Stormy Shepherd rocks the nation, literally. Booking punk bands into VFW Halls all over America, she runs one of America's foremost independent booking agencies, Leave Home Booking. She also worked at Revelation Records, promoted shows in Salt Lake City and manages the Lunachicks.
How have you seen punk rock change since you became involved with it?
Stormy: I think I see younger kids at shows. When I first started going to shows, everybody was so old. They were so much older than me. They were like 18 through 25, whatever. I'm 25 now and I feel old, old, old because there's all these young kinds, like 14, 15, 16-year-olds, and whether they're mall punks or whatever, everybody has to get into it somewhere along the line. I see there are a lot of kids who are younger. I think, with anything, it loses its purity, but I'm sure that's been happening since whenever you want to say punk rock started. It's definitely not failing and everybody is reaching into it and pulling out what they can from it, whether it be your view on politics, music, anything. It's something I think some kids are going to latch onto and find deeper meaning. Some are there for the surface, the fun, the music, whatever.
Is it better now or worse than when you got involved?
Stormy: I actually think it's a little bit better. I remember being really scared to go to shows at all when I was little because there were always fights, somebody was always getting stabbed, there were a lot more skinheads, like Nazi skinheads, at shows. Now when I go, it doesn't seem like that anymore. I don't know. That's tough.
Do you think there's anything wrong with punk?
Stormy: I think there's a really narrow-minded mentality that some people have taken or adopted or invented or whatever which comes with it as far as, "I can't your listen to your music" and "You're associated with this or that," or "I can't be your friend if you look like this." You're falling into the same things you wanted to be apart from. You're falling into that whole mainstream mentality. I think there's a lot of really messed up things about it, but I think everybody has to figure it out for themselves.
What's good about punk?
Stormy: For me, with what I do, I think the greatest thing is that you've got a whole network of kids and people who are doing something because they love music. It's not because they get paid, it's not because it's a job. I mean, you have kids out there who are promoting shows, putting bands up at their houses, feeding them and everything because they love music. They're renting out VFW halls, Elk's lodges, fallout shelters, warehouses, whatever and wherever they can to put on shows for bands and these bands are going on tour to play to 30 kids a night, if even that, because they love what they're doing. To me, that's really amazing because I don't know where else you can find a group of people who volunteer their time and invest what little money they do make because they love something like that. There are so many kids all over. We work with more kids than anyone. All these kids do this because they love it, and they don't get paid, they don't make money off of it, they do it because they love the music and the bands and they want to support that and develop scenes in their cities. Even with you, people who are doing fanzines, I'm sure you probably don't get paid. It probably doesn't pay your rent, but it's things like that. You do it because you love it. I did what I do for four and a half years before I ever made any money. I was working a couple of jobs to pay my bills and to pay a phone bill because I wanted to help my friends' bands out. It's things like that. I think that's really rare and driven and comes from the heart.
How have you seen the crowds and people at shows change?
Stormy: Yeah, this awful mall-punk thing, but then I'm being a hypocrite because I'm looking at a kid and judging them for how they look. I've seen that change a lot. When I started going to shows, because I'm still young, I got into this thing after it had already been going for a long time, so I'm not talking like I was there from the beginning, but it seemed like there were a lot more crust-punks, gutter-punks, SHARP skins, stuff like that. People differentiated themselves in punk more. Now, you see kids at punk shows who look normal. If you saw them on the street or in the mall, you wouldn't know by looking at them what kind of music they listened to.
Do you see any problems with the way people act at shows?
Stormy: Well, there's always your moron factor. I think that's always going to be there, the testosterone-driven, "I gotta go out there and take out my anger in the pit" or whatever. I guess it's hard to say. Some people go to shows for the social part of it, some of them go there for the music. You always prefer to have people there for the music. It's like, "Don't waste my time if you're not here for that reason."
What can we do to make the scene better?
Stormy: I think people should keep doing what's been going on and appreciating what people are doing. For example, what's the place in San Diego, it's outside of San Diego, like a club, it's almost like a collective. Soul Kitchen. Places like that. If places would support people like that and appreciate the effort those people are putting into putting on shows, I'm sure that's a group of people who probably don't get paid either, they're volunteering their time, but support that and help work with those people and help them promote shows. Grab a couple of fliers and stick them up at your school or whatever. I think getting involved and supporting what's going on is probably the best way to keep it going. Take an interest in the things you love.
Any final thoughts? Anything you'd like to add?
Stormy: I think it's important to really support all ages shows because a lot of the bands who are playing those, and looking for the odd shows that pop up here and there, those are the bands who really need the help. Those are the bands who really, really need the support. For the most part, they're just out there trying to make a name for themselves and it's cool if you can go check out a band you've never heard of and be surprised. You might like it.