A rattle comes from the glass back door of TK Burger in Costa Mesa. Outside, a few cute teenage girls in short shorts and snug tank tops pull on the handle and stare inside like lost puppy dogs. During the lunch rush, they're the third or fourth group to try to get in through the locked door; on the other side of the restaurant, the front door is wide open. All the unfortunate schlubs who tried the handle before them got cold shoulders and smirks from patrons inside. But not these ladies. Within a few seconds, some tan surfer dude wearing flip-flops and a toothy grin trots over and opens it for them.
Alex Vincent observes the scene from a nearby booth. Watching this cliché act of chivalry between chomps of a juicy cheeseburger, he sighs a little and shakes his head, which is sporting a black-and-white admiral's cap with gold trim.
"You see that?" he asks under his breath, his eyes motioning toward the door. "There's a good example for you: No one ever ignores pretty girls."
It's that kind of double standard regarding society's obsession with beauty that stokes Vincent's ire. Combining hardcore aggression, orchestral layers, dark imagery and creepy surf tone guitar, his band, appropriately named Rules of Attraction, create a platypus of sounds that's unattractive on paper. Some of it sounds borrowed from his previous band, horror punk outfit Something Horrible (also featured in Locals Only).
Vincent says the new sound has a dark tone, but with an aesthetic that feels more complex than the desire to scream his lungs out onstage and scare the shit out of people, even though he still likes doing that. At the very least, listening to the lyrics of the song "Monsters Like Us" might make you think twice before snapping your next selfie in the bathroom: "All that we try to re-create becomes grotesque in our hands/Monsters like us adapt to our skin, but beauty is high in demand."
"The point of this band was not to try to tell everyone that I'm doing something new," Vincent says. "But the only way to really do anything new is to culminate old pieces and put them together in a shape that hasn't been done before."
Raised in South County, the acerbic front man has a chip on his shoulder, as there aren't many venues that would let Vincent vent his guttural diatribes against superficiality or endure the progressive, punk-fueled sounds of his fiery band, which includes Aaron Jarvis and Nathan Velez.
Though they are still in their infancy, Vincent says he's been polishing, reworking and re-writing the songs on their forthcoming, as-yet-untitled EP for about a year. He has been finding ways to expand on the DNA of all of his old bands, he says, to make these new works as perfect as possible.
"The whole concept of our EP is a deconstruction of vanity and superficiality," Vincent says. "It's something that's been a huge subject for me; it's something I feel that is regressive to human nature."
Though Vincent says it's easy to stick out in South County, he'd rather get out entirely. However, if he wants to continue railing against society's fascination with beach girls and Botox, he should probably stick around just for the songwriting material.
"I'm in a place where I have it right in front of my face, and I have so many examples," Vincent says. "But hey, if I grew up in a place I loved, then I wouldn't have anything to be mad about."
Rules of Attraction perform with Far From Frequency and the Fisters at Hogue Barmichael's, 3950 Campus Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 261-6270; facebook.com/hoguebarmichaels. Fri., 8 p.m. $6. All ages. For more info on Rules of Attraction, visit facebook.com/rulesofattractionofficial.