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The Return of Ridicule, Boyle Heights' Skate Punk Legends

The Return of Ridicule, Boyle Heights' Skate Punk Legends
Photo courtesy of Ridicule

The punk rock that comes out of Boyle Heights and other East L.A. backyard communities is usually an extremely fast and boisterous one: street punk. Two-minute scratchy anthems that are often about some kind of political oppression and that consist of repetitive unrelenting power chords, the same rolling drumbeat and raspy flat vocals. This style takes from classic punk made popular by iconic bands like The Exploited in the '80s and The Casualties in the '90s. The type of timeless bands that live and propagate in the back-patches and T-shirts eventually worn by every single generation of punk rockers.

In Boyle Heights, the local hardcore style sounds a lot like the angry New York Cro-Mags era (see other Boyle Heights bands: The Convicts, Set Aside, Union 13). Not that there's anything wrong that. But as a punk rock lifer, you eventually seek softer, more melodic stuff -  you know, stuff you can listen to with your significant other or your kids.

Which makes Boyle Heights punk bands like Ridicule - melodic and fast at the same, with extremely catchy, harmonic choruses - all the more special. They proudly proclaim their unique style, which they innovated in 1993, as "Skate Punk," since founding member (then 12 years old), Salomon Cabral on guitars and vocals was an avid skater back then. But their sound is definitely bold punk-pop  - the '90s kind, like blink-182's first two albums; NOFX and Propagandhi-style, raw punk-pop.

Ridicule enjoyed a nice little success ride thanks to their easy listening punk songs in the mid-'90s, garnering respect from other local bands and people that wouldn't normally find themselves in the punk scene. They had a few close calls, like when they almost got signed by Epitaph. But one of their members ended up in juvenile detention for a couple of years and another got sucked into Boyle Heights gang life.

Ridicule went on hiatus until 2012, when Cabral was playing a show with his folk alternative band, Crashing Star, and Ridicule's other founding member, drummer Frank Bermejo-Mendoza showed up, got inspired and proposed they get back together. They recruited a new, confident bassist by the name of Emmanuel Neveska Villa and decided to officially start it up again in January 2013 and recover everything that was lost.

"We played a few local shows last year and everyone somehow knew all of our lyrics," says a grateful Cabral. "It was amazing. We didn't know the impact we had on people. We thought we sucked but they asked us to play our songs twice even."

This momentum resulted in their first ever full length album, the self-released The Beginnings Plus One.

To celebrate this fresh start, Ridicule played a free record-release show at American Legion Post 206 in Highland Park on April 5th. Without much promotion, a steady crowd of a few hundred Latino couples from Boyle Heights and East L.A. areas showed up to support and shout out song titles like "Disabled" and "Sweet Slut" for them to play.

Their next show is at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club at Universal Citywalk on May 8th at 7:30 p.m. It's a battle of the bands for a slot at the Vans Warped Tour and they are feeling good about it. 

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