Blockage

Interviews | By on Feb 24th, 2005

Can you give me a little bit of history about the band?
We first started pounding out songs in 1998 as a trio. I met Juan – our drummer – through a guy I met in a SoCal classified mag called The Recycler. I think 75% of the musicians out here meet through The Recycler. Juan was in a Ramones tribute band, so I knew his style would be a match for the songs I had been writing. At our second rehearsal, the bass player Brian flaked and luckily, Juan’s brother Chepe was there. There was a spare bass so he filled in for the night, and ended up playing bass for us for 2 years. We still didn’t have the punch I wanted, and I’m a shitty lead player, so Juan invited his friend Frank to rehearsal and told him to bring his guitar. He was invited to the next 3 or 4 rehearsals before he realized that we had absorbed him into the band. We’ve been playing mostly in Southern Cali for the last 2 1/2 years. Chepe left the band in Dec. 2000, and was replaced by Frankie’s brother Dave, who is a guitar player that agreed to play bass for us.

So that’s the current lineup? Dave, Juan, Frank and You?
Yep! Three spics and a mick.

I know the band as a whole has different influences, but what are your influences? And do they show in your music? I’ve noticed a little bit of Social D style in your music.

My musical influences come from the punk bands that always had some melody to their songs, but still sound punk. The Ramones of course, Bad Brains, The Clash, Social Distortion, I’m a huge fan of X because they never really felt they had to fit into any mold. I think my influences are really reflected in our style. When I’m singing I’m imitating every singer I’ve ever liked. I’m doing a mishmash of Joey Ramone, Mike Ness, Billy Joe, Shane MacGowan, and even a little Neil Diamond.

Weren’t you from the East Coast and moved out to California?
Yeah, I grew up in New Hampshire and moved to LA 3 years ago.

Do you notice a difference between the West and East coast scenes?
Well, I don’t think that LA is a good representation of the West coast scene, so I’ll talk about Orange County VS the Boston scene, which was the closest major city to where I grew up. I can’t say what the scene is like in Boston right now, because I kind of dropped out of the whole New England music scene after I left The Queers. When I was an angry punk kid though, there were kick ass shows about every other weekend, and the kids would show up whether or not they had heard of the bands that were playing. I think it’s that way in most cities. It was a great scene to be a part of in the mid to late 80’s. I’d be curious to see what it’s like there now. Boston has always had a fun and furious scene, so I don’t think it could have changed too much. I loved seeing shows there. I haven’t been to an awful lot of punk shows in Orange County, but the crowds here seem a lot tamer. They still go out to shows and are a pretty tightly knit bunch of people and bands, but something just seems more mellow about the shows here. We still haven’t played a lot of All-Ages gigs here, so maybe I need to see some angry kids at a show.

Wow, I didn’t know you were in the Queers. I get an F for doing my homework.
Ha! It’s okay, I think they’ve erased me from their history!

Oh that sucks. Is there bad blood between you guys?
There was a little bad blood between me an the Queers, but nothing too bad. I know they mixed me off the Lookout! re-release of “Grow Up.” Most people who play with The Queers seem to leave on a sour note.

Do you play more 21 and over shows than All-Ages?
Yeah, we haven’t really played too many All-Ages shows here. I almost think that kids want their punk a little angrier and thrashy, and we have a more defined, rock & roll sound.

I think the opposite. I think kids want punk to be more happy and poppy. Maybe that’s difference between over there and here.
Actually you’re right. Punk seems to be leaning in that Blink-182 direction. I’m not so happy about that. There are way too many bands that sound identical to Blink, and the kids just seem to eat it up.

You are correct sir. I think a lot of the bands are going down that emo/ indie rock route, and I’m not too happy about it.
Agreed. But hopefully, kids who are introduced to punk through those bands will look a little deeper into the scene and find the punk that has a bit more meaning and variety. I don’t mind bands like Blink, as long as kids don’t think that’s all punk is.

I liked their first 2 albums, but when I saw posters of them later, I realized they changed into something different.
Yeah, big label thinking can really fuck a band up. Even though most people hate that Green Day signed to a major, I don’t mind because their music only got better for it, and they are still the band they want to be.

Are you guys on any record label right now?
We aren’t on any label at the moment. We’re still doing it ourselves, which is starting to take up a lot of our time and moola.

Have you tried to get on a label? I think you guys rock. I wouldn’t see why you couldn’t get on one.
Hey, thanks. We just cut a new demo that we’re going to shop later this year. Hopefully, someone will take an interest in what we are doing.

Have you tried Triple X, Fat, Triple Crown, Epitaph, Hellcat, or any others?
You’re reading my mind, my friend. I think we’d mesh well with several of those labels.

While we’re talking about mainstream bands and such, what do you think of MTV, and their GREAT 20 years? (note sarcasm).
I think MTV lost their direction about 15 years ago. I think they need a reminder of what the “M” stands for in MTV. It sure doesn’t stand for “The Real World”. Okay, I like that show, but it belongs on a different station. I can’t turn off VH1 though. I was addicted to “Bands On The Run.” It made me appreciate the smooth dynamics in Blockage. We’ve yet to take a swing at each other.

That’s good. Do it on stage. More exciting that way.
Yeah, that would be punk rock for sure!

So what does the band members and yourself do besides playing in Blockage?
We are probably the most gainfully employed punk band around. We all have full time jobs – which gives us the money to blow on nice equipment. Juan sells bootleg KISS videos on the side. Hardly a rehearsal goes by where Juan and Frank aren’t talking about KISS videos.

I’ve seen your portfolio and it’s great. I’ve noticed you’re a sci-fi fan. Did you try to get a job with ILM? (Industrial Light and Magic for all you kids out there).
Thanks. I’ve sent them a resume a few times, but not lately. I need to stay in Los Angeles because of the band, and ILM is too far north. I was just at ILM last week though. They have some very cool stuff going on up there. I got to see the frozen Han Solo which very cool for me, ‘cuz Empire is my favorite movie. I saw R2’s head on a work bench too. Poor little fella.

Did you see any Episode II stuff?
Yeah! Mostly drawings and conceptual art. They wouldn’t say it was for Episode II though, just that they were designs for “a movie”, wink wink. The R2 head I saw was for Episode II.

I liked Return of the Jedi best. I know all you Empire fans hate the ewoks. Ha! I liked Jedi because of the battles at the end, and at Jabba’s palace. Plus Chewbacca doing Tarzan is classic!!! Boba Fett “supposedly” dying was upsetting to watch.
Yeah, he fell into the big smelly desert anus. I liked Jedi, but I like the Special Edition version much better.

Plus princess Leia in the slave bikini is every Star Wars geek’s fantasy.
No shit. Let’s see Natalie Portman in that getup please!

Awesome. I can’t wait for the new one to come out and wait on line for 5 hours like last time.
Ha! Yeah, I’ve got high hopes for Episode II. George better come through!

Yeah George, stop appealing to little kids and make a great fucking movie! I’m actually looking forward to Lord Of The Rings more than Episode Two right now. Until the new trailer comes out for EP2.
I was never into those books, but the movies could be cool.

I’ve read them this winter and I thought they were amazing. I don’t know. The movies looks incredible though.
Don’t tell the punk kiddies this – but I just read Harry Potter and loved it.

I’m sure the punk kids read Harry Potter too.

Are you a big fan of cartoons?
I’m a huge Simpsons fan.

I’m not a big reader except for magazines like MAD and entertainment weekly. (PLEASE HIRE ME MAD OR EW)
Have you noticed that almost any story anyone tells you can relate to an episode of the Simpsons?

Yes. Everyday somehow the Simpsons gets brought up.
Cuz they’re brilliant!

Who are your favorite characters? Mine are Homer of course, Chief Wiggum and for Futurama Bender and Fry.
I like Ralph Wiggum and Milhouse. Milhouse is one of the best cartoon victims ever. Something bad always happens to him or is said about him. He’s right up there with Daffy Duck.

Daffy Duck is my favorite Looney Tunes character. I love the episode where the artist is screwing with him.
Classic!

I love Tex Avery cartoons too. Are you a Disney fan?
I’m not a Disney fan really, but their animated features rarely disappoint me. I’m also a big fan of Pixar’s movies and shorts.

I like more of Disney’s classic stuff like Humphrey The Bear and Chip and Dale cartoons. Monster Inc. looks funny.
Yeah, Monsters Inc. Looks great. Pixar spends so much time on a script that the finished product is almost flawless.

Yes. I hope they make a sequel to A Bug’s Life. Do you have a DVD player and if so, what’s some of your favorite movies on that format?
Yes, I have a DVD player and a raging addiction to buying DVDs. I usually buy effects flicks and comedies. Stuff I’ll watch repeatedly.

I have a raging addiction for DVDs too, which is my only addiction. Ha!
Luckily, not many must-have DVDs have come out over the summer, so I’ve been saving a lot of money. This fall looks like it could kill me though. The Mummy Returns, The Phantom Menace, The Simpsons Season 1. I’m done for.

Yup! Plus Willow.
I didn’t know that! Cool.

Goonies, Fawlty Towers, Sopranos season two.
Goonies is the best bad movie ever. The dialog is so bad, but the movie is still fun to watch.

Yeah. It’s a guilty pleasure movie.
“Cuz down here it’s our time. Down here. Up there, it’s their time. ” That speech made no friggin’ sense whatsoever!

“HEY YOU GUYS!!!!”
Ha! “Ruth? Baby?”

“Rocky road.” Ha ha!

What’s your views on the whole file sharing thing? Do you think they can be a solution to all of this?
Well, there is no question that allowing people to trade copyrighted materials is wrong. But I really don’t see the difference between trading on the net, and trading by using blank tapes or CDs. You don’t shut down the manufacturers of blank tapes and CDs, so why shut down Napster? I think the music industry will think they’ve solved the problem by shutting down the major MP3 trading software companies down. There will always be a way to trade files over the web, and there is nothing they can do about that. There has been software that allows you to swap copyrighted software for ages, but because it runs under the guise of being a simple file swapping program, no one can shut it down. Napster’s mistake was trying to revolutionize the industry instead of ripping at it from the underground. They would have done better to follow Hotline’s lead and not brag about the fact that you can get files for free. Napster got too big for its britches. Too bad too, cuz I just started to use it!

Do you think music downloading is the same as full length movie downloading?
Yeah, I do. If it’s copyrighted, it’s wrong. But who cares? No one is going to like watching a blotchy movie on a computer instead of in the theatre or on home video.

True. It’s kind of similar to drugs – it may be illegal but people are still going to do it anyway.
Right, if the US Government can’t stop the drug trade, how does the music industry think it’s going to stop people trading music? The majority of people can’t make their own drugs, but most teenagers know how to burn their own CDs from MP3s they’ve traded.

So what’s next for Blockage? Any touring to the East Coast?
The best thing Blockage can do right now is to try to get some label interest. We’ve got a backlog of songs to record and get out to people. We’ve done all we can do ourselves, at least financially. Once we have a killer CD and a little label support we will be eager to start touring.

Do you guys have a fan base?
Our fan base is just starting to grow. It’s not huge by any means, but we get a lot of great response at every show we play. Our website gives us a lot of exposure to people all over the world. As corny as this sounds, the net is a great resource for indie musicians.

The internet has definitely changed the music industry. For the good or the bad?
I think that the internet has only changed music for the better.

I agree but some dicks might think otherwise.
What do dicks know anyway?

Apparently not a lot. What is your website address? And what features are on there?
Our website is http://blockage.net. We have MP3s, videos, show listings, merchandise, photos, etc. Blockage wouldn’t have half the exposure we’ve gotten without the internet. I think that as long as you are resourceful, you can reach everybody in the music scene that you need to using the web. I’ve found more punk sites, labels, bands, than I could possibly contact. It’s a great way to get the word out and get new music heard.

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