Stick to Your Guns singer Jesse Barnett will always take delight in demolishing people's false perceptions of Orange County. He finds that crowds in other cities sometimes need to be reminded that a land of sunny beaches, Botox and Disneyland is not reality for a band of surly hardcore veterans who are fully capable of ripping your face off.
“There are misconceptions about bands from OC; people think we're all stuck-up, that there's not enough street cred out here or whatever, but it's all bullshit,” he says.
Of course, there are rough neighborhoods here, just as in any other area of Southern California, and back in the day, for the hardcore punk scene, it got crazy. “Even Roger Miret from the band Agnostic Front attested to how nuts the OC punk scene was in its heyday,” Barnett says. “If you don't know anyone from OC or have never been here, then your only window is the media's version.”
Born in Long Beach and raised in Costa Mesa, Barnett was drawn to punk music and OC's music history. He immersed himself in the hardcore and metalcore scene, and now he's part of a new breed of bands shining a light on OC hardcore and its loud, fierce, unrelenting underground scene.
Of course, Stick to Your Guns is in the second, if not third wave of bands to rise from the old-school scene that helped to put the county on the map in the '80s. Those now-iconic artists–including the Adolescents, Agent Orange and TSOL–paved the way for bands such as Bleeding Through, Atreyu and 18 Visions, all of whom became pivotal to the metalcore movement.
Although they're on the road for most of the year, playing hundreds of different venues, Barnett and his band mates always have a special place in their hearts for Chain Reaction in Anaheim. “It is by far the best venue we have ever played,” the front man says. “Chain Reaction is our home; we've all seen so many shows there since we were kids.”
It's been three years since their fourth album, Diamond, but the band's sound on their recently released fifth album, Disobedient (on Sumerian Records), retains the rage they started with in 2003, coupled with progressive, metal guitar explosiveness (“The Crown”) and melodic vocals (“To Whom it May Concern” and the single “Nobody”). The production and guidance from John Feldmann, along with throat-shredding guest appearances from Walter Delgado of Rotting Out and Toby Morse of H20, make this an album that commands your attention, if not your outright obedience.
With the maturity and ferociousness found on Disobedient, Barnett explains, the title can seem a little misleading. “This isn't a record about being angry, negative and disobedient,” he says. “It's more about going against the grain and being a better person.”
Whether he's setting the record straight about his homeland or his new record, Barnett and the rest of Stick to Your Guns are dedicated to doing both with the unwavering fortitude befitting their name.
Stick to Your Guns perform with Pierce the Veil, Sleeping With Sirens, The Devil Wears Prada, Whitechapel and more at the 2015 Self Help Festival at the NOS Event Center, 689 S. E St., San Bernardino, (909) 888-6788; www.selfhelpfest.com. March 7. Visit website for show times. $42.50. All ages.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.