The OG Los Angeles punks, Social Conflict
Earlier this year, we sat down with Social Conflict. A band that has been around longer than I knew punk rock was a thing. This band is sweeter than they look. Okay, look, I'll level with you. I'm a little drunk and that's probably because I'm in quarantine (like the rest of you) during this global pandemic. The first of which that we've had in 100 years give or take. Just like this could not have been predicted, neither could the answers and thoughts of this band. Dude, I'm squiffy as fuck (sorry mom). Anyway, I really hope you enjoy this interview while you self quarantine! Enjoy!! I love you all and stay safe!
How did you individually get your start in the group?
Jesse (Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Lead Vocalist): The band’s been going since 1994 and has constantly had different members. Everybody’s fairly new except for Mo, who’s been with us for a little bit already.
Mo (Bass Player, Gangster Extraordinaire, El Maniaco): Yeah, I’ve known Jesse since, fuck, 2007 – 2008?
Mo: Actually, I’ve played with Social Conflict for a while, remember? Like in 2009 or 10 for a brief moment.
J: Daniel’s been in the band for…
Daniel (Lead Guitarist): a couple months.
M: He’s a newbie, so we’re still hazing him and shit. I know it’s illegal to haze people, but we do it.
[Remember, Mo is El Maniaco]
Nick (Drums): Seven months now. Something like that.
J: But the band’s been going since like ’94. All kinds of different members.
M: From all different walks. Turned out to be rock stars.
How did you land on the name Social Conflict?
N: Look at us.
J: It’s like Conflict; Society; People in general. That name came about in ‘94 – ’95. Before that we were just jamming out as like The Parasites or a couple other names we had, but Social started in ’94.
Do you have day jobs?
N: I have a family construction business. I do direct field operations for that during the day.
J: I have an appliance repair company.
M: I run a screen-printing shop. It’s loads of fun.
N: He makes all of our merchandise.
M: ALL OF IT.
D: Right now I’m actually unemployed, because I recently got fired.
M: He used to work for me and got fired.
What is a song from your teenage years that still resonates with you today?
M: Easy to fuck this one up. There’s too many.
D: Too many to say, other than – actually I would say Three Souls, Misfits, mostly. Vampiro by Three Souls. That one makes me feel maniaco.
M: Anything from the first Suicidal Tendencies record, Subhumans: The Day The Country Died. Dr. Know. That’s pretty much all my childhood shit. All the shit I’d hear in skate demos and at skate shops. That’s pretty much exactly how I got into punk rock.
J: I would say Rudimentary Peni, the Death Church album. I was into Nirvana as a youngster.
N: I would say – I can’t pick a song, but at the time I was listening to Lagwagon. Gutter Mouth actually got me into punk and I still listen to them, and a lot of the early Fat Wreck Chords bands like Strung Out, Propagadhi, Good Riddance. Bands like that; even Ten Foot Pole, they’re on Epitaph. I was just always going to shows as a teenager. That 90s explosion of Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords. That was my life.
What is the first record, tape, or CD you owned?
N: Three questions? Record, tape, CD. [Nick points to Daniel] I don’t think he’s ever owned a record or a tape.
D: CD, yeah, but record, nah.
N: What was your first CD?
D: Fuckin’ Metallica: Justice For All.
M: My first record, believe it or not, was a 7 inch of some rap shit. [To Jessie] Do you know where The Mercadito is?
M: Right there. They used to have a record store down there. As for CD… I don’t think I’ve ever bought a CD.
N: What’s the first CD you stole?
M: I don’t know, that’s hard to say. There’ve been so many. Tape: My old buddy Carlos Guzman gave me a tape with a bunch of old school punk rock shit in it. So much badass shit. And it was the shit. I can’t tell you what bands were on it...cos I’m drunk right now.
J: I have a lot of tapes, like Black Flag: First four years on cassette. The Germs, D.I., Dead Kennedys. CDs, I got a lot of 90s shit like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam. Stuff like that.
N: First, now, keep in mind I was young when I started getting into music. I was not into punk rock back then. My first vinyl was a single, 7 inch. It was a band called Cinderella... I don’t remember which tape [was my first], but I can say it was probably Def Leppard: Hysteria. The one with Pour Some Sugar On Me and all that stuff. The first CD I ever bought was –
M: Hey Brother, I’m gonna pour some sugar on you right now… [Indiscernible flirtation]
N: First CD was Pearl Jam: Ten. It’s still a really good album.
If there was a Biopic about your band, who would you want directing and who would play you?
M: I’d have Robert De Niro play me. Who would direct it? George Lucas.
N: Rob Zombie would be a good one.
Who would play you?
J: Charles Manson.
M: I was gonna say that guy from Star Trek.
N: What about that actor that recently died; the one that was in House of 1000 Corpses? The clown dude?
N: Yeah. He would play [Jesse], because of the bald head and beard. I’d have Zach Galifianakis play me, and it would be directed by the Farrelly Brothers, because this band’s hilarious.
D: I’ll let you guys choose for me.
N: Antonio Banderas.
N: Maybe Lou Diamond Phillips.
M: Yeah, Ol’ Richie… He got strung out, Bob. Their mom was a bitch, she only cared about Richie.
N: “It’s not my first... or my last.” [From La Bamba, for anyone who seriously hasn't seen it yet]
M: She didn’t give a fuck about Bob. That always pissed me off…
From your experience, what are your thoughts on the state of the punk scene and its evolution over the years?
M: I think it’s cool. It’s more tolerant to everybody and shit. Nobody has to worry about shit. If you’re fighting with somebody, then you’re fighting with somebody, but you ain’t gonna get picked on for no specific reason, which is good.
J: I think it’s always gone up and down. It’s always fluctuated. Right now, it’s somewhere at its peak. It’s hitting pretty hard.
M: It depends how you look at it. There’s a bunch of different scenes within the scene itself. Some people are only going to bar shows or club shows, and some people are strictly going to backyard shows or all ages events. It’s different, you know, especially from one part of the scene to the other. East LA is different from the valley, whether it’s the San Fernando Valley or the San Gabriel Valley. It’s all different. Then you got South Central. Then you got Orange County… All together, it’s just different. All of them fluctuate. Got their good times and bad times. Sometimes it sucks; sometimes it’s rad.
N: The bar scene is pretty light with attendance and stuff like that. All ages shows usually go off, cause they’re usually in a backyard or somewhere like the VFW Hall. Sometimes bands will go into a parking structure they’re not supposed to play in and play until the cops come. Which sucks for some of the all ages places, because it could be a backyard and it could get shut down before you go up. That’s the thing that’s always been the trouble. There’s never been anywhere for punk bands to play, even back in the 80s. Until they got the coo coos nest, but then that got shut down. It’s tough for bands to get in front of who they want to get in front of.
If you wrote a book about your experience in the punk scene, what would it be called?
M: 'El Maniac'; or 'Fucking Oblivious', I guess.
N: First of all, I’ve never read a book, so I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
D: We’re punks!
That’s it! 'We’re Punks!: The Story of Social Conflict;
M: 'The agony of having to sit though and wait and listen to a shitty band before you… Including your own. So you’re waiting through a bunch of shitty bands but once your band gets on you’re a shitty band too. That’s just the way I see it. I hate waiting through fucking… especially in the backyard scene, you had to sit there and wait and wait and wait and hope the fucking pigs don’t show up. So you’re just sitting there and scoffing at bands like *Scoffs*” Fuck you guys” and I’m always that guy. That’s how I got my nickname. My nickname is Angry Old Moe, because I was always the older dude at the backyard shows waiting like Hurry up, you fucking kids. Like, “You’re angry, we’re gonna call you Angry Old Moe.” Whatever, dude. Call me what you want, but hurry the fuck up. We’re trying to play and shit. We gotta go to work tomorrow.' [Best book title ever, em I right?]
Do any of you have a secret or unusual talent?
N: I have a culinary degree. So I cook.
M: I used to be a plumber and I’m double-jointed.
N: Does that mean you have two joints?
D: I don’t know… Being too fucking maniacs. That’s your fun fact right there.
M: Fun fact about me is I love Chihuahuas.
Dream Line Up
M: Michael Jackson, Tina Turner… Tina Turner’s dead? She died?
J: I heard she got beat to death
M: Ike fucked her up!
J: I would say Black Sabbath, The Doors, The Germs, D.R.I.
D: Megadeth. That would be badass. As cliché as it is.
M: That’s not a festival. I would like to see the original lineup for Angry Samoans play. Original Dead Kennedys, all of them whether dead or alive. Original line up for Sepultura, that’d be the shit.
D: Cannibal Corpse.
N: I would probably say Lagwagon with Derrick the original drummer, who was a heavy influence on me when I was learning to play drums. As I get older, I’m getting into the older punk I wasn’t into before. I’d say I’d to see a festival with all those old bands like Hüsker Dü and Black Flag. Circle Jerks, Minor Threat. Mission of Burma and some of those other post-punk bands like The Jam, The Clash… A festival with all those bands in their prime would be cool.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve seen at a show (attended or played)?
M: Getting shot at by the cops… (and) fucking pepper spray paint balls and shit. Twice, one time at a show in City Terrace, and one time at a show at The Voltage House, also in City Terrace. Crazy as fuck cause we’re like sitting there.
J: That one was fucking nuts.
M: Trying not to get hit running across the with amps in your hands, and drums in your hands. Trying to roll out and they’re trying to shoot your ass. Actively and shit. One of the other ones not at The Voltage House, but the other one: It was crazy cause we were done playing and the next band started… as soon as we got done, one of my other bands, my old school bands. The cops were sitting there, just posted, and some dickhead decided he wanted to throw a bottle at the cops. [the venue] is on a hillside and shit, so he was in the perfect position to chuck the bottle. BAM! As soon as the first bottle hit… next thing you know these fucking pigs are opening their trunks and shit, loading up their guns and POP! POP! POP! POP! That’s all you hear and shit… Next thing you know you couldn’t breathe and shit. That’s when we started grabbing all our shit and rolling the fuck out. At that time they were trying to shoot us too, but they were protecting themselves, because all these dickheads were throwing rocks and bottles at them and shit. It was like Palestine.
You got out unscathed?
M: Yeah, fuck yeah.
N: For me, it would be the very first punk show I saw in San
Bernardino at the San Bernardino Arena. Unwritten Law was headlining and Scott Russo was up there and I believe the song was World War Three. There was a giant pit and the pit kind of spilled over to where the stage was. Somebody smacked the microphone and knocked it right into his teeth, chipped his tooth, kept singing, kept playing and finished the show, but after the song was over he was like “Aw, I just lost part of my tooth. Aw well.” But he kept going. I thought it was fucking rad.
D: I was at a Misfits concert with my brother. We got tickets, but we thought they were tickets to the front. They really weren’t. I don’t know if you’ve seen, there are people at like gates at certain positions. We were second to front, and we’re like What the fuck? We told the security, we were like “Hey, we don’t have VIP, we were supposed to get VIP. Come on, come on, let us in.” They were like “Nah, nah.” And my brother was like “We’ll fuck it” and they were like “Alright, go back and drop it here, but it better be more than fifty bucks though.” We’re like “Alright for sure.” But we were like fuck that and my brother rolled up a bunch of ones so it looked like a bunch of fucking loot and he shows it to them and he’s like “Alright, come in.”… We ended up going there like fuck yeah. I remember doing fucking a couple lines of fucking coke and going in the fucking pit and being fucking crazy. That was some fucking badass shit.
J: There was a show in Echo Park. They had people going crazy while we were playing, and this one guy, he kept swinging at people. Like he was trying to punch them, like he was trying to take them out in the pit. So he kept doing that and it didn’t last very long, but he did it and it seemed for quite a while he was punching people out and dropping people and then everybody kind of scattered and this one girl got brave and she started going towards him and he started beating the shit out of her. He grabbed her by the hair and started swinging her around. Like fuck, everybody stopped and this guy comes out of his garage with a rake and starts fucking hitting the dude with it. Somebody else comes out with a chain and starts hitting him with a chain. Where are they getting all these things from? We just stopped playing and everybody was like “ahhhh! Stop! Stop!” They dragged that dude out. The girl got up and her face was bleeding , I mean he was beating the shit out of her, you know? So they got him up and dragged him outside and beat the fuck out of him on the sidewalk. I remember going out to the front and looking and he was completely laid out. Blood all over his face and coming out of his mouth, and this one dude comes out of the back with boots and puts his head against a poll and fucking knocked all his teeth out. Cops came and started fucking shooting. People were jumping out of cars.
D: There’s one story; it’s not mine, it’s actually my uncle’s. He was telling me he was going to go to a concert… This was years ago, like, 2007, around there and he was telling me that he went with his friend, but his friend got really drunk. They were like "fuck it, we’ll bring him like that" and they got him on his feet and they were dragging him and shit. He was fucking dragging him “Ah ni pedo, vamanos!”
Security was like “He’s too passed out. He can’t go in.”
“Nah pues ahorita se va alivianar. Ahorita se va levanter. That foo’s gonna wake up right now.”
And security was like “Nah, fuck that. You guys can go in, but not that guy.”
They were like Fuuuck, and he told me that there was a tree in front of the concert and they fucking left him there sitting down. They fucking left him there and he just went inside the concert. My uncle was like, medio culero, he felt pretty bad.
He was like "I’m gonna check up on that foo". "Chinga tu madre, that foo’s gone! Where did that foo go?" That foo was actually safe, and the fucking cops took him out. The next day, that guy calls from the fucking jail.
He was like “Hey, Cheko! Me metieron al bote! I’m in fucking jail” My uncle’s like “Fuck, we’ll come get you!” That foo’s saying when the cops came he was so drunk that when they picked him up, he started throwing up all over the cops and shit. No mames! Fuck. I just cracked up.
M: My final thought is I really like being in this band. It’s fucking great. I appreciate every time we play and practice and any type of shit we do. As long as we’re doing it I’m fucking happy. It’s the best hobby anybody could have. Even though we take it super serious, we still love doing it and we’ll never stop. Yeah. It’ll never stop that’s for sure.
J: I’m not gonna stop, you know? Till the day I can’t do it no more. I’m going on twenty seven years now.
N: I’d say I look forward to the band growing, gaining a following. Doing more things, going on tours… holding it down in our hometown. To get to the point where when we book a show, we’re gonna have one hundred people come see us. That’s the goal, and the music is there and it’s really good. Everybody’s really talented in this band. It’s just a matter of getting in front of people that want to see you. That’s always the hard part.
D: Same thing applies to me, but I know I’ve only been in this band a couple months, but I fucking love it. I fucking love hanging out with these maniacs. Makes me feel like I’m part of a family, you know? Cause I grew up differently and this is a dream come true. This is happiness. I look forward to years and years of playing and doing shows. Everyone seeing each other grow up… Having a bunch of desmadre going on. Fucking love where I am. Don’t want more; don’t want less. Just happy with the position I’m in now.
N: I’d also add that it’s gonna be a great time for punk rock because the world is pretty much in the shitter, and that’s the best time for everything to come out that punk rock is about. Calling everything out on bullshit, and there’s a lot of bullshit being slung right now.
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