The kids of No Hope H.S.

I wanted to write about this song and the story behind it but it’s hard. I dont think the song does the story justice. I don’t think the blog post does either. I just notice this is a song that people tended to song along to but would later confide in me that they did not know the lyrics.

GRLFRNDS – No Hope HS (Demo)

“I’ve been so low/I sold my drums
The stolen ones/we practiced on
To buy some done/he wished me off
Said ‘You got a flight
Now just do your best to just do alright'”

I met this kid. I was with my friends and I was 14, he was 11 or something, and he was skating along with a ‘skateboarding is not a crime shirt’ and as we were loitering at a bus stop I yelled at this kid ‘Fag Skate USA!’ to which he responded ‘Fuck you!’ and promptly threatened to kick my ass.  I was inspired by the kid’s piss and vinegar, and I’d learn over the years as the all neighborhood youths, my age and older (friends with his older brother), turned their house into an approximation of those party scenes from KIDS; he grew up fast.

“And he fought the war/Until the day he died
Four days short of a fortnight
If this is growing up then I’ma start believe in ghosts
Because the yearbook’s been redacted
For the kids of No Hope HS”

I was 23 years old when I last saw Ryan. I think he was 20. Maybe he has just turned 21. But we were both fucked. We had fucked our lives up and I was going to England because I was ‘sick and tired’ of being ‘sick and tired’. Ryan wasn’t going on a trip, he was stuck with a job as a busboy and a drug habit. His house was where people went to get fucked up and write on the walls and drugs were never an issue because drugs were always just ‘there’. I had gotten to the point that playing that game was a daily battle with the sickness of opiate addiction. Ryan would tell me he was fine, but then he’d also tell me when he was sick. We would trade proclamations to ‘get better’ but we’d end up just settling for ‘getting well’. He didn’t actually get me any dones, as the song suggests, but I did sell my drums and he gave me my last fix, something for the plane ride. Ten days later, sitting in my aunt’s guest room in England, on my cousin’s laptop I saw peoples Myspace status’ on the other side of the world updated in mourning ‘Drinking One For My Best Friend, RIP.’ ‘We Love You Ryan.’

“This is the war I’ve left
Was it a year ago? Tested atheists in trenches
A hole in my heart and my arm and my soul
A hole in my heart and my arm and my soul”

I came back and had missed Ryan’s funeral. His mother died 2 days later: complications of hepatitis, alcoholism and grief. She raised a generation of skate rats and punk rockers, myself included, and I missed her funeral also. I had a small scar of a ‘track mark’ on my arm to remind me of my sin. I had an amazing sense of guilt and lost, of heart and soul. That’s the chorus where everyone gets the words wrong.

“I know the dark/I’ve been the angel of death
Then like a cherub I choke/I felt the angel of breath
To scratch my arm/not even check my breath
Sneaker feet they get blisters/sneaky people get beat.
When death she is your sister/no-home is your home
It’s easy to get it twisted/Fuck your friends, you’re alone
If this is growing up then I’ma start believe in ghosts
Because the yearbook’s been redacted for the kids of No Hope HS
This is the war I’ve left
Was it a year ago? Tested athiests in trenches
A hole in my heart and my arm and my soul
A hole in my heart and my arm and my soul”

This song perhaps exemplifies the ‘subversion’ that this blog alludes to. We tried to write a catchy-dance number, to get people to shake their asses and sing along without thinking about the subject matter. This is the big reveal; you have been dancing to a reverie of death and drugs, an unabashed love song for for my dear, dead friend. To be honest it’s a failure – it’s more about me than it’s about Ryan. I do not condescend to think I could encapsulate his brief existence in 3 and a half minutes. If anything this is just another rock and roll song that’s consumed with the idea of ‘living fast and dying young’ – with a heavy emphasis on the former – and a very real memorial to an amazing, hilarious, wonderful and troubled young man.

We miss you Ryan.

One Year Later

A lot has happened in the past year. Girlfriends changed to GRLFRNDS. We quickly established ourselves as, arguably, the best band in Hawaii. We won a ‘battle of the bands’ to open for Modest Mouse. Played alongside The Hold Steady, Das Racist, DIPLO, Jokers Of The Scene not to mention we got to represent the vanguard of new local ‘indie music’ with bands like Painted Highways, The Jump Offs, Clones of the Queens, Shopping List and more.

As our fellow local bands are working hard to establish themselves – many of them have releases coming out and have even caught national attention – we went a different route; we broke up.

Call it a pavlovian instinct to squander our potential but at the start of the summer in 2010 we disbanded.

As it stands, one of our greatest assets and closest friends Nick Ross (GRLFRNDS, Le Tenia, Less Than Zero, Shoko Kono – basically my writing partner for as long as I can remember) left our band to focus on his own side project Crispin Lover – with a host of local talent including Matt Homer and Alex Nagata.

During the GRLFRNDS hiatus/disbandment our keyboardist Jacob Achitoff (Life In The Iron Lung, Gaza In Neon) also began to play shows under the moniker Aesthete and most recently in the duo Youth Sports. Both bands represent a radical departure from the dirty, pounding rock and roll of GRLFRNDS and are tuned into the alternately contemporary and nostalgic sounds of ‘chill wave’ and executed to perfection.

Our last addition to the GRLFRNDS cult was the eponymous Jacob Hairdo (Jake Carerra of TV Hairdo, The Fabulists and a bunch of punk bands that got your ass moshing) with whom we played a final, blistering set at Fresh Cafe in early July.

Some time after the Fresh Cafe ‘last show’ our multi-talented, hyper-kinetic, fucking-energetic bassist/keyboardist Ryan Miyashiro told us he’d be leaving the band to focus on getting his degree (the boy got smarts!) and to play with his other project (another exciting, upstart ‘indie’ band with a lot of energy) Vice Vicarious.

During the summer I spent my time working on demos and releasing them under the alias Cell Empathy.

As the summer ends and the ennui of a season of wasted away sets in what’s left of the GRLFRNDS (Alex Kaiser, Nate Mccurdy, Jake Achitoff and Jacob Carerra) have entered into the planning stages of what we are going to refer to as the GRLFRNDS ‘reboot’ or GRLFRNDS 2.o or something snazzy like that. We are enjoying the freedom of not having deadlines to practice with new technology, tighten some loose ends and also trying to figure out what the new line-up is going to look like. We are nowhere near ready to book shows and we don’t have any demos of the ‘new sound’ yet but keep your ear to the ground because this fall you may very well see some GRLFRNDS ‘secret shows’ where we will be experimenting with this new situation we’ve found ourselves in.

More than just keeping you guys up to date with our trials and tribulations I wanted to express this feeling of optimism I have for the scene. As much as it’s hurt to see some members leave, or for others to grow out of this band and into artists on their own right – these are things that need to happen for Hawaii to blow-up. We had an ungodly concentration of talent in GRLFRNDS and every side project that every member embarked upon is a representation of their own unique talent and tastes. The culmination of these different projects, sounds and visions are indicative of a scene on the cusp of gaining a lot of attention. Hawaii is an interesting and cosmopolitan place and for once we have an interesting soundtrack to go along with it – and. for now, the rest of the world doesn’t have a clue.

This is an exciting time for Hawaii, you can feel it when you talk to people or go to shows. This is a chaotic time for GRLFRNDS, I feel it when I start to panic that my life has passed me by. So if you have yet to write us of, please do so now. Because we love a good surprise and nothing is gonna be sweeter than the looks on your face when we take back the throne.

We had to go away before we could make a comeback! Keep u posted…

“You got a record

Cut your teeth playing live

Your heart’s exploding

Don’t die, don’t die

Still who is holding

The cards are on your side

And feed the feeling

You’re alive, you’re alive

This is a shot to be respectable

This is a chance to get an imprint label

This is the hail so cough and spit and drool

I said I love you you

She says I love me too

You took a picture

It garnered first prize

And you’re feeling so alive

See it in her eyes, you can see it in her eyes

She stays up all night

Her portrait pose is right

Never harsh under the light

Street fashion by day club blogs by night

This is a chance to be a tastemaker

You’ve got a shot to put your name upon the label

The lights will flash as they all start to drool

Because they love you

She says I love me too”

– Untitled, Alex Kaiser (I found these lyrics on an unpublished blog I had saved on wordpress sometime last year. This is a little window into the unbridled confidence that drove GRLFRNDS to be so cocky and committed to our noise. After a summer of stagnation it is the perfect inspiration to get back on stage, get fucking crazy and feel that love once again. It’s a hit single waiting to take off.)

summer mix no.2

So you probably are all like where is summer mix number one? If you are lucky enough to be one of my friends you prolly got a copy but i’ll get around to putting it up for the masses later. So yeah, this mix is a little less ‘banger’ than the last one. It features lots of blog-worthy artists that have been around a while, some new stuff and a couple of the producers I have been really enjoying lately (Yacht, Death To The Throne and Parallels). It’s pretty chill for listening to at the beach or getting drunk to or just being hot and sweaty all like ‘I wish summer was over’ when you put on these jams and it’s all like ‘who wants to do body shots off the dog?’

summer mixx

Yacht – Summer Song
Bloc Party – One More chance (Radio Edit)
Parallels – Reservior
Architecture In Helsinki – Heart It Races (Single Version)
Birdman and Lil Wayne ft. T-Pain and Rick Ross – Know What I’m Doin’ (Death To The Throne Remix)
Matt And Kim – Yea Yeah (Flosstradamus Remix Final)
La Roux – Bulletproof
Magic Wands – Teenage Love
Pela – Lost To The Lonesome
The Drums – Let’s Go Surfing!
Neon Indian – Deadbeat Summer
Wavves – Friends Were Gone
Phoenix – 1901
Yacht – Psychic City
Coconut Records – Nighttiming
Detachments – The Flowers That Fell (Parallels Remix)
Yelle – Qui Est Cette Fille (Robyn Cover)
Birdman and Lil Wayne – Pop Bottles (Death To The Throne Remix)

… I tried to find a good balance of ‘chill stuff’ and bangers. Think I did pretty good. Might use this mix for ‘foreplay’ or something less suggestive like ‘smoking blunts’ (via cheap weed).

Oh! OH! Lots of shows this month!

MGMT @ Pipeline July 16th

Diplo @ Next Door on the 31st

PLEASE PLEASE dont forget to see our band GIRLFRIENDS on July 24th @ The Loft! This is a Battle of the Bands to see who opens for Modest Mouse in September so Hawaii is the place to be, kids.

-Alex Soze, 2009

Obligatory Michael Jackson Post

A few months ago this band called the Justice said MJ was their favorite artist. Before that I only thought of MJ as a kind of guy that I did not want to be around as a kid or let other kids be around. I am a product of my environment and that’s just what I was told. I was also told Pepsi lit him on fire. And something about ‘jesus juice’.

So I started listening to MJ and his band the Jackson 5. Don’t get me wrong I’ve heard it my whole life but this time I ‘really listened’ to it (via. weed/repeated listenings) and it is pretty awesome. P.Y.T. is the shit. The moment he died I realized how much his career outweighed his eccentricity (via molestation) and I really hope that when I die my body of work will take precedent over the bad things I did.

Think if I get famous/make better music I can do worse things.

Then I saw this video.

I didn’t know MJ was so political. Maybe he was like M.I.A. b4 mia

This song was apparently simultaneously about Iran and the disproportionate rates of African American in incarceration.

Do not think stripping/fondling oneself in a prison cafeteria is the best personal brand but I am surprised Neptunes were producing bangers when MJ ‘got edgy’ and ‘settled that first lawsuit in the early 90’s.’

For reals. I love. Dont hate.

Alex Soze, 2009