Since I initially wrote this intro, most of the stuff Dave does has changed. The Velvet has closed. The Crow Bar, which replaced it, also closed. Last I heard, Dave doesn't play with the Rats anymore. He still plays with tiltWheel and they are still one of the few bands that never let me down.
What is the state of the scene?
Dave: Well, you can't just say "the scene." There are so many different factions, not just spread out by towns. What I see right now is Velvet because I'm there every night and right now, to me, and I thought I'd never say this, the Velvet is probably the most positive place for punk rock in San Diego. It's because the bands get paid all the door, something that never happens at any fucking all ages shows here, the bar doesn't take any money away from the bands at all. We actually buy shit from the bands. The crowd goes for it. As far as bands, there's a really fucking big English-style punk like a Motorhead, Swinging Utters type thing coming up and that's what's really good. People are getting sick of the skate/surf tie-ins and the selling of punk rock and the imaging and the packaging and [they're] going back to the basics of playing good music and dressing funny and not giving a shit but supporting the bands. I think that's where we're at right now. There aren't too many fanzines left. Most of them you can pick up at a fucking liquor store and hopefully those days are slowly waning. It's hard to pinpoint, but from what I see, it's getting nothing but better. There's still a lot of apathy. The problems that I think are in the scene are jock attitudes, packaging and selling of punk rock by tying it into clothing lines or whatever and that whole wannabe Suicidal Tendencies in the 90's type of packaging of punk rock and hopefully that's going down. I think we're finally getting out of that.
Is there anything wrong with punk music in San Diego?
Dave: People need to stop being so militant about the bands they like and the places they go see bands at and the towns they're from. They need to start to start thinking about taking some of that energy and putting out a magazine instead of just being a fucking loudmouth and spouting off bullshit like where you're from and gang, tribal type shit. There's still a lot of shit-talking between the bands and that has to stop. Some of the bands talk shit because of jealousy, like somebody "draws" more people than somebody else. I think that needs to be fixed. I think it's just more of a personal thing. I think if you're a punk rocker and you think you're bad-ass because you're a punk rocker, you need to fix that, because, to me, being a punk rocker means I'm a fucking loser and I'm proud of it.
What's good about punk music in San Diego?
Dave: It's getting better, that's what's good about it. People don't see what I'm seeing, but I see a show and people are sticking around for five bands and they're screaming and yelling and they're buying stuff off the bands, they're getting stickers. There's a lot of labels starting up. Everybody and their brother is starting a label and I actually hear people complain about that. It makes me laugh because a thousand zines and a thousand labels can only help punk rock. It's when you have no zines and no labels that everyone whines that there aren't enough labels and not enough bands. What's good about punk rock is that it's starting to die out. The legions are leaving and people's real faces are being shown. You can't answer that [question]. You have to be there. You have to just fucking be there and if you go to a show, you'll know what's good about it and what's bad about it. I've been thinking lately that whenever you do see something bad about punk rock, it's probably your fault. You're probably offended at something. Most complaints I hear from people are like "Why did that show suck?" "Oh, because there were all these little kids there with backpacks on." Well, that's a stupid reason to hate a show. Maybe that's your fault. Maybe you're an asshole.
How do you think people act at shows? Do they seem to be having a good time?
Dave: There is and always will be a lot of intimidation at shows, whether it's being intimidated by some big, dumb fucking mucho testosterone pumping jock-type or whether you're too intimidated to actually get up off your ass and start dancing. I think a lot of people are afraid to do that, to come out of their shells. I see a band and I start doing backflips and fucking lay on the floor and do the worm, but a lot of people are afraid to do that. How do people act at shows? I haven't seen anything really bad in a long time. Some shows are boring for bands to play. I get bummed at a show if I don't see anybody doing anything because I think they're bored. I wish I wasn't the reason they're so bored. I don't know. It really depends on the place you're going to, I guess. There's always a show mentality. You put people in a room to watch bands and by the end of the night they'll all be acting the same way, whether they're sitting on the floor with their legs crossed or beating the shit out of each other. Lately at the bar, the punk shows have been nothing but great. No violence, people are shit-faced but they're going to be shit-faced from drinking beers in the parking lot at SOMA. They're picking each other up off the floor, they're putting ice on people's heads when they get thrown into a table by accident. It's funny to see that. Once a slam pit starts at the bar, you see six people going around and picking up glasses to get them out of the way because people know what's going to happen. That's what I see. It sucks and I thought I'd never say it, but right now the best place for shows is a stupid little bar in San Diego. That's why I started working there, because I had so much fun fucking being there. It's kind of weird.
Do you see any problems with the crowds and the people who go to see bands?
Dave: You can't blame the crowd, you have to blame the different factions in the crowd. You're going to have people of a certain clique whether they're goth people, skinheads, jocks, skaters, kids that listen to Millencolin versus kids that listen to Guttermouth or whatever. I don't see a problem with the crowds, only when they don't get active, when they're more worried about the way they look or who they're with, but that's always going to be there. Unfortunately, that's always going to be part of the punk scene and there's nothing we can do to change it except to stick with it, grow and learn something from it. Learn something from the punk scene where the way you look and your friends that you go to shows with, your backup or whatever you call it, don't mean as much to you as seeing a band you really like and wanting to spit all over them and shit because you like them so much. It's been weird. I haven't seen a really bad show in San Diego in a long time. If anybody really is complaining about it, they're probably jealous or something. The last few shows Tiltwheel has played, we've played to five people but we haven't had a bad show in a long time because all those five people are having fun. We haven't had anybody beat the shit out of each other for a long time. It's cool. The ConfedeRATS, we play a show and people look they're fucking killing each other. Bodies flying everywhere, you know? Then afterwards, the only thing dripping from their eyeballs is sweat. There's no blood and nobody's getting beat up and nobody's starting riots. Nobody's walking around with fucking macho bullshit attitudes, so there's no problem with a crowd when they do that [unless] they're bringing in an element that has nothing to do with punk rock, like their fucking gang affiliation or the town they live in or their favorite band or whatever. I don't see a problem. I'm very positive about what's going on right now. As long as we can keep the club owners out of it, it'll be great.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Dave: Quit thinking of it in terms of a scene. It's all personal to me. Find a band you like, go see a show. If you like the band, act like an asshole and make sure they know you like them. If you like what you're seeing, tell somebody. Put it in print. If you like a band, put out a record. The only way you're going to make it better is taking what you like about what's in punk rock and telling somebody else about it. Put it out, fucking write, do something. Tell somebody that you like it, bring your friends to a punk rock show and if they don't understand why you like it, fucking don't talk to them anymore. It's really fucking cool right now. We've got psychobilly bands, old style punk rock bands and new school punk rock bands, bands like the Neighbors who San Diego has needed for years. Unfortunately, the Neighbors' message gets lost in the fucking swarms of Blink-182 shirts who like fart songs. We need a band like the Neighbors. That's what I like about punk. That's positive.