Singer of Human Garbage and World's Biggest In-N-Out Fan.
How did you find punk music and what made it stick as something important in your life?
Punk was essentially introduced to me at an early age considering all the bands I grew up listening were heavily influenced by punk if they weren't punk. My old brother who's five years older than me introduced me to bands like Nirvana, No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, MXPX, NOFX, Rancid, ETC around the age of 7 or 8. A couple of years later I started skateboarding and because of those videos I started listening to bands like Black Flag, Slayer, Dinosaur JR, & Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies and from there I just branched off.
Punk stuck because there was nothing else I could relate to more as I was growing up. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley and being a first-generation Mexican American you're often discouraged if not condemned to show any type of emotion, unless of course it's anger. The term "machismo" is often used and the idea of it is such an essential aspect of growing up Mexican that culturally there's no way to avoid it, so when I found punk I found a way to express myself that didn't seem too vulnerable in which the aggression, violence, and anger gave me an honest outlet where I could express emotion.
How has hardcore influenced your take on and approach to "normal" every day life?
Honestly, the DIY aspect of hardcore is so important. I think it forces people to not follow every rule or guideline given to them, and I truly believe that most people who have a good DIY ethic are more likely to succeed in whatever ventures they're trying to.
What got you into hardcore and what has kept you in it?
I started off with 80's hardcore punk like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, you know all the staples of that era. In high school a bunch of the kids I met through skateboarding introduced me to bands like Hatebreed, Terror, Bane, and although at the time I thought they were just metal bands, they ended up growing on me I just couldn't get enough of it. I honestly feel that hardcore is better now (music wise) than it's ever been since I've been attending shows in 2005. I think the fact that I still get the same nervous gut feeling I did 12 years ago when approaching a show reminds me that I still love and enjoy hardcore. The day that feeling goes away is probably the day I'll stop attending shows, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
Human Garbage is essentially infamous for the controversy created from the overall abrasiveness of the content of your songs, how do you feel about the way people react to your music?
I think people react the way I wanted them to react. It has proven my point that people will examine and discuss what they think your lyrics mean and condemn you for it before even approaching you and asking you about them. I understand the idea of calling people out, I understand being held accountable for doing fucked up shit, but only twice in the two years that Human Garbage has been a band has anyone approached me to discuss the context of these songs and my lyrics. It's usually only White people who are offended, it's usually dorks who consider themselves intersectional feminists, but nowhere in their opinion of this band would they try to put themselves in a situation to try empathize with my reality. They never think about actually holding a discussion with me, or maybe trying to understand what my reality is like compared to theirs.
It's so ironic that they'll try to make someone else feel marginalized because that person might have different views or a different cultural upbringing which wouldn't align with what they consider socially acceptable. "Guilty of Being a Man" is about a specific set of people who felt the need to criticize what my masculinity means to me without taking into account my cultural upbringing and essentially the working class neighborhood I lived in. The majority of these people who felt the need judge me were usually people who grew up with better financial circumstances and better access to education. I don't think a lot of these people want to know my struggle or the struggle of the community around me, although they'll claim to care, they'll never get it. From what I've experienced these types of people are only welcoming or tolerant of you if you exclusively fit the narrative of their world views.
What effect, if any, do you want Human Garbage to have on its listeners/the scene in general?
I started Human Garbage for myself. I started it when people were speaking lies of me, so instead of trying to prove I wasn't what everyone was saying, I gave them a reason to actually believe rumors. Although it was never meant to be a serious band, I've gotten a lot of recent positive feedback from people who come out of similar circumstances as me. It's good to know that there's people out there that can relate. I like the idea that as a band we are not only representing ourselves, but others whether you consider yourself Mexican-American, Chicano, or even part of the working class that doesn't have the financial comfort that a lot of other people have.
Tell me about Criminalized Records, what are your goals for the label this year?
I just want to put out bands that I like. Preferably bands from the San Fernando Valley or southern California, but I'm honestly willing to put out anything that I think is good. I also want to put out other things than just bands. I'm working on a few zines with friends that I'll be putting out under the Criminalized label.
Name your biggest non-musical influences.
Name your biggest non-musical influences.
My friends, my mom, my community. It's funny, I look back to when I was growing up and I always felt like I was immensely different from everyone around me considering I got made fun of a lot for skateboarding, for having long hair, for liking punk music, etc. The older I get the more I appreciate everything I went through, everything I had to overcome growing up. As corny and cliche as it sounds, my friends growing up had to be the biggest influences on me. The things we did, the fights we got in, the problems we got ourselves out of, that's really what shaped me as a man. Everything I learned growing up with those bastards is what I use on the daily to make decisions, bad or good. VMH forever.
How do you feel about the internet's effects on the subculture?
There's a lot of advantages to it. It's cool having easy access to music and information to events. With that said I think it gives a lot of people a platform to give their opinion on situations that have nothing to with them. I think people make statements online without thinking of the possible outcome it could have in reality. I think it's made people more brave when it comes to speaking out against things they don't like, but they also can't handle being confronted about it in person.
To quote something Criminal Instinct posted online the other day, "Words carry weight. Don't make yours heavier than you can handle." Hardcore in real life, at an actual show, is the best thing ever. Hardcore kids online that go to shows once every 6 months, but think they have the right to be involved or have an opinion could go fuck themselves. I don't believe you inherit respect, I believe you earn it. I think the internet has made people forget that.
Describe a Human Garbage set in one word.
Who are your favorite bands right now?
I don't know if this means current or just anything in general so I'll touch a bit of everything. Rilo Kiley, Culture Abuse, Plush, Chain Rank, Concealed Blade, Hard Pressed, Sheer, Dead Beat LA, The Midnight Sons, Protester, & Ill Intent.
Any final remarks/a message to the youth?
There's nothing greater than IN-N-OUT!