“LA is more punk than New York…I think that LA’s punk rock is more…it’s a stronger brand of any genre of punk rock – even the United Kingdom.”
Art Tavana, Music Journalist
Green Day’s 1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, is one of the first commercially available recordings of the iconic California pop-punk band originally released by equally iconic, but now defunct, Lookout Records. I remember working so hard in grade seven to get straight A’s so that my parents would buy me punk tapes as reward – this cassette was particularly coveted.
I connected to Art on Twitter over the love of this particular record. Art gets the simple beauty of the southern California pop punk sound and why that 90’s sound became easily recognizable. Art is a writer at LA Weekly. He is not unknown to controversy and always speaks his mind. Like me, Art grew up with So-Cal punk in the 90’s, but unlike me – he was actually in California when the phenomena happened.
It was a frank conversation with Art – we touched on the socioeconomic realities of LA and how that influences the scene, we chatted about gender and show bookings, and the brand of LA punk and how it spread through skateboard culture and commerce. Art’s insights into my questions around punk and diaspora coalesced with my ‘branded’ experience of punk as an outsider (in so many ways). It was weird to actually acknowledge that yeah – as much as I love this culture, it was most definitely sold to me. There’s nothing particularly right or wrong about it – but there is a truth to it.
I spoke to Art over the phone – while there was construction way way way somewhere in the background. And no, there is no edit in the middle of the audio below, just a strange volume drop on the call.
Art on gender and the LA punk scene:
Art on ethnicity in the mosh pits of punk: