Los Angeles was ripe for the onslaught of punk rock. Hollywood’s rife gave rise to stories that only could be told effectively by its music… Sure there was The Beach Boys… The Doors.. . Van Halen.. Guns N’ Roses… ( I know I missed about a million great bands) but nothing ever matched the watermark of bands like The Wierdos… Black Flag.. The Circle Jerk… The Germs.. and The Zeros…I’m sure I let a few get by, but my point is made. It was a collaborative scene made up of misfits, bohemians and freaks. All that was needed was a soul in search for its own self.. When so much music from the 70’s had lost its shadow the only requirement to become a punk was you had to be an outcast. L.A. Punk bands even had their own home away from home. Most notably The Masque, a small, short-lived punk club in the basement of an X-rated movie theater that would become the epicenter of the early scene. Concerts became the proving grounds for warring gangs who hailed from different corners of the “Southland”… The Burbank Punks Organization, Long Beach’s Vicious Circle, the East Side Punx and the La Mirada Punks among other crews associated themselves with the budding music scene by wrestling for turf and street cred through acts of violence.
Of all the L.A. punk bands, the one that had maintained an extreme anti-political ethos were the DILS. Their center was more aligned to British punk bands.. The Sex Pistols and The Clash rather than the “first wave” L.A. punk bands; who could only attract sweaty men that moshed aimlessly in a counter clockwise circle… The DILS featured the brothers, Kinman.. Chip singer/guitarist and brother Tony on bass. Back in the day, the Kinman’s cut their musical chops in Carlsbad, CA. a northern suburb of San Diego. Alongside The Zeros, The Hitmakers, The Penetrators they still talk about the near riots at the Adams Avenue Theater in San Diego whenever bands were paired with the DILS. The entryway of the theater was streaked with the scuffs of Doc Martens and thrown cigarette butts, while the blood, sweat, and spit of San Diego punker’s left a battlefield of garbage within the theater…
The Adams Avenue Theater Now
Early in their career, The DILS had split their time in between L.A. and San Francisco.They provided a template for bands to go on the road and preach the gospel of social diffidence between “Class War” and “I Hate the Rich”.. While no song was over two minutes long.. No story about American punk rock would be legitimate if it didn’t declare the DILS as “ground zero’! In their own way the DILS had unintentionally created a litmus test (As if punk rock needs fuckin’ standards?) that punk bands were judged by.
Frenzied DILS’ Audience
The Kinman brothers were always looking forward musically… After a brief stint in NYC The DILS disbanded and moved to Austin, TX. to start an astonishing new band, Rank and File with fellow L.A. punk vagabond, Alejandro Escovedo. Mind you, there was no “Outlaw Country” then… the press foolishly referred to them as “Cow- Punk”..( how fucking stupid is that!). They shattered stylistic preconceptions to become musical trendsetters. Their debut was absolutely brilliant! Rank and File had everything going for them… Punk credibility…and the ability to embrace blue-collar rage from a completely uncharted vantage point…Sure there were songs about love lost.. but there were lyrics that easily resonated with the bohemian culture. One of my personal fave bands. After three album Rank and File called it quits in 1987….
Rank And File
The Kinman brothers continued to make music… there were brief stints in techno and quasi folk; which pretty much got wrapped-up at the end of the millennium. There was a brief time of seclusion but as it goes, rock stars can fade in the sunset while rock heroes keep the flame going eternally! Brothers Chip and Tony(producing) saw entropy in the American culture and put together a new band… Ford Madox Ford…(FDMDXFD) where psyche-rock- blues are the “de rigueur” of the day! .. “Dark American Night” is a romp of a rocker fused with some early British Glam..…while power pop comes in a McCartney inspired ….”How Does Your Horn Sound Today”…. Its Inertia fused with gentrification.. Chip’s son, Dewey Peek on guitar throws down some pretty awesome licks… FDMDXFD are not a band for the timid! I could go on and on about the band.. I just love what they’re doing… With the plethora of bull shit L.A. bands we’ve found worthwhile new music. We were lucky enough to get an interview with Chip and brother Tony (who helped produce the album)….
Rock Bands of L.A.com:You started the first punk band in Los Angeles… in the late 70’s… How has the music scene changed over the decades? Obviously, Social Media is so important. Do you feel comfortable with it? What have you learned after all these years? What suggestions do you have?
Chip Kinman: Yes I’m comfortable with social media, although I’m not fully conversant on all the platforms. It’s just a new way of doing things and I’ve always been about the “new.” I always had a late nineteenth century view of the future, ala Jules Verne, but it doesn’t seem to have worked out that way. I do mourn the death of rock criticism. There are so many bands, so many social media platforms and so many records, however the uniformity of thought is alarming. My advice/suggestion for anybody who wants to play music is to stay true. As trite as that might sound, it really is all you can do.
Tony Kinman: You may be a flop, but you’ll never be a failure.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: The DILS were a Marxist band… no one in L.A. had the political bravado as the DILS.. Now with Ford Madox Ford you’re back taking a political stance again… Sure our country is in dire need of change.. What demographics do you believe will listen to your music? You’re baby-boomers.. I’m a baby boomer…. Will music affect us like it did in the 70’s? Artists like Neil Young could never come with a song now that will resonate with the masses…Your zenith of popularity was when we had Richard Nixon as president,…I don’t think Millennials really give a fuck!
Chip: Well, millennials do give a fuck. I have one in my band, Dewey Peek. He’s passionate and he cares. Like all young people, he is working through it. I’m not sure baby boomers give a fuck. It’s difficult to give a fuck for 40 years. My politics are not as simple as they were in the 70s; songs like Dark American Night, How Does Your Horn Sound Today and Expect It are not easy to categorize in left/right terms. I guess I’m following my own advice; stay true! Other songs, Promised, Quicksand, I’m Haunted, Images of My Generation are autobiographical. It’s time to tell my story.
Tony: Real punk/real blues/real America. They’re not seen or heard much these days. Where is it? Fox? Nope. MSNBC? Nope. Your local garage band? Maybe.
Ford Madox Ford
Rock Bands of L.A.com: The name of your band.. Ford Madox Ford? I know he was a British writer …Ford Madox Ford. He was an inveterate liar. He opposed liberal democracy because it promoted plutocracy and he had a sentimental, literary attachment to feudalism. His politics were confusing..
Chip: I named the band Ford Madox Ford because I loved the sound of his name. I’m ashamed to say I have not read his books.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: I remember being in Tower Records on Sunset and hearing the first Rank and File album… I just had to buy it… I still listen to it… They use to call you “ cowpunk”.. Pretty stupid… Now I think I’m safe to say the R&F were one of the first “Outlaw Country” bands… almost 40 years ago… You moved to Austin to start the band.. Whose idea was it? You go from punk to country? Are you still friends with Alejandro?
Chip: Not sure whose idea it was to move to Austin, though it sounds like something I would come up with. We did it to stay true. We were living in NYC and that is no place for a country band. Austin was not what it is now so the move was risky, so it all worked out. It was easy to go from punk to country. You just have to listen with your “true” ears. I heard the power and fury and drive in the 2-beat sound. Still do. I’m friends with Alejandro, as all the best friends do.
Rock Bands of L.A.com: Bands.. The Kinks… Oasis… The Black Crowes.. all with brothers…….. Brothers that broke up the band… How do you as brothers get along? What is the songwriting process like for you?
Chip: Tony and I get along fine. The usual squabbles, but nothing EPIC. Songs just come to me. I like to write in the morning, right when I wake up. My brain isn’t fully connected and it goes places that my awoke brain will not allow.
FDMDXFD’s new album is now out on Porterhouse Records…. I want to thank Steve from Porterhouse… and the “Brothers” Chip and Tony for their time…