By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The next band, Steiger, is in fact fronted by the hair-band virtuoso spotted earlier in a guitar lab. His name is Ken Steiger, and he teaches metal guitar at the Musicians Institute. With his band behind him onstage, he stands alone on the dance floor with his guitar. Lined up in front of him is a multitude of effects pedals, one of which triggers two strobe lights he has placed on either side of the stage. There is no singer. Ken simply stands there and solos away. He calls his music “instra-metal.”
As Steiger rocks on, the bar fills with local kids coming to see their friends in Melancholia. It’s a typical Huntington Beach mix of surfer, jock and punk. When Ken Steiger enthusiastically announces, “Next up is Melancholia, and they have four great songs,” someone shoots back, “Yeah, and they have a singer!” Ken shrugs it off and continues. His music resembles the lost soundtrack to an early-‘80s Warren Miller ski film. When asked his opinion, Shawn replies simply, “He shreds.”
Melancholia set up and start the first of their four songs. They are young, tattooed suburbanites who play extremely fast grindcore. The area in front of the stage is now packed with their buddies, banging their heads and pumping their fists. Dan is out there getting jostled, with a beatific smile on his face. The Star 80 guy finally emerges from the bathroom. His pupils are large, and he is chewing his lip. He smoothes his hair back, cracks his neck and strolls confidently toward the bar. A middle-aged drunk watches the scene, rambling on about how today’s kids don‘t know shit, and how “radical” the Dead Kennedys were.
The diminutive stoner with the giant mustache is gingerly navigating through the raucous crowd, trying desperately not to spill his pitcher of beer, when all hell breaks loose. The dance floor erupts into a mass of frenzied slam dancing, and seconds later a violent brawl begins as the convict type and some husky punk kid collide and start throwing punches. From that point on it’s a complete melee -- yelling, breaking bottles and flying fists.
The fight moves outside long enough for Hostile Groove and the other M.I. students to gather up their gear and hit the road back to the safety of Hollywood. Driving home, everyone is noticeably quiet. Dan seems a bit shell-shocked, muttering to no one in particular, “All I wanted to do was dance.” Heading north on the 405, past the glowing oil refineries, Radiohead‘s OK Computer plays gently on the stereo.
and black Buddy Holly glasses. His nickname is “Gnaposs,” which translates into either “Big Nose” or “The Gnome,” both of which he likes.
David loves being in Hollywood. He grew up listening to L.A. bands like Motley Crue and Van Halen. Smiling sheepishly, he confides, “I used to play in a hard-rock band. I used to wear lipstick.” He claims the music scene in Spain has completely died out. “Young people there don’t care about live music anymore.” During the Barcelona Olympics, David worked outside the various sports arenas dressed as a giant M&M.
Paul grew up in the Florida swamplands around Gainesville, where his parents played in an Ike and Tina Turner--style soul revue. “My mother would sing and play piano. My father played guitar and bass and did background vocals. A couple of my uncles were also in the band. They played clubs and halls, a couple of juke joints in the area.”
Paul learned to play drums as a young boy in local gospel bands. As he got older, he began searching for musical inspiration. “I started listening to the radio a lot, the jazz station. Hearing different cats on there, Joe Sample, Billy Cobham, John Scofield, John Coltrane, Miles . . . I would just go to sleep listening to that station.”
Paul and David sit at the mixing board, eating pizza and listening to the playback. It sounds like ’70s-era Stevie Wonder, with artful drumming. When David‘s melodic guitar solo comes on, he leans over and cranks up the volume. Paul smiles, and starts laughing. “This is gonna be a good year, man.”
The teacher is up front, pacing back and forth, talking in a rapid-fire Texas accent. The students listen intensely, each sitting before a small electric keyboard. An Asian girl dressed in surprisingly formal attire, a floor-length dress and long sleeves, listens to the lecture, then reaches for a Korean-English dictionary and starts flipping quickly through the pages. She appears completely at ease -- glowing, in fact. When she puts on her headphones and begins to play, her shoulder dips unconsciously to the music.
Her name is Soyeon Kang, she is from Seoul, and she is a Christian missionary. She and the other three members of her ensemble were sent over by their church to study music. Back in Korea, they would travel around, playing at the church’s revival meetings to crowds ranging from 100 to 5,000. Now they are in Hollywood, learning music theory and, perhaps, something more.