Growing up in Los Angeles the punk music scene in 1997 was thwarted by the wall of the L.A. River. Chicano Punk bands weren’t able to get gigs in venues like the Whisky, The Troubadour, The Starwood or even the hard core club The Masque. Even Ester Wong who’s club Madame Wong’s had trepidation to book the Chicano element . It was the geography of Los Angeles and the promoters not willing to bring Chicano Punk into Hollywood.
I’m going to start at point zero for Chicano Punk and that was ? and the Mysterians .They had a tremendous national hit with “96 Tears” in 1966. Ironically the band wasn’t from Los Angeles at all, rather, they were from Bay City Michigan. 96 Tears was a major hit record and sold over a million copies. Peaked at #1 in Billboard’s top 100 and received over 3 millings spins at radio. The track even got covered by Brit Punk band The Stranglers who had a great time with this “chop-stix” melody.
Chicano Punk Bands could never cross the “bridge” to get gigs where white punk band shows were bountiful in the late 70’s and early 80’s
Los Illegals, icon Chicano punk band, spokesman, Willie Herron describes the racial prejudice that caused the line of demarcation. Unlike Hollywood, this scene wore Chicano identity on their hearts, incorporating Spanish lyrics, Mexican imagery and street politics into the music. Los Illegals refused to display hackneyed Mexican imagery like velvet Elvis paintings, preferring instead a more authentic, street-level public persona as punk rock “Pacheco’s”.
Finally, L.A. celebrated band X invited these artists to support their show and the “wall” was finally broken down.
Tito was an extremely handsome young lad and he had the artistic nuances that allowed him to venture into other mediums. His “Ricky Ricardo” good looks allowed him to associate with movie directors Robert Rodriquez and David Byrne. The Plugz even toured as Bob Dylan’s backup band where Dylan sincerely tried to assimilate into the Chicano culture.
The Plugz had recorded a track for the 1977 cult film, “Repo Man”, which was produced by former Monkee Michael Nesmith, with an amazing instrumental that was a cross from surf music reverberation meets a Spaghetti Western, titled “Reel Ten”; somewhat similar to Ennio Morricone’s, “The Good The Bad and The Ugly.”
The Chicano punk scene continued on, however. The Plugz eventually morphed into the Cruzados, and released two records on Arista Records which yielded a top 10 record on the rock charts.
Larriva went a step further musically and abandoned The Cruzados and formed Tito and Tarantula.
I promoted this song and though its airplay was limited it seemed to receive heavy rotation at many topless bars across America. The track was sultry, sexy and downright nasty. It was a masterpiece!
Tarantula moved to Austin,TX. yet found their notoriety would grow while touring in Europe.
Watch Steve Hufsteter just jams on this song!
A music genre that had an amazing run during the 70’s was progressive rock music. Bands like Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Supertramp and The Moody Blues were blotching radio airwaves with music that had the sophistication of classical music but had little social importance. These bands wrote songs that were at least relevant within the listener’s inner psyche but for the most part lacked engaging melodies and lyrics.
Progressive music in general didn’t have the traction or excitement of glam music that was starting to emerge in England and America at the same time.
The band was the brain child of Bill Nelson who was also a guitarist extraordinaire. Nelson brought together progressive and glam to form a sound that created a strong bond amongst fans. It had strong elements of glam lyrics while delivering compelling rock music.
With the momentum created from Sunburst Finish, Be Bop released the same year “Modern Music”
Things had changed for Be Bop Deluxe by the time of the group’s fourth album. The band that turned up in glam rock regalia on its 1974 debut, Axe Victim, was in suit and tie on the cover of Modern Music in 1976. Inside, the band’s transformation into a sophisticated pop group seemed complete. Arrangements were still ornate, but the songs were dominated by their highly imagistic lyrics, and as often as not, Nelson was borrowing ideas from the Beatles. The album charted high in England but barely cracked the Top 100 in the U.S.. What was supposed to be their breakthrough album turned out to be their peak. The album contained one track that was Nelson’s journey into intergalactic romance and that was the title track, “Modern Music”.
Nelson formed Be Bop Deluxe in 1972 in West Yorkshire; they never played “Be Bop” music, but instead came out of the blues-based British Rock. At first they were compared to the more successful David Bowie, but Nelson never tried to copy Bowie, and appears to have disliked comparisons or being pigeon-holed. The momentum of Nelson’s band really started to wane and they soon broke up after the release of “Drastic Plastic” in 1978. Nelson admitted that during his tenure of recording for EMI Records he had never received a royalty check until 2011 when they label re-released the catalogue in a remastered format.
The Peach Kings are a sensational L.A. Rock Band! Journalist will write how close they are to sounding like The White Stripes but this is a case of a lack of focus and unoriginality. The Peach Kings based in Los Angeles sing with such romantic sultry vigor that their songs reflect the ones that loving couples create as “their song”. Yet with closer listens their music is festooned with uncertainly and diabolical irony which is attributed to vocalist, Paige McClain Wood. Her words will turn on you like an intrepid python snake with a venomous bite!
I listen closely to The Peach Kings guitarist, Steven Trezevant Dies who plays with a sort of “twang”, reminiscence of the late Mickey Baker who wrote the song, “Love is Strange” ,and was assisted vocally by Sylvia Robinson.
The Peach Kings
Their video for their song, “Thieves of Kings”, Texas born, Paige McClain Wood, portrays the character, “The Queen of Darkness” and Mr. Dies plays the role of “King of Fools” which offers the emotion of clear deceit between the couple that goes awry at the end with Ms. Wood’s hauntingly sensual vocals plays with her physical deception. Yet Dies, “The Fool”, while drinking from a flask of alcohol, returns her deceit in a different way; by playing hypodermic tones on his guitar which creates an interesting irony to the song’s getaway story line. As special as the song is, the video with its “Reservoir Dogs’ meets “Blue Velvet” like cinematography, takes the viewer to a mindset where the band wants to go. Sometimes your getaway needs a getaway!
Paul Trillo did the direction and I know he will be getting lots of work, its absolute genius plus he left an open ending for a possible sequel.
McClain Wood and immediate “simpatico” was established.
Both Ms. Paige Wood and Steven Dies knew that San Francisco was not going to fulfill their career goals so decided to move to the art oriented area of Silver Lake.
Silver Lake is nestled in the shadows of Dodger Stadium but maintains a community made of bohemian artists. It’s almost like a city within a city! I highly suggest that anyone who visits L.A. take a stroll down Sunset Blvd. and feel the positive energy of the artistic vibe. Plus notice how many films of yesteryear were filmed there, including the picture, “Chinatown”.
Living here is where the Peach Kings seemed to get their career on track and they were meeting other musicians, found a very competent manager and clubs to display their unique music. Steven’s guitar influences range from Hendrix, Tom Morello,The Cramps and Devo.
However, I hear a person that has been personally taken by Mississippi blues and has been affected by the late Robert Johnson;.
The Peach Kings recorded a song that astonished me because I’ve remembered it utilized by Pink Floyd’s track, “Wish You Were Here”…. make it as if your listening to the song on vinyl or you were pouring milk on your Rice Krispy’s and you hear the sounds of “snap, crackle and pop”….director Paul Trillo creates a haunting video that show Ms. Paige’s love rope bound by her imagination yet Steven’s role is invisible and somewhat elusive, but is substituted by his signature rolling guitar playing. It’s almost a “hide and go seek” for Paige to connect with Steven. I am inspired that love can seem real, but often times is evasive. This band is deep in its lyrical juxtaposition, like that of a standard torch song, and yet uses a creative metaphor that keeps the song romantically possible for both lovers.
Once again the genius of the video director depicts the push and pull of real love atop an office roof with the New York skyline in the background. It’s a cinematically enthralling to watch how the song “Lonely” plays out. Not only is Paige an amazing singer but she is uniquely beautiful in her own right.
When you listen to an EP from a band and it’s tough to find your favorite song because everyone is amazing I have to say that The Peach Kings song “The Fisherman” wins my vote. Yes, it doesn’t show any sexual tension, rather it mocks the entire “art monster” scene here in Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, the song is probably their most commercial track from the E.P., but when a band is this good “commercial” isn’t an operative word.. you use words like iconic, ground breaking and original. If I recall they used those same words to describe the first Doors, Love and Gun’Roses albums.
I started thinking while reviewing this article that I was finished and I accepted the fact that greatness is never finished, it’s just continued.
I have to commend the impressionistic style of the E.P. cover of “Handsome Moves” drawn by S.A. Richard who limited his palate to only 15 colors.
Steven Trezevant Dies tells it all by his incredible guitar playing and Ms. Paige have created one of the most compelling duet ballads you’ve ever heard. This song moved me so much I wished my girlfriend was with me so that I could have given her a loving hug.
There’s a Canadian hockey team called “The Peach Kings”… I wonder if that’s where they got their name?
If you want to write to The Peach Kings go to Facebook and they are very good about writing back.
I wanted to thank the following people…
Ms. Dawn Moonan, Paul Stewart, PaigeMcClain Wood and Steve Trezevant Dies…
The North London band Some Velvet Morning (SVM) has assembled a financial model for bands of the future. Aside from their message, history and what they sound like their story is quite interesting.
They utilized an alternative method to get their music across and launch their career. They went to a “crowd funding” system that had been tested in France, “MyMajorCompany (MMC)”, where fans are encouraged to invest in new artists and if they accrue a certain amount MMC becomes a stand-alone record company. In the case of Some Velvet Morning they garnered a surprising amount of 100,000 pounds! Instead of just sending the band to “dole” around the label takes over!
It’s a cross between a record company and a social networking site. Investors are then allowed to participate in the marketing and promotion in order to hopefully achieve viral results. Patrons actually have a stake in the band’s future direction and create an equal partnership between fans, label and the band. MMC allows patrons to monitor how much money has been invested in each band as soon as it comes in. This is a far cry from the model that record companies have been using for decades to basically screw over the artists. The difference here is that there is complete disclosure of money and accountability of promotion efforts
The revenues generated by the band are then split with 20% going to the artist, 40% to MMC and finally 40% going back to the original investors. MMC head, Paul-Ren’e Albertini said, “Because of the web you have daily relationships between the artists and their fans. They can interact and transfer suggestions and there is no cost. This system is not going to go away; in fact it will become the standard model for bands to get their funding’s.” Trust me, after 27 years of record company experience, this model will soon become the norm. Artist will now get what they’ve always asked for and that is accountability.
S.V.M’s drummer, Rob Flanagan, in our interview with Rock Bands of L.A.. com told us that Ms. Sinatra was so flattered by their request she cleared the use of the song’s title for the band’s name.
evidently it turned out to work and get them a record deal.
In 2007 SVM recorded their first album, “Silence Will Kill You” which received meager attention but I attribute this lack of success because the band hadn’t found themselves or gel. Flanagan said they listened to the album “Imagine” from John Lennon and it put them into the right mental nirvana state to record the album.
The track that caught our attention from their first album “ Silence Will Kill You” was “Losing my Mind” because of two reasons. One, It doesn’t sound like the “American Sound” of the White Stripes and the Black Keys which I refer to as a “follow the leader” in musical styles. Second, SVM’s song structure is far more complex and thought out. Guitarist, Demond Lambert’s anathematic rock and vocals are enough to win over many fans. Many comparisons of SVM have been to bands like the Editors and White Lies with a dash of U2.
Their second album, titled “Allies” had the goods. It was this project that won the hearts and minds of investors from MMC. Guitarist, Des actually did a superb job of producing their second record and it gave a “home cooked feel”, rather than hire an outsider who wouldn’t be plugged into what the band was striving for.
The first track from “Allies” is “How to Start a Revolution” and it’s political theme lives up to its name. It’s raucous and is “stadium rock” ready. It has the tonal resemblance of many of the songs from Muse and U2. The track was used in the film “Kick-Ass”, and to my surprise after viewing the movie it did in fact kick-ass! Here’s the complete video of “How to Start a Revolution.
In our interview with drummer Rob Flanagan, Rock Bands of L.A. com, commented on his relentless ability to fine play his instrument. At times he sounds like a cross between Ringo Starr and Mick Fleetwood but he inherently grasps where the rhythm should go. Through every track he successfully creates driving beats that are original in performance yet captures different drumming influences.
My favorite track from their album is “Beautiful Dress” and once again the melody along with the beat is nothing less than amazing. Rob Flanagan’s pounding drums carry this song through a romantic metaphor.
A track from “Allies” that is just phenomenal and I’m going to let the band themselves describe the story.
You can contact SVM at their official website:
www.somevelvet morning .co.uk
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