In 2013, a new band with a funny name played its first show.
In 2017, Upper Class Poverty is still playing live shows—including a late October gig at the legendary Whisky A Go Go in Hollywood, opening for Michale Graves, the former lead singer of the Misfits. Some recorded material may be coming soon, too.
I spoke to the band at The Hood Bar and Pizza, where the band will perform on Saturday, Nov. 18, during a benefit show for Hollace’s Alex Perez, who is battling brain cancer.
“The first show we ever played was here at The Hood Bar and Pizza,” drummer Corwin Hendricks said. “It was back when they first opened this location, because I was working here at the time and booking the bands, so I figured we’d just throw ourselves in there. We had a different bass-player at the time; we had our buddy Chaz Shapiro playing bass with us.”
Videos from that first show can be found on the Internet.
“Some of our only live footage that we have on YouTube is from that show,” said guitarist and lead vocalist Rob Lawrence. “When we watch it, we think, ‘We weren’t too bad for our first show.’
“We’ve always loved The Hood. We were in a band before this one called Sol Jah Rock, and (in that band) was the first time I had ever sang and played guitar at a venue, when The Hood was at the original location down the street from here.”
Corwin Hendricks’ brother, Michael, replaced Chaz Shapiro in Upper Class Poverty.
“It took a while to persuade me to be in the band,” Michael Hendricks said. “They moved in with me and played their last show with Chaz—and then Chaz moved. I was just like, ‘I don’t want to do the band thing anymore.’ And then slowly, they were like, ‘We have a show coming up. Do you want to play the bass?’ I said OK, given I really liked the music. That’s the cool thing about it—plus I get to play with my brother and my best friend.”
The band members are recording some of the songs they have been playing over the past four years at their home studio.
“It’s in the midst right now. Mikey is actually doing a lot of the production and engineering,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know if we have an ETA for when it’s all done, but I’m hoping sometime soon. Don’t get too excited. I’ve put down a bunch of guitar tracks, and they aren’t sounding exactly like I want them to sound, so we don’t want to rush it. We said three months ago about three months ago, and it’s not where we want it to be yet. After this album is done, we’ll probably have another new album’s worth of material to play live.”
When I asked what’s been hardest for the band since it formed, Michael Hendricks said it’s always been a struggle.
“It’s a continuous struggle, and that’s what the name represents, Upper Class Poverty,” he said. “We try to do the best we can with the funds that we have, and we’ve put ourselves in poverty to do so. The toughest period is now—because it always is now. What you expect of your life and the money you make never adds up.”
The members explained how the band’s name came to be.
“It was supposed to be a song, and it was our original bass-player, Chaz, who came to Corwin and me after we stopped playing in Sol Jah Rock,” Lawrence explained. “He was like, ‘I had a great idea for a song name, and lately, I’ve been thinking it’d be a really cool band name.’ He told us the name, and we were like, ‘Bro, we have to use that as the band name, not a song, because that’s the perfect band name.’ It represents everything that we’ve gone through and that we stand for. I’ve always been pretty broke, trying to make ends meet. But we love it because we get to go to really cool places and play our songs for awesome people, and we party. It’s a win-win situation. We’re pretty blessed, and we’re lucky people.”
There is one show in the band’s existence that the members said they’ll never forget.
“The backyard show that we did—Schmidy’s Tavern closed, and we bought their stage and put it in the backyard at our house in Thousand Palms, and we had Corwin’s birthday party there,” Michael Hendricks said. “We had a bunch of really cool bands, cool people, and it was just a good time. It was a really memorable show. As for our neighbors … it’s in Thousand Palms.”
Corwin Hendricks fondly remembered that birthday show. “We had six bands, and it was like a small music festival. We had acoustic acts between the bands. It was just a good time. We were competing with a mariachi band that was playing next door.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/upperclasspoverty.