Loose This!
 
Eagle interview with local punk rock band loose change
 
By Hiedi Knittle
 
Loose Change is not for everyone. They're loud, they're insubordinate, they're raw and they're occasionally vulgar. In other words, this is not your your grandparent's music. Their music is, in keeping with the tradition of punk rock and The American Heritage Dictionary's definition of the genre, "characterized by harsh lyrics attacking conventional society and popular culture and often expressing alienation and anger."
Ukiah's punk rock band, comprised of lead vocalist and bass player, Chon Travis; rhythm guitarist, Levi McCann; lead guitarist and back up vocalist, Jade "The Player" Puget; and, drummer Nate "Kingpin of Chronic" Daugherty, although lesser known than AFI, that other punk band from Ukiah, have nevertheless become a familiar sight in the local punk scene (if two or three bands can constitute a "scene").
In the past six years, Loose Change has metamorphosed from a neophyte garage band, known primarily for their annual 4th of July performance at Low Gap Park, to currently performing shows in Chico, San Francisco, Stockton and at the famous "924 Gilman Street" in Berkeley. They just released their latest CD, "D is for Delinquent" this year and their song "Freak" came out this month on the compilation CD, "The Bay Area Checking in with the World."
It is sunny, mid-morning Sunday in Ukiah when I catch up with Chon. We have planned to meet at his apartment at 11 a.m. and then head to the Maple for brunch. We settle into his mocha brown 1983 Saab, where I learn there's been a change in plans. Levi needs to be picked up from a birthday party where he has crashed the night before.
Levi comes loping out, a 40 ouncer of Olde English in his hand. He is wearing a Dead Kennedy's T-shirt with a pictorial view of the Holiday Inn logo set against the backdrop of Cambodian warfare gore.
"Hey, Heidi, I've just puked twice," are the first words out of his mouth, as he jumps into the backseat. "Show Me" by The Cure whines melodiously on the stereo.
"I'm still f***ing moded, dude. I don't even care anymore," Levi says in response to a presumably imaginery conversation.
"He's drunk as s**t," Chon agrees amiably.
[Ed. note: The F-word appears to be an intrinsic part of Levi's being-ness and is scattered at a rate of approximately every other word. Therefore, to maintain a semblance of journalistic integrity, not to mention saving on ink, I am replacing the epithet with an asterisk (ex.: f**k), and hope it will not alter the effect of the quote.]
Topics are discussed at a dizzyingly disjointed rate.
Chon praises Jodie Foster. "She should be President."
Levi apprises us of his entrepreneurial plan to create the first Top Ramen cookbook, in which anyone could submit their favorite variation of the little square prepackaged Chinese noodles.
Levi and Chon wax philosophical. "You wonder how we can all be truly pieces of crap," Levi says. "We all are. We're a doomed species. And we like to fool ourselves into thinking we're so brilliant."
Chon agrees, "Our society was smarter in the '80s. NutraSweeet was invented in the '80s."
When we arrive at The Maple, we find a corner table near the bathroom. Levi promptly asks for a large glass of water and we both order coffee. "Coffee makes me impotent," Chon informs us.
We settle into the interview.
In the song "Freak," you sing about a "psycho, pretty girl." Many people have speculated on who that song was about. Now's your chance to clear this up.
C: Any chick that any dude has gone out with is crazed. It's a song that guys can relate to. I wouldn't even want to give that chick any props.
What was the inspiration for the song, "Mendo?"
L: When I wrote the lyrics to Mendo, I was in Houston. I wanted to come back and . . . start partying with my friends. I came up with that in my mom's car. I was driving . . . and I go, "I want to go back to f***ing Mendo."
C: No s**t. Cold Creek . . . beers . . . kicks . . .
The entire lyrics to "Nuts on Your Chin" are well . . . nuts on your chin. What could that song possibly be about?
C: (laughing) Yeah, that's sweet.
L: It's just more like comedy.
You guys are playing a lot of shows now. You even played at the Gilman in Berkeley. Isn't that where the punk band, Green Day, played alot before they made it big?
L: Yeah.
C: It's cool because people call us now (to schedule shows). It's really good because we're lazier now.
Speaking of Green Day, what's your opinion - did they sell out or are they still sweet?
L: Sweet. They're not sell-outs. I have more respect for Green Day now . . . than I have ever had in my entire life. We partied with them way back when they were at the Phoenix Theater (in Petaluma). Billie Joe (Armstrong) keeps it mad real. I refuse to think that he sold out in any way, shape or form. Mike (Dirnt) is sweet, probably the coolest guy in Green Day, in my opinion. Tre (Cool) is f***ing sweet. Tre loves LC.
Breakfast is finished . We walk next door to Brahma Bull. They're out of LC's latest CD and Chon promises to bring in more the next day. Levi orders the new New Order 2-CD collection.
How does it feel to see your CD in the same store that carries Bad Religion and The Clash?
L: It's the weirdest feeling . . . like you've actually done something . .
C: We actually might be side by side with Lynrd Skynrd
After browsing a few minutes, we decide that, since it's such a beautiful day, we ought to lounge at Lake Mendocino. We pile into the car and head to Shop-n-Wash for beer. On the way over, we discuss women.
What are your characteristics of the ideal woman?
C: I love beautiful women. I'm a sucker for that.
L: One day I'm gonna find a girl that can be f***ing honest and I will love that chick to death. I'm getting "integrity" tattooed across my back and I'm getting the f***ing American eagle spread below it.
Levi comes out of Shop-n-Wash with a 12-pack of Miller High Life and some smokes. We're off to the lake. The Ramones are wailing, "I don't want to grow up." The sun shines in through the car windows. Chon frets because he doesn't have any golf balls in his bag, preventing him from playing a round.
Once arrived, Levi hoists the beer under his arm, Chon takes a sleeping bag out of his trunk and we amble lazily towards a picnic bench facing the lake. The grass is too wet to sit on, so we park it on the table.
After a few moments of quietly taking in the sounds of the sun-filled afternoon, Levi says, unexpectedly, "I must apologize to you two right now. When you guys picked me up . . . I might have been kind of flamboyant or something, but I was so ready to kill them all (at the party). I would have rather sat at my f***ing house and listened to GBH, maybe read a book, maybe wrote a little . . . drank beer with you."
Things slow down at the lake. The eye takes in smoking cigarettes, sun beating down, sweaty cold brew, lazy stares at the rippling waves of the lake, all set against the blue and white sky. Sounds of children laughing and playing. Dogs barking. Levi using the lakeshore as his restroom. After a moment, we resume the interview.
Have you noticed an increase in your fan base since you've been playing in the Bay Area?
L: Are you talking about being a superhero or playing in a band?
Uh, in a band. Do people recognize you off the streets?
L: Yeah, I have that happen a lot in San Francisco. I was checking my coat one time and this. . . random-ass kid comes up and he's all, Yeah, you played in Loose Change! I'm all, yeah, what's up, man? And he just stood there.
C: Yeah, you'll be talking and they'll shoot up to you.
One member of the band who remains a mystery to me is Jade. Although I've known him from living in the same town, I've never really "known" him. He is sort of an enigma to me. I know he works here in the college bookstore and that he graduated from UC Berkeley, but he just seems so quiet. . .
L: Jade's probably the f***ing smartest guy I've ever f***ing met in my entire life. He gets ridiculous - he is so innately intelligent, it makes you feel stupid talking to him sometimes.
What about Nate? I don't know him at all, but I saw him at the 4th of July show at Low Gap and he was making these crazy faces while playing the drums. You could tell he was extreme.
C: Nate might be more punk than either one of us. He's got a dog named Butch. He's very talented. He's one of the better drummers I've heard. We call him Stewey Peg.
You thanked Winona Ryder on your latest CD cover. Do you know her or is it just wishful thinking?
C: We don't really know her, but Jade just loves her.
On the way back into town, we stop at Lightel's for another 12-pack of Miller and more cigarettes.
It seems that punk music has become almost mainstream in the last few years, maybe due to the influence of popular bands such as -
C: - Nirvana? I think it opened a lot of doors and made people realize that they didn't want to live as a society clone - routine social behavioral style. But I don't think that it was punk. I don't think anything was that was put on TV, except for maybe the Clash or Fear on Saturday Night Live - that was punk. I think Rancid toned down when they got on TV. But they still kept a punky kind of feel. But to me it wasn't authentic.
Do you think you can play punk music and be commercially successful while maintaining integrity?
C: Yeah. I think the Clash proved that. It's a matter of who you are, if you know yourself. I feel that I'm not in it for the money. If the money comes, that's cool. I think we want to play as much as we can. Just play, you know?
If you could invite one person to your show, who would it be?
C: My grandma. She's never seen me play before and she's getting old.
Five years from now when you guys are successful and making money, are we going to see you walking down State Street or hanging out at the Coffee Critic?
L: I love Ukiah, I love lots of people, but it's not my lifestyle and I just can't be here anymore. There's so much other stuff I need to be doing. Oh, I'll come back and see my dad all the time.
C: You know what? I just want a log cabin and a beer. . . a log cabin, a Land Rover and some kind of ATV fishing pole . . . a gun, a beer and a good dog.
L: You know what I want? Happiness.
C: Oh, yeah, that, too.
__________________________________________________________________
 
 
HISTORY
 
o "Stick Around." A split 7-inch with AFI recorded in 1993.
o "Two 40's, a Whopper and a Pack of Smokes." Cassette. Produced by LC. Recorded in Lakeport @ City of Light studio in 1994.
o "Lucky Dog." A 7-inch EP on Shredder Records. Recorded in Emeryville.
o "Past & Present" EP on Noise Patch Records. Recorded in Redondo Beach.
o "Skanless Mission." LC recorded this self-described demo themselves in 1996.
o "D is for Delinquent." CD. Recorded at Grizzly Bear Studios in 1998.
Noise Patch Records.
o "The Bay Area Checking in with the World - The official soundtrack of the Bay Area punk scene." Compilation* CD which includes "Freak." Recorded in 1998.
 
* LC's songs have been recorded on at least 2 other compilation CDs.
 
 
Upcoming Shows
April 18: Pro skateboard contest at The Consolidated Warehouse
April 26: The Veterans Hall in Santa Cruz with No Use For a Name
They'll be playing in Chico sometime in May.
 
For more information about upcoming shows or where to find their music, contact Levi at 463-2317.
Levi is currently working on the LC home page.
 
 


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