Orange County Hardcore
By John B. Moore
Documentaries about punk rock are nothing new.
Hell, documentaries about punk rock in Southern California
are nothing new, but there is something refreshingly original about what
one-time punk musician and current filmmaker Evan Jacobs has done with Orange County Hardcore Scenester.
The DIY doc (very much in keeping with the
genre it covers), is one person’s love note to the music scene he grew up with
in the early to mid ‘90s, as a band member, but more importantly a fan of. The
groups he covers through archival footage and voice-overs never really made
that big of an impact on the music world outside of the indie punk scene in Orange County,
but were important all the same. For every Green Day and Offspring that went on
to sell millions, there was a Carry Nation or Farside with a much smaller, but
likely just as rabid fan base packing the clubs and crowding the merch tables,
n the middle of promoting Orange County Hardcore Scenester, Jacobs spoke recently about the
movie, the scene and how Emilio Estevez helped him to discover punk rock.
Do you remember the first time you
heard punk rock?
I think the first exposure was the soundtrack
to Repo Man, mainly Black Flag’s “TV
Party”. It was 1985 or so and I saw that movie, then my brother got the
soundtrack, and I recall my friends and me thinking that we’d never heard a
song that was so funny. It was as if the lyrics had been written to be repeated
like lines from a movie. Then there was “Coup D’état” by the Circle Jerks which
was like nothing I had ever heard before. I remember my neighbor Ian Haas
breaking that scene down for me and showing me how they were “getting the
mosh started” by Dick Rude grabbing Emilio Estevez around the neck and
then spinning him. Following this, I got into bands like DI and TSOL through
the Suburbia soundtrack. Notice its all exposure to music via movies. I was so
inspired that I subsequently failed my seventh grade year of elementary school
(which you can learn all about in my animated film 1986-1986 available from
Amazon) and stayed away from punk rock for about two years. Then my brother
made me go see Judge and Carry Nation at the Reseda Country Club which is the start
of Orange County Hardcore Scenester.
What made you decide to do a film about the hardcore scene in the OC?
There have been punk films about Orange
County, CA but never
one about the 1990’s hardcore scene depicted in the film. At least I don’t know
of there being one. There had been some books written and some OC bands
included, but nothing that focused on this time period, these bands, and what
happened with the scene I was involved with. I had tried to make this with two
other people, but due to schedules and whatnot that didn’t happen. So, I had
all this footage and then Radio Silence by Nathan Nedorostek and Anthony
Pappalardo came out. I saw some OC bands in that and I remember thinking,
“It is only a matter of time before somebody does something about OC
hardcore. Why not be the person to try and do it first?” If you can’t be
the best you should try and be first, right? I also felt very strongly about
telling this story. I felt that what the people involved in the 1990’s scene
(not just in OC but around the world) did was important. I wanted to shine as
much of a spotlight as I could on that. Ultimately, that is why Orange County
Hardcore Scenester was made.
Do you think you would have found this music if you grew up in some rural
area in the Midwest instead of in the center
of this scene?
I am sure if I was looking for it I would have found it. I mean hardcore is a
global thing. It was in the 1990’s, it is now, and it was before the 1990’s. If
I was making a film about it and I lived in the Midwest, I am sure that film
would reflect the Midwest scene.
In the documentary, you talk a
little bit about the do I or don’t I decision many punk bands faced in the mid
90’s about signing to a major. Did you have a strong stance at the time? Has it
changed at all?
My only stance was that if it was a choice between working a job you hated or
having a chance to make your living making music, it was a no brainer. At the
same time, if you could sustain yourself as a band through touring,
merchandise, record sales then you probably didn’t need to sign because a
major, unless you were gonna be a hit machine – and I think it was proven by
the bands that did sign that they were not hit machines – you would be very
disposable to a major label.
Majors wanted charismatic front
people that were churning out radio-friendly songs. Hardcore music, by its very
nature isn’t that. Sure, you have charismatic people fronting these bands
(sometimes) but the music and the message isn’t usually something that would
play on the radio or MTV. If it does, great. The problem seemed to be that a
hardcore band could build their audience, sell 20,000 records, then suddenly
majors came calling. Well, 20,000 records is incredible as an independent band
(at least it was then)… 20,000 records to a major? Then and now that is a
paltry sum. Then add that a lot of bands that signed lost their hardcore
audience simply because some members of the hardcore scene didn’t choose to go
with that band on that leg of their journey. However, let me say this… I WANT
BANDS TO MAKE MONEY. I want their music to sustain them.
At the time, or even after, have you ever found yourself having
to defend punk music?
Not really. People that are into punk are into it; they get it. They understand
that what sets it apart from something like pop music is that it isn’t about
all the bullshit that is put in our faces 24/7. This isn’t to say that I don’t
share my music. I have tried. Some people like it because it is aggressive.
Other people like it because they like the message. And a lot of people have
told me they think its shit.
Other than that, the only other
time I have had to defend punk/hardcore has been when people try and lump it in
with neo-Nazis or something like that. I always go out of my way to separate
skinheads from Nazis, simply because I like a lot of skinhead music. I love Oi.
Punk rock/hardcore really helped shape my system of ethics and values. I
constantly make decisions based on those things.
Do you still listen to hardcore? Do
you listen to any of the newer bands?
I certainly try to. Like a lot of older people, I gravitate toward the stuff
that I grew up on. However, I do try and listen to new bands as much as
possible. I am trying to turn the Facebook page for Orange County Hardcore
Scenester into a place where people can get dose of news on the film, and click
on links for new music/things I am finding. I don’t go to shows that much. That
is a bummer. I never thought that would happen. I always heard people say that
and I was like, “I’ll never stop going to shows. I’ll always be up on this
music.” Man, I wish I was. I do try and make an effort. I do still go to
shows when I can.
What are your plans for this documentary?
I plan to heavily promote Orange County Hardcore Scenester over the next year.
I want this documentary to live on. I want it to be something that people have
in their hardcore/punk film collections. I want people to be discovering this
film years from now. I constantly discover incredible documentary films via
Netflix. I am hoping people have that same experience with this film.
There is going to be a screening
of it out in Florida at Churchill’s Pub in Miami, FL
on September 15. It is part of a
three day festival that starts on the 14th and goes to the 16th. Some of the
bands playing are from that time like A Chorus of Disapproval, Trial, Mean
Season, Damnation AD, etc. Plus a bunch of other bands from the past and
I will be doing more merchandise.
Shirts, stickers… anything I can to keep this film alive in some way. I figure
if I really saturate this thing for a year that will give it some kind of life
beyond that year. I am hoping so anyway. I want to set up more screenings of
Orange County Hardcore Scenester and do a lot more press. So… if you run a
zine, or a club, or can help me get this film out in any way, please get in
For more information on the movies check out this link: https://www.facebook.com/ochardcorescenester
Or to buy your copy, check out this site: http://RevHQ.com/store.revhq