"Heavy Metal provided a place for me to belong and feel powerful. It still does."

Boatwright_214205_D1_BB-041 Punk Love. City Terrance, East L.A. August, 2013

I first met Angela in 2002. She was the only other girl in the room and we bonded instantly over our love of boys on skateboards, music and not going to college because, EFF AUTHORITY!  I've written about Angela before so I'll spare you our soulsisterlove story but it goes a little something like this: girl meets girl, girl becomes lifelong friends with girl, girl interviews girl about her amazing new East-LA punk scene docu-series.

And here we go. 

GGC: First, tell us about yourself. Three things about Angela Boatwright ready go...

Angela Boatwright:  Haha, let's see: I love roller coasters, but I don't like cliff jumping (although I would love to skydive one day). And I'm terrified of slugs and worms (but I don't mind spiders at all.) Is that 3 things? I have a huge sweet tooth. That's definitely three!

GGC: Let's talk about your project. Why did you choose the east LA backyard scene to feature in your docu-series?

AB: I had been on tour documenting various heavy metal bands for 3 years prior and I really fell in love with all the fans that came to see the shows. They're the ones that buy the tickets, the CDs, the mp3s. And they live for the music! So I knew I wanted to feature metal and/ or punk kids in my project. I had recently moved to Los Angeles so I thought it might be a good idea to feature some punk/ metal kids from L.A., my new home.
GGC: I know you've said many times that music saved your life. Can you talk a little about that?

AB:  Ahh, when I was a teenager hair metal was my thing! I was absolutely obsessed with it. I would scan the thank you credits included on all my favorite LPs, (this is before the internet of course - 1987, 88, 89) I would call long distance information and attempt to talk to some of the thankees! I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with Axl Rose's tattoo artist, Robert Benedetti once. How cool is that? And he's an incredibly famous tattoo artist on top of his relation to Axl! But back to how heavy metal "saved my life," I didn't fully fit in in school, my parents had just divorced. I felt pretty isolated and alone and that combined with phenomenal amounts of teen angst-rage... heavy metal provided a place for me to belong and feel powerful. It still does.
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GGC: There's a lot of anger in these kids (and most kids, really) but all of them mentioned that the music is a sort of salve for that. A release. An exhale... For an outsider, watching kids slam to punk and/or metal might seem counterintuitive but your series shows that angry music heals angry souls. (Which my teenaged-punk-rock-loving-soul totally gets.)

AB: Yes! Music for whatever reason is often considered the problem when in fact it's either a symptom or in most cases the solution.
Nirvana concert, 1991, Angela, pictured in gray, just behind man holding mic

GGC: What's next for Anthony, Lauren and Nekro. What's next for backyard shows and the kids who depend on them? What's next for you?

AB: Lauren just turned 15 and is still in school. She's already planning on college and wants to be a marine biologist or maybe (and I'm serious) a coroner or a crime scene photographer. She's not afraid of things that most of us find gross or frightening; she's a really brave girl!
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Nekro has a ton of shows coming up with his band, Proyecto Makabro, and he continues to visit his grandmother (once a week, at least). One of his dreams is to go to school to learn how to do make-up for horror movies.
Anthony still attends shows regularly, and is doing well. He hopes to teach English one day.
...And the backyard scene is still going strong! And what's next for me? Not sure yet! I'll have a new website up in a couple of weeks for starters.

GGC: What surprised you most while working on this project? What changed you? Moved you? Frustrated you? Inspired you?

AB: So many things inspired and moved me while myself and the crew were creating this project. The one thing I found most surprising however: I've been hearing a lot of talk about how corporations (such as Vans) shouldn't be involved in punk rock whatsoever. And with respect to my project, I'm listening with an open mind. I used to be that person that thought everything was a jab or a farce. I hated the government, authorities, "the man", everything. And although I still harbor a healthy sense of suspect I'm happy to report that I'm nowhere near as paranoid as I used to be. So it's been very interesting to be on the other side of things. (Don't get me wrong, I still think people should question absolutely everything.)
GGC: Perfect segue for my next question. This series was paid for by Vans. Can you speak to that for a moment? I think people automatically write off sponsored content when in reality it is something we should come together to support when done well/with integrity. Can you talk a little bit about your process and how this Vans/Angela Boatwright collaboration went down?

AB: Sure. Back in April Vans approached me to pitch an idea that represented their motto "Off the Wall". As previously mentioned I really wanted to focus on the kids, the fans that support the bigger bands. I did some research online and discovered a couple of articles written for L.A. Weekly about the East L.A. backyard punk scene. The articles were incredibly inspiring so I stalked the writer, Javier Cabral on Facebook and long story short, he ended up taking me to my first show. A few weeks later I pitched the fully fleshed-out idea to Vans and they loved it. They honestly didn't give me any parameters, although I would check in with them from time to time. So I spent the next 6 months with all the kids in the scene.

I did a massive amount of research and talked to everyone I could. I absolutely adore every single human I met along the way: all the kids, all the scene participants, the generous families that own the homes where the shows were held, the families of the main characters, Nekro, Lauren and Anthony, their friends, the entire production and camera crew, Javier for introducing me to the scene and Nacho from Corrupted Youth for doing so much work within the scene to make this happen... I have so much love for everyone involved. This project is my baby and I hope I did it justice.




All photos in this post c/o Angela Boatwright. You can check out her website here, tumblr here and watch more fron the #livingoffthewall docuseries, here.