
Jeff: You made that agreement...
Ron: Yeah, fine, but...
Joe: You made the agreement, you didn't
talk to anyone else in the band...
Jeff: Ron set up that fucking gig!
So fuck you all!
Ron: Now wait a minute!!!
Slash: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! How
do you fuckers ever live together?
Steve: You got showers at the beach!
Why don't you use them?!
Joe: I haven't had a shower in weeks...
Scott: You! Me!
Slash: Shut up! Shut up! Now listen!
Next question, who here is directly influenced by David Bowie?
Joe: 90% of punk-rockers in L.A. are
just old Bowie freaks...
Scott: No! Not me!
Jeff: Not me!
Joe: First time I saws Mary Rat, she
was all glittered out at a Bowie concert!
Slash: Yeah! More dirt!
Joe: Hung out with my brother Michael
back in 1976...
Slash: What's your collective influences?
Gregg: The Avengers!
A Girl: David Bowie!
Scott: Church music!
Ron: No, I don't like rockabilly too
much. It's a good joke...
Slash: Marvin Rainwater is god!
Gregg: Penelope Houston is god!!!
Jeff: Penelope Houston is god!!!
Steve: If you changed the bas lines
in rockabilly, it might be okay. Some bass every song...
Joe: You can also say that about rock
Slash: What's the general opinion here
of Penelope Houston?
Slash: How did you like the Clash doing
Be-Bop A Lula?
Scott: They're assholes!
Prescilla: They sounded just like a
normal rock and roll band...
Scott: It was cosmic...
Slash: How do you like San Francisco
Joe: There's more fags in Frisco than
Slash: What are some other bands around
Joe: The Urinals, the Descendants.
The Urinals are great. The most minimal band ever. The Descendants
have a lot of real good songs...
Scott: The Disposals!
Joe: The Disposals are an all girl
group. Their drummer is this 31-year old housewife...
Jeff: She's an alcoholic!
Scott: Fuck the Descendants!
Slash: Who's paying for the Red Cross
Steve: I paid for it with my paper
Slash: Have you played around town?
Jeff: We played at the Soul Palace
Steve: I don't think it's fun being
kicked offstage right when we went on...
Slash: At King's Palace? Why?
Slash: What do you think of pornography?
Steve: I only like kiddie pornography...
Ron: Yeah, like see Jane take off her
clothes. Look at Jane.
Steve: They asked me if I...
Jeff: His teacher is into punk rock
Steve: He looked at my notebook and
got all excited.
Slash: What do you really hate?
Steve: I only hate school.
Ron: I hate ugly girls!
Jeff: I hate the Buzzcocks!
After that, people started toying around
with the instruments, it all turned into a wild psychedelic
jam. Next thing I knew, Red Cross was playing their whole
set right there in the room. We left the place, which was
littered with beer cans and garbage, to go see X. This gang
of people pretty much have their days numbered at the church.
They all know that pretty soon somebody's gonna put them out
of a home. Then, there'll be nowhere to go. So, as Jim Morrison
said, "get your kicks before the whole shithouse goes
up in flames." They certainly will down here...