Interview by Michael Doyle (Powerline)
October 1, 2020
What is life but one big cycle. A cycle, ever changing. It seems that about every five to ten to fifteen years there is a so called “change of the guard”, where a new, younger crop of bands, promoters, and artists, start to book shows, play shows, and make a name for themselves in their communities.
While there will always be those players who are lifers in the hardcore scene and continue to play a big part, there will also always be that next wave of young people who will book their own shows, start their own bands, zines, and put their stamp on hardcore, and more importantly, make a difference in their communities.
There are many young players who are part of a new breed of Los Angeles hardcore, but today we will focus on just one, who in my opinion, is one of, if not the, most important young leaders in the Los Angeles hardcore community today. Miguel Rodriguez, or Migz, as most know him, formerly of Union Front, now Magnolia. He is a drummer, a promoter, and more importantly, a great friend.
What’s up man? So let’s start with you from the beginning. When do you first start going to shows and when do you book your first show?
My first show I went to was in Sophomore year, tenth grade. It was a backyard ska show. I didn’t go to any shows after that for a little bit. Then I threw my first show when I was 16, 17, it was in a lot, like a parking lot, under a building in Pico-Union. This is around 2013, 2014. It was an all day fest, like 12 bands on there, Spinebuster, No Vacancy(Hybrid), Sacred Fire, more. I was going to shows in the South Central area like punk shows, ska shows, metal shows, and then going into my junior and senior year, I started going to bigger, what I guess I thought at the time were metalcore, post-hardcore, gigs, and saw Stick To Your Guns, The Ghost Inside, Rotting Out, and Stray From The Path at The Roxy, and that was kinda my first real exposure to a hardcore crowd.
We met in 2018, at that time you and Union Front were playing around LA a lot and it seemed like you, as well as Angel from Union Front, and Alex from Wise, were booking and putting on most of the local LA shows. When we met the GG(Garbage Garden), your first venue you guys ran, had just closed. Can you tell us briefly about the history of the Garbage Garden, and that era?
It was grimy. We used to sleep there sometimes and I woke up by rats bro. We had a guy pop out a gun on us, and when he popped it out he dropped it and it broke, and they still beat his ass. They did give him $1.75 to get the bus though.
The GG was these guy’s shop house, and they worked there, lived there, chilled there, and Eric(formerly Union Front) knew them and went there one day. Later, Eric hit me up and was like “Yo the homies said if you got bands that they are down to have them play here”, and dude we jumped on that opportunity so fast. Angel was doing a lot of the calls at Garbage Garden.
Can’t remember the very first bill, but we were booking shows every Saturday. My pride and joy was having Leeway play in there. You Lose, Icebag Injury, Throwed Off, some dope bands played there.
I really wish I caught one of the last GG shows! Continuing on, it seemed that by the end of 2018 things were starting to pick up for all of us, would you agree? I feel like once you, Angel, and Alex, put together that Dead Heat, Break Away, Red Vision, Wise, If Only show at Soundbite, that things started to look up for us. Shortly after this show, in the beginning of 2019, you stumble upon the Touchon Gallery in Downtown LA, which would become our new venue to run and book shows at for the next few months.
Can you talk a little bit about that time from when things started to speed up with playing shows, booking shows, and finding new venues to book from?
I was already tired of looking for spots and being the middle man. We were still booking shows, if we needed to we could book at Soundbite if it was a good bill, but it was expensive. Me and Alex(Wise) always kept in touch, as far as bands coming through and if I have a spot he’ll go to me and I’d get the spot. I knew this was a good opportunity for me to learn something and keep going. I saw the bands I loved and I loved greeting everybody, so it was cool. Shout out to Soundbite(Studios).
With finding Touchon, I used to work downtown and one time I was walking home and I saw a gallery, it said ‘Call now for booking: music events, etc’. I walked in there, and gave him the run down of what I do like “I’m a promoter, I do a lot of punk shows, rock shows, I’m looking for a spot. I have a good listing of bands that want to play downtown here.” I sold him, pretty much. He said, “How fast can you book a show?”. I booked a show the very next day, with Risk, Mk77, Hybrid, and more. The legendary Dead Heat/Regulate show at Touchon was originally supposed to be at Soundbite, but we had just found Touchon and put it there. S/O Alex.
After that he said, “Thursday’s are yours, run me half”. And after that we did Thursday shows every week till we closed a few months later. The Thursday night shows kind of turned into our own CBGB Sunday matinee’s type of thing. At the time Alex was bringing me a lot of shows, and we couldn’t do Soundbite every time because it was expensive. There were a lot of good shows that happened there, and also a lot of shitty shows that shouldn’t have happened in the scene. Touchon was fun. It just got a little out of control, because we thought we had it like that. If we would have run it more professionally, who knows. Shit happens. Shout out to Zach Touchon.
What inspires you within hardcore? What brings you back and keeps you involved in this community?
Honestly, I do it for the homies. To me it’s a satisfaction knowing I’m providing them music. That’s what I get out of that. I also love the fact that I don’t have to pay for my own show. Why pay for the show when I can book the band. Not only that, but I love hardcore. I love everything else, but hardcore is just special. The shows, there’s nothing like it, you always see the craziest shit.
Especially booking in Central LA, you get the whole mix of the bunch, because you just get everyone who wants to come “play” in LA. 2019 was just a perfect year for me. Union Front was getting on more shows. We played 'This Is LA' at 1720, then Sound & Fury, then tour, then Unity Fest, and finish off with like my favorite band, Rotting Out, at Rec Center at the end of March 2020, that to me is like, I did that. I don’t care how I did it, but I did it. And that gives me that satisfaction too, because it’s not like I’m just booking shows and not doing anything musically, like I’m involved as well as a musician, so I relate with all my other musicians.
There’s always cycles of new blood and a “change of the guard” in hardcore communities everywhere, whether it’s bands, promoters, whoever.. What have you seen from the new breed putting on for the community here in LA booking shows, playing shows, being creative, etc..?
As far as musicians and bands, there’s a new wave of straight edge in LA, which is tight. Firestarter, Lockdown, others, everyone has material. Locals support your locals. Also shout out to Watch Out, Risk, Exile. There’s more of a heavier, youth crew, type of hardcore springing up, rather than what punk bands were springing up to ten years ago. There’s less punk bands being created and more hardcore bands being created. Which I’m not saying is a bad thing, hardcore is spreading in LA, it’s another wave. Soon enough the first hardcore bands I saw will be the classics, and so on and so on. S/O to Ground Zero, SOS, Sound & Fury, and Powerline, they all put on. We’re all here to help each other out.
It seems like this big snowball all led to the Drain music video shoot where everything from the past year and a half culminated into. Which right after the world went on pause for a moment. How was that show for you? And what perspective have you gotten from your journey so far?
It was a big culmination. We were skyrocketing bro, like we were going to close to the sun, like this had to happen. (Laughs) God’s like you’re doin’ too much. Just because this happened though doesn’t mean I don’t have plans for 2021. The Drain show was dope, I ran door, and it was funny to see shit go down.
Any advice to young kids trying to start their own bands and book their own shows?
Don’t be an asshole. Do it because you love to. Do it because you like the music, and do it because you want to provide someone a safe space, and don’t be a creep either. It's as simple as that. Always show love, because it comes back tenfold. Support your scene, just be you.
Interview by Michael Doyle (Powerline)
October 1, 2020