The Bay Area has a long history of punk rock debauchery. From punk's beginnings in the seventies to the nineties, Northern California boasted some of the loudest, rudest acts in America strutting their stuff at legendary clubs like the Mab.
But these days, the punk rock scene in San Francisco has faced drastic changes. In a city that used to host flourishing scenes filled with motivated participants and undeniably awesome tunes is now a fragmented and somewhat stagnant subculture fighting to exist within the burgeoning garage rock scene. Because of this, it is all the more exciting when a punk rock band forms in the Bay Area and really nails it. Ecoli is one of those bands. Drawing from deep roots in the punk rock scene, playing in bands like Warkrime, Face the Rail, Second Opinion and more, the boys of Ecoli have taken elements that they love from old, American hardcore bands and married them together to fit their liking. Melding together the urgent vocals of SS Decontrol, the aggressiveness and fast tempo of Void and the raging guitar riffs of Bad Brains, the band stands out as a group that knows their roots, but strives to avoid the confines of the hardcore genre.
I sat down with three of four members of Ecoli to talk about their furious live shows, "snuff film," the Bay Area "scene" and more.
Emily Rose Epstein: How did you guys meet and form the band?
Jake Dudley: I met the guitarist, my brother, when he was born and we started playing music together in high school, about six years ago. This band has been plagued with long stints of inactivity. We put out our demo in '05 and stopped playing for a really long time because our bass player quit.
Max Raynard: My band, Warkrime, was breaking up and I heard about that, so I harangued Jake while I was drunk into letting me play in the band. The original drummer had serious medical issues...
JD: He started to have back problems and then was put in a medical institution...
MR: Yeah, so the current drummer, Sean [Gallagher], who was also a Warkrime alum joined.
ERE: You guys have two seven inches out already. Do you have plans for a full length?
MR: We are currently working on a collaboration tape with our friends, Migraine, called "Snuff Film," due to become an LP this summer.
JD: Both bands got in a room and came up with five songs and then we played the songs together as one band.
MR: We are also working on an LP with an accompanying graphic novel.
JD: It's going to be a science fiction epic with an Igor Stravinsky cover song. It's a year or so in the making already and we aren't even close to finishing it.
ERE: Your live shows are usually pretty memorable. What have been the most memorable shows for you guys, personally?
MR: The raddest show I have ever played was last summer with Cult Ritual from Florida. It was at the Hazmat in Oakland and the spot was packed. We played for five minutes and then Jake got in a fight with some crusty who punched our nerdy friend.
JD: Yeah, that was pretty crazy. I think there was a period of a month or two where every show we played we got into a fight while playing and I had to cut our set short. The craziest of those, for me, was at the Flower Shop in San Francisco with Migraine, Culture Kids and Imposters from LA. Some guy smashed a boom box on my face. I don't think it's cool to fight people, but fights just sometimes make for the most interesting shows.
ERE: How do you feel about the punk rock scene in the Bay Area?
MR: The punk scene here is very fragmented. Hardcore bands, garage bands...all the different subgenres that I like rarely come together here. The hardcore scene is withering, but the garage scene is blowing up. But there are still some bands that I'm excited about, like Migraine, Face the Rail (both of whom share members with Ecoli), Wild Thing, the Outdoorsmen and Rank/Xerox, an awesome post punk band.
Sean Gallagher: Yeah, my favorites are Stressors, Opt Out, NN...and I guess my other band, Migraine.
JD: I like La Corde and Vacuum. There aren't a lot of kids, but as soon as more start going to shows, there will be a ton of good bands to see.
ERE: What bands do you guys feel like you're most influenced by, musically, personally, etc.?
SG: For me, Black Flag is a huge influence. I don't just mean in writing discordant riffage. I take a lot of inspiration from their work ethic, their outlook on life, the flat ugliness of their later albums...
JD: I'm influenced by a lot of crazy classical music, as well as weird psychedelic bands from the 60s.
ERE: What is the songwriting process like for you guys?
JD: Eli and I write most of the material. We usually come up with a theme for a record and basically write songs about the theme. The themes are usually pretty dark and disgusting, for example, we sometimes write about alchemists, religion, science...we want listening to our records to be a vomit inducing experience.
ERE: What's in the future for Ecoli?
MR: We are touring nationally in late May and June. In tandem with the tour, we are releasing a seven-inch and an LP version of our collaboration band, Snuff Film.
SG: I'm really proud of the music that's going to be on the LP. I think this music will be what defines Ecoli as a concept.
ERE: What would you like to see in the future for the band?
MR: Well, hardcore punk is largely a juvenile/teenage genre and I'm 25, so I would like to see the band mature with me and continue to go beyond the confines of what can be a static and boring genre.