I Wanna Be Your Dog #2, Nov. 77

Local Scene.


"If everybody had a ocean
Across the U.S.A.
Then everybody'd be surfin'
Like California
They'd be wearin' their baggies
Jarachi sandals too
Bushy, bushy blond hairdos
Surfin' U.S.A."

   Surf is still "up" in California but there is a "New Wave." When the sun goes down on Sunset Strip they come out. They're lined up in front of the Whiskey or the Starwood to see the Runaways, The Wierdos, The Germs, The Damned, The Screamers or Backstage Pass. They're dressed in black, tight pants, pointed shoes, second hand leopard skin, covered in safety pins or wrapped up in tape. They're trying hard to look ugly. "We're into life -life is ugly." L.A. "Punks," they 're loud, they misbehave, they get violent -Generation Gap 1977, Hollywood Style.
   The scene revolves around the bands and their performances. Three bands stand out. The Wierdos, Backstage Pass and the Screamers.
   The Whiskey is packed: "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Wierdos."' In front of the stage they start yelling and jumping up and down their arms raised in the Wierdo salute (three fingers raised like a W), The Wierdos come onstage covered with chains, badges, buttons and just about anything else you could imagine all over their torn clothing. Nicki Beat, the drummer, has a huge black eye (its make up but it looks real under the lights. Their music is really loud and powerful. Each song sounds pretty much the same but nobody cares. There IS violence in the air but it doesn't seem too serious. People aren't pissed off at each other but pissed off in general and this is the way they express it. The Wierdos songs mirror this frustration. Why Do You Exist. A Life Of Clime. Scream Baby Scream. Destroy All Music.

"I'm gonna kick in the radio
I'm gonna bomb the record store
I say destroy all music
I say you just can't use it"

   Backstage Pass is an all girl band with one boy: the drummer. They look like groupies, they are groupies. They sing about being groupies. Their music is more like straight heavy rock and roll. They're not "Punks," but definitely part of the New Wave.
   The Screamers are the most unique, exciting and original of the LA punk bands. Tomata and Tommy Gear are the stars. Instead of guitars they use piano, synthesizer, drums and a rhythm arranger to create a sound that has few comparisons in pop music. Eno and Nino Rota (music for Fellini's films) seem the only possible influences. Tomata, the lead singer, dances wildly about the stage like a marionette from outer space.
   Their songs speak eloquently but directly to their peers. Peer Pressure, Punish or be Damned and Magazine Love:

"You don't love me
  you love magazines.
Those glossy pages
  they go to your head
You like to turn them
   alone In your bed."

   The Screamers are real showmen and their act is much more varied than most of the other punk bands. They can be heavy or funny even in the same song. Tomata introduces I'm Going Steady With Twiggy: "This is a song about a dead girl."

"I've had a faceful of
  Marianne Faithful
Penelope Tree
  don't do nothin' for me
Jane Asher
   was a teenage crasher.
I'm going steady with Twiggy."

   This scene provides an outlet for all those teenagers who hate surf, sun and life. It's wild and even dangerous but coming of age always has been. The Wierdos song Teenage says it all.

"First came the Stoneage
Then came the Bronze age
Then came the Atomic Age
Now It's the Teenage. Go:
Teenage. teenage
I wanna car, I wanna girl
Teenage, teenage
Don't wanna work,
  don't wanna go to school
Teenage, teenage
Leave me alone
  I don't care about you
I don't care about you
'Cuz I'm teenage and I'm young
And I'm strong and I'm wild
And I'm teenage."

-Philip Miller