The Oi!s From The Valley: The Hardknocks
The Hardknocks are not at all what I expected from an American Oi! Punk band. I was ready for some mean dudes, but I got happy, friendly dudes. It was in a quiet neighborhood, in the depths of Sylmar, CA. Just another house on the block, looking at it, you'd never guess deep inside lies the Lion's Den. Anthony let us in through the gate, I find the title "Lion's Den" to be appropriate, as a fierce, adorable, cat has made his home atop the porch. He was obviously in charge, he supervised the entire interview, he demanded some pizza from The Hardknocks! But I digress, after introductions, we wasted no time and got straight to the nitty-gritty:
How did you get the name Hardknocks?
Anthony (Singer): I started the band as a side project in 2010, and that name was just perfect for the stuff we were writing at the time and right now. So it fit the band and the style. In 2014 we started playing more seriously and started recording and putting out records. This is the lineup since 2014.
How did the band get started?
A: Me and Dave were playing in another band called C.I. at the time a few years back, and I decided to start a side project with Raymond and we used to play in an old band together back in like 2005 – 2006. So we started our own side project and we had brought in our friend Jordan, he sings for Down for Life. We wanted to play a different style. I mean, at the time the bands that were playing, nobody was really playing Oi! Music. So we wanted to bring our own influence and like Geo said, we kind of called it thug rock at that time. Yeah, so we just decided to start an American Oi! Band, and that’s what it was.
[disembodied voice]: Oi!
How would you describe your sound?
A: We used to. Now-a-days we play whatever we want. We’re not really an “Oi! Band”, we’re not really a “Hardcore band” or a “Street Punk band” we’re a little mixture of everything.
What is the farthest you’ve toured?
A: The furthest we’ve gone is the Midwest. We’ve played in Minneapolis; we’ve played the Midwest Live and Loud Festival with bands from all over the world, from Europe, and all over the states, and that was our biggest trip yet, right? We got a lot lined up.
What was it like playing in Minneapolis? Are the crowds crazy there?
A: Everybody was super nice. They’re all big-ass dudes out there. They’re all intimidating, but you know, they were all nice dudes. There was really no drama. There was like one fight out of the whole weekend, so it was really good.
Do you have any jobs outside the music?
A: I’m self-employed. I’m Anthony, by the way.
Ray (Drummer): I’m the Forman for a demolition company. That’s my job 24/7.
Dave (Lead Guitar): I work in quality control. Gotta quality control all these assholes. [he gestures to his band members]
[A hardy laugh all around]
Geo (Rhythm Guitar): I’m your neighborhood Uber and Lyft and School Bus Driver. I take your babies to school, and safely.
Myke Evol The One and Only (Bass): I am a Male Prostitute, just kidding, no I’m not. No, I work in sheet metal, for construction.
Any job stories? Any horror stories or anything?
A: I’ll give this one to Raymond, he has the best one, I guess.
R: Well back in 2013 I fuckin fell off a ladder almost the size of this house. It was maybe two stories. I fell when the whole ladder slid off the roof. I fell and that shit landed on top of me, and I ended up breaking my wrist. Which actually set me back two years of playing drums.
D: My job’s boring so on to the next.
G: Well exciting is if you ever have a cerebral palsy little kid in a wheelchair just Exorcist-Throw-Up all over you. And I mean every day for like two weeks straight. That is kick-ass!
M: I don’t have any horror stories. I mean, just up high in the air on scaffolding. It’s scary. That’s about it.
G: But you gotta tell them how big your ass is!
M: I’m about 320lbs, on scaffolding up seven stories. Ey, and when I say those planks bend, THEY BEND!
R: I’ve broken a ceiling or two.
M: Actually I DO have a story! I do, since you said that. I did fall through a ceiling once. It was in Santa Monica. This old church where they have these nice weddings. They were getting ready for a wedding and we were doing the AC ducts, and this building is OLD and I was in the attic. I stepped off one of the planks and I just hit the dry-wall and my foot went through - BLAM! It was over the dance floor. They were like “They’re having a wedding here tomorrow!” so we had to call in some guys and fix the dry wall and they’re like “THIS BUILDING IS 200 YEARS OLD!” and I was like “Why the FUCK do you have us up there then!? Why do you have ME up there!? I barely fit in the damn attic!”
Any hobbies outside the music?
A: I used to be big on graphic design, but I’m starting to get back into it… Probably the last 15 years or so I did flyers for many shows out here.
R: I’m Ray, I don’t have that much of a hobby.
D: For me, I’m David, my biggest hobby is guitar. Even if I wasn’t playing in a band, I’d just always be playing; and recently I got into repairing guitars and anything to do with guitars. I recently got into photography. So that’s a lot of fun and it also comes in handy with us doing videos or taking band photos.
A: BACK TO ME! I’m actually interested in video editing and I just did our first video which is called Lion’s Den on YouTube. So I actually did that myself. Don’t ask me how I did it. I don’t know. It took me a few days, but I figured it out.
D: A lot of trial-and-error, while sitting there. Also, if I were to choose a career path, I’d choose Audio Engineering cos I’ve been recording all our stuff since day one. It’s been fun. There’s been, you know, painful times with these guys. Sometimes 30 – 40 takes. Cos [we’re] pretty much learning the songs on the spot. Over the years I’ve gotten better and better. I think our next album is definitely one of our best.
G: Yes, on that note, our album is definitely gonna be a banger. Besides being a full time kid and dad at the same time, I mean, shit, all kinds of shit. Like right now I coach my son’s soccer team, so we’re kickin’ ass on that. I mean four year olds kickin ass? That’s bad ass. Avid stoner. Shit. I like to lift heavy things and women.
M: Heavy women.
G: That’s right, baby!
D: Everyone’s gonna [read] that.
G: Go ahead, bring your friends.
A: Bring your friends.
M: I don’t have any! … I like to, well I haven’t done it much in a while, but I like to spray paint. Not illegally anymore. I’m too fat to be running around. I have a board in the backyard and I just spray paint. It’s like my own relaxation. [Mike’s phone dings] And I like to Snap.
R: Oh, shit!
M: I like to go skiing. Hitting the slopes.
R: No go back to snap. You’re a snapchat fuckin advocate. Explain!
M: I like to snap!
R: you should work for snapchat. He’s better than our own fuckin publicist.
M: Well I snapped already, [Paco] was in the video. I just have a lot of people interested in my life, that’s it.
Can you elaborate on the album?
A: The new album is halfway done. We just finished recording all the music. I have not finished writing all the lyrics for it. Basically it will be a continuing of our new EP that just came out, which is titled Angels and Demons. So it will be around the same route as that. This new album is definitely gonna be harder, heavier, also melodic. We have a couple “Sing-Alongs” that will be there for everybody… to fuckin sing along.
D: As a recording engineer… I gotta give everyone credit cos they really stepped it up. Along with the new techniques I’ve been using and the way everyone’s been practicing and stepping it up, I think everything sounds super tight and on-point. I’m pretty proud of everybody. Especially Ray when he had to lay down like twelve drum tracks within a week or two; and he had to juggle it with work too. That’s really tough. Coming out of work tired and still have to play the drums. We do what he have to do. Like we were saying, all of us have day jobs, so we’re exhausted by the time we get out of here but we love to do it and that’s what keeps us going.
G: Oi! Doesn’t pay the bills, but this album might. That’s how good it is.
M: I’m excited for it to come out! It sounds good! Sounds awesome! It’s supposed to be out this summer.
A: I could talk a lot of shit right now. The scene from back then to now, it’s changed a lot. Back when I was going to shows, it was at it’s prime. We had bands from Ventura County coming out. This was like early 2000s. 2001, 2002. We had bands like The Last Priority, Ragtime Revolutionaries… Angel City Outcast, The Brigs, that was when they were making it. We had a lot of bands that we were fortunate to see a lot of. Good bands and good shows. From then till the last ten years, maybe five, ten years it’s changed a lot. Now the scene is divided. There’s crews, there’s neighborhoods, and it’s just divided. It’s all over LA, and to be honest, I don’t go to shows in the valley anymore. It’s just too different. The last time I did go it was nothing but kids. It’s just not the same.
With the activity going on in East LA, South LA pretty active, like every weekend. How do you feel about out here.
A: With East LA; East LA is where it’s at. We actually played our first show in East LA like two months ago. Our buddy Nacho from Corrupted Youth, he’s the man to go to for all the shows. He hit us up and he was like “Come play one of my shows” so we went, and we played in front of about 400 + kids. That was the most kids I’ve ever seen in a fuckin backyard. We’re playing there again July 14th, and we do have a couple more shows in the works. The scene is definitely alive and kicking in LA.
If you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?
M: Probably do a lot of drugs.
[Laughter, all around]
M: (continued) Go out with a bang! Probably spend it with my family. Spend time with my friends and family drugged out. Try to get everybody drugged out so we could have a good time.
G: I’d probably hit up all those casinos. Go to those nice, single, divorcees, just out there, spending that money.
G: (continued) Oh… But I’d want my dick to stay on, but then again, we’re dying already so what the fuck’s the matter? I gotta come back on that.
R: I don’t know, I’d probably smoke weed. Just smoke weed and stay in bed till I die.
A: That’s a tough question for me, cos there’s so many things that I would do if I had 24 hours. I would probably rob a Guitar Center, and take all their fucking Gibsons.
Follow up: Why?
M: I’M BROKE!
A: Cos I can’t afford Gibsons, well, I have two, but the one I want is about five grand and I can’t afford it.
R: I don’t have any other plans. It’s short notice.
D: I suppose if I had a week I’d do as much traveling as possible, but 24 hours you can’t really do that.
G: Well it’s because I have a gambling problem, and fucking why not?
M: I just really like drugs. But yeah, I would just spend it with my family, cos we always have a lot of parties. It’s always good to be around family. [whispers] Not invite these guys.
M: Craziest thing I’ve done?
Craziest thing you’ve done or craziest thing that’s happened.
M: This was my other band but I fell off the stage.
How did you do that?
M: Well cos the stage was an awkward size. It was like 3 ½ ft., so I misjudged it and I rolled my ankle. Luckily it was when we were loading in. There were people in there, but there wasn’t that many. And we went to Minnesota… Should I tell that one? We just partied all night in Minnesota, me and the drummer, Ray.
G: Played on mushrooms with this thrash band I got [Merciless Death]. It was actually an important show. It was in London. We played Open Air Metal Assault and it was right before Sodom, and I took mushrooms about two hours before. By the time we were playing, third song mid in, I don’t know what I was playing. Imagine that, in front of 18,000 kids. There’s video of it, I’m pretty sure if you look it up. We were three songs in and It was like an hour set.
M: Quick one, I don’t know if you guys remember this one. We played in San Jose, and I got TRASHED before we even played. I got hammered. I remember Anthony and my brother were trying to make me throw up in the bathroom before we played. It was too late, we were on and I THOUGHT I sounded good, but according to everybody else, I don’t know. They said I was screaming out random lyrics, wasn’t singing the right song.
D: I wouldn’t say it’s the craziest thing, but one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen was Anthony super shit-faced and in the same exact spot twice he slipped and ate shit. Just slipped on his ass. One was a stage dive and the second he was trying to go in the pit. I think it was the same show where Jill was taunting me. We’re bandmates and we’re friends, he’s over there acting like I’m a stranger, like I’m nobody and he keeps pushing me and pushing me. I socked him in his face, and he just laughs… That was definitely one of the funniest shows.
Dave has a studio, you can contact him on Facebook. :D
Myke Evol does some acoustic shit, but we have yet to find an internet presence. (Mike, if you have a site or anything that you want here, contact us!)
Recommended Listening: Violencia