By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
After his high school sweetheart (and now wife), Rhoda Lopez, introduced him to her brother Robert, Javier and Robert formed the Main Street Brats in 1976 with pal Baba and worked out a rough set in a trailer behind the Escovedos‘ Chula Vista home. ”I was already playing guitar in my room,“ Lopez recalls. ”There was no prospect of playing in a band, and when Javier came along, I jumped on it. We had the same background, liked the same songs. And we were such bad procrastinators, we would sit and plan how things should be, but they’d never work out the way we planned -- we didn‘t know what we were doing anyway, so we’d just go do it. I didn‘t write that much; it was really like I was just along for the ride.“ Still, Lopez’s ”Beat Your Heart Out“ is at the top of the Zeros-fave heap, as are a few other Lopez-penned tunes, like ”Sneakin‘ Out,“ a fascinating slice of drunken teen confusion, and the foul-mouthed punk sexuality of ”Rico Amour.“
By the time the band changed its name to the Zeros, punk rock was exploding and the boys eagerly jumped onto the circuit, knockin’ ‘em dead in clubs all over the country. Eventually punk rock itself imploded (a subject pithily addressed in Javier’s ”Getting Nowhere Fast“), and the Zeros finally canceled themselves out. Twenty years later, they concede the slightly awkward nature of these reunion jaunts, and it‘s that acknowledgment which enables them to pull it off -- an ambivalence that forces them to make it crunch.
Ultimately, what drives any periodic Zeros return is audience demand and response. ”We travel all over, and there’s so many fans,“ says Lopez. ”The most honorable mention was when we were in Valencia, Spain, and ‘Rico Amour,’ which was a rehearsal demo that hadn‘t even gotten released until a few years ago, these people got ahold of it and loved it so much that they named a nightclub after it: Rico Amour, with a neon sign that looks like Rick’s Cafe Americain, and leopard wallpaper -- and all this from a song I‘d written when I was 16!“
Those songs, churned out in the heat of teenage passion, remain as addictive and anthemic as ever, as the new Right Now! disc makes clear in powerhouse fashion.
”When I was a kid,“ Javier says, ”I was listening to Lou Reed, and I really got into this thing about ’Sweet Jane‘ and what a classic song it was, and I wanted to do that: Write a song that would just go on forever. But writing for the Zeros seemed like something different -- we were just a garage rock & roll band. ’Cosmetic Couple‘ I thought was pretty good, and when I did ’Don‘t Push Me Around,’ I really thought that was good. And now that a couple of bands have covered ‘Wimp,’ I listen to them and think, ‘Hey, that’s really cool -- I sorta kinda did it.‘ So yeah, I think they hold up -- somehow.“