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Los O interview by Gavin O'Brien

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Posted: Thu Apr 03, 2003 11:11 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 03 Sep 2002 Posts: 2147 Location: Gainesville, FL
Los Olvidados
You Can Never Go To De Anza College
By Gavin O'Brien

There were so many bands in Northern California that were worth getting excited over in the last part of the ‘70s and early ‘80s that were playing real American music. Did America notice? Not really. Comparing these acts was like herding cats, ridiculous and pointless, because while there was a fair share of thrash-clones like every other scene, the cream of the crop rose in the North and was recognized the globe over.

Flipper, The Dead Kennedys, and The Avengers attained high status through vinyl offerings that distinguished them as true rebels in Reagan’s America. Disgusted with the wave of selfishness that engulfed our nation and completely fed up with the drivel that was and still is popular music, the new rebels picked up where their Hippy forefathers had left off, shunning the status quo and doing it themselves, alone, vowing never to sell out.
Slightly forgotten favorite sons of this time and place was San Jose’s Los Olvidados. Many Bay Area scenesters felt that, had their album been released, they could easily be the most famous of the aforementioned groups. It was obvious: Los Olvidados recorded and played live quite well. Their “Last Show” at San Francisco’s On Broadway pulled in every clique in the Bay Area for a tearful farewell. The band with so much potential had called it quits.
Alternative Tentacles has recently rereleased Los Olvidados’ Listen to This! as part of a three separate album tribute to the roots of skate punk. The other AT releases include full-length’s from Free Beer and the Drunk Injuns.
Los Olvidados’ reformation was the biggest non-event of 2000. When they played a slightly scrappy set at SF’s Bottom Of The Hill for a birthday party, old faces were everywhere sprinkled with new ones that wanted to see what yesterday’s press spoke so highly of. I caught up with the band at a recent practice session.

Voss: Mike Voss; Fox: Mike Fox; Stevens: Ray Stevens II; Ethridge: Matt Ethridge

When did the band actually begin?
Fox: 1980.
Ethridge: Whatever answer we give will be wrong and punishable by death!
What were you guys into before you heard your first punk record?
Fox: Skateboarding.
Stevens: Rockenroll. KSJO.
Fox: Ted Nugent.
Ethridge: Myself and Ray, we were musicians when we weren’t stuttering in school. ‘Ya know you’re the total dork playing in the school marching band then you get your first drum set and you start playing. Then through skateboarding I met Mike Fox and he was getting his guitar shit together and we started jamming at some point.
Fox: Then you get to be dorks in rockenroll!
Voss: For me it was the Dead Boys. I heard “I Need Lunch” on KSJO when Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Outdoor came out, and I thought it was a big let down. But after they played a song from that, I heard Stiv Bators and “Kruuuunnnggg!” and I thought that was cool.
What does Los Olvidados mean in English?
Fox: Kill whitey.
Voss: Spanish.
Out of all the shows you’ve played, which do you remember best, and why?
Voss: Holmes Hall, (in downtown San Jose), was pretty good.
That’s one of the next questions.
Voss: A lot of the shows were pretty good. It was cool playing with The Exploited because they wouldn’t move their drum kit so Matt just got on it and starting playing it. Their drummer just started jumping up and down screaming at him to get off.
Voss: The two I remember was with The Dead Kennedys at The Ballroom, and the one at De Anza College.
Ethridge: The first skate rock show at The Tool & Die.
Fox: All the Tool & Die shows were insane. We played with the Circle Jerks at The On Broadway, then later that night again at The Tool & Die at like 4 in the morning.
RS: My favorite was the San Jose City College one with Social Distortion. My mom caught me drinking beer that night. We got $15 each that night and I couldn’t believe it!
Fox: And that came to be the most we ever made. Haha!
It’s been rumored that Los Olvidados purposely left lyrics off your page in the MR&R compilation “All’s Quiet On The Western Front.” Is that true?
Fox: Yeah. Because we hated Tim Yohannon and what he was doin’, man. I’m sorry he’s dead or whatever, but...
Voss: I don’t know if we hated him, it was more like their whole philosophy.
Fox: I hated him. I got into a big argument with him because he wanted to put a particular song on it that we didn’t want. He put it to me that if we wanted to be on the record we had to do that song after this whole big speech that it was for the scene and he wanted to represent everybody.
Voss: He said we sounded too English!
You guys sounded too English?!?!?!
Voss: We sent him “Assassin Of Youth” and he said “We’re trying to get something like that ‘Pay Salvation’ song. That sounds good.” It’s funny because that whole record started off with Jello (Biafra, of the Dead Kennedys) coming up to me and pitching it as a 10-band compilation, and he wanted us to be one of them. And I was like “Wow!” Then later he was all “It’s gonna be 30 bands” and it turned into this big political thing and all the bands had their symbols and whatever their stance was.
Fox: They wanted “Pay Salvation” because it was political and it was fast, and it was the only song we had that was both. We didn’t think it represented us, plus they left out a lot of our friends like The Fuck Ups, The Lewd, and they just said to us “For the artwork in the zine that comes with the record, send in maybe a small picture of yourselves, your manifesto, and your lyrics.” They also told us the last thing they wanted was an 8x10 glossy of some rock band, so we went into the garage and took 8x10’s because they specifically told us not to do that.
True rebels in a rebellious scene.
Fox: Fuck those guys.
Who was “Listen To You” aimed at, lyrically?
Fox: Tim Yohannon. Just anybody that was trying to screw us. Back then it just seemed like anyone would lie to you over anything to not confront you with the truth.
Ethridge: Did you eat my French fries? Oh no man!
What exactly happened at Holmes Hall in 1981?
Stevens: Good time.
Voss: I got hit in the head with a Michelob bottle.
Fox: At least it was your family beer!
Stevens: What happened was Howard Kaveck who did Forget It! Magazine was trying his hand at promoting, and he wanted Black Flag to come play, but all these other bands wanted to play with them and Howard just couldn’t say no to anybody, so there were seven bands on the bill. We had finished playing and Black Flag was just getting ready to start and the security guard freaked because it was late, so he threw the power and that made things really bad! There was a full on riot and the cops were there in minutes. Bottles flew and it was in the paper the next day. I remember seeing the cops pulling the hippy soundman out by his hair. Me and Chris Elleman were on the roof watching all this stuff go down. It was really crazy to be a part of that because we were all pretty young.
Why did you guys originally split?
Voss: We worked so hard, played all the time, rehearsed a lot. Mike and I achieved our goal; we wanted to sell out a place and get a following. Well, we did all that. Then we never got a record deal and we didn’t have the foresight to go past that, so we broke it up.
Fox: Normally good bands have a short shelf life, and that was the punk rock ethic. I never felt bad about splitting.
Ethridge: I got tired of a combination of things. But I’m stoked on the new interest a lot of people have in us that never saw us in the old days. Ya know, maybe their parents saw us!
No tour to support the new Alternative Tentacles CD?
Ethridge: I don’t see one being formed, but ya never know!
De Anza College, May of 1983. Security throws the electricity only a few songs into your set and Mike leads a protest. The power is turned back on and you guy do “Bang Bang” while pointing at the security guards during the chorus sending the hall into a frenzy. Was this staged?
Voss: No! I was pissed off!
There were rumors it was staged.
Voss: Not at all!
Fox: Why would we do that?
Voss: I got there and the promoter told me security was really tense and they didn’t want any slam dancing. They wanted me to tell everybody to not dance and I wouldn’t do it.
There were like seven bands before you where people were dancing!
Voss: So Adrian, (the promoter), gets on stage before we start and he’s all “Everybody, listen up! Don’t dance!” So I get the mic and yell “Let’s dance!” and everyone goes nuts. Then they turned the house lights on and threw the stage power except for my mic! So I’m all “Get your money’s worth! Don’t leave!” I jumped out on the floor and got a circle goin’.
Ethridge: I was doing the worst drum solo during all this.
Voss: After a half hour nobody had left, so they turned the power back on and I was pissed. After our set we were loading our equipment out and all the security guards are standing over us, vibing me. I weighed about 160 pounds back then and these guys are monsters.
Fox: That’s what you do though, you stay on stage until a cop pulls you off!
Voss: You know what the aftermath of this story is? They made me go down and face the school council and they kinda put me on trial. It was totally weird.
Okay, you’re guilty. What?
Voss: They asked me “Did you incite a riot?” and I told them I didn’t think it was a riot; I mean nothing was out of control. It was a protest if anything. Then this fat professor guy gets up and he’s like “Well, we’ve decided that you can never go to De Anza College.”

props to
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Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2003 10:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Mar 2002 Posts: 135 Location: Lodi, California
Los Olvidados rips! I've seen them several times in the last couple years.YEAH!
going to see Adolescents this weekend
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Posted: Sun Apr 06, 2003 3:04 am Reply with quote
Joined: 03 Sep 2002 Posts: 2147 Location: Gainesville, FL
Cool! I'm going to see the Subhumans next weekend!
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