30 years ago, the post punk movement took off in California with bands like Greenday from East Bay and Blink 182 from Poway. The movement ushered in wildly popular genres like pop punk and emo. Though the revival fizzled out in the 2010s, Los Angeles and Orange County still hold on to their punk roots. This interview series highlights local SoCal bands and asks how punk is evolving to a new era of music.
This week I talked to Apollo 03, a rock band native to Covina, California to discover more about the scene. They are working on their sophomore album, and seek to send listeners to space with their far out atmospheric rock.
For formatting purposes I will be abbreviating the band members names. Jerry Rosales the rhythm guitarist will be abbreviated to J. Alyxander Davila the lead singer and guitarist will be A, and Gabe the bassist (G). This piece is abridged and edited for entertainment purposes.
What’s your genre because I believe you to be punk but I could be wrong?
A: We’re a weird mix of alternative and punk at the same time
J: That’s the funny part is we don’t even know ourselves. I guess that would be punk then, not really knowing what we are. We just play
I was listening to an interview you did with Rock 2000 where you guys just talked about the Ramones for a good 20 minutes…
A: I’m obsessed with the Ramones
J: Ramones and Nirvana that’s his thing right there
And what’s On everybody’s top Spotify?
G: Lately…a lot of $uicideboy$…Lil Peep..Smiths again…Smiths have been heavy in my rotation
J: I just go on my playlist and I press play. I’m more of a metal guy…right now I’m kind of gassed out from the usual I listen to like Slayer, Metallica, stuff like that. I normally just pick a random playlist and I just listen to find new bands…I’ve been listening more to slam bands..deathcore…metalcore…stuff like that
Wait, what’s a slam band?
J: It’s like cars..(all laugh) as if cars are smashing into each other. The best way I can describe it is like really brutal aggressive music that’s a lot of chugging…Other than that, just random music basically.
Are you still going with the alien theme? I’ve seen that for like a few videos, some of your instagram stuff, and your album cover..
J: I’d say so, we like to pop him in and out whenever we can cos we’re a bunch of space nerds so like space everything. ‘Far out dude’
What are some other bands in the area or other bands you guys jam with?
J:Not in the area…aside from Total Eclipse…our area is pretty dead. I would love to talk about Thing of Twins. They’re like family to us. I consider them like blood to me. Prisoners of War… we’re gonna have a show with them. They invited us out there. Love those guys.
A: Hard habit is also great..they’re all the way out there in Long Beach. We’ve played with a bunch of people…Petress. Other than that we’ve been on and off with bands…especially because they’re not from here
I feel like in Los Angeles you have to drive like two hours to anywhere or like see anybody or do anything. I know that Eden is having a whole thing in Anaheim right now…
J: I can’t believe I forgot about them…they’re super nice guys…what do they call us? Their “Go To Band” or something like that. We’re always down.
So if you guys are coming out with an album what are you guys gonna do?
A: Definitely get back into touring…
J: We haven’t done any touring but definitely gigging
J:..We want to work with a venue to have a debut, like an album release party. This album is the one we want to get out there. We’ve been working our asses off on this album
A: It’s the first time we’ve spent so much time on a record.
J: We really wanted to sit down and think about the songs we were writing about.
Which album is this for you guys?
J: I guess second but we want to count it as our first start fresh like a rebirth.
A: This is our sophomore because the first one was just a compilation I put together. I wouldn’t really consider that one to be an album. But this one there’s a lot more reverb, a lot more space feeling…it still has the same intensity of our sound as well…
What should we expect?
A: A lot of everything.
J: We didn’t want to limit ourselves to one genre, so expect a beautiful mess of an album
Is there something different in this sound or are you guys sticking with the Apollo 03 format?
A: I feel like the stuff we’re writing…we’re moving around but it’s still there we. still have the same drive from the last songs we have.
J: We’re experimenting.
G: Almost like entrepreneurship not exactly leaving one thing behind taking it with you on the next set.
J: Because I mean everyone in the band….we’re all different people. I’m mostly into metal heavy stuff..he’s mostly into punk like old school punk…he’s mostly into trippy sci-fi (all laugh) this is just a hodgepodge of music we all grab from it and make a song out of it, which I love.
Where does all this influence come from? Where did it start for you guys?
A: My brother was the first one to show me rock music, he listens to Misfits and a lot of heavy metal…he’s a bit of a Pantera fan. My dad likes the classics. He likes Black Sabbath and Def Leopard and my mom is the 80s and 70s pop person
J: I had to go look for my stuff. I didn’t realize what music was until I stumbled upon it. Because my parents they’re pretty hardcore Mexican and the music they listen to is like cumbias and uh rancheros and like that’s all I knew growing up until I was with a friend and then I accidentally stumbled upon Metallica and I was like “Holy… like this exists in the world?? What is this?” I just needed to hear more. I was obsessed like “this is my music that I need to listen to”
G: For me, my Dad is old school Mexican as well so he really leans into a lot of rancheros and cumbias as well. But he liked a lot of spanish rock so i’d hear a lot of Maná and stuff like that. But his favorite band I’d say that he was obsessed with is definitely Scorpions. Scorpions was definitely his go to band. My older brother was into a lot of Slipknot, Metallica.Then my other brother liked hip hop and rap like Wutang. So I was always ping ponging…bouncing around…I would never get stuck around with one thing
What do you guys think of the music going on in Los Angeles County? How do you stay organized and get to know other like minded bands?
A: It was hard for us to get out of our shell at first. If we hadn’t talked to Total Eclipse, we wouldn’t have met any of them….Especially since we’re from Covina, there aren’t really a lot of bands from here
G: Beach bums…we went to high school with them…
J:…For the most part, we feel alone out here in Covina. We got lucky to meet each other. We didn’t think we’d be able to do stuff out here. I always wanted to be in a band, but I was always too shy to do anything about it. Ironically enough, I started a band with Gabe in the beginning. We were Karma, we were a metal band but that fell apart….How Gabe met Alyx was a stroke of luck…if he hadn’t decided to be outgoing that day we wouldn’t be sitting here.
G: After graduation in high school I went to citrus community college and that transition was rough of me. I was losing touch with friends and had not a lot of people to rely on. I’m in between classes and I see Alyx with a huge Ramones patch on his vest and i’m like “That’s a dope fucking patch” (all laugh) I should tell him something you know maybe make friends with him…if i could make friends with him that would make things better.
A: I think you were wearing something with a patch too. If it wasn’t for that.
J: I would say the three shyest people are going out there and playing music in front of people
Are you all from Covina?
J: Yeah when we started going to each other’s houses we found out we lived close to each other
You talked about how lonely it is in this area which I think everybody can relate to because you have to drive, there’s traffic…basically if you’re not roommates with someone it’s over What that has been like for you and how does that impact the music industry here?
J: Definitely opens up a lot of deep anger, cos even with my ‘brothers’ and friends outside of my family and those friends don’t really get my side of music, my style, so even with my own friends I felt alone…Makes you feel a little more hungry for what you personally want. When I started going out to look for people who think like me that like the same things as me. That was a lightbulb moment. It impacts music in that we talk about things that we are feeling: That kind of loneliness and that hunger for what you truly want
A: Being isolated helps my mindset on writing music. Makes me feel like I can be free without judgement
G: As for me, being in LA is already a difficult task because there are so many people who want to be in the music industry. In a sea of voices you have to be the loudest voice or the most colorful voice. You have to be something different or be something special in order to get to where you truly want to be…That alone is an obstacle…and being in a city in the outskirts of LA…people are never going to understand what you want to do for a living just because of their mindset…no ones gonna want to do anything except be an electrician, be a lawyer doctor stuff like that…so when you tell them you want to be a musician a lot of them laugh..a lot of it is fighting yourself..you’re left with your own thoughts you’re left with your own feelings…so when you understand how you feel you need release. And that release, for me, has been music
If I think of emo on the East Coast, they use twitter. When I remember Texas, they met up at skate parks and at restaurants. How do people get to know each other in bands here in SoCal?
A: Our first ever show together was at school. Songwriters showcase. After I met Gabe I was doing a songwriting class for my music major..I never got my music major. Our end of the year test was to submit a song or play a show…so I wanted to play a show it sounded like a lot more fun…and we [Gabe and I] just practiced for a couple days and did the songwriting showcase. And it was really good which made me want to continue writing music under Apollo
J:… You meet your people in school and you stick with them after. You don’t really branch out…unless you make yourself branch out or leave this place.
How would you describe the scene if someone didn’t know anything about Covina or Pamona how would you describe the people you’ve met or the things you’ve done here?
J: Every show we go to or performance we do we try to talk to local artists. Out here it’s very cold-shoulder-y. It wasn’t until we branched out to Long Beach and Anaheim and Clairemont is when we started meeting bands. We branched out to Chino. We played at the Legacy Room where bands actually talk to you
A: That’s where we met Total Eclipse for the first time…that’s where we met Hard Habit when they were a 3 piece.
J: So for someone asking about the scene, I would say don’t try here go out.
A: Go to Pomona or Clairemont where there are nice people.
G: LA is competitive..a lot of it is i’m gonna give you the cold shoulder and hope you make it there. As for reaching out, everyone else is nice…The crowd is always nice, and everyone is so nice and energetic. It just feels like a family gathering.
The music is surprisingly not in Los Angeles what’s up with that?
A: Los Angeles is more into rap and hip hop nowadays. I always see everyday I hear all that there. They won’t give artists like us a chance to show them that we can write too…unless you pay money or pay a promoter
Why bring rock to places where people may not be interested?
A: When I hear that it reminds me of DBA club. DBA club in Pomona is full of indie kids…not every one of them really is into rock as much as we play it.
J: We’re in the generation now where it’s kind of died down and the people who did like it are our parents or our parents parents and the new generations are falling with what they find and see on social media. I don’t know if we’re reviving it, but we don’t want to lie to ourselves…even if the crowd doesn’t like it we want to play what we feel we’re into…i’ve always wanted to have fun with my buddies…If we make something out of this? Dope. If we don’t? Then I still have the memories.
A: Genuine rock and roll is the best rock and roll.
What genre are you guys expecting from the next album?
A: Straight up Space Rock album.
J: Atmospheric rock with punk influence …and a little bit of thrash. There’s so many layers!
A: This album is going to be a straight up Punk album. At the core it’s a punk album
Amoeba Records just opened in Hollywood…What do you guys think of vinyl or merch?
A: I love vinyl…I don’t have very much vinyl, but I love vinyl…it’s the best old school way to listen to music. I’ve got The Germs, Foo Fighters, Nirvana on vinyl
J: It’s definitely an aesthetic that’s very pleasing to us…the aesthetic of old school wave is what we like about it.
A: we have a bunch of cameras with old school tape…We have [old camera] footage from one of our shows and it looks really cool
J: Old school stuff has been better for us.
Tapes are making a comeback too
G: Everything comes back full circle…punk ‘s gonna come back.
A: Rock’s gonna come back. We’ll be there
Should we expect anything in the future? Singles? Merch Drops?
G: Merch is something we want to focus on, to get a few shirts out there
A: The minute this album drops I’m gonna have many plans…even stage performances…music videos…
J: It’s funny you mention cassette tapes because we wanted to release some cassettes
A: maybe we can even get something on vinyl
When should we expect a single or a drop?
A: We’re nearly completed all we have to do right now is record two or three more songs…
J: The goal is within a couple months from now
Where would someone find ads for new shows?
A: Instagram @ Apollo_03_band