Layla's columns from Maximum Rocknroll! On the internet! Intense.
Monday, October 8, 2012
When I first moved to America I was totally startled by the professionalism exhibited by its punk bands in regards to practicing. I have been playing in bands since I was thirteen, and I moved to the US when I was twenty three, so I had a few bands under my belt so to speak. But some of these bands didn't ever play outside of my bedroom. Some were just a conversation. Only one or two actually had organized practice space, both happening to be at youth centers where we were probably the only teens who had touched the practice space since rave culture decimated anyone's desire, in our neighborhood at least, to be in a band. We mostly formed bands and played music to hang out with each other, and I am definitely not speaking for every single English person or human being that was a punk in London in the '90s, just for my circle of friends. We were all teenage girls from various housing estates in West London, we found each other through our love of underground music, and skateboarding. We performed both of these activities with a distinct lack of interest in reaching for the stars or being the champions of the world. In fact we pretty much just did these things to hang out with each other with in desolate car parks or to somehow trick the antiquated youth club system into letting us make shit-fi sounds on the government's dime.
The first time I played music with Americans, it was a pretty similar mentality; the girls I was playing with had also been in a degenerate teenage punk combo, theirs was Emily's Sassy Lime. That band was drawing to a close, and so when I moved to California we formed numerous new bands with various combinations of girls and played shows whenever we could. Sometimes with only songs written on the plane towards the location in which our gig was scheduled, as was the case when we played Olympia the first time under the name the Dillettoes. We evolved into the Shady Ladies, and maybe some day I will unleash the majesty of our recorded works onto the universe. If you saw us play, you were one of us. When I relocated to the Bay Area the attitude was much more pro gear, pro audio. Everyone had a practice space, huge monolithic amps and preordained riffs. I remember attempting to play with some garage rocker types in Oakland, they riffed and rocked and wailed, and I stood dumbfounded attempting to figure out what the fuck I was supposed to do. I eventually found some miscreants who got my endtimes, collapsible D is for duh guitar style, and formed a band and went on tour, but that was about eight years ago... My teenage band was informed by the sounds of the Shaggs and Huggy Bear, when I discovered Mars, DNA, Void and No Trend that added more ammunition, but I have never been moved by the urge to rawk or shred. This is something that may work for others, and in some cases it makes for an OK sound, but for the most part I would rather listen to say the Primitive Calculators than some perfect modern day approximation of Teenage Head.
At any rate, skate for fun or not at all.