Thursday, April 5, 2007
Spending his high school years in of King City was not easy for Felix Lozano. The guitarist, who moved to the Salinas Valley town from Texas when he was 13, was into punk rock music, while most of his peers were more interested in the King City High School Mustangs.
“The whole punk rock scene wasn’t cool,” he says. “It’s a football town, basically.”
Lozano also stood out from the other kids because he looked different. “Having a mohawk in King City was not the most normal thing to do,” he says. “It made for a rough day at school.”
When Lozano first arrived, he was into ‘80s metal acts such as Motley Crue. But, after meeting a fellow outcast named Dave Ketchum, who currently plays bass for the Monterey country rock group Darktown Rounders, Lozano was introduced to hardcore punk bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag.
Lozano says he was drawn to punk rock for the sense of community, perhaps because of his geographic isolation. At the punk rock shows he traveled to, the bands would often shove the mic into the crowd and let audience members sing the lyrics. After their performances, the musicians would usually mingle with the crowd rather than retreating backstage.
Thus inspired, Lozano joined a band—a King City ska-metal outfit called Stub. Five years ago, after moving up to Watsonville, he formed his own punk group, Los Dryheavers, with vocalist Hector Marquez.
At first, the bandmembers had very humble goals. “We wanted to have a band that wasn’t serious,” Lozano says. “We just wanted to play parties for beer.” Over the years, Los Dryheavers has become a more serious project for the musicians. The group has headlined some pretty big venues, including the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, and even did the 2004 and 2005 West Coast dates for the popular Vans Warped Tour.
Lozano insists that the band’s recent successes haven’t made them overly discriminating when choosing what venues they will perform at. “We’ll play anywhere,” he says. “We’ll play established clubs and a kid’s garage.”
The band’s last release was 2004’s >>Hangups, Heartaches and Hangovers. That CD features songs including the driving punk number “Anymore,” and “Working Class Tragedy,” which could be pop punk if it wasn’t for Marquez’s rough-around-the-edges vocals. Even more compelling is the harder-edged “Curvas Peligrosas,” which is sung in Spanish.
Currently, Los Dryheavers are putting the finishing touches on an as-yet-unnamed follow-up to >>Hangups, Heartaches and Hangovers. Lozano says that some of the new songs are influenced by more melodic acts including The Replacements and The Psychedelic Furs. “There’s more growth on it,” he insists.
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During two tours of Spain in 2005 and 2006, Los Dryheavers befriended a handful of European punk rock bands, including Des-Kontrol, a quintet that performs with Los Dryheavers Thursday night at the Lava Lounge. “It’s kind of like the foreign exchange punk rock movement,” Lozano says of Los Dryheavers’ relationship with the European punk community.
Des-Kontrol hails from Basque country, a region in Northern Spain and Southern France that has struggled to secede from the two nations. The Basque people speak their own language called Euskera, which differs greatly from the Spanish and French spoken nearby. One of the primary groups in the Basque region seeking autonomy is the ETA, a paramilitary collective often referred to as a terrorist organization.
Influenced by legendary punk acts including the Ramones and The Clash, Des-Kontrol sings their original songs in English, Spanish and Euskera. On “Freedom for My Land,” the band repeats the English phrase “freedom for my land/freedom for the Basque Country now” over a punk tune that recalls Rancid. A song sung in Spanish, “Chicos del Oi,” begins with the theme music from the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film >>A Clockwork Orange before some punk rock riffs overtake the moody instrumental composition.
Despite the foreign lyrics, “Altxa Gaitezen” and “Azken Bolada Hontan” are catchy punk ditties that urge even the non-Euskera speaker to sing along. Best of all is “Azken Bolada Hontan,” a number where the bandmembers trade vocals and the chorus is something English speakers can easily understand: a series of “la, la, las.”
LOS DRYHEAVERS, DES-KONTROL, TRIED AND TRUE AND MADTOWN MULLIGAN play the Lava Lounge in Club Octane, 321 Alvarado St., Monterey, Thursday, April 5, at 9pm. No cover. 646-9244.