In October 2017, Generacion Suicida, a melodic punk rock band from Los Angeles, played at Villa Vegan in Milan in a two-day event that on paper seems to have been great, given the presence of other great bands like Canadian Massgrave or Kontatto. I say on paper because for work reasons I was not able to be present, thus missing the live of one of my favorite bands and I still regret not being able to enjoy them live and not being able to chat with them in person. Years later and after the publication of their latest album entitled Regeneracion, which I’m listening to on repeat, I decided to write to them to propose an interview. Fortunately they accepted and Tony answered in a very enthusiastic way and really in a few hours to my questions, so I leave the word to him and Generacion Suicida, nothing but punk in its purest and most sincere form, that is “musica del barrio, para el barrio”!
Hi Generacion Suicida! I’ve been listening to you for many years now, since the days of “Con la Muerte a tu Lado” and “Todo Termina”, so I’m very happy to be able to ask you some questions. I would start by asking how and why you chose a name deeply steeped in nihilism and disillusionment as Generacion Suicida?
This may seem anticlimactic, but we chose our band name based on a song by the Vicious (Suicide Generation). There wasn’t any real meaning behind the name when we chose to name our band that, although these days we feel differently about it. Maybe it was a subconscious decision, but there is definitely a sense of hopelessness and despair in our daily lives, especially when we were younger. So we often lived every day like it was our last and did tons of reckless things. So I suppose the name fits in that sense.
You have always defined your personal punk rock using two definitions: “KDB punk style” and most interestingly from an attitude point of view, “musica del barrio, para el barrio“. Would you like to deepen these definitions and explain us what does it mean for you to be a band still so strongly anchored to a very underground and neighborhood dimension?
Sure. When we say “KBD punk”, we mean lofi or low quality sounding punk. Often times, those old KBD comps from the early days didn’t sound the best, but you were able to feel the emotion and feelings that the bands were trying to convey. We feel the same, that our emotion and feel comes first before everything else. “Musica del barrio, para el barrio” is better translated as “music for us, by us”. We’re from South Central. We have pretty much nothing in this area and the kids growing up here have very little resources. It’s important for them to know this is theirs and it belongs to them. Our music belongs to the people.
You are from Los Angeles, specifically South Central L.A. How much has your neighborhood influenced your band, your musical approach and content?
All we sing about is life experiences. All the lyrical content is about the things we experience on a daily basis. The music we play is in contrast to our environment. Things around here are typically loud and chaotic, so we wanted to play in contrast to that, with more rhythm and less distortion.
You have always decided to sing in your native language. Is it a way to stay true to your origins and your community or are there other reasons behind this choice? How important is the choice to write and sing in Spanish for you?
We often say that the voice is also an instrument. We think that the vocals sound better in spanish than in english. Our style of spanish is different from the spanish they speak in Spain or anywhere in Latin America. They call it “Spanglish” here in the hood, and often times even people in Latin america do not understand us. It’s almost like the kids in our city have their own language that’s different from everywhere else. This becomes just another way that our band gets identified as an LA band.
Your style of punk rock is very melodic and slow compared to most of the hardcore and punk bands that are part of the scene. Why the choice to prefer melodies and this style over more furious, chaotic and fast sounds?
We love bands like Discharge, Kaaos, Wretched, or Indigesti. But we don’t want to sound like those bands. When our band first started back in 2010, every band in our town was a fast hardcore band. We didn’t sound like everyone else, so we decided to play in a more stripped down melodic style. Suprisingly, people liked it and we continued in that style.
The message and the more “political” and protest approach have always been central and inseparable from playing punk (in all its forms). What sense does it make for you to play punk today in 2021? Do you think that certain sounds, being only a means to convey messages and ideas of struggle, revolt and solidarity, still have potential? If yes, which one?
When it comes to music and expressing political discontent or struggle, we don’t think that punk is the only way. There are many hip hop artists that are political in nature or talk about their daily struggles. It’s really just up the artists to decide what kind of forms they want to use to express themselves, but we believe they are all valid.
Your latest album (which I can’t stop listening to) is titled “Regeneracion“. Would you like to explain the meaning of this title that seems to evoke a dimension of “rebirth”?
“Regeneracion” was written during a time when we really wanted to rewrite and redo everything we thought we know about how to play. Unfortunately, it was during Covid lock downs, so we weren’t able to actually go into a studio to do it the way we wanted to do it. Basically the album is about rebirth and starting all over again. Discarding old ideas and trying to grow into something new and bigger. We’re actually going to head into a real studio in January of 2022 to redo the entire album the way we intended to do it in the first place. We’re very excited to have it come out the way it was originally intended and can’t wait to share it with everyone! In it’s current form, it is only limited to a few hundred copies, and is only available in Europe.
Last year, after the racial murder of George Floyd caused by a cop, intense and very long days of revolt and mobilization against the systemic racism of US society broke out. The four of you have Latino’s origins, have you ever faced racial discrimination inside and outside the punk scene? What are your positions on systemic racism in the United States, and how did you live through those months of protests, demonstrations and attacks on the symbols of this age-old oppression in Los Angeles? (If you think this is too sensitive and personal a question I apologize to you, you may not answer.)
Last year was pretty difficuly, but honestly nothing new. We have been dealing with this for decades and now it just seemed that people had had enough. But it isn’t the first time. We’ve had uprisings in 1965, 1968, 1992, and now in 2020. It just seems after a few years, these revolts get swept under the rug and people largely forget. To answer the question tho, yes we have faced discrimination both inside and outside the punk scene. Everything from only getting allowed to play with Latino bands in fests, to not even being considered for playing because we sing in Spanish. It often feels like we have to work 10 times harder than an average band that does not have latino or black members.
What is the current state of the DIY punk scene in Los Angeles? Which are the most active realities? Are there collectives or squats that organize concerts?
There are no squats or collectives that we are aware. Since the beginning of the pandemic a lot of bands have broken up and a few new bands have popped up, but we haven’t had a chance to check them out. I’m sure a lot of younger kids are taking the helm tho and are organizing their own shows in spaces that we are not aware of.
Generacion Suicida thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. This space is all about you, you can add whatever you want!
Thanks for taking the time to write to us! Hopefully we’ll see you all in Europe in 2022/2023!