By Sarah Bennett
By Adam Lovinus
By Jena Ardell
By Nate Jackson
By Gustavo Arellano
By Nick Keppler
By Nate Jackson
By Alex Distefano
Burn, Baby, Burn!
The End Times are truly here on the Race to Hell Tour
We’ve always heard what it would be like:the burnt cinder of a planet, a post-apocalyptic wasteland, vast desolation inhabited only by cockroaches and Cher. Disappointingly, it’s going to take a few years rather than the mutually assured nuclear destruction we were promised during the Cold War, so we’ll have to suffer through the boredom of a slow fall first, the maybe-it’s-a-recession, $90-per-tank, crazy-lady-from-Alaska present.
Take the music industry. “Touring and getting shows seems to be so hard,” says Todd Huber of Santa Ana-based Dirty Devil apparel, pointing out some warning signs. “The way the economy is going, and with clubs shutting down, it’s making live music bad business.”
Enter the Dirty Devil-sponsored Race to Hell Tour. It’s the brainchild of Roger Miret, best-known for singing in NYC hardcore stalwart Agnostic Front. Miret has another band, the Disasters, and a clothing line, Dirty Devil apparel, to keep viable. Given that and the sad state of affairs for a band and businessman, Miret tapped into what the cube slaves call synergy and created the Race to Hell tour.
“It’s difficult for all the bands on the tour to keep touring,” says Miret. “We hope to see the next elected president fix our economy.”
Used to be a plucky young band could sell some shit, buy a van, and play every shithole-scene bar from here to Tallahassee and back. Once in a while, through hard work, handjobs or both, a band could create a career for themselves and find what passes for success in the punk or indie worlds. It can still happen, but good fucking luck. While the music industry still tries to find its ass with both hands more than half a decade after Napster made headlines, actual musicians are coming up with ideas such as the Race to Hell tour to make what they do practical.
“Roger wanted to put a tour together and get his clothing line out there,” says Captain Sean Wheeler of local Race to Hell tour members Throw Rag. “It’s a tour with rock & roll, punk rock, psychobilly, greaser stuff—it’s all mixed up. It’s 2008. When you put it all together, it makes perfect sense.”?While the bands on the tour aren’t carbon copies of one another, they do fit well. “We’re picking bands we work with and admire to be on this tour,” says Dirty Devil partner and Race to Hell co-organizer Todd Huber. “With Throw Rag, you get the older crowd for a supercharged, cowpunk favorite. Lower Class Brats are a great punk-rock band from Texas. Roger’s own band the Disasters are a street-punk band. . . . Viva Hate is a psychobilly band. Static Thought is an up-and-coming punk band. We wanted a good mix, a fusion of good music that expands past just one niche.”
The tour’s stop at Alex’s Bar is almost a mini-festival. Whereas the rest of the tour will be the five core bands and a local opener, this performance doubles that, stretching the audience’s dollar. “Gas is killing everybody, so that’s the idea of a package tour. You’re hoping someone is interested in enough of the bands that they’d want to come see the show,” says Wheeler. “You put five bands together with some locals. Everyone’s so strapped for cash these days.”
We all secretly pray the bombs will start falling, but in the meantime, we can at least appreciate the dulcet tones of some good-time rock & roll. Fiddle while the empire burns. It may be depressing, but at least we’re not musicians—they’d be killed and eaten first if they even made it to the apocalypse.
“I don’t have a job. I just play music,” says Wheeler. “People are trying to figure it out. You have to tour if you’re going to sell anything. The days of big money and record deals are long gone. I think the days of selling records are gone as well.”
Race to Hell Tour with Throw Rag, Lower Class Brats, Roger Miret & the Disasters, Static Thought, Viva Hate, Revolution Mother, and more at Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexbar.com. Sat., 2 p.m. $15.