Cock Sparrer at Punk Rock Bowling 2017. Photo: Tyson Heder
Punk Rock Bowling: where everyone who attends is decked out in studs, leather and bristles. Here they come to congregate for a weekend of music-inspired debauchery. This festival attracts punk from across the globe, which includes the infamous Turbojugend, street punks, crusties, ageing rock n’ rollers, weekend warriors and everyone in between. Within the confines of the festival itself, paychecks and pocket money are spent at booths catering to all subcultural needs and wants—whether it be records from Tang or Radiation, pins and clothes or radical literature from PM Press or thisisindecline.com. There were also food trucks and drink stalls, where, for an arm and a leg, one can stay drunk, fed or hydrated depending on levels of sobriety and motivation.
If one were to choose to walk through the layered depths of the punk rock community, they should strive to find themselves wallowing in the heat of the Punk Rock Bowling Festival. The festival is held on a parking lot adjacent to Fremont, and its largely open space lacks cover from the blistering heat of the sun. One can always purchase a $2 water to stay hydrated, although I’d wager that more money is probably spent on pints and whiskey cokes. The festival attendees are as diverse as the variety of punky hair colors, though there is the fascinating commonality of wearing all black, as if to tempt the wrath of heat exhaustion. The unforgiving heat aside, this gathering serves to inspire community and camaraderie under the banner of all things punk rock. The festival is a space where one can feel at home and comfortable while surrounded by those who celebrate the varied degrees of a storied subculture. Here, one can get all the applicable accessories from clothing, pins, hats and rare records from stalls like that of Anaheim, California’s Radiation Records. Unlike years past which have been largely apolitical, this year’s Punk Rock Bowling has an unofficial theme of denouncing Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump—a sentiment that is easy and popular to get behind.
Peter Bywaters of Peter and the Test Tube Babies Photo: Lindsay Beaumont
Anti-Nowhere League’s Animal. Photo: sqerl
Keith “Monkey” Warren of The Adicts. Photo: sqerl
Traveling to Las Vegas while nursing the effects of a broken heart, I am all too aware that the romantic appeal of this colorful hellhole is a bit lost on me. This place quite literally represents the euphoria of broken dreams. Even the bright lights can’t eclipse the desperate smiling faces that fail to shine through the scum and filth of the streets. I’ve always loved punk, as it seemed to provide a moral backbone to rock n’ roll, giving it a philosophy filled with romantic notions while critiquing the very fabrics of the society it resides in. Though, I confess that the spirit of this musically led agitation seems to overcasted by the overwhelming hedonistic atmosphere that only Las Vegas can contain. This is, no doubt, extenuated by the fact that one can experience a sense of freedom by opening up a beer and drinking in the streets with nobody really giving a shit. The feeling of irony regarding this whiskey-fueled rebellion is not lost on me, however, as the first thing I do after checking into the hotel is running off in search some Newcastle Brown Ales…
have been to Las Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling many times and I have somehow managed to survive the hedonistic temptations of the bright lights and cheap thrills. Luckily for the uninitiated into this wonderland, Bob Oedy (The Grim) provides an informative field guide on these ins and outs of a punk-rock filled weekend.
Since 2007, Faz Waltz has led the bovver rock revival. They present a unique style that draws from influences such as The Beatles, T-Rex, David Bowie and Queen. The result is sounds that blends contemporary rock n’ roll with pop sensibilities into a nostalgic nod toward the notions of 1970’s junkshop glam.
Over the years, Faz Waltz has never seemed to slow down. They have played numerous performances, released six albums, toured all over Europe and in 2019 made their first appearance in the United States with a brief tour, including playing at Punk Rock Bowling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Now Faz Waltz are about to release their seventh album Rebel Kicks on April 20th 2020. After getting a preview of the new record via the Grown Up Guy/ C’Mon Liar 7”, I contacted Faz Waltz’s frontman Faz La Rocca to learn more . We chatted about his glam rock influences, touring the States, playing the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival, the new 7” and what life is like in Italy during the Coronavirus quarantine.
NixBeat: After previously playing in punk bands, Faz Waltz formed in 2007. What prompted you to start Faz Waltz?
Faz La Rocca: Well, I was deep into the punk rock scene but there were many punk rock bands around. I wanted to do something different. So I started a band playing the music I loved the since I was a kid — rock ‘n roll.
Nix Beat: Faz Waltz seems to blend boot-boy glam rock styles that harkons on a mix of The Beatles, T-Rex and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie. Where does your passion for glam come from?
Faz La Rocca : When I was 7, I discovered Queen. They instantly became my favorite band at that time so I started looking for bands that had the same feel… the Beatles were next, then I went on to find T. Rex, Bowie, Cheap Trick, ELO, Slade, and other great bands.
Nix Beat: In an article published by Louder Than War on May 8, 2016, it was stated that Faz Waltz would write and perform in English since it was considered the universal language of rock n’roll. Why do you think that is?
Faz La Rocca: Ever since I discovered rock n’ roll as a kid, my only dream was to become a musician. My favorite bands were from the UK and the US, so singing in English is the only way for me.
Nix Beat: Faz Waltz played Punk Rock Bowling in 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. How did you get involved in playing the festival?
Faz La Rocca: It all happened thanks to Ted from Spaghetty Town Records. After we were asked to play at Punk Rock Bowling, Ted took care of all the other gigs. We’ve been asked to play in the US and Canada multiple times in the past — we even had a tour planned in 2016. Touring the US and Canada is very expensive with all the bureaucratic red tape. So we needed a big main event like Punk Rock Bowling to make the tour happen.
NixBeat: How was performing in the States compared to playing in Europe?
Faz La Rocca: It was awesome. This was my very first time in this beautiful country. We got to travel the US and we got to play our music; it was a two-for-one dream come true. Well, playing in the States is different from some European countries but similar to others. One thing was certain: everybody was super excited to see us. We really appreciate everyone who came out and rocked with us.
Faz La Rocca: Although some songs are the fruit of my imagination, many are influenced by real life. Everybody experiences some grief sometimes and it’s not obvious that somebody is there to help. So you have to fend for yourself. This makes you think you don’t need anybody else to get through. It gives you power you didn’t think you had — though in your heart you really don’t want to be alone either.
Faz La Rocca: “Come On Liar” is the perfect B Side to “Grown Up Guy,” because it’s in the bad times that you discover who is real and who is fake, “Big smiles and big lies.” It’s about friendship, real or presumed.
Faz La Rocca: Yes, we do what we can to keep our minds busy while confined at home; playing some music, painting, reading, writing, and watching movies. Some people like me are still working during the day, but when I come home I need to do something that fills the void of no normal socializing.
NixBeat: What’s the mood like in Italy with the quarantine and how have people been coping with the stress.
Faz La Rocca: Northern Italy has been hit quite hard right now, the hospitals are fighting a big battle – they are heroes. Many people are dying and we’re not seeing the end of this yet. But Italy is strong, we’ll make it; we have a positive attitude, we have faith in our national health service, and we follow all the directives for health security.
The world should learn from how we are living and stop underestimating this pandemic. We underestimated it when China was the only country affected because it looked so distant from us. Now it’s at a global level — what are we waiting for? Stay at home, stop all social contacts. It’s the only way to get through this, nobody is immune.
NixBeat: How has the Corona Virus Pandemic affected the music scene over there?
Faz La Rocca: The Coronavirus has totally affected the music scene. All the clubs are closed, no live shows, we can only play online from our home and all without getting paid. Many bands, clubs, and recording studios are dealing with financial issues due to the forced closure. So any help is appreciated by the bands, for example, you can buy records and merch as long as the shipping services are in operation.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s new album Rebel Kicks is due to be released on April 20th, 2020. What can fans look forward to with the new record?
Faz La Rocca: Yes, it will be released in April, pre-order is available now. For example on Rebel Kicks there’s fun as always but we also touch on some different topics. The album has some room for an introspective side too and it has a couple of very intense ballads as heard in the previous records. I love writing that pop oriented stuff.
NixBeat: Are you concerned about any delays because of the Coronavirus Pandemic?
Faz La Rocca: No, there’s no sense in planning when dealing with this pandemic. We all have to live day by day and take all the good from this situation.
NixBeat: What plans does Faz Waltz have for the rest of the year? Faz La Rocca: First of all, we just all want this period to end as soon as possible. Then we’ll see. We weren’t sure if we made the right move to release the album now — maybe we should have waited for a better time. But come on, life needs to go on. Even during and because of these difficult times, we’d like people to listen to our new album and feel carefree for a while. That’s what music is for! This is why I’ve been making music for all these years. We hope to put some smiles on your faces.
On June 11, 2017 DJ Dum Dum Boy (George Kounalis) invited Salt Lake City based DJ/Freelance Journalist Nick Kuzmack (DJ Nix Beat) onto his K-UTE Radio Show, Echoplex, at the University of Utah. There DJ Nix Beat spun punk and glam records while talking with DJ Dum Dum Boy about the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas,Nevada, the British Special Election, journalism, djing and more. Check out the recorded show below.
For more about DJ Dum Dum Boy you can listen to his show Echoplex on K-UTE Radio, Sunday’s from 3pm to 5pm. The show is a real killer diller, so tune in.
Ted Dougherty AKA Teddy Spaghetty has long been involved in the underground music world. While living in New York City, he grew disillusioned with major record label executives only caring about seeking out standard hit makers. He was amazed that so many impressive artists were overlooked and did not have material available.
After moving to Atlanta, Dougherty established the independent label Spaghetty Town Records to provide a means for groups to release records for old and new fans alike. Going strong for the last four years, Dougherty has worked with bands, both domestic and internationally. They are renowned for releasing records by rock n’ roll groups like Los Pepes, Jordan Jones and Faz Waltz.
Among his and his labels growing accomplishments are helping the Italian glam rockers Faz Waltz with their first U.S Tour and performance at Punk Rock Bowling in 2019. Additionally in early 2019, Spaghetty Town Records released the Down South Spaghetty Accidentcompilation which featured Dirty Fences, Cheap Tissue, Criminal Kids, BBQT and others. To learn more, I sat down with Dougherty to chat about Spaghetty Town Records, how the onset of the Coronavirius Pandemic has affected his label and his unwavering passion for underground music .
NixBeat: Tell us a
little about yourself. What inspired you
to jump into the world of rock n’ roll?
Dougherty: I’ve always been a huge music nerd, buying records and cassettes, seeing live music whenever possible, working at my college radio station (WSOU) and even my high school radio station (WCVH). All I ever wanted was to work in music, so I got a job at a major label after university. It was fun for a while, it was the late 90s and there was lots of money coming in. Big parties, big artists, fancy dinners but I knew it couldn’t last forever. After 9/11, a lot of people, including myself, lost their jobs. I was living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, so there was always a great band playing, I was still seeing music all the time. That was nearly 20 years ago, and not much has changed, still seeing shows, buying music but now I’m helping bands release music.
originally from Australia, you lived in New Jersey and now live in Atlanta,
Georgia. What’s the music scene like in these places? How are they similar and
Dougherty : I only lived in Australia for a year when I was born, then another year in my 20s. I was just down there and there is so much great music coming out. I spent about 30 years of my life in New Jersey and New York City, which is a great thing if you’re into music. I could see a band on Friday in New York City and if they were great I could see them again in New Jersey or Philly. I’ve been in Atlanta for over a decade now, my first two years took some adjusting. First thing I noticed, the people in Georgia are really friendly. Not to say that people in New Jersey /New York City aren’t, we’re just different. If someone was too nice to me in New York City I’d assume they were trying to hustle me, in Atlanta they’re usually just being nice. New York City also got every show on every tour. When I moved to Atlanta, I noticed we got skipped over, a lot. It was really frustrating because there is a great scene here with great people. In the last few years it’s been better, getting more bands to come down here. But I can’t complain, we also have great bands in the area that probably don’t play up north a lot either.
NixBeat: I know you DJ
in Atlanta. How did you get involved in DJing and what kind of records do you
like to spin?
Dougherty : I was thinking about this the other day, I’ve been doing this a long time. I started playing records when I was in high school on the radio, we could play what we wanted, it was live, but you don’t see the people and have to take breaks, read PSAs etc. The first time I DJed in public was at LIT Lounge in New York City. I remember being terrified that I didn’t know how to do it, then realized after five minutes that five years on the radio pretty much trained me for it. Since then I’ve played records all over New York City, New Jessey and Atlanta. I have a monthly night at Elmyr, a great long running dive bar here. I’ve been there so long they kind of give me carte blanche to play what I want. Usually the first half of the night is more R&B and soul. As the night progresses it turns into more garage, glam and punk records. Just depends on my mood that night.
NixBeat: If readers were to visit Atlanta, where should they look to check out your DJ sets? Dougherty : Second Saturday of every month at Elmyr in Little 5 Points. It used to be every Saturday, but after a while that becomes work and not fun anymore. But Elmyr has been there for over 20 years, and has great food and drinks. The music will vary DJ to DJ—country, hip hop, punk, metal. It’s great! If you come see me, you’ll hear some punk, garage, soul. It’s a fun night with a mix of Atlantans. Be sure to try a Grizz.
NixBeat: Spaghetty Town
Records releases quite the array of dirty rock n’ roll, punk and glam records.
Some notable artists on your label include Faz Waltz, Pale Lips and Jordan
Jones. What prompted you start your label?
Dougherty: After working for a major for so many years I saw these guys running the label that weren’t into music anymore. I assume they were at one point, but weren’t anymore. My boss once said “I’m into hits!” But I was really into music still. I didn’t want to be like those guys. Years later I was seeing all of these great bands that didn’t have releases out, which seemed odd to me. I said to my wife, if I can get a band on board I’m going to start a label. Four years later here we are, I’m about to put out my 25th release. Still can’t believe it.
NixBeat: How did you
get involved with groups like Faz Waltz, Los Pepes and The Scaners?
Dougherty : An Italian friend turned me onto Faz Waltz. So when I went to Italy, I messaged Faz La Rocca to ask what stores I could pick up his album. Anything to avoid paying international shipping. When he started looking for labels for “Julie” he reached out to me. I was thrilled; I was such a fan of his previous records. As for Scaners and Los Pepes, there are a lot of other similar labels around the world working with cool bands in their own countries. I forget who it was, but different international labels reached out to me. They are usually looking for international partners for a release. It helps with promotion in another country or language, helps cut cost and gets a release into another country without having to charge $20 for shipping. After doing this for a few years I’ve worked with so many great labels now throughout Europe and South America. There is a wonderful community of labels around the world, all trying to do the same thing.
NixBeat: What kind of
criteria do you look for when releasing a group through Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: It used to be “would I buy this?” But it’s changed a bit over time. I’ve realized that not everyone buys or can buy records like I do. Now it’s more like “do I think a lot of people will pay $20 for this?” Other things I look at are online presence, it’s not a make or break, but it helps to have a strong online presence. Are they a band that plays shows, do they tour? Are you part of the music community? Also, do we get along, because we’re about to have a relationship. I’ll need help from you, you’ll need help from me. I’ve been really fortunate that every band I’ve worked with have been good people to work with.
NixBeat: In an
interview with Jerseybeat, published in 2019, you stated that it was hard for
bands to break into the US scene. Why do you think that is?
Dougherty: Big time! America is huge, if you want to do a US tour you need time and money. If you’re not an American band, you’ll likely need a visa too —which is very expensive. Also, rock music scene seems smaller than it used to be. Times change, music changes, I don’t see lots of younger people at shows. I joke with every band “can you get more young people out?” A lot of bands tell me they sell merch to a lot of older guys, which includes me. But there are some really talented bands out there (not just mine), touring their asses off, putting out consistently great records that just can’t seem to break. Do I think there will be a resurgence, absolutely. Hopefully we’ll be around for it.
NixBeat: Faz Waltz’s Faz La Roca said you were largely responsible for getting them their US tour in 2019. What was the process like organizing their and performance at Punk Rock Bowling 2019? Do you think your work paid off?
Dougherty: I’d never booked a tour before in my life. I’ve been part of tours, but never booked one. A lot of bands ask me to help them with things because they feel it looks more professional coming from the label instead of band direct. I’m always happy to help out if i can. So we got Faz Waltz on Punk Rock Bowling first, that was actually the easy part. We then built a tour around it based on what time they had available. It’s hard work. I hear a lot of bands comment about how they hate booking tours, I totally get it now. So many emails, phone calls, making arrangements for vans, hotels etc. For Faz Waltz it was also about getting visas. In the end, it was totally worth it. They played great shows in California and ended their tour at Punk Rock Bowling with a big crowd. Also, Faz himself had never been to the US before, so he was really excited. So he was excited to be here, and also got to play.
NixBeat: In 2019,
Spaghetty Town Records released the Down
South Spaghetty Accident Compilation? This record features groups like
Criminal Kids, BBQT, Cheap Tissue and Dirty Fences. What was the process like
putting this compilation together?
Dougherty: That was a lot of fun, I’m really proud of the Spaghetty Accident. Chase Tail (RMBLR, Dino’s Boys, Heart Attacks) approached me and asked if I’d be interested in releasing a compilation for his annual event “The Down South Showdown”. He told me that he had some bands on board, that it was all new music. When I saw the list I was pretty much sold. At that point bands started sending me their tracks and info for the track. I worked with Alex Hagen from Ravagers on the art and found a pressing plant that said they could have the records in my hand in time for the show. The hardest part for me was the song order and having a good flow with 14 different artists. But I guess DJing for all of these years helped. True story, they arrived at my house about 18 hours before the show. Another good one, I spent so much time checking for spelling errors that I left MAMA off of the cover, every band has their name on the cover. It was about 2 weeks before release and the jackets had already been printed. I was freaking out. But Alex suggested that we make a foil sticker of a pinball, have it say MAMA on it and stick it on the record. It was a great idea and totally saved us. Ravagers and Shelly Shellhorn helped put 500 stickers on the records in my kitchen. With so many people it went by really fast.
NixBeat: What kind of
clientele does Spaghetty Town Records attract?
Dougherty : It’s a real mix, probably because we have different types of bands. But it’s serious music fans and vinyl collectors, largely male. They are from all over the US and the world though. When people who weren’t my friends order from me I get really excited still.
NixBeat: With the onset
of the Corona Virus Pandemic, many States have issues social distancing,
quarantines and even lock downs. How has the pandemic affected you and
Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty : I haven’t been working that much in the last few weeks. My wife is able to work from home luckily. As for the label, I’ve noticed a slowdown in sales. I’m not surprised; I’ve lost income from my regular job. A lot of my friends are pretty much unemployed now. There is no touring or live shows. We will be adjusting some release dates. I’m hoping when this is all over people will be hungry to see some live music to help get back to normal life.
NixBeat: How can readers support Spaghetty Town Records in this time of crisis?
Dougherty: If they can, buy records from me and the bands we work with. We depend on people buying from us to fund future releases. Since so many artists lost touring and merch income they can buy online, that’s a huge help. And when clubs and bars open again go out and see live music. I know everyone really wants to get back out there again and play.
NixBeat: What future releases should people look out for in 2020 from Spaghetty Town Records?
Dougherty: We’ve been really lucky to work with so many great bands. I know for sure that Fast Eddy, Killer Hearts, Faz Waltz and Ravagers will be releasing new music this year. I asked Criminal Kids and they said “we fucking better put out new music in 2020!”. There are a few other things in the works that aren’t official yet, but I’m really excited about them.
NixBeat: Where would you like to see Spaghetty Town Records in the next couple of years? Dougherty: We plan to keep cranking out records. There has been talk of finding new ways to help artists grow and make money. I really feel like real rock n’ roll is on an upturn again. Maybe bigger labels will look at guitar driven rock bands again instead of a singer and person with a laptop. As long as people keep buying our records, we’ll keep putting them out.
When it comes to Oi! as a subgenre of punk, Cock Sparrer immediately come to mind. They originally formed in the East End of London in 1972 during the height of the glam rock era. They played glam covers before witnessing the birth of the first wave of English punk. In 1977, they signed on with Decca Records and released their first single, “Runnin Riot.” Unfortunately, the record did not chart well, and they were soon released from Decca. This was in spite of having a whole album’s worth of material already. This self-titled record would only be released in Spain, but later saw a U.K. reissue as True Grit after being picked up by Razer Record in 1987.
After several years on hiatus, Cock Sparrer began attracting attention within the second wave of U.K. punk. With songs about working class life (”Working”) and art-school-punk skepticism (“Where Are They Now”), Cock Sparrer fit right in with the Oi! movment. There, they found themselves among like-minded groups like The Cockney Rejects and Infa Riot. Over the years, Cock Sparrer have taken numerous breaks and released seven studio albums—among other recordings—and the most recent, Forever, came out in April 2017. On May 29, Cock Sparrer will play the Punk Rock Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be their third time performing the festival. Before venturing down to the city of sin, Colin Mcfaull and Daryl Smith chat about the relevance of punk 40 years on, the history of Oi!, recording Here We Stand and Forever, Brexit and much more.
Nick Kuzmack is a writer and DJ with over 10 years of experience in journalism, editing, copy writing, research, social media marketing and social networking. He has a proven track record of creating thought provoking and thoroughly researched work for a variety of publications and companies. Kuzmack’s work has been published by SLUG Magazine,Heatwave Magazine, Utah Stories, VisitUtah.com ,and independently here at Nixbeat.com. He has a Bachelor of the Arts in Political Studies from Westminster College SLC and holds duel-citizenship with the United Kingdom and the United States. Kuzmack has spent much of his life traveling between the two countries.
At age 17, he pursued journalism by founding the socio-political/ music zine Salt City Rag. Between 2007 and 2013 he assembled a staff and published 19 issues. In 2013, Kuzmack founded NixBeat and began independently covering a wide range of topics —both politically and in pop culture.
Since August 2013, Kuzmack regularly contributes to SLUG Magazine. In July 2015, he was promoted to Senior Staff Writer and in May 2016 was awarded for his contributions as a writer, copy editor ,and DJ.
For his DJ work, he has been featured in SLUG Magazine, Salt Lake Magazine, KUAA Radio and on theUniversity of Utah’s K-UTE Internet Radio program. DJ Nix Beat currently enjoys several residences throughout Salt Lake City, Utah.