Over the last several weeks I had the opportunity to catch up with the well known Raygunn. This is dude is hard to the core. He was there when it started and rather than sit around stuck in the 80’s he has always moved forward carving out a path through punk rock history with GLYCINE MAX, DOGMA MUNDISTA, SCARRED FOR LIFE and now he’s teamed up with some other punk rockers in the D-Beat, crust machine DEADLY REIGN.
ThrashHead: When and how did you get into hardcore and punk?
Raygunn: Skateboarding. It all started from going to skateboard parks in 1980 and seeing the older guys with colored hair flying out of pools. I was 13 years old and I new I wanted to be like them when I grew up. A year later I was at The Church in Hermosa Beach watching Black Flag practice. And it was all over from there.
I went head first into the L.A. punk scene and never came up for air. I grew up in Southern California, so I was fortunate that I got to see all of the great early punk/H.C. bands. Everybody played in L.A. and I was right there 2 or 3 times a week doing stage dives and flips off the P.A. system. It was a great time to be a pissed off teenager.
ThrashHead: What were some of the first shows you remember seeing and what impact did they have on you?
Raygunn: Black Flag was the biggest impact. I first started going to see them play when Dez Cadena was singing. They had so much intense raw energy it was crazy. Also, TSOL and the ADOLESCENTS always put on great shows (and still do). I also really liked seeing the THE STAINS and WASTED YOUTH a lot. There tons of good bands in L.A. in the early 80's. CIRCLE ONE was another great live band.
ThrashHead: Why has punk rock had such a lasting impact on you?
Raygunn: The lyrics and the raw energy. Because it's real, and I could always relate to it. This is fucked up place we live in. And the words on these records were saying DO Something! Stand up for yourself. You don't have to be a mindless Robot like your neighbors and the rest of your peers. You can be yourself. You can do what YOU want to do. And if they don't like it, you can say FUCK YOU!
ThrashHead: What was your first band? What instrument did you play?
Raygunn: Well my first band was a KISS cover band called Saturn. And I played guitar. That's when I was in 6th grade, way back in 1978 haha. Then a few years later I got into Punk and tried to get a few bands together with names like...Unauthorized, All Out Attak, Chaotic Peace, etc. But none of them ever got off the ground. My first band that did anything was called GLYCINE MAX, and that started in 1986. I started out on drums, until we found someone that could actually play. Then I went to lead vocals, and eventually to guitar and vocals. We were around until 1991 and then in 1996 (5yrs after we broke up) we put out an LP that was supposed to come out in 1990, the same year that we did a West Coast tour with the band NAUSEA from New York.
ThrashHead: In the early LA scene was there really all the issues with the police beating up punx that we hear tales of today?
Raygunn: Oh yeah they hated us. There was riots at shows all the time. And most of the time, they were the ones that started it! I think it was mainly because everyone was freaked out and scared. They didn't know what the hell was going on.
You've got this Happy little society of Disco Music, Urban Cowboys, and Preppy kids with the Izod shirts and Penny Loafers. And all of a sudden, here we come with tore up clothes, purple and green hair and safety pins sticking through our cheeks. They thought we were some kind of Aliens from another planet.
ThrashHead: It seemed like there was a lot of paranoia surrounding the punk scene that was glamorized in TV documentaries, after school specials and shows like Quincy. Were you ever attacked for being a punk? What was the reaction of your parents and teachers as you embraced punk rock?
Raygunn: I was walking down the street and got hit in the back of the head with a bottle thrown from a passing car. And one time some Hippies at a gas station were hassling me and I flipped them off and as I was driving away they busted the back window of my Moms car out with a 6ft long lead pipe…But nothing too serious, ha!ha!. My parents thought I was crazy.
They took me to 3 or 4 psychiatrists trying to get me out of "punk". But they all told them the same thing. That there was nothing wrong with me, that they just had to figure out how to deal with it. I had a couple of really cool teachers but, most of them were just old and bitter and just seemed to look down on me. I remember I had a History teacher who looked like the Wicked Witch of the North. Every time I would put my hand up to ask a question she would ignore me. So I found out where she lived and egged her house.
ThrashHead: Who were some of the bands that GLYCINE MAX regularly gigged with or hung out with?
Raygunn: We played back yard parties and shows all the time with bands like...MINDROT, APCOLYPSE, CONFRONTATION, A//SOLUTION, FINAL CONFLICT, PESTILENCE etc. We were all friends so we just had this big crew of friends that all hung out together all the time. It was a blast.
ThrashHead: What were some of the highlights of the tour with NAUSEA that you can remember?
Raygunn: Oh man, I don't even know where to start. It was one big party, and I was on a rampage. I pretty much drank non-stop the whole time from beginning to end. Every time we were leaving to go to the next city, they would have to call around and try to figure out where I was. Which party I ended up at or which girl I went home with. I do remember we beat the shit out of a Nazi Skinhead in Portland who was known for raping a lot of girls in the area.
Oh yeah, I got arrested on the way home for driving on a suspended license. Jim Martin who was NAUSEA's roadie, was nice enough to bail me out of jail. There was an interview with him in an issue of Profane Existence. He mentioned a few wild story's about me, maybe you can hunt it up take some quotes from him. All I remember is I was having the time of my life. NAUSEA were awesome people. We all got along great and had a blast.
ThrashHead: Did you parents ever get clued in or was their son a lost cause?
Raygunn: Well eventually after several years. They realized that I was turning out just the way they raised me. To see everyone as equals, and to treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
But I did put them through hell for a long time. It seemed like they were always trying to scrape bail money together, LOL!
ThrashHead: Did Glycine Max ever move to Denver? I remember something about that...
Raygunn: No that was never a plan. Don't know where you heard that one.
ThrashHead: What bands did some of the members of Glycine Max end up in?
Raygunn: Well after Glycine Max, I joined Dogma Mundista. And a few years later, John (bass player) started Beat To Death. Mark quit playing drums for about 10 years, until I pulled him out of retirement to join me in Scarred For Life.
ThrashHead: When and how did Dogma Mundista form?
Raygunn: Dogma Mundista started a couple of years before I joined. Cesar (guitar and vocals) was in Solucion Mortal in the late 70's and early 80's in Tijuana. Then he had to leave the country and he moved to L.A. and started a band called Synod. After they broke up he started Dogma Mundista. We (Glycine Max) used to play shows with them, and Cesar and I became good friends. And after Glycine Max broke up, I was homeless in Long Beach and I seen him at a show. He said if I would join his band and help him right songs, I could live at his house for free. It was all the way out in the Valley, but since I had no place to go and was a fan of Dogma Mundista, I moved in the next day.
ThrashHead: There is an interview in an early 90's issue of the 'Behind the Wall of Injustice' with Dogma Mundista. Was there a strong peace punk movement in OC at the time? How close to this was Dogma Mundista?
Raygunn: Like I said we lived out in the Valley so we were pretty far from Orange County. but we played some shows and were supportive in any way we could be. And of course we were friends with everyone involved.
ThrashHead: How long were you in Dogma Mundista?
Raygunn: I was in Dogma Mundista for a few years. We put out one 7" and one full length LP on out own label called Mundista Humanista Records. And we did a tour from Mexico City to
San Francisco with the band Atoxxxico from Mexico City.
ThrashHead: What did you between Dogma Mundista and Scarred For Life or was SFL your next project?
Raygunn: After Jim Filth left the band to join The Exploited, we were having trouble keeping band members, especially drummers. So it just kind of fizzled out and I moved back Long Beach. Started a band Wetbrain for a while, but I think we only played one show.
Then we got Köntraklässe together. I was on guitar, Todd from Dystopia was on bass, Chrischarge on drums and Previn on vocals. We put out a demo, played a lot of shows and did a tour with Born Dead and Phalynx. Previn and Chrischarge are now in a kick-ass band called Doomsday Hour from Long Beach. Then I joined Scarred For Life, and for a while I was in both bands until Köntraklässe was over.
ThrashHead: When did Scarred For Life form and who was in that band?
Raygunn: They started in 1998 and asked me to join, but at the time I was too busy with Köntraklässe. So buy the time I joined in 1999 they already had a full set down. I wrote lyrics to all the songs and after 6 practices we recorded the album Born Work Die. Scarred For Life was together for 10 years and was Clyde Abad (from Pig Children and Bonecrusher) on guitar, Mike Robarge on Bass and Steve Sterns on drums. Steve left and we got Chrischarge on drums, then after he left we got Mark Hall (Glycine Max and Apocalypse) on drums. For a while Mike switched to rhythm guitar and we had Shan Amadi on bass. But then Shan left and we went back to a four piece. We continued until Mark Hall was in a terrible car accident that left him paralyzed. He is my best friend and I would not replace him so we are on hold awaiting his recovery.
(You can go to here for his full story and to make a donation towards his recovery)
ThrashHead: Explain who Demian Cane was and what role he had in bringing SFL together?
Raygunn: Demian started Scarred For Life. He grew up with Clyde and was apart of the Pig Children Tribe. He was tired of the state of the local punk scene in the late 90's with all the '77 wannabes, the Rockabilly scene and the watered down Greenday crap. So he got together what he thought was the best musicians to play some Hardcore Punk in the style of Discharge, Broken Bones, and Varukers. And the result was Scarred For Life.
ThrashHead: Shortly after Scarred for Life formed and played it's first show the band had to take six months off. What were the circumstances that led to this hiatus?
Raygunn: When we played our first show, I was in the middle of a four day drinking binge. I went a little berserk and ended up breaking someone’s foot, and all the micro phones, and when security tried to stop us, we ended up getting in a fight with them. The next day I ended up in jail for 6 months due to numerous warrants. I talked to Clyde a couple of days later on the phone, and told him since I was going to be gone so long, if he wanted to replace me I would totally understand. He said "Fuck No! That first show was crazy! We already are getting a big following. You ARE the singer of Scarred For Life, there is no replacing you". So for the next 10 years we continued raising hell, putting out records, and toured Germany and the West Coast. And we a blast doing it!
ThrashHead: Ahhh, yes, the late 90's. RANCID ruled "punk" and times were tough. How did people take to you? Did it take a while to build a following or was the scene ready for it? I know in Denver at that time it was tough for a harder edged punk band to gain acceptance.
Raygunn: The Southern California scene has always been pretty good. But when we came around in the late 90's there wasn't hardly anybody doing what we were doing (which is why Damien got us all together) and everyone was ready and waiting for it. So we had a pretty big following from the very start. Plus all of us had already been in the scene for 15 plus years, so we already new tons of people/bands. everyone in the band are really good musicians. And we were headlining shows almost from the start.
ThrashHead: Had you ever been to Europe before Scarred for Life's tour of Germany? What was the biggest difference in the scene there that you noticed? How did you set that tour up?
Raygunn: No, that was my first time to Europe so I was pretty excited. To this day it was pretty much the best time of my life. Know Records, the label that put out the Born Work Die LP had been sending their bands over there through a promotion company called Gate To Hell Promotions. So when our record came out, they sent some copies over there. They loved it, and wanted to set up a tour for us. We played 18 cities in Germany, two cities in Austria, one in Prague, and one in Amsterdam with I think only one day off.
The people over there were some of the nicest people I have ever met. Very hospitable, feed us very good gave us as much beer we could drink and as much hash we could smoke. Pretty much everyone in the punk scene over there are vegetarian, which was great for me since I have been one since 1983. I ate some of the best food in my life over there. Even in the mornings when were were leaving to go to the next city, they would give us food and beer to take for the drive. Great people, great scene, and awesome shows.
ThrashHead: How did the split with DISCLOSE come about?
Raygunn: The label we were working with at the time was Despotic Records. They were in touch with Kawakami (RIP), he was a big fan of Dogma Mundista and wanted to hear what I was doing now. So they sent him one of our records and he loved it and wanted to do a split with us. I believe it was their last record.
ThrashHead: What did you do between SFL and DEADLY REIGN?
Raygunn: I was already planning on moving to Austin when Mark got in his accident. We were going to keep SFL going, I was just going to live in Austin. I rented a van, loaded up my stuff and stopped off at the hospital to see him and to say good bye. Moved to Austin and started Deadly Reign a week later. So the only thing I did between the two bands was move to Austin. No down time just continuous Punk. Haha!
ThrashHead: You mentioned you've been a vegetarian since 83. In what ways has punk helped shape your life?
Raygunn: Well, I guess in every possible way. Since I got into it at such a young age, it is really is all I know. It's what raised me. It shaped and formed me into the person that I am today. Reading the lyric sheets, and really soaking in the message that the bands were trying to convey. I started questioning everything around me, my parents, my teachers, and what they were all trying to teach me. And even every thing inside me. Every thought, every emotion... Is this what I really think? Is this how I really feel? Or is this just what I have been taught. What I have been conditioned into believing is right. Maybe I was brainwashed? But if being taught to think for yourself, and to stand up against the evils of this world and to fight to the death for the good of mankind is wrong. Then I guess I don't want to be right.
ThrashHead: Related to the previous question...Most of the punk we listen to is filled with doom and gloom. Can punk be a positive force while screaming about the apocalypse? If so, how / why?
Raygunn: Well, you can't fix things unless you know there is a problem. And punk rock (or at least the kind I have surrounded myself with) lays the problem out right in front of you. The straight truth, the harsh reality, the facts that society try's to cover up and sweep under the rug.
It shows you straight out what is wrong with this world. And it is up to you what you do with the information. So in that aspect, I think it is very positive. If you don't know the truth, then how can you react? And conformity is the enemy. I never wanted to be one of the
sheeple following each other off the edge of a cliff.
ThrashHead: It seems like a few people have left the Long Beach area to move to Austin (Phobia dudes). Why is that? Being from LB have you ever heard it referred to as Anarcho City? I heard that from some of the LA dudes and I thought that was cool as fuck. Being an outsider I have to wonder why anyone would leave LB...When we were there everyone was so cool and nice. the scene seemed very laid back. Even the cops seemed mellow.
Raygunn: Yeah, Shane the Pain from Phobia lives here. He is my best drinking buddy, we hang out together all the time. I have known him since he was a kid. We have been to jail together more than a few times. There are quite a few of us out here. Austin is a fun city, great punk scene. Long Beach - I never heard it called 'Anarcho City' but then again, I'm 44 and hang out with old men in bars at 6am, so what the hell do I know about the kids these days and what they are up to. Hahaha. When Glycine Max started in 1986 we were influenced by the bands in the UK. Amebix, Deviated Instinct, Extreme Noise Terror, Hellbastard etc..We had dreadlocks, we didn't shower, we didn't wash our clothes. And we wore them until they fell off. Sometimes we would put patches on them to hold them together a little longer. All the punk rockers hated us. We would get the.."Take a shower hippie!" or "If you like England so much, why don't you move there?" Nowadays it seems like the whole punk scene looks the way we did almost 20 years ago. To me it's a bit confusing, but at the same time it's cool. Because there are a few generations since then that have obviously listened to what we had to say.
I moved to Austin, because my son was about to go into Kindergarten, and we didn't want him growing up in Long Beach. We didn't want him to be in a gang by the time he got to Junior High. Also we wanted to eventually buy a house, because paying rent is just like throwing your money away. So we moved out to a small town in Texas, just outside of Austin and bought a house. Our son is now 9 and going into the 4th grade. Last year he was on the Honor Roll at the top of his class. When he started Kindergarten he had a Mohawk and has had one every since. All the teachers kind of tripped out, because we are in a small Texas town, and none of the other students had one. Now he is going into the 4th grade and the other day he told me..."Dad, I don't think I want a Mohawk anymore". And I said,"Oh Yeah? why not?" To which he replied, "Because too many other kids have them now, it's getting kinds lame".... So I guess that means I'm doing something right.
ThrashHead: In what ways do you find be a punk parent challenging? My daughter is 9 and we run into some challenges like dealing with religion around Christmas and sometimes the way the "straight" parents look at us. When my daughter was younger she would repeat some of the stuff I would say about Bush.
Raygunn: My son is 9 as well. We don't really have much trouble at all with it. We just live our lives the way we do, and try to set a good example and be good parents. We teach him love, respect and equality. I guess we really don't even bring up Religion or Politics yet.
When he starts asking questions, I will give him my opinion. But I don't want to force anything on him, I want him to be his own person. The other day we went into his room and he was rocking out to The Dead Boys, so I think he is going to be fine, Haha.
ThrashHead: Back to DEADLY REIGN...There is a bit of an allstar lineup here. Who is in the band and how did you come to be?
Raygunn: I moved to Austin and about a week later, my wife took me to her best friends Daughters 2nd Birthday Party. I walked in and the Birthday girl's Dad was my friend Jon who was the Drummer of World Burns To Death. We had known each other for a while, because Scarred For Life and World Burns To Death had played shows together in the past. We hung out together all day. And one of us said, we should start a band. I said I'll play guitar, all we need is a bass player. And he said I have one, his name is Gus he plays in Till Death and lives in Corpus Christi, but he is moving to Austin soon.
So I think, a couple of weeks later, Gus rented a car and drove up to Austin for band practice. And we have been going at it every since. The three of us get along great! We have never even had an argument. We practice once a week and we just drink beer, laugh and have good time. It's the way a band is supposed to be. Fun!
ThrashHead: What have you done so far recording wise?
Raygunn: We just put out our first record last month. It is a 9 song 12" titled 'No End in Sight'. And you can order it from Profane Existence. We also just recorded two songs for a split 7" with Hellkrusher. It's their first recording in 12 years and is going to be released in the UK on Active Rebellion Records. And we are currently looking for an established label to release it here in the States.
ThrashHead: Any tour plans?
Raygunn: Actually, I think we are coming to Colorado in a Month or two to play with Dodsfalla. And we are going to try to go to England for a week after the split with Hellkrusher comes out. If we can't pull that off, we will probably go to the West Coast for a week.
ThrashHead: What do you want to do different with DEADLY REIGN that you maybe weren't able to do or didn't get done in your previous bands?
Raygunn: Well, not much really. I would like to tour more, but that is hard since we are all married and have families. But we will be getting out a week here and a week there when ever possible. Besides that we are just going to keep at it. Playing shows and putting out records.
ThrashHead: The split with HellKrusher is very exciting news. How did that come to be?
Raygunn: Well I have been friends with the guitar player Scotty since the mid 80's when he was in Hellbastard and I was in Glycine Max. We were pen pals, and would trade tapes and keep each other informed on our local scenes. And now with the internet, it is really easy to keep in contact with old friends. I let him know about Deadly Reign when we got going, and sent him a copy of our recording when we did it.
Originally we were going to try to do a split LP with them. But they weren't ready yet so we just put our stuff out as a 12". Then we recorded for our next record which was going to be a 2 song 7". But around that time he said they were going to be going into the studio, and asked if we were interested in putting out a split 7". And of course we said yes.
ThrashHead: Closing comments?
Raygunn: Just thanks for the interview. I believe we are trying to come to Denver in September to do some shows with Dodsfalla. So make sure you come hang out and drink some beers with us. Besides that if anyone wants to get in contact with us, we have a Facebook page.
Cheers - RAYGUNN