Monday, October 11, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #87

The Zeros only released three singles during their brief first life as part of the early West Coast Punk scene, but what incredible singles they were!

Formed in Chula Vista, CA, in 1976, The Zeros were Javier Escovedo on vocals and guitar, Robert Lopez on guitar, Hector Penalosa on bass and Baba Chenelle on drums, all of whom were still in high school when the band's first single hit the racks in 1977. "Don't Push Me Around" b/w "Wimp" was issued by Bomp! records, and The Zeros began playing the LA circuit with bands like The Germs, The Weirdos and The Plugz. Peter Case of The Nerves (and later, The Plimsouls) was an early supporter of the band and helped to promote their music.

The Zeros' brand of Punk Rock fell toward the skinny-tie mod/power-pop end of the spectrum. Escovedo had a natural talent for writing catchy songs, and despite their youth (or, more likely, because of it) they played with an assured energy and enthusiasm usually found in road-weary veterans of the club scene.

With a slight change in line-up (Penalosa replaced with Guy Lopez, Robert Lopez leaving and reducing the band to a trio), The Zeros released a second single in 1978. "Beat Your Heart Out" has become a true classic of the genre, having been covered by numerous bands including The Muffs and, most recently, Gorevette.

A third single, "Getting Nowhere Fast," followed, but - as often happens when high school bands grow up - The Zeros soon went their separate ways. They hardly faded into obscurity, however. Those three singles became highly sought-after artifacts of the first wave of LA-based Punk, and a decade after The Zeros disbanded, Bomp! compiled all three plus a number of unreleased tracks into one handy CD, Don't Push Me Around. Giving the world a sense of what a Zeros album might have been like back then, the CD is a blast from start to finish and captures the band's energy very well.

Continued nostalgia brought The Zeroes back together in the early/mid 1990's. This reunited version of the band recorded two albums: Right Now (1992) and Knocking Me Dead (1994). Both are well worth picking up. The Zeroes continue to play live shows before appreciative audiences to this day.

This week's clip was one I stumbled upon recently - footage of the band on local TV in San Diego just after the first single was released. They lip-sync both songs and then Javier gives an aw-shucks interview revealing that the band got the gig because Robert Lopez's father happened to be the floor manager. Hey, however you can get your music heard, right? It's fairly rare footage, and not the greatest quality, but the songs are excellent and well worth sharing. Enjoy!

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