8.26.2016

THE HIVE MIND OF HARDCORE

Hive mind: (noun) - a notional entity consisting of a large number of people who share their knowledge or opinions with one another, regarded as producing either uncritical conformity or collective intelligence.

In hardcore's case, it is uncritical conformity that comes from all the talking we do. Growing up, I had several OGs show me the ropes of hardcore but they always encouraged me to think for myself and to question everything because hearsay is nothing to truly internalize.  There has always been and always will be the people who are sheep in the subculture: they do not possess the respect to ask questions without getting shut down for looking like a snitch and being told to mind their own business. This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, yes, they should mind their business and if something is so important to warrant someone making a statement then it'll happen. On the other hand, that destroys the climate of free-thought. It says we should wait for the word from other people instead of going to the source of curiosity and respectfully asking them to placate us with the truth. 

These days, the hive mind is a backfiring gun. Once people give an idea traction, there is no stopping it, even with the truth. People take things out of context and stretch the truth out of ego, all because they want to be the new center of whatever controversy is boiling over that week. The hive mind allows them to prosper because it wipes away the idea that you can ask questions at the source. Rumors circulate like wildfire. Once something is posted on any major social network it's seen as the truth. Apparently I missed the memo that people can't lie on the internet. Twitter punks take stories they eavesdropped on and spread them online, other Twitter punks who have completely lost their ability to think critically simply retweet these things because that's a lot easier than having an inflamed sense of rejection when the people you're making things up about tell you to shut up and mind your business. 

There is nothing wrong with being skeptical and curious of the people who make up your scene. What is wrong is listening to people talk about others and accepting that as fact, doubly so when you've never interacted with that person. You are a punk kid. You're supposed to be so paranoid that you read the label on everything you put in your body but you don't have the sense to ask someone if there's any truth to a rumor you keep hearing? That's laughable. Well, more laughable than the fact that some of you can't seem to accept or get over the idea that the majority of people who make up this scene are sketchy, no good humans. We exist on the fringes of society for a reason. 

Those of you who exist on the fringes of our scene because you are a suburban transplant and a weakling should hold off on being a loud mouth with no original thoughts until you've done a couple years here. You can easily watch and learn more than you ever could by regurgitating what other people tell you is okay to say, think, or feel. At the risk of sounding cliche or trite, letting other people tell you what to do is not punk whatsoever. If you want to be anything, be it "PC" or the biggest asshole walking, be it because you looked into it for yourself and you understand it. Intellectual dishonesty is pathetic and it makes for an awkward situation when you can't explain what you stand for, let alone why you stand for it, without quoting someone else.

8.21.2016

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL TORRES

AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL TORRES

Better known as Mexi Mike, singer of NOMADS.
(Photo by Tyler Bradberry)
How did you find punk music and what made it stick as something important in your life?
Guns N Roses and Metallica is how I found punk. I heard them both in 4th grade. That was my first personal musical choice. First shit I fucked with that my parents didn't play in the car. 
Or that wasn't on the ninja turtles soundtrack. I saw GNR live with Metallica when I was 10 and they covered Misfits and so I tracked down a Misfits tape. Within close proximity at the tape store was Minor Threat. Grabbed that too. I fucked with Nirvana too and they said fuck with black flag. So I did that. Then punk hit the mainstream and stuff like Offspring was on the tv. I seen Dexter Holland wear a Germs shirt in the video so I got a Germs tape. Rancid hit too and that shit really caught my eye because they looked crazy like Exploited but were on TV. I wanted to be like them. Mind you, I was 11-12 at the time. When it was truly solidified was around age 12. That was a big year for me in regards to punk gigs. I saw a lot of shows at a young age. When I was 10 I saw Metallica, guns n roses, body count, public enemy, and throughout middle school I saw stuff like soundgarden, smashing pumpkins, nine inch nails, etc. But at age 12 I saw two shows that were true game changers. I saw Suicidal and the Ramones. And it was all downhill from there. I knew who I was then. Sports didn't matter. School didn't matter. Punk rock was my shit and that was it. 

How has hardcore influenced your approach and take on "normal" every day life?
It's the most diverse subgenre of the underground. It truly opens your mind to the fact that anyone can get along, no matter what our little differences may be. You got patriotic skinheads posted up w/ vegan punk weirdos like me and everybody fucks with each other because at the end of the day, we all got this unspoken bond through music that spoke to us because we didn't fit in with the civilians squares out there. I live a normal life as much as I have to to keep a roof over my head and stay fed. But I know i got something special that others won't never know about and I'm very thankful for that.

Have you always lived in LA? If not, how does it compare to where you grew up?
I've spent significant time in a few different cities. I was born in Kansas City, was raised in north county San Diego, and hopped a greyhound to Seattle right when I turned 17. Spent ten years there before making the move to LA. I been here ever since and I ain't never leaving. This is home. It's a comfortable place. It never slows down so there's never any shortage of stuff to do.  It's rough around the edges but full of good folks and opportunities to do whatever it is you wanna do in life are endless. And the best bands came from or come from here. From The Go Gos to Terror, LA is a true music mecca and that's important to me. And we got the strongest, tightest, and most active hardcore scene on the planet.

I know you're a huge Prince fan, do you have any other major influences in your music taste?
I fuck with all sorts of music. It all depends on mood. I love it all equally. I'll start my day with the Go Gos to wake myself up. Anti cimex, the Stalin, Gauze, Motörhead, GNR, rancid, Vegan Reich, Lemonheads, Goo Goo Dolls, the Plimsouls, Rose Tattoo, Toy Dolls, Bay Area Shit like crimpshrine and blatz, into Nothing and Pity Sex. Then maybe Hatebreed or Biohazard. Or Path Of Resistance. Always Sisters of Mercy at some point in the day. I fuck with John Carpenter movie soundtracks a lot too. Then I'll fall asleep to Billie holiday or Mazzy Star or any number of mellow things. Lately I've been on a Veruca Salt and Elastica kick. I love female fronted 90s Rock shit. Also been heavy into later Ramones shit lately. And that's one days playlist. Music is endless and so much of it is good and influential to me.

NOMADS is a band with political tones and an obviously anti-police sentiment, is this reflected in your stage banter at all?
Nah, I'm not out here trying to change the world with the band playing live. This is for me. It's therapeutic and a means to vent in regards to playing live specifically. Punk music is preaching to the choir bout 90% of the time. I say little to nothing onstage. I don't wanna hear some long drawn out speech unless you're Greg Bennick so I avoid doing it myself. You wanna know my world view? Talk to me after we play. Or read the lyric sheet.

Name your biggest non-musical influences on who you are as a person.
My mama. She always pushed for me to be smart, read a lot, and she still corrects my grammar and spelling because she was a teacher. She always taught me to be open minded and accepting of people. And though sometimes I'm not as accepting as I should be, I do my best. Even if I think the human race is inherently evil. You won't find the good ones if you're a motherfucker to everybody. As for who I am now, having gone out into the world on my own at a young age, the ups and downs of life really influenced me. A chunk of my teen years were spent in hospitals and facilities for troubled kids. Been an on and off very self destructive drug addict and drinker for most my life once I figured out that it was something I liked, even though i knew it hurt me. I'm straight now but the low points of my life have a huge influence on who I am now and are also reflected in the lyrics of some of our songs. Wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for all experiences, be it sad and heartbreaking, upsetting, or beautiful and awesome. So much has happened and so much more will happen and it's all relevant and influential.

How do you feel about the internet's effects on the subculture?
It's a double edged sword. Access to our world is great because a youngster who might've never known this was here can find it now.  And it might save their life. But it opens our world up to phonies and folks with ulterior motives. Leaches and predators. But the community is tight knit and snakes in the grass get found out quick and weeded out even quicker. 
The adventure that used to be the hunt for music no longer exists and for this generation, I truly feel sad that they'll never know what that's like. Scanning the thank you list of your favorite record and tracking down the bands your favorite band is friends with and checking them out. Looking at old flyers and tracking down those bands' records. Or just going to a show and seeing some band for the first time and buying a tape, not hearing that new shit that gets some e-buzz and a cosign from the right nerds online, blowing them up before they even hit the stage. How it is now will always be weird to me.  But I'm 34 and the world keeps moving and I try to look at the bright side of the Internets contribution. Booking a tour sure is easy now. Getting to the shows is fucking easy now. I remember using a Thomas brothers guide to map our way around the country on my first US tour. Now we got Google maps and Waze. 
And now some nobody kid can make a demo that is insane and it will actually be heard. And what they created won't go to waste.

Tell me your craziest Uber story. 
 Honestly, I haven't had anything too crazy happen yet. I picked up a dude the other day and when we drove by my house he pointed out that he used to buy cocaine there and then we had a good laugh when I reminded him he had been buying it from me. I drove two Jamaican ladies around for five hours once. From culver city to the valley to temecula. Not chill. An old Armenian man puked on himself and I had to push him out the whip. Some girl wanted to do coke off my shoulder. Then offered me Adderal. Then wouldn't get outta my car til I did a short interview about my thoughts on the prison system for her blog. Every day is an adventure.

Who are your favorite bands right now?
Favorite current bands. Drab Majesty, Culture Abuse, Nothing, Criminal Instinct, Haarm, Krimewatch, White Lung.... I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton. But I've been jamming those a lot lately.

Describe a NOMADS set in one word.
Quick.

Any final remarks/a message to the youth?
Don't ever talk to the police. They do not have your best interest or safety in mind.
90% of the time, it's your big fucking mouth that gets you hemmed up. Not physical evidence.
So stay quiet and you'll stay free.   

If you're gonna do drugs, enjoy the ride but remember, not everybody is a beast and can hang forever.
You're gambling and you run the risk of not coming out alive. Make sure that's really a risk you wanna take. 

Don't eat animals. That shit is crazy. 

Don't feed into the medias separatist agenda and push for racial tension.
Stop reading your Facebook feed. People are people. Out on the street, it's business as usual. Get off the internet. Go outside.

Bernie Sanders will not save you. Trump will not actually be able to build a wall.
The government has always been evil, and unless you're a millionaire or a large corporation, they've never cared about you. This isn't new. You will survive the reign of any evil leader because unless you were born today, you already have. Chill out and enjoy your life. 
Tell your people you love them. Every day if you can. Treat your people well. Don't be a motherfucker and if you are, apologize. They could be gone in a second. And so could you. 
That should never be how the story ends. 

RIP Timmy Butcher. RIP Sammy Winston.

You can listen to NOMADS on Bandcamp and follow them on Twitter.