“Coming into Los Angeles, bringing in a couple of keys.

Don’t touch my bags if you please mister customs man.” – Arlo Guthrie

June 28, 2012

We came into LAX via JFK mid afternoon, but all we brought in was a bass, a case of FX pedals, a box full of cymbals, tapes, T-shirts, & records, and a two-and-a-half week tour schedule with Stab City that would cover the West Coast from Tijuana to Vancouver.

We waited for the FlyAway to Union Station, where our number one LA homegirl Jenn Su picked us up and drove us to Echo Park, to get some food and choogle until it was time to head out to play the tour kick off show.


The line up was sort of epic: RELIGIOUS GIRLSUNSTOPPABLE DEATH MACHINESBATWINGS CATWINGS, and STAB CITY. Los Angeles was blessed and so were we; KXLU sponsored the show and helped organize it at Pherspace, a performance art and gallery space in between Echo Park and Silverlake. Such a dope venue, with such dope people running it. Of all the times we played Los Angeles, we really felt the love this night. All of our friends were there, we played with our favorite bands, and started the tour on such a high note that most windows, and street lights around Echo Park shattered into millions of pieces.

We were so swept up with the high of being around such awesome energy that we didn’t even think to photograph and tape anything. Ooops.

Better to live for the moment, right?


Tour Sticker by Sean Kelly

When we first met Stab City, I think in 2009, they played an epic set at the Mime in Glendale. Bobby Vega reminded me of an East LA version of Dave Grohl doing a Dale Crover impersonation. Headbanging to every double cymbal crash, high up hi-hats, low seat, and filling his lungs with cheeks full of air, metronomic timing. Kyle’s guitar, angular, affected, and often using minor key modes brought to mind Brainiac and Six Finger Satellite. He is a master tap dancer with his pedal board, transforming his guitar into a psychedelic calling card for insanity. Pair it with Dan’s seamlessly subtle, yet complex and groovy bass lines with raspy disaffected post hardcore inspired vocals, and you pretty much have a unique sound coming out of Los Angeles.

Kyle & Bobby Stab City at Pherspace

Dan Stab City at Pherspace

They’re like Ph.D students who take their diplomas make sheets of LSD out of them for a true definition of higher education, then set them on fire because they reached the next level of consciousness realizing paper is meaningless, and the meaning is in the mind, and the message is in the medium, and that paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. Check out their video directed by Tyson Zoltan Heder, for one of my favorite Stab City songs, “Coliseum.”

 

The show went off. Our about-to-be slumber-party crew, Stab City sounded like a Boston grad student fed up with academics, who moves to LA to join a punk band. Story sound familiar? Hint: replace Boston with D.C., academics with an ice cream shop, and rewind about 25 years.

Another hint:

Henry approves BatWings CatWings T Shirt via Batwings Catwings’ FB page

Then there was BatWings CatWings, LA’s answer to melodic dance punk, combining electronic synth parts, drum samples and triggers, along with strong vocal melodies and textured sometimes blown out bass and guitars. Frontwoman and singer, Dana Poblete’s melodic tone laden vocals drive the way for this LA quartet with simple stories. Performing that night she pogo jumped up and down, her hair flying around everywhere, like an aura of energy reaching out to touch you.

Aside from being a dope drummer, BatWings CatWings’ Clay Johnson, is the first person to bring Unstoppable Death Machines to Los Angeles. He booked our first show in LA at the Smell with Whoah Hunx & Batwings Catwings, and basically had a hand in every other show we ever did in LA, including this kick off show. We basically owe everything we ever done in Los Angeles to Clay. He is indisputably the man. He introduced us to mostly everyone we now know in LA, offered to lend us his drums, his car, a place to stay. Clay is one of the most humble and kindest persons living in Los Angeles at this very moment and I hope the smog never reaches the lungs of his beautiful newborn baby girl.

Check out their video for “Early Exit,” the B-side from the Radio 7” single:

 

The first time we toured with Religious Girls was at SXSW 2010 from Austin to Los Angeles. We played the first ever SXSWendys with Religious Girls, Blastoids, and Brainstorm. Then we set out for Lubbock, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Irvine, and Los Angeles. This time around we would only play with Religious Girls in Los Angeles and Oakland. And I’m glad our tours even crossed paths twice on this run because they are some good friends and Religious Girls is one of the most amazing bands ever. Nick Cowman plays drums to the point where it looks like his body is about to shut down in protest of playing any more. He is wicked fast, precise, and fun to watch. Oakland is home to some of the most interesting drummers in the country.

 Religious Girls (w. former member Guy Culver), Unstoppable Death Machines, Packrat,holding art of Aaaron Motley, Phoenix AZ

Chris Danko brings a goth twist to counter the dream pop that belies Religious Girls, but only for comedic effect, if anything. He operates three different keyboards, a sampler, and leads most of the chanting parts. Yes, Religious Girls doesn’t sing, they chant with ooooo’s, ahhhhh’s and ooohhhhh’s. It’s pretty unique for pop band and makes singing along to their songs really easy.

Religious Girls will have a new EP out September 11th titled, I Want To Believe. Yes, I want to believe, I will believe, and you can believe, too. I Want To Believe will be up for free download on September 11th only. After that everything is subject to plausible deniability by government officials and Bay Area scenesters alike. Check out the first of four promo trailers. Remember, I never said these guys weren’t weird.

 
Okay fine, here’s another one:

For this show and the entire tour, Unstoppable Death Machines used all of Stab City’s gear, drums, amps and all. It was awesome and it worked great. Our set started off with high energy, kids started swarming around dancing, then my pedal board shorted out. Billy went into a spaz-odyssey drum solo, while I plugged right into the amp. Then we played a super stripped down, super fast set. It felt great seeing everyone having a good time. I guess we’re just naturally good at creating chaos, which surprisingly seems a little lacking in Los Angeles. It seems like everyone waits for chaos to come around. Maybe it’s more fun, like tornado or a hurricane— not fun all the time, but every now and then it makes for an interesting time. Billy played so hard that his hands split open.

Billy Death Machine’s hands after Pherspace performance

At the end of our set, a blonde head of hair came up and gave me a hug— Sean Kelly, one half of Spirit Animal (who would host our Fourth of July show the following week in San Francisco). The last time I saw Sean was in the back of Japanther’s van, on our way to play a show in Connecticut. He said he was really excited for us to be touring from Tijuana to Vancouver. He mentioned how he hadn’t been to Tijuana since he turned eighteen.

Sean Kelly, tour manager extordinaire

I asked, “Wanna go with us?”

The next day Sean called out sick from work for two and a half weeks to sign up as tour manager.

And the first stop after Los Angeles—  Tijuana!!

 

- Mike Tucci // UNSTOPPABLE DEATH MACHINES

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