On the Spot: Spitball

On the Spot: Spitball

Julian Alonzo, Writer

Lake Elsinore seems to be the first and last place expected to have a hardcore music scene. Aside from the (mis)conception of the city being a dangerous cesspool, it would turn out to be the perfect stomping grounds for many up-and-coming bands. Spitball seemed to make a name for themselves in the IE scene. The night of January 28th at Solaris was filled with anticipation for this group. It seemed like everyone that I talked to was there for Spitball. And they delivered. They had kids swarming in the audience, fighting for their lives between grinded vocals and “drop dead” low riffs. It was something special, but I could not tell what set them apart from the rest of the local bands. Anyone can scream into a microphone, though they might not be able to keep an audience. Even before the question came up, it became clearer as to why Spitball was so special. It is because they were not. These were just friends who wanted to start a band and did exactly that. They are animals behind the instruments and microphones, but now in their human form, Spitball. The following is an interview between Julian and the band Spitball.

Name and Occupation. 

R: My name’s Roy, I’m just the head dumbass. Evidently, nothing much I do other than stand on stage and act a fool.

C: I’m Chris, I play drums.

M: I’m Micah, I’m on guitar. We have a bassist named Chris but he couldn’t make it,  he’s not local.

Where were each of you born? 

R: Moreno Valley. Parents from the descent of Mexico.

C: I was born in Anaheim Hills, California.

M: Born in Murrieta.

How long have you guys been playing as a band? 

M: As a band, a little just over a year.

R: January 2022 was our first time all hanging out together I believe. We started hanging out before the music, honestly. Me and Chris have known each other since–.

C: For about 15 years.

R: Yeah for most of our lives, and I met Micah through music and the other Chris through music. But ideally, me, Chris, and Micah have been playing since January  2022.

How did you get into music or the music that you guys play? M: Heard Black Flag in middle school.

R: Right.

C: My mom has a lot to do with the music that I like. She raised me on Nirvana,  Sublime. And then my dad was straight 80’s punk like Minor Threat and stuff like that.

R: I have a lot history of hardcore, and it’s just something that’s really addicting. This is my first time starting a band and taking it at least halfway seriously because they’re all my best friends, and that’s how it’s going so far.

What’s the genre that you play under? 

All three: Hardcore punk.

What are the other subgenres that go along with that?  

R: I mean, I guess there’s a little bit of grind in some of the songs we play. A little bit of grind, a little bit of—I like to think my vocals are a little more metallic than hardcore or punk, so it’s almost like black and hardcore punk.

M: We’re basically knock-off “powerviolence”.

Vacancy during their EP release show on January 22, 2022 (Julian Alonzo)

So, there’s a “scene” in the IE (Inland Empire). When did you start to see some potential out of it?

M: So there was the “pop punk” thing in Murrieta with Rare Cents, but that was kind of short-lived. I know they’re still a thing, but their shows are few and far between.  And then when Vacancy started, like two and a half years ago, that’s when I saw something harder coming up around.

C: Roy took me to my first hardcore show when I was—fifteen? Fifteen. There was a  venue in Elsinore called Dad’s Den and that was my first introduction to an actual scene.

R: A scene in the IE, that’s pretty broad because the IE is huge. So there’s always been a scene somewhere more or less, Lake Elsinore specifically because we’re more buried and more deserted from anything else out here. It’s harder, so if we’re gonna talk about Lake Elsinore, I can mention Dad’s Den from 2016, but that died out and I  stopped seeing a scene in hardcore around 2018. The first time I ever had hopes for hardcore blooming again out here was because of Vacancy, the Vacancy record release show last year. Out in some pit in the middle of the mountains, it was crazy.  We weren’t even supposed to play after all the bands played, but since Vacancy were the homies, they let us play our “first show ever” really. We did two or three songs next to all these Elsinore kids that had no idea what they were, there was just a fire in the middle of the mosh pit, everyone was running around it going crazy. When that  happened, I was like, “How can we just enlarge this, I don’t want this to ever die.”

Vacancy during their EP release show on January 22, 2022

You’d centralize it in Lake Elsinore? 

R: I mean for us, that’s where we are. This is our blood, where we live. Corona, San  Bernardino, they all have their own scenes too but for us, this is what’s important.

What does the music mean to you? To some “average joe” it’s just TV static or mindless screaming. Compared to the people who actually play it, there’s something they get out of that. 

C: It’s everything to me, really. I don’t know how to put it into words, it just means everything to me and I wouldn’t be the person I am without hardcore. I probably wouldn’t be here not just without hardcore, but fast and heavy music in general.

R: Man, I don’t know. I’ve been listening to this since I can remember. It’s just what takes my brain.

M: The feeling of it, it’s very different when you’re playing something a lot faster than slower. For me, playing live, the feeling you get is almost indescribable compared to a simple slow 4/4 beat.

C: Just to have everyone so “in the moment” is sick.

M: Seeing everyone go nuts.

Do you think people get the wrong message from your music, how do you think other people portray your music? 

C: Yeah but that’s since the dawn of time. If they don’t like it, forget ‘em.

So who are your top influences? 

C: The first show Roy took me to was a band called Frustrated, which later became  Absence of Mind, and that was my first time really seeing hardcore. I would say that’s my favorite hardcore band.

M: I’m real big on GAG, a Seattle band they’re crazy.

R: What really actually started Spitball was: me, Micah, and the guitarist of Vacancy  Joesph, were hanging out one day trying to start a “power-violence grind band”. We were gonna call it “Marc the Narc”, we had a session and it was fun and all but  afterwards there was some talking about GAG. I’d just shown them to Joesph at the time and he’d loved it. And then Joesph and Micah had a conversation about starting a  band that sounded like that. The same night I texted Joesph saying “Yo, I wanna start a band like GAG”. And we were like “Okay forget the powerviolence stuff, let’s do  ‘balls to the walls’ hardcore punk.” There’s a lot of other bands we take influence from but that band is a very sentimental thing to us.

C: GAG is the heart of Spitball. That sounded weird.

Solaris Brewery on January 28th, 2023.
(Julian Alonzo)

During a performance do you feel an obligation to keep the people on their feet and get the crowd going or just play for yourselves because you enjoy it? 

R: Personally the second one, we’ve played lots of shows where we don’t get a  reaction at all. Either fools just didn’t get it or we didn’t have our best night, but for me it didn’t matter in the moment. Afterwards it’ll bring you down, but when I’m performing I’m still gonna give it my all just for me. I want it to go well for me and not for them. If it’s going well then it makes me have a better time.

C: What Roy said. Even if we pull up to a show with five people just standing there,  we’re still going as hard as we would for a show we played the other night where kids were losing their minds.

M: As long as me and the boys are having fun I don’t care about anything else. Solaris Brewery on January 28th, 2023.

R: Just to clarify, we’ve played a show in an abandoned house to three people. that’s one of our best shows to date.

Is this something you could see yourselves live off of, or just for the heck of it? 

M: Maybe not live off of.

R: Screw it, put us on the Taco Bell commercial.

M: I don’t care about recognition really, even if we play the same level shows we are right now I want to keep that same feeling.

C: We’re doing it for fun, not really anything else. We just love it and we think it’s sick.

R: I want to sell out, meet the Illuminati.

M: You know Eyes Wide Shut? We wanna play there at the masquerade dance.

So if you guys didn’t play music, what would you be doing right now? 

M: Skating, shooting pool.

R: Same stuff we’re doing when we’re not playing music.

R: We’d still be the same fools.

Why do you think the music resonates with people? People seem to keep coming back to your shows? 

C: Because we’re sick as hell!

R: We’ve been to a lot of different shows and played a lot of different shows in the scene. Honestly, I don’t think there’s many bands like us. Or any really.  I’m not saying we’re better, we just have a different energy.

C: I think it boils down to us being genuine people, and other people see that.  Everyone in hardcore seems to have a tough guy mentality, and we’re just homies hanging out with homies. We pull up to have a good time no matter where we’re at,  we don’t care how cool we are and I think other people recognize it and wanna vibe with it.

M: Yep.

You can find Spitball and their music on their Instagram.