People that regularly read conversationswithbianca.com know that I love finding fun new music and supporting upcoming bands, especially when they do posi things for others and are good people—Scurvy Kids are such a band with their hearts totally in the right place. They’ve been putting on benefit shows for years with proceeds going to help terminally ill children and their families through organizations such as the Maraposas Foundation. They’ve shared the stage with, and call friends, some of both your and my favourite punk bands: Misfits, Agent Orange, the Dickies and more! This is their first Australian interview.
What was your first introduction to punk rock?
BEN: My introduction to punk was when my parents took me to Johnny Ramone’s funeral.
ERIC: Joining Scurvy Kids was my first real introduction to punk rock, before that I was always into metal, I grew up around it.
JACOB: It might have not been my first introduction to punk rock, but the first time I felt like a true punk was when I was asked by Wade (from Unwritten Law) to sound check his drums before our gig at the Whisky A Go-Go.
NICOLE: Joan Jett introduced me to punk.
When I was talking with Wade, who first told me about how awesome you guys were, he said that he started playing drums as that was pretty much the spot that was left to fill in the band and I know it was the same for me when I played bass in my first punk band. When did you first pick up an instrument? What’s your musical background?
NICOLE: I started off playing the saxophone, but then I got braces and it sucked so my music teacher gave me guitar lessons and I HATED it! Next was the bass and when I tried it, I was like “damn, bass it is!”
ERIC: I started playing guitar at 10 because I wanted to be Kirk Hammett of Metallica. I taught myself for two years, then took lessons for the next eight.
JACOB: I started off with guitar at 10 too and I wasn’t that good! I had no interest in it so I picked up drums and at first I was self-taught, but started taking lessons shortly after.
What or who inspired you to start a punk band?
BEN: My long-time friend Jerry Only of the Misfits inspired me to start a punk band. I’ve been going to shows since I was six and I have met so many great people along the way that supported and even pushed me to do what I do today!
Your music leans towards the old school style of punk (which I love!); what attracts you to that style?
ERIC: Old-school is where it all started.
Can you talk a little about the music that you make?
ERIC: We’re trying to implement that old school sound along with the heaviness of today’s music that we love.
What’s the Scurvy Kids’ story? Tell us a little about your band. How’d SK come to be?
BEN: My older brothers Drew and Stephen started playing guitar and bass, we decided to start a band where I played drums and my brother Chris sang. We were going to call ourselves ANGUIANOS (our last name, like the Ramones) but no one could pronounce it! My Mom broke her leg and we used to joke that she had stuff living under her cast, like bugs and plants and gross fungus type stuff! We told her she probably had scurvy! One day she called us her “scurvy kids” and the name just stuck!
We badly played our instruments (except Drew who was and still is an excellent guitarist) and we printed band shirts and bragged how we were in this great punk rock band! We were pulling off our own great rock and roll swindle! A good friend of ours told us we better learn to play and become a real band or he would rat us out (he was just trying to motivate us) so we did! We never played a show with Drew who went off to college, so we switched instruments, recruited our Dad to drum and started playing in 2006.
We played the LA punk scene for 4 years. My brothers decided they wanted to do other things so I chose to build a new version of the band and asked Nicole and Eric to join in 2011, Jacob joined in 2013 and this is by far the best we’ve ever been! I am so proud of the band, we have come so far and I hope we continue to grow! Maybe even to the point where we can play some Australian shows in the future!
Is your line-up solid now?
BEN: The core four of Eric, Nicole, Jacob and myself are solid as a rock! We are currently looking for a second guitarist.
What’s your favourite song you’ve made so far?
NICOLE: “Under One Condition”. It’s about disliking someone at first and then realizing that they might be okay and then solidly realizing that you hate them, which is how I feel about everyone at school!
JACOB: “Lucky?” It’s about someone we looked up to and loved who gave it, and us, all up for drugs.
BEN: My favourite original is “Blood Drunk”. It’s a song about a vampire who wants a woman all to himself.
ERIC: “Sacrifice”. I love the combination of old school punk mixed with today’s sound. It’s about a prisoner in the concentration camps of World War II
Since I got into punk rock – like almost 20 years ago! (yeah I’m an old…ha!) – I’ve always been fascinated with punk communities in different parts of the world and I always like to ask people I chat with what it’s like in there town so, fill us in! What’s the good and the bad about your punk rock community?
SCURVY KIDS: The good…in L.A., we still have a good punk rock scene. Great bands, like the Dickies, the Misfits, DI, Unwritten Law, Koffin Kats and Agent Orange play and are willing to have bands like us be on the bill with them. It gives us a chance to explore all different types of punk and play for true punk rock fans!
The bad…as it’s been since the beginning of punk rock, it’s the people who feel the need to live up to the drug and violent stereotypes that people pin on our music.
SK played a benefit for terminally ill kids recently; how important is it to you guys to do stuff like that and give back to the community?
SK: The show we just played “Cancer Sucks” is an annual benefit that we put on. We just played our seventh annual show. We’ve worked with the Maraposas Foundation for years, and do our part to help terminally ill children and their families. We volunteer our time and at the end of the day it’s one of the most satisfying things you can do. In fact it’s the most important thing we do!
What’s some other causes that SK feel passionate about? Or is there anything else you’d like to raise awareness of?
SK: We truly believe in helping our community, both the punk rock AND our local community. We have thrown fundraisers for those in need, we put up touring bands at Ben’s house, we look out for other bands—we do what we can.
In your experience, what’s one of the greatest challenges that a young band like SK face?
SK: People always have the reaction “oh, another kid band?” and underestimate us. It just means we have to prove ourselves every show!
SK have shared stages with the Misfits, The Dickies, Fear, DI, Agent Orange and more! Tell us about your favourite show so far?
BEN: Playing with the Misfits because that’s one of my favourite bands that still inspires me to this day; they are such great guys, Jerry brings me out to sing with them! (see below).
NICOLE: Playing with Agent Orange because it was fun to open for one of my favourite bands!
ERIC: I would go with Agent Orange as well because there was a connection with us as a band and us with the audience that made it truly special.
JACOB: Unwritten Law because I was able to really talk to them, they weren’t pretentious rock stars and hung out with us the whole time. I also liked meeting Max from TMZ!
Why do you like playing live? What feeling does it give you?
NICOLE: I love playing on stage because it gives me a feeling of being a part of something big.
JACOB: I like the rush AND I get to make faces at people!
ERIC: I enjoy knowing the people watching are feeling the same things I feel when I watch bands on stage from the crowd.
BEN: It gives an adrenaline to everyone, including all of us on stage. I’d say my favourite thing is seeing people have fun and mosh to us!
I’ve always been a big believer in DIY, I think it’s an essential part of the punk rock spirit; what’s that sense of self-reliance and self-empowerment mean to you personally?
SK: We are as DIY as it gets. From booking our own shows, to printing our own T-shirts, and practicing in Ben’s living room. The self-empowerment we get from it is that we are 100% creative, we’re not a band that pays someone to make a logo or write a song for us, we are self-contained and do everything ourselves. Our creativity shows in everything we have.
In our correspondence you made a comment about a lot of media right now being “an endless stream of negative journalism”; can you elaborate on that a little and let me know your thoughts about this? I feel the same way, that’s why I create zines and do what I do, offering an alternative to mainstream and bullshit press.
SK: You put your heart and soul into music just to see it bad mouthed by those who are so bitter by the fact that they can’t do it themselves, not just us but bands of all genres since the beginning of music. We get it a lot because we have done more in our small time on this planet than most have or will in their entire lives! It’s not our fault they are too scared to take chances, but it doesn’t get us down, it just fuels our fire!
What are SK working on right now?
NICOLE: Friendship, School work, finals.
ERIC: Music, music and more MUSIC!
Lastly, I often like to ask this question to people I chat with; what’s something that you’ve seen, heard or experienced lately that totally amazed you?
JACOB: Things that my parents have talked about before for years… like driving a car or going to prom, going on a date. Things that they used to do when they were my age that are now happening to me.
NICOLE: The main thing I will always remember is from my biology class… that the Mitochondria is the powerhouse source of a cell.
BEN: When you shove your ear buds into your nostrils, and open your mouth, you become a human speaker!
PMA the punk rock way!
*Photos courtesy of the Scurvy Kids.