Criminal Hygiene Were Banned From Playing The Redwood

Criminal Hygiene Were Banned From Playing The Redwood

Garage-pop trio Criminal Hygiene's self-titled debut is a blend of catchy song structures and skate-rat not-give-a-fuckery. Vocalist-songwriter James Watson's front teeth are false, the result of a skateboard to the face.

See also: Purgatory Pizza: The Punk Rock Pie Shop

It looks like the tradition of East L.A.'s Purgatory Pizza forging bands in its ovens continues. Two of Criminal Hygiene's members, drummer Sean Erickson and guitarist Michael Fiore, have flipped pies there, and Watson regularly haunts the premises.

Some folks have compared them to Fidlar, another Purgatory band. One blog, meanwhile, called Criminal Hygiene's single "Rearrange Me" "gutter punk." The comparison is an easy one to make, but their sound is actually far more rooted in the tradition of The Replacements than straightforward L.A. punk; "Rearrange Me" would not have felt out of place on Tim.

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Still, they don't totally discount the influence of the raucous garage punk sound. "You always hear about music scenes developing," says Watson, "but it was really inspiring to see it happen in real life. Especially to see bands like Pangea come together and pack the Observatory during Burgerama." Criminal Hygiene view the sound as liberating rather than constricting. "Before we were in different projects really writing to a genre," says Fiore. "This band allowed us to just experiment and improvise and interesting stuff came out of it."

"It's liberating to sing loud," adds Watson.

Criminal Hygiene also channels some of The Replacements' live tendencies: smashing instruments, inebriation, and enduring the shaken fists of venue owners. They were recently banned for life from playing The Redwood downtown, they say. (A Redwood promoter reached by phone confirmed that the bar definitely isn't looking to book them again.)

"Some teenybopper punk band dressed like current Green Day was opening to a bunch of girls with braces and fanny-packs so naturally we started drinking heavily," says Fiore. Their friends and fans had similar ideas, and the ruckus began to escalate. People were throwing beer, knocking over the mic stands and throwing a metal garbage can around. Fiore's cousin was wearing an cockroach costume.


According to Fiore they close every set with a jam at the end where they get wild and dance around. But this time there was an abundance of violence, cables coming unplugged, glass breaking. At the peak of a song Watson smashed his bass through a painting hanging on the wall and dove onto the drum set. The venue shut the sound off on them and they were told they weren't welcome back.

Someone from the Redwood threw some of their equipment to the curb and wouldn't let them come back in. "Its a shame because we have a lot of respect for The Redwood, the history of it," says Fiore. "We never intended for that to happen. It just got out of hand."

Antics like these have inspired a little bit of directed wrath. Popular High Voltage blogger Trina Green tweeted: Note to self: avoid ANY show where wannabe retard punks Criminal Hygiene are on the line up after she apparently witnessed the band throwing beer cans at people during a show. The band responded on Twitter and a mini-feud ensued.

But after the dust of internet buzz settles what will matter is the quality of Criminal Hygiene's music, and their debut goes a long way in displaying their chops. And it's our opinion that if you're not willing to get a beer can to the face you probably shouldn't be at a rock show in the first place.

Criminal Hygiene plays at Lot 1 Cafe on December 12th.

See also: Purgatory Pizza: The Punk Rock Pie Shop

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