I’m always on the lookout for some solid, garage rock and this time around I found it. However, as per just about every Badass Band, this band doesn’t just stick to one genre entirely. This band is a staple in the East LA/Downtown music scene and aside from their killer tunes is damn good at hosting and supporting the music community in a variety of ways. Meet Badass Band 98, Electric Children.
I met Electric Children before I actually heard them. Eddie Lopez (Guitar/Vocals) reached out to me on behalf of Sick City Records (EC’s label) to help sponsor Sick City Fest at The Redwood back in March. Eddie and the whole Sick City team are constant supporters of bands and organize countless events throughout the year. On that bill was also Eddie’s band, Electric Children. Eddie had sent me some of their tunes beforehand and I was highly impressed by the constant morphing of their tunes over the duration the band has existed, from straight up punk rock, to folk, to plain ol’ rock n roll. Currently, there is no complete album, but there are a slew of killer singles out there from EC.
- “Blood Red River”- Punk fucking rock. Fast, heavy, simple, and made to listen to loud. Plus side, you can actually hear the vocals well instead of them getting lost in a rough, scream fest, I love that. Though the song is a lot of repeating the title phrase the variances of the instrumentals throughout keep it fresh to the end.
- “Death Don’t Have Mercy”- This is an acoustic track with vocals that make me feel like I’m listening to it around a campfire. They are clearly the main attraction and the accompaniment of the guitar just adds to the urgency of the lyrics, “Death will leave you crying in this land, it’ll come to your house, it won’t stay long, look to your bed and your mother will be gone, death will have no mercy in this land.”
- “Goodbye”- Rock n roll track, super catchy and will have you shakin’ along in seconds. Dreamy vocals. Metallic guitar lines that build up the “Shattered Soul, shattered dreams” aspect of the lyrics, with a rad guitar solo taking the forefront at the climax.
If you want a solid taste it all, then Electric Children is your band. EC is comprised of Ramblin’ Eddie Lopez, Ryan Wilson, Matt Lake and Mondo Lopez. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Ryan and Eddie recently, so read on to find out how Eddie gained a wife and a drummer in one night, what they feel the struggle is for indie bands in LA, and what Mudhoney has to do with their name!
When and why did each of you start playing music?
Eddie: I think for me when we were kids my cousin Frank gave me a tape. It was a bunch of punk bands and I was like, “Oh, I can actually do that,” and then Nirvana exploded shortly after that. Then everybody picked up a guitar.
Ryan: I started playing drums when I was 12 or 13. It’s been a while. I’ve been playing for about 17 years.
How did you guys meet? How did your whole band come together, really?
Eddie: Our scene started Downtown, the whole garage rock thing, and we shared the stage at a show. He played in a band called Lightning Woodcock Motherfuckers. Lightning introduced me to them, and I saw him play and I was like, “Wow that guy, I want to work with that guy one day,” because he was different than the other drummers I’d been working with. He reminded me of Sean Kinney from Alice and Chains. I was like, “I’ve never worked with a drummer like that. It would be interesting to see how those two worlds collide.” So, Woodcock introduced us and I was like, “Hey, he seems pretty cool. Maybe he’ll want to do a little work with me.” Later that night I also ended up meeting my wife. Got me a wife and a drummer.
Ryan: That was years ago. Yeah, there are a lot of bands in downtown that we kind of know. This is an incestuous little group.
Eddie: Yeah, so after our US tour, I dissolved the original band pretty much. I rented out a house in Glendale, and told my band mates, “Let’s make a record here,” because it was something that I wanted to do. We set up a studio in the house and then one day we heard a band next door, and it were like, “Hey, there’s a band next door? Cool.” This was Glendale. What were the odds? So I listened to the other band, and I’m like, “Hey, that bass player kicks ass.” We became friends. His name is Mondo. One day, I invited him over. We barbecued, and I showed him some footage of like our little tour, you know? It was like a two-week thing we did. He was like, “Wow, I want to do that.” So then Mondo joined, and then once we got Mondo, we started jamming and I’m like, “I want another lead guitar player.” I put an ad out and found Matt Lake, who has two degrees from USC in music. We recorded four or five songs.
Who are your musical influences?
Ryan: Growing up, my dad played guitar, and he was definitely a 70’s guy, and I remember, he was really into Motley Crüe and stuff like that. Playing drums, I listened to a lot of that heavy metal, and it was cool because that’s what my Dad was into, and I was like, well, to me at that point in time, my dad was pretty cool. That’s how I learned, just playing with my dad. He would play, and I would play drums along with him. The funny part about that was, my skill level surpassed his skill level in about a year. Then after that, I was like, “I want to play this, this, this, and this.” He was like, “I can play two of those.” So you know, from there, it kind of took off. I went to jazz school, and then I was influenced by a whole other subset of old music. I play a lot of different genres. I’m good to go with punk, Latin, jazz, rock. It doesn’t really matter. Now, I play some kind of weird amalgamation of them.
Eddie: I have a pretty similar story. Anything with loud guitars, like Stooges. A lot of older compilations. Mudhoney. Yeah, just garage rock, and dirty rock ‘n’ roll.
Why the name Electric Children?
Eddie: Hmm. There’s a couple reasons. There was 60’s band from Van Nuys called the Electric Prunes, and that’s where I got all of that fuzzy influence. There was also a Mudhoney side band called The Monkey Wrench, and one of their albums is called The Electric Children. I told my dad one day, I’m like, “Dad, I’m going to drop out of school. I’m going to start a band called The Electric Children. We’re going to make records, and we’re going to play Seattle.” Then we did it, and I was like, “Why didn’t I say we were going to do like bigger deals or something?!”
How does your creative process work?
Ryan: Dream up some weird shit and write it down.
Eddie: I’ll bring the demos up to Ryan, and we’ll start messing around with them. It’s like deconstructed, reconstructed, put a bridge there, I’ll cut that and add this.
Ryan: I think since I’ve been involved, it’s a lot of “What do you think about this?” or “What do you think about this?” or “What do you think about this?” Then he’s like, “Aw fuck, I don’t know. Let’s try it.” And then we kind of see what works. I worry because I’m the king of going off on a tangent with my jazz influence. You don’t want to lose the point, you know what I mean? You want to keep the songs concise and to the point. I think that’s when they’re most effective, so I try not to get in the way of myself.
Eddie: He and Matt are the more classically trained musicians. They’re pros, you know? Me and Mondo are just like, we just play.
When people ask you what type of music your band plays, what do you tell them?
Eddie: It’s kind of like dirty garage blues. With a sprinkle of psychedelics.
Ryan: Yeah, I mean, my point of view is a little different because I wasn’t around for what it really sounded like before me, so to me, it can be really chaotic, but it’s like a really good energy, you know?
Eddie: I want to say like The Breeders meet The Stooges or that sort of thing.
What do you guys think the biggest challenge is for an indie band in LA?
Ryan: Wow, so many. I think really there’s so much noise. Getting through the noise in a meaningful and impactful way. I think that’s hard, because there’s just a lot of bands, and they’re trying to make a lot of noise. It would be better if they grouped together to be more cohesive within the noise, but then it becomes a problem because then all those groups get lumped together, and somebody has to break out of that pack, right? It’s like a catch-22 in and of itself.
It is also expensive. Gear is expensive. Getting a rehearsal spot it expensive. Getting everybody together because of the schedule is hard and can be expensive in a way. It could cost somebody money to take off work and do this stuff, especially in the beginning, the payout is pretty minimum. I hear a lot of bands and a lot of people from a lot of places, they’re like, “Oh, I want to move to LA and do all this.” I’m like, “You know, sometimes being a big fish in a small pond is super beneficial instead of being like algae in the Pacific Ocean. You’re not even a nothing. You’re like a baby nothing.
If you could change one thing about the music industry right now, what would you change?
Eddie: I will say that it’s a really good time for the arts. It’s also a really shitty time for the arts. On the one hand, the artist has never had more opportunity and power to really impact people in a meaningful way. We really paid a pretty high price for digital. I mean, at the end of the day, music has become less about music and more of a ‘this is a file on my computer’. The value of music when you hear it and you experience it, and there’s a whole emotional attachment to it, we’ve lost a lot of that emotional attachment because now we download it off of iTunes for 99 cents.
Ryan: I would find a cheaper way to press vinyl. There has to be a better way. All the music buyers are buying vinyl, so it’s like there has to be a cheaper way to do it where it doesn’t break the bank. I don’t really care about making money. I just want to make it more available.
Best live show you’ve ever been to.
Eddie: God, that’s like a three-way tie, you know?
Ryan: Oh, really?
Eddie: It’s like The Hives at the Roxy before anybody knew The Hives. The Screaming Trees at the Roxy was awesome too. I was like two feet away from Mark Lanegan, and he’s got like one of the greatest voices of my generation, you know? Josh Harmon was playing guitar for them. Mudhoney at the Troubadour was like intense. Crowd surfing, man, there was crowd surfing.
Ryan: I think I have a two-way tie. I saw a Mastodon, Deftones, and Alice In Chains all together. That was just like, every single band crushing it. Fucking, it was loud as crap. I’m a huge fan of Mastodon because it’s metal and it’s complicated and it’s amazing. Then Deftones in LA, people go insane for that. I never got to see Alice in Chains when Layne Staley was still alive, but the new guy, the new guy was rad. He was great. Just to see like an old rocker walk up on stage smoking a cigarette, and know he’s paying a hell of a fine for that. It was fuck, in between every song, the dude’s lighting up. Every song. We need more of that. We need more of that like attitude. I also saw Nine Inch Nails in Vegas, they’re living legends.
Favorite things to do not musically related.
Eddie: I like women’s clothes. I mean like skirts. Well, my parents had a clothing shop that tended to be more for like older women. I tended do more of the younger woman thing, you know. Vintage skirts and baby doll dresses, and stuff. I helped them out a lot.
Ryan: I love going to art shows. I like seeing art. I like movies. My Instagram was turned into all buildings and art. My friends joke with me it’s like architecture-gram now because I’m like, “This building is the coolest. I’ll take a picture of it.” All my Instagram is either buildings or things or drums or hats. That’s really about it.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what are some bands that you would feature?
Eddie: Of course, White Murder. Oh, our new favorite band Bonfire Beach. It’s like fuzzy, low vocal, female vocals. Death Valley Girls. Oh, my friends from Oklahoma, Moonshine.
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