With Horror Pops & Left Alone
April 27, 2006 - Live @ The Icon - Buffalo, NY

The Briefs Will Steal Yer Heart

In 2002 a three-song CD promo by a band called The Briefs fell into my lap. The cover was done in an old-school DIY punk style. It was light blue with a pink splash and had a Black & White photo of a chick in a tie and a tight mini skirt. There were zippers over her breasts, her shoulders, and the rest of her. The band's name was "attached" with a safety pin and pieces of cellophane tape (complete with "finger prints"). The back had Blue & White photos of the band wearing wild sunglasses, skinny ties, and lots of buttons. (I wonder who else dresses like that? Hmmm... They were dressed like I dress!) It looked interesting enough, so I took it home and played it.
Then I played it again. And I played it again. I played it and played it and played it. It nearly drove my roommates nuts! The songs were "Poor and Weird," "Where Did He Go?" and "Sylvia." Thus began my love affair with The Briefs. I also picked up everything I could by the band and hoped that I would someday get to see them play live. Being a West Coast band, they rarely come anywhere near Syracuse. So, when I saw they were coming to Buffalo, only a three hour drive from home, I was all over it like stink on a monkey! I immediately contacted the band's PR Rep and requested an interview. The guys were more than willing to talk with me, and I was PSYCHED! I was actually on needles and pins as I waited for the day to arrive.

L-R: Daniel J. Travanti, Kicks, Tom, Chris Brief, Steve E. Nix
The day finally came and I was supposed to go with my friend Jack Bennett (Many of you may remember him from the Social Distortion story.) Unfortunately, he had to work in Albany. But, on the plus side... The lovely Miss Dawn re-adjusted her schedule for the day and was able to drive. The weather was perfect for the three hour drive to Buffalo. The sun was high and the skies were clear for the most part. We jumped onto the NYS Thruway and headed West. As we drove we saw lots of wildlife. We saw many woodchucks along the side of the highway, some Blue Herons as we passed the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, and in the newly budding trees we spotted several PeregrineFalcons. To see the bird that was recently on the Endangered Species List making its wild comeback was pretty exciting. (To see a live webcam of two nesting falcons in Syracuse, courtesy of USA DataNet: Click Here.) I like birds a lot... except for pigeons and Seagulls. Them, I hate! They are like the homeless crackheads of the bird world, always coming around begging for a handout. Stupid birds! But, I digress... Back to the story...
We arrived in Buffalo and found The Icon rather easily. The club, located at 391 Ellicott Street, has been under the current management for about two years. The Icon is set up pretty well. The bar is long and easily accessible and it has a high stage making it possible to see the band from anywhere in the club. The club will hold about 700 at maximum capacity making it a great room to see an intimate show.
We arrived early and found the sound man running through the sound check. He directed me to the Briefs' guitarist Daniel J. Travanti. I introduced myself and he told me I would probably want to speak with Steve E. Nix. He wasn't available right away, so Dawn & I wandered outside and started talking to the crowd waiting to get in.

We bumped into some guys that had seen me at other shows and moved a bunch of buttons. There were two girls selling patches. I grabbed a Varukers patch, which is now on my flight jacket. (Thanks Ashley!) The crowd of about three hundred filled the club nicely but still left plenty of room for getting around. I went to the mechandise booth and got some buttons and patches from each of the bands. Steve finally had a few moments to talk and asked if we wanted to do the interview after the set, that way they could get all their stuff done and we could take our time. I agreed that would be a great idea. (I hate rushed interviews because you never get to ask all the things you want to know.) So, with that, Dawn and I went to get a few drinks and waited for the show to start.

The Opening Band was called Left Alone. The four piece band from Wilmington, California is one of the hardest working independent bands in the underground scene today. The band slowly moved from backyards, to local clubs,to selling out shows just by word of mouth. Started in 1996 by Elvis Cortez (guitar/vocals) it has been nonstop from the first punk rock keg party to their latest tour. The group draws its many influences from bands such as the Clash, Rancid, Swingin' Utters, Operation Ivy and Elvis Costello. Left Alone manage to bring a new sound true to the roots they love so much. With a huge D.I.Y ethic, Cortez started SMELVIS RECORDS to release his bands’ records. Left Alone book their own tours, make their own merchandise and even tune their own guitars. Their body of work includes 3 E.P.’s, 3 Splits, 2 Singles, 2 full length albums and they have been on tons of punk and ska compilations such as the WARPED TOUR 2004 comp and the BACKYARD CITY ROCKERS Volumes 1 and 2.

Official Website

Singing in both English and Spanish they have managed to win over fans in the United States, Canada, and in Mexico. The have toured Mexico with Voodoo Glow Skulls and Union 13. In the States they have shared stages with the Duane Peters and the Hunns, as well as 1208, the Briggs, the Briefs, the Nerve Agents, the Groovie Ghoulies, U.S. Bombs, L.E.S. Stitches and F-Minus. In 1996 Elvis opened the now defunct PCH club in Wilmington and that’s where they would get opening slots for national touring acts as they came through town. In 2003 Elvis went on the Vans WARPED Tour as a roadie with a backpack full of clothes and case full of CD’s handing them out to just about anyone who would look in his direction. Elvis applied to have his band be the 2004 Warped Tour BBQ band and gave it to Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman. Months after, they both had a meeting and LEFT ALONE was on board for 2004. The band's popularity took off from there in leaps and bounds.
Left Alone's sound take elements of old-school Hard-Ass Punk and combines them with the more sensible elements of Pop, and then throws in just a hint of Ska. Not enough to call them an all-out Ska band, but there are touches of sax and some Hammond Organ thrown in. It all makes for a great sound that pays tribute to the bands before them but still has its own freshness. It is very fun to listen to and gets a crowd moving.
Left Alone's latest release: Dead American Radio is a collection of lonely road stories, drunken adventures, and lost love anthems. Drawing influence from personal loss, Elvis Cortez shows his darker side on this record. The title track "Dead American Radio" speaks of the discontent with todays radio play list and way of business. Cortez took on Production duties for the recording of the album and captured the band's sound exactly as he wanted it. Recorded in a true low-budget studio in Riverside, California, Elvis managed to capture the rawness of a 3 chord song, but with a sound and quality that a high end studio can deliver. There is also a bit of diversity in the types of songs. Styles run from Punk to Ska and even a little bit of Cow Punk. The record also has some very cool guest appearances. Tim Armstrong of Rancid co-wrote the ska-tinged song "City to City" with Elvis and also sings on the track. Patricia Day of HorrorPops also takes double duties on her appearance for co-writing the song "La Pregunta" and singing it as a duet with Elvis in Spanish. She also plays stand up bass on the track "Done Wrong."
Left Alone got the crowd at The Icon riled up with their energetic live show. Having never seen Left Alone before, I was very impressed with their live performance. There was plenty of dancing and head-bobbing as the mixed crowd got behind the band's groove and enjoyed themselves. One thing I am glad I saw was that the kids from the Buffalo scene got a great Circle Pit going. I have always been a HUGE fan of Circle Pits. They are far more fun and less dangerous. Personally, I go to shows to have a good time, not to instigate a trip to the emergency room. For some reason, it always seemed that West Coast audiences prefered Circle Pits and East Coast crowds would go for the all-out war. It may be that East Coast audiences are angrier. It may have something to do with the climate differences... Whatever! The crowd didn't care about the reason, they just wanted to have fun and they certainly did. All too soon, Left Alone's set was over and and it was time for The Briefs. They are the reason that we made the trek to Buffalo and it was only a few more moments until the would go on stage. The suspence was building and I was ready. I had waited four years to see this band and it was finally about to happen. Dawn and I went outside for a smoke, and while we waited, we bumped into the guys from Left Alone as they chatted with fans. We posed for a photo with them and talked for a few minutes. Then, I got my camera ready and headed for the stage...
Who are The Briefs? The Briefs are a four-piece Pop Punk/NewWave outfit from Seattle that found their inspiration in 70's-era British bands like The Buzzcocks and The Adverts rather than other Seattle bands like Nirvana. The band even did a send-up on The Adverts tune "Looking Through (Gary Gilmore's Eyes)" called "Looking Through (Gary Glitter's Eyes)" on the album Hit After Hit, which was sort of a concept album with all the songs on the subject of Death.
The Briefs try to maintain spirit of the first and second waves of Punk Rock with their fun approach. The Briefs mix elements from late-'70s and early-'80s Punk and New Wave, with clever hooks; abrasive guitar solos, energetic, frenzied vocals, and a heaping helping of Humor. The Briefs are the first to make fun of their lack of prowess when it comes to fighting and loving. On the cover of their Dirtnap Records debut: Hit After Hit, band members wield bats and chains, but on the inside sleeve, they are all bloody and obviously received the worst of the brawl. They stand beneath the message: "We got the Beat!" The tune "Poor and Weird" is about the inability to strike up a meaningful conversation with the opposite sex, and how it doesn't get any easier as you get older. The tune pretty much became my theme song!
The Briefs Website

Briefs Interview mp3

It was an accurate description of my life. (I dream of the day when I will be eccentric, but until then, I'll just be Poor and Weird…LOL)
Though the bands lyrics contain darkly twisted humor, their music is nothing to joke about. This is freshly made Pop Punk of the finest quality. Not since its origins with The Buzzcocks and Generation X has this genre been done so Right! The tempo is upbeat, and if the hooks were any more contagious, the Center for Disease Control would have to monitor the live shows! It makes you want to pogo around like a jumping bean on a hot rock! Guitarists Daniel J. Travanti and Steve E. Nix complement each other nicely on the bridge and solos. Bassist Kicks (who replaced former bassist: Lance Romance) lays down a bit of heaviness while Drummer Chris Brief holds the whole thing together tighter than your mom's girdle. The result is a sound that seems "time-warped" straight out of the late 70's. The Briefs' objective seems based on re-creating the shout-along choruses of earlier British punk bands like the Damned and the Sex Pistols, but with far more hooks.

"...if the hooks were any more contagious, the Center for Disease Control would have to monitor the live shows!"

They appear intent upon ushering in a new wave of New Wave! Forget about starting a mosh pit to their catchy, stripped-down melodies. The Briefs want to bring back Pogo dancing! The band's latest offering is entitled Steal Yer Heart and it will do just that. Released in the Fall of 2005 on the BYO Record Label, it KICKS ASS! The entire album passes quickly. With a running time of 28 minutes this record is a quick powerful slap in the face that makes you go "WOW!" and leaves you wanting more. Be prepared to have fun because you will. There's no denying the genuine enjoyment to be found on this album, in particular the catchy "Getting' Hit On At The Bank," the stomping "My Girl (Wants to Be a Zombie)," the hilarious "Forty and Above,"(which is about picking up older women) and the brilliant "Normal Jerks" with its chorus of: "I don't care what you do/At least I know I'll never, ever be a Normal Jerk like You!" The vocals are delivered with a faint hint of British brininess that helps to convince the listener that they have, in fact, been taken on a trip through time. But the fake British accents can be taken as a matter of course. This album is a blast to listen to, but it is no where near as fun as seeing the Seattle quartet play live! After a short wait, The Briefs came onto the stage and with a shout of "Pogo You Motherfuckers!" they jumped right into their set and it fucking RULED!!! As the band launched into their opening number, the crowd went nuts and began to Pogo just as they were told. The predominantly younger audience loved it. So did I. One older guy I spoke with found it ironic that although The Briefs were firmly rooted in the "Old School," most of the crowd was "Middle School."

The band's popularity continues to grow. By utilizing the popular networking site: MySpace.com, the band has been able to attract a larger fanbase and help get their name and sound out in front of many more people. Check out their page and "Friend" them to keep up with the latest band info. Also helping to draw attention to the band is the fact that The Briefs are getting regular airplay on Fungus 53, XM Satellite Radio's Punk Rock channel. The secret is out: The Briefs Rock!
What seperates The Briefs from other bands of the Pop Punk/NewWave Genre is their ability to deliver the goods live. They bounce and jump around the stage and get into what they do. The killer album sounds translate into an even better live sound. The energy flows from the band and the crowd feeds off it. In turn, the crowd responds by giving back to the band in a vicious cycle that can't be beat. The band let loose and everyone had a blast! The crowd Pogo'd and sang along to their heart's content. It was awesome. At one point, Ashley, the girl that had been selling patches earlier, and her friend jumped up on the stage and sang back-ups with Bassist Kicks. But, like the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end." Two songs later, Steve E. Nix thanked the crowd, bid them a good night, and The Briefs left the stage. They returned a few moments later, after the lights came up, and removed their gear. Dawn and I made our way to the backstage area.

After their set, I went backstage with Steve E. Nix, Daniel J. Travanti, and Chris Brief to do my interview. As we headed to the band's dressing room, we passed by the Horror Pops as they were going over last minutes details before taking the stage. As we walked by, guitarist Kim Nekroman, also of The Nekromantix, asked if I would be taking photos of them as well. I said yes and he told me to make sure I got some good ones. I assured him that I would. We found a spot to get comfortable, exchanged pleasantries, and got down to the interview. Dawn and I started out speaking with Dan and Steve and was joined by Chris about halfway through the interview. They were some of the coolest, funniest, and friendliest guys I have ever met. We did a great impromptu interview. We joked about what looked like "Glory Holes" in the walls of their dressing room, the Seattle scene, as well as Steal Yer Heart, the current tour, and the band's future. The interview is posted in mp3 format and is free to download and save. After the interview was over, I had a personal conversation with Dan about how we experienced the same sort of musical isolation growing up. He liked a bunch of bands from places like New York and Boston, but they would never come to the Seattle area. The same was true for me, but just the opposite. The Southern California bands like Social Distortion, The Adolescents, and TSOL very rarely (if ever) came to the East Coast except for places like New York City. It was a great conversation. I wish I had recorded it. It would have great with the more formal interview.
We talked for about ten minutes before we decided to head down to see the performance by the Horror Pops, who had already been playing for a while. I needed to get some photos of them before they finished their set. Luckily, getting good photos of the Horror Pops is easy.
The Horror Pops formed in 1996 when bassist/lead singer Patricia's indie-punk collective Peanut Pump Gun opening for guitarist Kim Nekroman's band Nekromantix at POPKOM in Cologne, Germany. The two found that they shared a wealth of mutual interests, both musical and personal. Their love for Blondie, Depeche Mode and Siouixsie and the Banshees, as well as Surf, Ska, Punk and Rock & Roll in general, led to the idea of forming a band. The line-up was completed drummer Niedermeier and guitarist Caz the Clash, former members Strawberry Slaughterhouse.

The Horror Pops began to play out in 1998, and were soon attracting audiences with their energetic stage shows. Between 1999 and 2000 The HorrorPops had the idea of bringing in a couple of Go-Go girls for their stage show. Not your average Go-Go dancers, but something more rotten. They didn't have to look very far, Patricia was working at a piercing shop at the time and co-workers Mille and Kamilla weren't hard to convince. The band soon headed into the studio to record demos for a press kit. After extensive touring and building up a loyal following, the Horror Pops eventually signing with Hellcat records. In 2003, Caz the Clash left, and was replaced by K'aarrghh'sten (aka Karsten), another former member of Strawberry Slaughterhouse, and the group released a vinyl single containing "Ghouls" and "Psychobitches Outta Hell." The full-length Hell Yeah was released in April 2004 on the legendary punk label Epitaph. Both Mille and Karsten departed during the extensive touring for Hell Yeah, but the Horror Pops didn't slow down. Geoff Kresge gave up playing standup bass in Tiger Army to join the Horror Pops on guitar, and Naomi (renamed No-No) took Mille's open dancer spot. In 2005 the band released the album Bring it On.

Official Website

I saw the Horror Pops on one of the side stages at Warped Tour a few years ago. I liked them then and I still do. The band rocks and the Go-Go Dancers are awesome. Patricia looks are reminiscent of the great Bettie Page. She is the type of stong confident woman that could have walked straight out of a Russ Meyers film and she plays a mean stand-up Bass. The Dancers, wrapped in gauze dresses that seem to combine the aspects of a 60's era sex kitten, a vampire, and the Bride of The Monster. The finished look is overtly sexual, but also incredibly Dangerous. Imagine what you would get if Hugh Heffner, Count Dracula, and Victor Frankenstien decided to combine forces. Yeah, it's that cool! I snapped off as many photos as I could for the last few songs of the Horror Pops performance. The crowd was pressed right up against the stage and kept moving making it hard to shoot, but in the end I got some great pictures. Unfortunately, due to the interview, I missed most of the Horror Pops show. But what I saw was as great as I remembered them. The crowd was enthusiastic and wild.
After the Horror Pops finished their set, Daniel Travanti met up with me at the merchandise booth and hooked me up with a copy of Steal Yer Heart on vinyl. Being a record collector, I was very excited. I was even happier when Dan, Kicks, and Chris all signed it. Chris even drew a kick-ass skull on it. The only one I was missing was Steve. Dan found him upsatirs in the dressing room and sent him down to find me. He signed the album and we said goodbye.
Dawn and I went outside, sold a few more buttons and then headed home. The show had been incredible and we were exhausted. It had been a great day.

Take a look at the bands' websites and MySpace pages. If you like them, "Friend" them, and tell them Tom Around The World sent you!

Leave A Comment

Support This Site