The Hellions have a fascinating history. Both times I’ve gone to interview them, the conversations—usually over liquor—have been a lot of fun. If you haven’t picked up their first official release, Hymns From the Other Side, hit up Record Alley in Palm Desert. Fun fact: Frontman Angel Lua also teaches English at College of the Desert. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thehellionsofficial. Lua was kind enough to answer the Lucky 13; here are his answers.
What was the first concert you attended?
The first big concert I attended was The Cult at the Orange Show Pavilion in San Bernardino with my uncle. They were on tour for their Ceremony album and Lenny Kravitz was opening. Another band called Stix and Stones, I think, was first. I remember the singer of that band yelling out, “We’re Stix and Stones, and we’re gonna kick your ass!” I’ve been using that when the Hellions open our set, as this clearly reflects our esteemed appreciation of the simplicity of true art.
What was the first album you owned?
The first cassette tape I owned was Eazy E’s Eazy-Duz-It. My grandmother gave me $10 for helping her install some tile in her bathroom, so I asked her to pick up a (pirated) copy of it from the Indio swap meet. She knew nothing about this gangsta-rap thing or what the “Parental Advisory” label meant. My sweet grandmother, though unaware, was complicit in my adolescent corruption (or enlightenment), and my growing and colorful use of expletives.
What bands are you listening to right now?
The Hangmen, Black Lips, Handsome Family, some Arcade Fire and composers like Max Richter, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and Philip muthafucking Glass are in heavy-ass rotation at the moment.
What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?
Taste in music, like everything else, is fatally subjective. Everyone listens to what defines or inspires them at a specific time in their lives and what they have been constantly subjected to aurally. That being said, fuck pop country.
What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?
Wish I could see The Cramps perform again. Lux Interior’s live performance was amazing. His onstage antics and hilarious witticisms are still unmeasured—though often imitated. I’m pretty sure he’s wearing his black leather pants and high heels and drinking a bottle of cheap wine in a purgatorial, juvenile-delinquent dance party as you read this (or whatever post-mortal dance party you’re religiously inclined to believe in).
What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?
Hmmm. Refer to Question 4. … Actually, ’80s disco, like Stevie B, Exposé and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. My uncle was a DJ during the ’80s, and I always hung around him. He used to lay a big piece of cardboard on the lawn and spin records while the neighborhood kids and I would practice breakdancing. Ah, memories …
What’s your favorite music venue?
I would say Pappy and Harriet’s right now. You can’t beat the ambiance, the food or the distance to my family and my comfy bed.
What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?
Not necessarily a lyric, but a melody and a series of “NA NA NAs” from Pink’s “So What.” Every. God. Damn. Time.
What band or artist changed your life? How?
Every artist I have listened to has had a hand in molding my life. Social Distortion was huge to me when I was a dangerous and young rebellious greaser—you know, always talkin’ about the good ol’ days when there were drag races, sock hops, and greaser-and-socs rumbles, and law-breakin’ was going on, like mailbox jamboree ’n’ such. You know, all the made-up shit TV and movies told us about the past that we believed (and some still do). I still have evidence of this influence on my shoulder in the form of a Social Distortion “skele” tattoo and a scar on my gut from a knife fight. I can’t remember if the knife fight was instigated by someone messing up my pompadour or trying to snatch my lucky rabbit’s foot.
You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?
I would ask Iggy Pop what the secret to living a long life would be. And he’d better not say heroin, because I am too old and poor to be that reckless, dramatic and fatalistic! He’ll probably simply say, “Go ask Keith Richards.”
What song would you like played at your funeral?
I would like Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to score my life—this includes my funeral song. We can call it, “Finis Vitae: Angel Lua’s Odysseun Requiem” or something else pretentious like that.
Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?
Favorite of the time is Turbonegro’s Apocalypse Dudes. It seems like a safe answer, but it’s an honest one. Everyone who I had a hand in exposing this album to has never been let down. I heard it in ’98 when the band was kaput. I did not know much about them except for the creepy, black-and-white photos in the CD inlay, where they aimed their made-up and smudged, puckered lips at the photographer. The album was a perfect mix of punk and glam-rock pretentiousness with silly, juvenile lyrics thrown in for good measure. A perfect example of a band gratefully not taking themselves too seriously.
What song should everyone listen to right now?
Black Lips’ “Family Tree.” You’ll be humming the chorus and the saxophone hook over and over again. Oh, and stay away from “NA NA NA NA NA NA NA, NA NA NA NA NA NAH!” (Scroll down to hear it!)