Mike Stax does the zine Ugly Things and currently plays in The Loons.
What is the state of the scene?
Mike: Well, right now, I feel sort of out of touch with it because I feel like maybe the scene is kind of fragmented. There's sort of the SOMA scene with the new punk bands or the younger bands that the under-21 crowd go and see. Sort of the mosh pit kind of deal. Then there's more sort of the Casbah kind of Velvet scene of bands which generally seem to be more diverse and attract an older crowd. I'm totally out of touch as far as the SOMA thing goes, I'm not really sure what's going on down there, but I think there's some promising stuff happening from what I've seen [in] some bands around town. It all depends on what you're looking for in terms of punk. Punk for me is more like an attitude than what it's become. It's kind of a formula with these punk bands like the pop-punk thing, it seems to be so formula-driven and all the bands sound the same and I think punk should be more, not experimental, but challenging. I see that in certain bands like the Letdowns. They take different elements from different types of punk rock and put it together and that's a little more exciting than the SOMA pop-punk thing to me. I think the Letdowns are going to be one of the most interesting bands and they wouldn't really fit into what MTV considers punk, but I think they're closer to punk rock than any of those bands.
Is there anything wrong with punk music in San Diego?
Mike: It's kind of a difficult question. I just think there needs to be a bit more imagination, but that's more down to the individual person. That's more down to the musicians, more down to the people in the bands to make their music more interesting, but then again, maybe I'm missing out on some really interesting stuff, but when everything's driven by sounding as much like Green Day and Rancid and all that as possible, then I think that's definitely something wrong. It's just a matter of originality and that's down to the individual.
What's good about punk music in San Diego?
Mike: Again, individual bands. The Letdowns, the Mach 5. Those bands excite me and that's what's good about it. I judge on a band by band basis. I don't know as far as the punk scene as a whole. I don't know what's good about it. It's just down to music for me.
How do you think people act at shows? Do they seem to be having a good time?
Mike: It's like I was saying before, some of the shows, it's just like a mosh pit and I guess some people are having a good time with that, which is great, but I think it tends to exclude a lot of people, like anyone that's not completely muscle-bound or male is kind of excluded from that. I can't put it down if they're having a good time, but it can't be a good time for girls and people like that. Then other shows, you see people and they seem kind of bored. I don't know why that is. Maybe the bands aren't doing their job right.
Do you see any problems with the crowds and the people who go to see bands?
Mike: You occasionally see people get a bit over-excited but usually the clubs can take care of it. I don't really see any particular problems with it getting out of hand or anything.
What can we do to make the scene better?
Mike: I think it's just down to the individual. Like I said in one of the other questions, it's down to the bands to make the music more interesting. Rather than complain about the scene, just make it better by making some more exciting music, maybe think about doing something different. If the audiences seem bored and jaded sometimes, it's because a lot of the bands all sound the same. Maybe they should be trying to excite people a little better.