Punk rock is thriving in the backyards of South Central and East Los Angeles. A cobbled-together family of Hispanic teens and young adults comprise the scene: bands, fans, production, marketing, and security interwoven into a sub-culture of thrash and noise and pits.
California emerged as a hub of American punk music with L.A. considered as the most hardcore. In the mid-to-late 1970s, two distinct yet concurrent scenes arose in Los Angeles County: the Hollywood scene and the East L.A. scene.
The sense of belonging is palpable; emotional bonds fostered among good families and those broken, poverty and wealth, adolescence and maturity, with the music emanating a magnetic chorus for all to sing together. ‘Los Punks: We Are All We Have” is a documentary feature film honestly and sincerely portraying this vibrant ‘DIY’ community.
Home to the largest population of Mexicans in a non-Mexican city, Los Angeles historically segregated it to the eastern half of the city, largely reserving West L.A. for the Hollywood and Beverly Hills elite. This cultural stratification helped fuel interesting trends and a diverse musical heritage that included the unique Chicano punk scene considered a genre all its own, East L.A. punk.
While American punk music emerged after the “British Invasion” of the late 1960s and ’70s, disenfranchised Mexican American youth, along with other outcasts, in the late 1970s rejected overblown record production and created a stripped-down sound. This outsider scene valued raw creative expression over musical skill.
The line between musicians and audience blurred from one day to the next as fans started their own bands. Often politically charged, their music was tense, fast and aggressive. In Hollywood, The Zeros, The Plugz, The Bags, and Nervous Gender smashed all expectations of what Mexican American youth should look and sound like.