After a long time away from the scene Riotgun is getting ready to release a new record. I got the honor to talk to Larry "Lugz" Hernandez who is one of the founders of the band.
¤Hello Larry first of all thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Could you please introduce yourself and your position in the band.
Hello and thanks for talking to me. I'm the lead singer and lead guitar player in the band. If you consider my style singing and guitar playing, more importantly I am the lead beer drinker in the band. I prefer stouts and porters but consider myself very adventurous and try to to seek and a try a new beer regardless of style daily.
¤I heard you are about to release a new record. Is there a said date yet and what label?
Thanks for asking that. We are releasing a series of releases six at a time. We're calling it the 6-pack series. The first 6-pack slated for release will be titled "Stout". The idea is to release 3 six-packs a year, for a total of 18 songs and then release a "case" 24 songs at the end of the 12 month period with the recorded 18 songs and add 6 bonus "live" tracks of both old and new material, kind of like a mini-concert at many of the punk and dive bars we play throughout the country (and maybe even Europe as we hope to be playing out there very soon). As for Labels releasing it, we have long standing relationships with many great labels who release in a variety of formats. Great labels like Madskull (Netherlands), Last Punkrocker (Germany), Barhulo (Brazil), Basement (USA), Haunted Town (USA), PyschoTribe (USA) and hopefully a few asian labels. The goal is to have it released on vinyl first then follow up with CD and digital download after. Vinyl is still my weapon of choice. As far as release date, we are still mixing, so hopefully in the next couple months. Any swedish labels out there, give us a call. We would love to have a proper release in that region.
¤You havent released an album since 2003 much must have happened. Is the old lineup still going strong or can we expect some new blood?
Matt "Bone" Merrow is still the drummer, 11 years now as the powertrain for this band. I owe it all to him. He keeps the power and timing constant. Pond for pound (no pun intended) he is the best drummer in our part of the world. Probably the only musician that I truly see eye to eye with. He understands my song writing and has incredible ideas for songs, lyrics and arrangements. What drummer can do that. Without him, there would be no RIOTGUN. He keeps me motivated and inspired, plus he's a great partner in crime when it comes to beer drinking and exploration. We have recently added a kegorator (beer dispensing machine) to the studio. So we are always inspired. (B:haha i look forward to hear your new beerinfluenced songs)
We recently lost long-time guitarist "T-Ball", he works for Gibson guitars and he was transfered to Nashville Tennessee. He may be returning in 2011 for 5 months as he will be back in California then as he moves to the Pacific Northwest. Plus we have another 6-pack we recorded with him and then bassist Anthony Victoria which is slated for release (after we mix and master) after "Stout" (beer flavor unannounced at this moment) is official released. So you see we have been real busy. We have two new guys in the band, they are a little green with the touring but are solid players, so hopefully all the long time supporters we have acquired world wide will openly embrace the new guys. On Bass we have Graham "Theft" Otto (his brother Doug Carrion was bass player in the Descendants), an old friend and high energy player and Alfred Cruz on Guitar. Alfred and I have been friends since 3rd grade, we're in our 40s now, so we've been playing in bands together since 1981 off and on. The chemistry is there, we're excited.
¤Why a record now all of a sudden?
We've always recorded, releasing songs as needed for compilations and stuff. Last Punkrocker Records in Germany is going to re-release "Shortcuts to Nowhere" on 12 inch vinyl. So we said we should get off our asses and record all the new stuff and head to europe to play. I'm sure there are beers out there we haven't sampled. Small regional breweries that don't import to the U.S. We owe it to ourselves to seek out those tasty beers and drink with other supporters of streetpunk and oi!, and to have fun while we can. I guess it's selfish reasons, but we do appreciate beer and music.
¤Could you give us a short (or long) history of how Riotgun got started?
In 1993, I was tiring of the politics of the band I was presently in and wanted to start a band based on the principals of "Beer and Revolution". In 94/95 we recorded and released "Even Out the Odds" as a 7 inch and started touring the US, northern Mexico and parts of Southern Canada. We started releasing 7 inch e.p.'s on a number of labels, then doing a lot of compilations. The intention initially of RIOTGUN was to create a social situation where like minded musicians could share their interests in beer, music and strange views on cinema, politics and cars. I think we have managed to do that. RIOTGUN is like a family and/or a club in many ways. We have friends in many bands (Bonecrusher, Social Task, Brassiac, Haters, etc.) that will often join us onstage to sing, play an instrument or just hand us beers mid-song that we consider part of the band/family and the door is always open to all who feel the need to participate. In fact, because of this ever growing family we have developed, Matt "Bone" (drummer) and I have started a side project called "Broken Patron Saints" that incorporates many of the extended family members (Disregard, Cell Block 5, Etc.) and will be closer to traditional Oi! than RIOTGUN, but will still have the intensity of the band.
It's still all about "Beer and Revolution" my friend. As long as there is beer and seedy punk dives (bars/pubs/etc.), we'll be playing and playing our hearts out.
¤Was this the first band for you or where you in any other bands prior to this?
My first band i was in was called "Morbid Face" in 1981 with Alfred Cruz. I remember our symbol was a Ronald Reagan (then president of the USA) face with Crossbones. Musically we were a cross between Ramones, Cockney Rejects, DOA, Black Flag. We probably didn't sound like any of those bands, but those were our influences back then. I then was in a band called Flesh Weapon (84-85) with a Oi! meets Stooges vibe going. Then I was in Sikky Velvette (86-87) with a sound that mixed Sham 69 with the Deadboys and little bit of early Cocksparrer style. In 1988 (fall 87) I started Motorpsycho (not to be confused with the hippy Scandanavian band who would start up in the 90s), very Ramones meets Motorhead sound, with classic OC punk stylings. We toured way too much and had to deal with corrupt management and record label.
Matt was in Crucial Fix prior to RIOTGUN and they were probably the best hardcore band in The OC/LA area. Matt is a Machine! Best drummer I have had the pleasure to drink and create chaos with. He is Riotgun!
Alfred has played in Morbid Face, HVY DRT, Doggy Style, Motorpsycho, Famous Last Words, Bondage Fairies.
Graham used to tour manage us and got drafted to play bass.
¤I hear a bit of Ramones mixed with harder streetpunk in your sound. What bands has been the biggest influences to your sound?
Ramones, Motorhead, Naked raygun, Effigies, Black Flag, Cockney Rejects, Oxymoron, Cocksparrer, Business, Turbonegro, DOA. The list is endless. I have been collecting punk/oi! religiously since 1978. I have many influences that also go beyond music, Bukowski, Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson (B:To wierd to live, to rare to die). But the Ramones are my biggest influence. Saw them for the first time in 1979 and that is when I knew I would be playing music. It was intense. To this day, they are my most favorite and influential band.
¤Hailing from California how is the scene there now? Any new bands we should keep our eyes on?
California has a rich scene with some great bands. There is Bonecrusher, Shooting Lucy, The Haters, Brassiac, Hard Riders, ADZ, Yeastie Boys. We have scattered scenes, but they are all very good and range from oi! to hardcore, some even mix them. Great high energy stuff.
¤Being a "punk" back in the days and being one now. What has changed in the industry and the scene over the years?
Good question. Though there some good bands out there that create our scene (world wide), there are some imposters out there playing punk that don't really care about the culture or the history of it. They are along to cash in on the commercial aspect of what the industry dictates what punk is. Sad to say, a lot of labels (both independent and commercial) that are picking these bands up for the sake of soley making money. I find that as sad. No commitment to the rich history or aesthetic of punk. Punk was designed to save rock n' roll, break barriers, challenge the status quo, be creative and original. It's still out there, you just got to search it out now. The underground will always be there. RIOTGUN is proof of that. We've been around for 17 years plus, we've played every divebar, pub, hall from Tijuana Mexico to Toranto Canada and all points in between (USA). we've played in front of 5 people to 5000 people. It doesn't matter. As long as a band stays true to their beliefs and doesn't try to follow trends, supporters will continue to support and you'll pick up new folks along the way. I'm old, but very opinionated.
¤This is probably the most important part of the interview. What do you know about the almighty great country of Sweden?
Well, i remeber when I was kid (early to mid 80s) there was a great band called the Bristles (B:Actually they are STILL around and you get A+ in Swedish punkhistory for namedropping that band). Cool English sounding punk. Perkele and Bruce banner I have heard in the recent years. Both very good bands. I'm not sure if the Cliche's are still around. Mellincollin I enjoy. I do really like listening to the Hellacopters while BBQing and drinking beer on the weekends. I know we did a couple comps with the Satanic Surfers on point break records in Italy, there were several Swedish bands on that comp. I know Sweden produces some of the finest looking supermodels. How is the BEER out there? (B: Awefull)
¤Any last comments?
I really appreciate all the European support we have received over the years, especially from the Northern European punk/oi! communities. If I had my way, we would have a release out there every 4 months. we'd tour twice a year, but I know times are tight for everyone world wide, but the time will come. Thanks to everyone who supports underground music, not just punk, but all kinds of underground music. If we take the power away from corporate labels/radio and put it back in the hands of the people, our community would better set for consumer and artist. PUNK is empowering. Punk is community. Punk is a theology that inspires, incites and creates unity. The streets are ours, the music is loud, the beer is cold. Lets party hard and live for the future. Cheers friends. You can contact us at: