2. Line #1
3. Clean Shade of Dirty
5. Blue Note
Vinyl pressed on: Black, grey, white, red, blue
“I Hung Around In Your Soundtrack” Part 2 by Justin Pearson
Three One G’s second release came soon after the Unbroken 7” was released. It was only a few months after the label was official, and I was able to sell most of the “And/ Fall On Proverb” 7”s to distributors, that I put in all my teenage income (which consisted of Unbroken record sales, minimum wage paychecks from odd jobs, and my natural ability to hustle) into releasing Three One G #2.
The label that originally released the self-titled Swing Kids 7” EP appeared not to be running according to what was standard– which was pretty bad, even for a bunch of kids. The label decided to hand over the master tapes and let the band take it over, which we immediately did in order to hold onto the momentum that Swing Kids was getting at the time. The people in Swing Kids were a big part of what Three One G was (and was about to become), obviously because of Eric being in the first two bands to be released by the label, but also by the fact that we were all family and wanted to push the efforts we put into the band as far as we could. We took the original idea behind what we wanted to do with the EP and made it exactly how we had envisioned it.
So, the cheap fold-over covers that were initially used were eliminated, and I found a print shop that could print covers really cheap. The kicker was, I had to cut and glue each cover, which was going to take hours and hours to accomplish for what I was about to be able to sell. I went with using United Record Pressing again, as well as Custom Printing, who could print the cheapest covers (which was actually owned by Vaughn Avakian, a musician also known as Spacewurm). For the lyric insert and essay on Proposition 187, written by Jose Palafox and found here after the interview below, I went to my Kinko’s connections. And thus, we were on the same page as we were with the Unbroken 7”: two cheaply manufactured 7”s that consisted of style and sincerity, as well as a precursor to a style of DIY ethics soon to follow.
Even though the recording was rushed on our part, half-assed on the engineer’s part, and most of the physical components were scammed, it was actually above standard to what a lot of newer small labels were putting out. Aesthetically speaking, the band and the EP were a strange mix of influences. We drew from the art of old jazz records, which was also being done by other bands at the time (such as Nation of Ulysses, Rye Coalition, etc.) but it also had the minimalist feel of an old Crass record, especially in relation to having Jose’s essay as part of the packaging. Musically, it was another release referred to as the “San Diego sound,” which I never really understood. To me, the definition of San Diego’s sound was an obscure mix of styles and influences. But it still was another aspect that aided in propelling the band and label a step further, which we were not opposed to.
Considering the design and art content of the first two Three One G releases, it made a lot of sense, based on Eric Allen being in both bands. Unbroken’s “Life, Love, Regret” LP cover art, which featured stills from the film Swing Kids, and Eric being in a band called Swing Kids both in a way tied things together even more so. To me, as well as the rest of the band, the name came from the concept of what Swing Kids were– Not so much the Hollywood film that came out in 1993, but more the idea that Swing Kids were so much like the people involved in the punk and hardcore community. Everything from the energy to the style were all components of what was a social and often political revolt. For Three One G release #2, we were trying to subconsciously define a community, and maybe even redefine something that was lingering or shifting, such as the run of the mill punk and hardcore bands of the time, based on what San Diego was exposed to and what forms of art were coming from the city we all lived in.
The record went through many pressings over the years, gradually getting nicer and nicer. The fold over covers that were hand cut and glued (which had secret messages written in most of the folds) would eventually fade out of the manufacturing process as we were able to pay to get covers printed that were meant for 7” records. We also started to explore color vinyl (red, clear, blue, and white) and used different pressing plants to produce the products we wanted to be selling. The label seemed more and more “official” as it became better known, and we decided to push forward.
Interview conducted April 2013
Justin Pearson: Let’s start off by talking about your musical influences. But let’s also talk about why you are drawn towards those influences. For instance, why do you think you like the stuff you are drawn to (which I think is way more of an interesting question than asking what are your actual influences)?
Jose Palafox: I don’t know, I guess I could write about musical projects that influence me, not so much in my musical projects but in my life in general. Recently, I thought about Coltrane’s song “Alabama” (1963) when the Trayvon Martin verdict was read. It was song that he wrote after the KKK bombed a church in which 4 little girls were murdered. The more things change, the more things stay the same. Around the same time, there were musicians like Victor Jara and Violetta Parra in Chile who also dedicated their music to the dead in order that the living could continue living, not just in flesh and bones but in spirit, something that I feel guides my “musical influences.” I like to travel around the world with my music, as you know. From Fela in Nigeria to the “Bomba” sounds of Palmieri in Puerto Rico. So as you can see, I’m drawn to music from around the world because I still feel that this planet has a chance. Despite the wars of genocide and colonialism, human beings persevere with and through music. The music that is usually put at the end of political marches, after the speakers have “spoke truth to power” is equally as important. I feel that music, especially the music from inside the belly of ‘the beast’ can be that knife that, along with people and their revolutionary consciousness, will finally cut the fucking heart out. I feel that in my heart.
And then there is the work of British communist classical composer Cornelius Cardew, whom I have grown to love the older I get. A musician with the political and aesthetic qualities of a Himalayan mountain and yet his death shows just how fragile one lonely musician can of the face of it all. In 1981, he was run over by a car and killed. The driver was never found. The face of the driver was most likely one of a MI5 British intelligence agent. Those fuckers.
So as you can see, I love and live with classical avant-garde and jazz artists who know that what they are doing is more important than their very own lives. I’m hesitant to talk or write about punk because, well I’m too involved in it. I would really have to step outside myself to write something that I think people might find interesting or insightful. So I’m drawn to specific artists because they reflect the world that is, but more importantly, the world that could be, politically and aesthetically speaking. So this is why I think I like the artists that I like. Notice, it’s not just what they produced musically–which is where most music books boringly end up–but what they actually did in their life outside of music. Maybe writing this will help me to do what I always tell my students to do: to go from the specific to the general. Pick a few artists and/or musical projects that I can identify with and start from there. Even if I’m not playing as much as I’d like to right now, these musicians/artists help me when I’m looking for a job, when I’m cleaning my house, when I’ve wanted to check out from this planet, when I needed to finish that lecture etc.
J Pearson: Great points. I have to completely agree. I would also like to say, I too am hesitant to talk about punk. It’s such a bastardized term. But for me, it holds way more than notes, beats, and even lyrics. It’s more so about how one lives. For me, when people ask what kind of music I play, I tend to say “annoying”. That was what punk once was, at least to the general population. And with that being said, I appreciated when Gabe Serbian said to someone in an interview, “I don’t listen to hardcore, I just play it”. If you only are interested in one thing and try to emulate it, you get that same product, but only slightly less sincere. I loved when you and I, as teenagers, would travel all day to record stores and sift through all sorts of weird stuff and take chances on exploring music. It’s strange that the world has taken a turn from that means of finding out about music.
But I certainly do not want to sit on the topic of nostalgia. And that is definitely not what is prompting me to write about Three One G. My objective is to really explain why and how things developed, in hopes that it will push things in a forward motion, and at least make that the standard in some sense. For me growing up, I was always influenced by Dischord and Alternative Tentacles. Then a little later, taking cues from Vinyl Communications and Gravity. Those things helped shape what we created with Three One G. So there is essentially the next step from here, but with such an uncertain platform for the music culture we identify with, we can’t project into the future.
On a purely musical point, and not talking about nostalgia or even the ethics of punk, what made you and will in the future make you create the style of playing that you do? I have never seen a person utilize a drum kit as you have in projects with me. Do you care to discuss how you reached the point you are at, as a drummer? And this ties into my initial question, because I think a lot of what you and I have done is not really considered musical by any means, which is completely fine by me. There are elements that surpass notation, chords, and even language. Care to discuss this aspect of music with me?
J Palafox: Thanks for the question. I thought about this when I wrote a short piece reflecting on the politics and music of Sarah Kirsch (R.I.P.). We did a couple projects together: Bread and Circuits and, more recently, Baader Brains. I would say that along with you, Sarah was one of my best friends, a great music collaborator and comrade. I miss her dearly. I recently wrote a piece on Sarah and began the piece with an epigraph by the late Chicana feminist author Gloria Anzaldúa, “now let us shift…” (2002). This was one of the last essays that Anzaldúa wrote right before she left us in 2004. Anzaldúa writes:
“If you can’t get rid of your disease, you must learn to live with it… By seeing your symptoms not as signs of sickness and disintegration but as signals of growth… by using these feelings as tools or grist for the mill, you move through fear, anxiety, anger, and blast into another reality”.
I think about this quote when I think about our close friends who have left us, Eric Allen, Sarah Kirsch, and although I didn’t know Gloria Anzaldúa personally, her writings have always been important to me. As you know, I have struggled with depression throughout my life, one of the reasons why many people self-medicate. I know Eric also struggled, especially towards the end of his life when things got harder for him. Sarah was always Sarah even though many of us knew her as “Mike.” She was dying inside and yet she made the most of it. We all do, I guess. For me, drums both reflect while at the same time reproduce the world we live in. That’s the dialectic of my drumming. This goes beyond the sounds that the drums and cymbals produce/reflect. I know that, at times, when people would see me playing drums with Swing Kids and see me “go crazy on the drums,” that I was in a way, performing my disability without trying to have it be a performance. It’s like, at what point does Ian Curtis’ epileptic “dance” become a stage prop or window into the health problems that would eventually lead to him taking his own life? I remember playing in Swing Kids with Eric and thinking that we have taken the music/playing to another level, sometimes to a scary place where it was hard to come back to reality. Music allows me to do that. For me, drumming is just an extension of that. It helps me move though the fear, anxiety, and anger, and like in Anzaldúa’s writing, it helps me blast into another reality, to live in a world in which many worlds fit in.
Swing Kids 7” 1994 Insert Writing
by Jose Palafox (revised October 2014)
I am a runaway slave in the south seeking an underground railroad. I am a Jew in Nazi Germany seeking shelter far away from the Gestapo. I am a “Kaffir Boy” in South Africa seeking to comply with residence and passbook “requirements.” I am a Turkish immigrant in Solingen, Germany who wishes to sleep without fear of a gasoline bomb coming through my window. And today, in the United States, I am an “illegal alien.” I am society’s “other” in Washington Heights and Mission District and an “outsider” in the streets of Pico Union and Mt. Pleasant…
Both Democrats and Republicans have suggested that “illegal immigrants” are causing a “crisis” in California. They say that immigrants are responsible for the monumental health care costs and for wrecking the economy. On August 10, Governor Pete Wilson sent an open letter to President Clinton asking: “Why does the U.S. government continue to reward illegal immigration… at such cost to the American People?” He claims that there aren’t enough resources to go around because of “economic opportunists” who suck our country’s resources. But in reality, we should ask, who are the real “economic opportunists”?
In an article by Noam Chomsky, (“The Masters of Mankind” The Nation March 29, 1993), Chomsky revealed the true relationship between the rich and poor of the world. He exposed how programs dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (mainly controlled by U.S. business interests) “have helped doubled the gap between rich and poor [countries] since 1960. Resource transfers from the poor to the rich [countries] amounted to more than $400 billion from a 1982 to 1990… the equivalent of some six Marshall Plans provided by the South to the North.” In other words, the vast majority of immigrants who come to the U.S. are themselves victims of economic exploitation; not to mention the outright training, arming, and paying for government death squads to hold El Salvadorians, Peruvians, Haitians, and countless others, as prisoners—either inside or outside the bars of the jail.
Today there exist no more slave ships; there are, however, “Adjustment Programs” dictated by the IMF and, as Eduardo Galeano states in his book, The Open Veins of Latin America, “the more freedom is extended to business, the more prisons have to be built for those who suffer from that business.” Latin America has for too long now generated its own underdevelopment as a consequence of development elsewhere.
The question before Latin America (and most poor countries) today is not about whether or not its economies are “corrupt” or “mismanaged.” As Maoist political economist Raymond Lotta put it, “these things are realities… but they are not the root of the problem. The problem is the nature of the system itself. The point is that development must take place on different foundations and according to different criteria—not for profit, not the market, but human social need.” (Revolutionary Worker, January 24, 1993).
If one seriously wants to resolve the worldwide immigration crisis, then the problem of how countries relate to each other must be dealt with. Will resource transfers (from the rich to the poor countries) that Chomsky talked about continue? Will the U.S. and Europe (which make up 15% of the world’s population) continue to use up 80% of the world’s resources? And now, with the passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—which California’s Governor Pete Wilson supported—the Mexican Undersecretary of Agriculture has estimated that at least 10 million Mexican farmers will be forced off their lands because of their inability to compete with U.S. based corporations. What kind of future does the system offer people under these conditions but to travel north? It is hypocritical for Wilson or anyone in the U.S. to speak of “protecting its borders” while at the same time institutions like the IMF and the World Bank penetrate and plunder poor nations. The real immigrant here is capital. When Latin Americans break U.S. law and cross the border illegally, a very important point is made: people have a right to survive and human life is more important than any law.
As Bob Dylan one said, “to live outside the law, you must be honest.” Today, under Proposition 187/Nuremberg Laws, the reverse also holds true; to be honest you must live outside the law. In Hitler’s Germany, everything that the Nazis did was done legally: The 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which separated “citizens” from “subjects,” were all implemented legally. It was the law, but did that make it right? Should teachers in California enforce an unjust law which requires them to report any “suspected illegal aliens?” Should healthcare providers deny health services to those the government has labeled “illegal”? Once people are denied their humanity, they are, as Andrea Dworkin tells us in her Letters From a War Zone, “objectified [then they are] turned into a thing, a commodity, an object—someone who is no longer a human being.” The scapegoating of immigrants today is similar to the way in which 45 prostitutes—who were murdered between 1985 and 1992—were scapegoated. The San Diego Police Department classified these women as “hookers” and “NHIs—No Humans Involved” (Sacramento Bee, October 7, 1990).
Most of you have never met 12-year-old Julio Cano. On November 19 of this year, he died of acute leukemia. Too afraid of being asked for immigration papers, his parents decided to wait a week until Julio’s dad could afford the $60 for treatment at a clinic down the block. That night, Julio got worse. The next morning, his heart stopped and he became Proposition 187’s first victim. Julio Cano was not an “NHI.” His life mattered. He was an immigrant with hopes and dreams just like you and me. My hope is that Julio Cano (to paraphrase the late El Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero) will rise again in the struggle against injustice and that his blood will be the seed of liberty.
You see, I don’t believe in neutrality while one faces injustice. I do believe that oppressive situations do not oppress people as much as the acceptance of those oppressive measures. Let us not collaborate, cooperate, or comply with any attacks on immigrants. Instead, let’s continue to build a strong and powerful movement against the ideological (Bell Curve) system and its police state measures that committed a “187” homicide on Julio Cano.
The following are but a few names of those who died at the hands of the U.S. Border Patrol. Maybe by listing their names here, their lives will not be forgotten; as Luis Alberto Urrea put it, their lives “won’t simply fade away, relegated to as pointless a death as the lives they had been forced to live.”
Martin Garcia Martinez 5-28-94 (30 yrs. old)
Luis Eduardo Hernandez 8-20-89 (14 yrs. old)
Ana Recio Ponce 8-23-89 (22 yrs. old)
Ruben Corona Ortiz 7-20-90 (18 yrs. old)
Victor Mandujano Navarro 9-8-90 (17 yrs. old)
Julio Cesar Galacia 11-5-90 (26 yrs. old)
Maria Resendizsoto 7-20-90 (18 yrs. old)
Humberto Robles Valenzuela 11-2-90 (33 yrs. old)
Ismael Ramirez 2-26-88 (17 yrs. old)
“I sought work,
and you exploited my hunger.
I agreed to work for a pittance,
and you called the migra on pay day.
I picked your fruits and vegetables,
you poisoned me with your pesticides.
I tended your gardens, your fields of flowers,
and you flogged me with thistles of sound bytes.
I made your food, served you in restaurants,
and you have heaped my plate with bile.
I sewed your clothes in your storefront sweatshops,
you threw me out naked into the night.
I watched over your children and love them,
and you would terrorize even my unborn babies.
I cared for your incontinent and troubled old folks,
you turned my age ones out to perish.
I cleaned your warm homes and filled them with love,
and you sent me into the pitiless night.
I have come whenever it suited you,
you have thrown me out when you were through with me;
you use my country as one would a whorehouse:
Take—without consequence or responsibility.”
–Cesar A. Gonzalez-T (October, 1994).