The year 1978 was an awfully weird time to be young in Southern California. Perhaps nowhere else at that time could a young person be so well attuned to the cultural contradictions of the American ideology. The gap between the media’s California dream vs. the reality of the California nightmare was imbedded within the ethos of Los Angeles. Yet, to turn on the radio or television in late 1970s Southern California was to be greeted by politicians like Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown… the saccharine induced disco of the Bee Gees along with the soft sounds of inconsequential mellow rock; whose most LA-centric songs boasted of having #1 records on the charts. However, in So. CA. there were stirrings of an existential and political revolt against these anodyne fantasies beginning to emanate from Hollywood, East LA, Orange County, the San Fernando Valley and the South Bay, in the form of LA’s nascent punk scene. One of the most notorious of the genre were Black Flag, who released its debut EP “Nervous Breakdown” on the band’s own SST record label. Bandleader and guitarist Greg Ginn funded the record with money he had earned by running a mail-order electronics business for ham radio operators. Black Flag voiced an anti-authoritarian and nonconformist platform. Their songs punctuated with descriptions of social isolation, anarchy, poverty, and political impotence… These themes were explored further when Henry Rollins joined the band as lead singer in 1981. Over the next eight years, until they broke up in 1986, Black Flag would emerge as perhaps the most emblematic hardcore punk band. Not only in Southern California but throughout the globe.
Growing up in Los Angeles, the punk music scene in 1997 was thwarted by the “great wall” of the L.A. River. Chicano Punk bands weren’t able to get gigs at venues like the Whisky, The Troubadour and The Starwood or even the hard core club The Masque. Esther Wong who’s club, Madame Wong’s had trepidation to book the Chicano bands because of the element they might attract. It was the geography of Los Angeles that promoters were not willing to bring Chicano punk into Hollywood. It was partially prejudice and part economics. The L.A. River was almost like the Berlin Wall. It was practically impossible to make that cross from East L.A. and Boyle Heights into the prestige of other well-known clubs. Regardless, the movement was too strong to ignore and slowly L.A. bands like X and the Blasters, out of sheer curiosity infiltrated into the East side and eagerly sponsored these acts to play with them. The Chicano punk scene would perform in backyard parties and travel anywhere who would let them play. A East L.A. club the Vex would book bands like The Plugz and The Zeros from San Diego .They sang of their proud heritage of Chicano anarchism as inspired by civil rights activist, Ruben Salazar.. while adopting a musical genre that was unique yet would imitate the musical styles that were common to bands like The Ramones and The Dead Boys. The scene was real and the crossing over the L.A. River was a ballsy proposition for them since booking across “The River”was imperative to their success and notoriety. A band that’s bringing back the glory of punk rock… The Vulturas… They’re made up of vocalist, Louie Perez III (LP3), Rob Milucky on guitar and newcomer, Matt Freeman from Rancid, playing bass…They are not newbies in the punk rock world… Perez and Milucky have been close friends for 17 years; together they’ve been through addiction, sobriety… and they have witnessed friends succumbing to drug overdoses.
The dynamics of a band that connected the gap between East L.A. and Orange County made their music so unique. LP3 is the toastmaster extraordinaire… his lyrics are politically poignant yet being mindfully poetic… Milucky’s guitar playing is “kickass”. With dramatic power chords (Steve Jones would approve of) … brings it all together. The band has just released a new track, “Bastard Sons”. In a previous interview Milucky says,” ‘Bastard Sons’ was an instant clusterf–k of four hooks mashed together. I recorded it on my iPhone, forgot how it went! Played it back the next morning, bingo!”
We were lucky enough to catch up with Louie Perez (LP3) and Rob Milucky and talk about their history to the present..
Rock Bands of L.A.com: The members of The Vulturas have been around for a long time… you are not “newbies” to the scene… The punk rock movement has evolved tremendously. Start off with your music influences…What punk band did you dig here in L.A.? Were you into the “anti-social” political movement?
Louie Perez III: As far as musical influences , I had an unfair advantage of parents that were living in and working with bands at the height of the times you listed. Growing up Latino/Italian in Los Angeles (born in 76’ )pretty much determined my politics ; since I am literally spelling it out, it was definitely “fuck the system”! But mind your business or the man will put you in line. So as a kid I had my own religious experience when my dad handed me a Black Flag record at perhaps(too young?) at a young age. My brain melted. Then I melted all the kids in my catholic school’s brains when they they heard “Nervous Breakdown” kick in. I think we all just started punching each other in the face while all the garbage on the radio became history to us. We all started bands at like 12-13 years old ,and never looked back. That was the late 80s going into the 90s dream for me- besides skateboarding and drawing.The dream remains the same today.
Rob Milucky:It started with me at a high school punker party… And a girl named Kathy Page with long blonde hair and black lipstick…Hunched over a large wooden console stereo she came out doing the infamous “Storm Trooper” boot march to “Holidays in the Sun” by the Sex Pistols !! And Steve Jones ripping repeated power chords !! That was it ! For a kid whose parents were long haired rockers !! The Pistols -Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers was the answer! Later X- Black Flag .. The Dead Boys!!! All major influences !
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Los Angeles in the early 1980s… the punk bands that hailed from the city had a reputation for being loud, fast and rowdy. By 1984, the city had produced some of the most iconic and seminal punk records of all time — songs like ” Kids of the Black Hole” by the Adolescents (1981), Black Flag’s ” TV Party(1982), and ” Suburban Home” by the Descendents (1982) captured the disenchantment and angst felt by many who came of age during the Reagan era. I declare this was “ground zero” for the genre! Do you feel that the polarization of political attitudes… Black Live Matter…..QAnon and other extremists groups will influence your music?
LP3: We are definitely in a transitional period in the world right now. One full of echo chambers ,processed information, lack of empathy, and ironically amazing technological innovation. There are gonna’ be growing pains, for sure. I can only hope these are merely “rocks in the road” that leads to a brighter tomorrow and for all we have fought for and continue to fight for will be in vain.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: What’s always amazed me is how punk rockers have aged… You see current pics of Bad Religion, The Offspring and Pennywise.. they look like the “guys next door” except their tattoos have faded and their hair has turned gray… and as far as their music, they are merely judged by their catalogue … Their music is looked at as classic rock rather than conveying any punk attitude…That’s not a bad thing.. Do you ever think about the legacy of your music… Down the road people will either like or hate your music.. Are you afraid of the public being indifference to The Vulturas?
LP3: The beauty of art is that you can choose to pick it up or put it down. The art will live on long after the eyes that could possibly judge the appearance of the poet who crafted it. This I am grateful for. I tend to focus on the people I can positively inspire and affect with my art. We live in a world of the “two second attention span”, so I tend to only concern myself with those of whom are interested in the art.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Let us talk about your music… what can we expect?… Is your new music different then the prior material? The single, “Bastard Sons” has a real anathematic vibe… who did the animated video?..great stuff.. What about touring???
LP3: Thank you, I am always humbled when people like the tunes! Expect more and more.It will only get better!! There at least 8 in the chamber and they are all armor piercing rounds!! The video is great and super fucked in all the right ways lol we can only thank the quite mysterious”ShittyDizzny” for doing it for us . Check out his page “Instagarbage” on the gram! We are locked and loaded for touring as soon as it is safe and considerate to our fellow earth people. Thanks for the questions and keeping the dream alive!!!
Rob Milucky: We are writing and recording a lot now ! Why I don’t Know really ! Its very easy at the moment! We are serious abut touring and working as much as people can take !!
What great artists! MP3’s and Rob’s stories are compelling.. Thanks for their time and of course Ms. Melissa… Let’s get the clubs in L.A. open cause we have so much more rockin’ we need to do!