Photo by Austin Nitsua
The Coltranes, Temecula’s weirdest punk act, exist in the awkward space created between various southern California music scenes. Fringe-dwellers by nature, the band draws from a surprisingly eclectic pool of influences, enabling them to create a unique vibe and sound of their own.
When they first started creating music together over seven years ago, what came out was more country bluegrass than hardcore punk. However, in 2008, they were exposed to hardcore in a variety of ways, including the time their friend Ian Campbell took them to a DIY warehouse show featuring Downpresser, Hell Bent, and Down Again. Gradually over time the band’s music became more aggressive, with their first punk inklings popping up on the subtly-named Christ Benoit EP, and culminating in their latest, and greatest release—The Cat of Nine Tails EP.
“You wouldn’t even recognize us,” Samuel Palacios, 21, the group's bass player said of the band's old material.
Spencer Heath, 21, the band’s frontman, is heavily influenced by Hank Williams, Lead Belly, and Delta Blues and still writes all of his contributions to the band on acoustic guitar, which he learned to play shortly before learning the banjo. This could be one of the reasons why the group’s riffs and rhythmic patterns differ from many of their contemporaries. So, where did Heath, who has a vocal style that sounds like the inside of HR of Bad Brains' head, get exposed to the blues?
“I think my grandma gave me a bunch of old LP’s, weird stuff like Doug Crenshaw,” Heath attempts to explain outside a show with his blown out voice before drummer Evan Pierce, 22, interrupts, “You were a weird fucking kid.”
The group laughs. Most of them have been friends since third grade, and as Pierce puts it, “we don’t like to stray or get to far away from each other.”
“Separation anxiety,” Heath adds.
The band’s live shows have the entertainment value of performance art without any of the nasty pretentious aftertaste. Reinvigorating typical self-destructive antics of punk bands with their own sense of style and intention, The Coltranes put on one of the best hardcore sets you can buy for $5 in a basement or garage in the continental U.S.
Sometimes the crowd even gets involved in the antics. When the band plays their song “Destroy the Body, Die Alone” many of the crowd members do synchronized jumping jacks—a truly odd juxtaposition to your average hardcore crowd reaction.
When I asked the group if their self-described intense personalities have ever caused them trouble in the hardcore scene, they told me about their issues getting banned from “safe spaces.”
“We got banned from Blood Orange Info Shop,” Palacios said.
“Cause I beat the shit outta Evan with a microphone,” Heath explained.
“Well no, I think it was more that you had bags around your heads and ropes tied around your necks,” JJ Weber, 22, the band’s guitarist who wasn’t in the band yet when the banning occurred, said.
“Oh yeah, Spencer had this crude-ass rope tied around his neck on one side and tied to my neck on the other side,” Palacios said.
“But he took the mic and bashed it into my head, though. I think that was the problem,” Pierce, currently sporting a black eye, said.
“Yeah, you checked the mic with his head,” Weber agreed.
“Yeah he checked the mic with my head and they were like ‘no!’” Pierce said.
@MattSaincome is on Twitter, working on getting banned from as many venues as possible.