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
All of them are cooling off a little bit from girlfriends since graduating high school.
“A lot of girls we were hanging out with didn’t understand what we were doing, wouldn’t you say?” Weiss asks of his bandmates, pushing his chin-length hair back from his face.
“Yeah, like trendy girls,” says the bespectacled Shuman, who goes to Loyola Marymount and has a show on KXLU. Shuman’s dad, who comes to almost every one of their shows, produces blockbuster comedies like The Wedding Singer and Cheaper by the Dozen.
“Even the girl I was with for like three years wasn’t that into it,” says Lynn, flicking a cigarette ash on the ground.
Weiss says his bandmates are his “best friends.”
“Absolutely,” agrees Hutton.
“’Cause we’re like a support team, like a family,” adds Shuman, with a slight nod.
“I think it’s different with the younger bands,” Weiss muses. “Older bands, some people might move to a city and not know that much about their bandmates, but for us it’s totally a friendship thing.”
Brian Miller, Deathbomb Arc RecordsBrian Miller wants you to be afraid, very afraid.
Brian Miller formed his first band in seventh grade, released his first 7-inch when he was 16, and for his senior-year project at Flintridge Prep in La Cañada, he put together a band with “an Asian gangster kid” he had known since kindergarten.
The young entrepreneur, whose T-shirt is inside out and whose glasses are held together by a piece of colored tape, is sitting in the kitchenette of the Burbank apartment that serves as headquarters for Deathbomb Arc, a label he has been running on and off since he was 19.
At a table strewn with Japanese hard candies, old fliers and a half-eaten orange, Miller, who studied religious studies at UC Berkeley and who used to manage video-game testing for Sega, is talking about why he continues to run his label despite the fact that it doesn’t make money.
“I tend to put out music from bands that all sound really different from one another. And the bands that are most likely to be original, honest and true to self are the young ones,” says Miller, who still plays music himself and volunteers at the Smell. “I guess what it comes down to is that there is no one else out there to put out this music. The first releases on Deathbomb Arc didn’t fit in anywhere.”
One of Deathbomb Arc first releases “was the band of someone I worked with [at Sega]. He was 19. It was kind of hip-hop meets the Pet Shop Boys. I was so astonished that someone, on his own, was making music at home that was that good. It was almost more punk rock to me that they were making music that sounded like that. I was like, ‘I can really get behind this.’”
Since then Miller has gotten behind a lot of types of music that most people probably didn’t even know existed. Two years ago, he put out Deathbomb Arc Presents: Why Is Anything Forbidden? A Tribute to No Limit Records. The compilation included 19 non-hip-hop bands doing songs about the gangster-rap label No Limit. Tracks like Radio Vago’s “Radio P Books on Tape Remix” are unique and evocative.
The opportunity to do such “fearless” projects as this is another motivation for Miller.
“Zach [a friend] from Kill Me Tomorrow said something that really stuck with me. He thought the reason that people do music in this kind of underground setting is you can explore the ideas that seem like bad ideas. Not ideas that would make bad music but maybe scary ideas.”
Almost everything Miller does is about encouraging “scary ideas.” Besides working with the 19 active bands that are currently on Deathbomb Arc, including Rainbow Blanket, Miller also produces a regular concert series called Neon Hates You, and a smaller spinoff concert series called Neon Hates You Jr.
The idea came about when he was considering “all the great bands that have, like maybe, 10 or 20 people that come and see them.” He figured if you bring them together on the same bill, they’d get to play for a bigger audience. And he was right. The last Neon Hates You was two days long and “just under 400 people” showed up.
“Because of Neon Hates You, a lot of young and innovative bands in L.A. have brought themselves to my attention, and I’m just excited about them,” Miller explains, picking the pulp off a slice of orange. “They remind me of everything I ever wanted to do with music.”
Cali DeWitt, True Love RecordsWhich came first, the chicken or true love records? Only Cali DeWitt knows.
“When I started True Love, the first band I wanted to put out was the Mean Reds,” says Michael “Cali” DeWitt, the indie label’s 31-year-old president and sole employee. “They were like, ‘This is our third show and we can hardly play,’ and I was like, ‘It doesn’t matter. I felt so good watching you.’”