Alice Bag 2016
If you’ve seen The Decline of Western Civilisation by Penelope Spheeris, then you are at least aware of the late 70’s LA Punk scene, parts of it anyway.
One of the things I took away from studying this scene when I was a teenager, was the sheer eclectic nature of the bands that formed and developed around that time under the ‘punk’ banner. You had The Germs, X, The Blasters, The Screamers, The Mau-Maus, The Flesh-Eaters, The Weirdos, Alice Bag Band (The Bags), The Gun Club, Circle One, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, TSOL and many more! None of those bands looked alike or sounded alike at all!
I could go into this more, but I’ll let someone who was there talk about the diversity of the og LA scene (76-77) which really centered around Hollywood before it spread to the burbs . This recent interview with Alice Bag gives a better perspective, here’s an excerpt:
“First of all, I don’t think The Decline of Western Civilization shows the scene I was part of. I don’t think that was the mission of that film to depict the early L.A. punk scene, because by the time Penelope Spheeris was filming it, punk was already spilling out into the suburbs and taking on different flavors. One thing she captured in the film was the growing hardcore scene. And I think that hardcore scene brought with it a lot of white male energy that wasn’t present in the Hollywood scene. And she showed that shift. And if you look carefully at the film I think you can tell which were the bands that were part of the early scene because they were quirkier. They were not quite what is considered punk nowadays. The images and sounds and behavior [of punk now] were not associated with the early punk scene. It was open-ended and inclusive — as long as it was different from mainstream, it would fit into that scene. So that’s why what you see in documentaries doesn’t gel with what you hear people talking about from the early scene. And I’m talking about ’77, ’78, even the summer of ’76. People were coming in from glam then — it was a transitional year.”
A New Book and a New Record
After 40 years of being essentially underground and operating under the radar, still in music and in other realms such as activism and art and education and Feminism (important stuff largely ignored by the mainstream) she has emerged with a new book and a new record
I was lucky enough to make it to her SF show at The El Rio to witness firsthand what to me has become a lost sound. There is a distinctly raw yet fluid delivery with diverse elements that embody that classic LA punk sound such as Rockabilly and that 60’s girl group sound mixed with some garage punk elements, abstract brooding dirges as well as all out blistering pogo punk beats and Johnny Thunders guitar solo bends all mixed together tastefully, never too much of one thing, add a heartfelt performance and socially conscious and very relevant lyrical content and you have the best of the best here. Great show, great band, see for yourself:
Alice Bag SF 2016 (Clips)
All pics and video by Jeff K. 2016
A bit of a side note:
One of Alice’s guitarists, who is also on her new record, is an old LA friend of mine Sharif D. and he has a new band called Sex Stains and they will be releasing an album soon too!
PLAYING WITH HEROES
Another really good read below from one of the drummers Alice has on her album, Candace Hansen. Her experience really resonated with me as I had a similar experience in the mid 90’s when I was tapped to join an incarnation of The Flesh Eaters who also came out of this early wave of LA Punk bands. It’s always a bit surreal to think that I got to play in a band that at one point or other contained members such as Bill Bateman and Dave Alvin (The Blasters) John Doe and DJ Bonebrake (X) Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) as well as some collaborations on Divine Horseman work by everyone from Exene (X) to Texacala Jones (Tex and The Horseheads) Kid Congo Powers (Cramps, Bad Seeds, Pink Monkey Birds, Gun Club) Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club). I can totally relate to Candace’s experience in becoming a part of a history that influenced us immensely as kids. It’s such an honor and we are very lucky to have had this experience.
Candace’s OC Weekly Article: