WHO THEY ARE: The Diffs
WHAT THEY DO: Spew feral L.A.-style punk that recalls the Germs, Black Flag and Fear — all bands who reigned waaay before these teens were twinkles in their parents’ bloodshot eyes.
THEIR PARENTS’ BLOODSHOT EYES? Two members — guitarist Elvis Kuehn (15) and drummer Max Kuehn (14) — have a rock & roll dad. (See below. ) Singer Richie Slick (17) and bassist/vocalist Paulene (16) round out what must be L.A.’s coolest high-school band.
WHAT THEY DO IS NO SECRET: Slick is the ear-splitting image of Darby Crash, from his jerky (if more controlled) movements to his lacerating yet purposeful shrieks. In fact, the Diffs were actually handed the torch by the Germs themselves when they opened up one of their recent reunion shows at the Galaxy Theater. The Adicts are also fans, and had the band open for them on a recent U.S. tour.
RAW POWER: If you like your hardcore loud, tight, swift and melodic, the Diffs are your band. Forget about their age or parentage: These kids have more than proven they deserve the big bills they’ve scored over their three-year career, with a relentless rhythm section and a knack for writing fresh yet classicist punk-rock rants. See their self-titled debut on SOS Records.
SCHOOL OF ROCK: Slick and Paulene (whose back-and-forth vocal bouts sometimes recall X) both go to Venice High School. Bros Max and Elvis go to Hamilton High and are both part of the Academy of Music magnet program. Max (who follows an impressive line of drummers named Max . . . e.g., Weinberg, Roach) plays in the school’s jazz band, and Elvis takes electronic-music and production classes.
POP PUNK SCHMUNK! “We don’t get into the fashion of punk,” says Elvis, though their fans obviously do; there were plenty of mohawks at a recent Vault 360 gig. “We just dress how we want to.” Indeed, these kids look relatively normal in comparison to the spiked-out, Hot Topic–garbed babes who call themselves punks these days. Elvis adds, “we’re not like the pop-punk bands out there. We’ve got nothing against them, but we’re doing something different [hence the name The Diffs]. We’re trying to keep the old style of punk alive.”
YUP, THEY’RE SMART TOO: Check the lyrics to “Super Celebrity” about the Governator: “Mr. Schwarzenegger welcome to power/Take off your clothes, hop into the shower/There’s 12 girls waiting with the chardonnay/It’s time to move on in/Brother Hitler says there’s plenty of time/Sweet-talk your way in, annihilate the slime.”
. . . AND THE PAT SMEAR AWARD FOR BEST PUNK-ROCK NAME GOES TO: Drummer Max, who also goes by Maxi Pad. He is, coincidentally or not, a redhead.
COOLEST DAD IN THE WORLD: Elvis and Max’s parental unit, Greg Kuehn, best known for his stints in TSOL and the Joneses, says he digs his kids’ rocking out. “I’ve never given the whole ‘you gotta have something to fall back on’ speech. I’ve made a career out of music and so can they,” he says. “I think they should make the most of this opportunity. They’re creating their own legacy.”