Sunday, May 21, 2017

Start Something! What Happens Next? Lifes Halt!

As promised, here's a brief sample from the Start Something chapter for the book. This tour happened during the summer of 2001 and wrapped around the entire U.S. I was fortunate enough to catch five of these shows and they were fuckin' great! I think this tour captures the essence of a DIY hardcore punk tour in 2001. It was exciting then and it feels exciting now. Enjoy!

PS: I make an appearance in this chapter. So that's a first. And it feels kinda' weird.

PPS: Typos abound!

Craigums (What Happens Next) I saw Lifes Halt and I was so blown away and so impressed and so taken aback and there was that whole sense of danger to it. The music was intense. They were all into it. You know when you see a band and it's a band, a solid unit that’s just trying so hard to just fucking destroy! There's no shoegazing going on. Everybody is fighting to be awesome, to be powerful.

Max Ward (What Happens Next) We went down to LA and we played a few shows with them and that was it. It was almost like a romance for us. Any chance we got, we would play with Lifes Halt, because we just thought they were the best band at that time. We constantly tried to bring them up to San Francisco and any chance we got, we would go down LA and play with them.

Félix Reyes (Lifes Halt) I think that that's why they took a liking to us, because we in many regards, sort of embodied the spirit, and a little bit of the sound and the aesthetic already. I think that they also appreciated too, where we were from and who we were and that they saw that it was an organic thing.

Robert Collins (What Happens Next) They took the roof off the joint. They were great. Our 7” was out, they knew us, had heard us, people down there, already knew who we were and we knew who they were, but the kids down there just went ape shit for Lifes Halt. The whole show was super good and it got to the point where damn near every time we went down there, we played with them and then they came up shortly after that and played a show in San Francisco and it was the same way - we had more people that knew us but then they just smoked everything in the room when they played. LA was a second home for us and the Bay Area was a second home for them.

Félix Reyes We became good friends. We have a lot of respect for each other. At that time, it just made sense that we would play with such a band and that they would play with us, because we were one of a handful of bands that had that general, older style hardcore approach.

Devon Morf (What Happens Next) Their was definitely a genuine sense of camaraderie and genuine friendships between all members, and we complemented each other well.

Craigums Instantaneous closeness. We talked and hung out and we could not wait to hang out again. It was one of the very few times where you click and connect so quickly.

Ernesto Torres (Lifes Halt) We really looked up to those guys. They were awesome people. They really helped us out with a lot. Robert booked the whole second tour that we did, booked everything, did all the work. He was just full of energy, gung-ho, always ready to go.

Félix Reyes At that time already, they were like seasoned DIY professionals. They had been across the world in different bands. They had toured. They had put out records and so they certainly of course put us up even more. They put us under their wing. They had this aesthetic. They had this term or this label that was associated with us.

Max Ward When they approached us after the Japan tour - after we thought, well we've done everything we want to, we’re just gonna’ let the band kind of lie on the side - when they said let’s do a US tour together, we said okay we’ll do it. It was largely because we wanted to be with Lifes Halt and see them every night.

Craigums “Start Something” totally substantiated both of our band’s approach.

Félix Reyes It's good to take things into your own hands that you want to do and go forward and make it happen. Essentially, the whole DIY ethic conveyed through that phrase.

Max Ward That was Felix, “Flex” as we called him, Felix the bassist of Lifes Halt. He was like, “let's do this, let's do this tour, let's do this record, let's screen print our own shirts, we’re going to release this record ourselves, we are going to set up this tour ourselves, we can do this and it's not just about playing music ourselves, but we gotta’ take it beyond the club and we have to take it beyond the practice space, we’ve got to organize communities, we gotta’ talk politics, we gotta’ connect with different communities outside of our own.” What better way to do that then by actually go on the road and tour and see other people and see different communities…Felix came up with that. Ernie drew the cover.

Jon Westbrook (Lifes Halt) We were all really into the Big Boys. At the end of every Big Boys show, they would say “now go start your own band.” That was basically the starting point for that whole idea.

Noel Sullivan (Lifes Halt) Here’s the match, you just have to do your own thing.

Ernesto Torres We started taking in things around us, like the people, the places, things that were happening. It just came about. At that point we had met a lot of people and just felt really lucky and just wanted to express that a little bit more.

Craigums Felix was very big on maintaining your culture and your identity and where you live is where you should be focusing your energies on to your people, empower everybody in your life who you feel needs that help. He was very community-oriented.

Félix Reyes Much like the split 7” with No Reply, it almost seemed like a natural thing to happen between Lifes Halt and What Happens Next. We were such good friends, very supportive of each other and had a cut-from-the-same-cloth type vibe.

Robert Collins All that stuff just seemed normal like, of course we’re gonna’ do that. We were totally linked together and linked ourselves together, didn't mind at all that we were associated with one another all the time. I remember sitting with Max in the mastering studio when we heard their side of the split for the first time and both of our jaws hit the floor because it was within the context of the same kind of music but there are so many things on that record that are so next level. All those dudes can play their asses off.

Max Ward We knew Youngblood and they put out the Lifes Halt EP. They were huge supporters and we were just thinking, let's make this a collective effort, so it was a Youngblood/625 co-release.

Ernesto Torres I think that was a six-week tour. You tell Robert, “hey we’re gonna’ go on tour.” He’s like “ok we’ll be gone for like half a year.” I don’t know if you know that about Robert and those guys, they don’t fuck around.

Noel Sullivan Robert’s like a road wizard. That was really cool meeting Robert Collins on that tour because on that tour, I was only 18. It’s my second tour and Robert’s like this tour sentinel. You know, he’s just been on tour forever. It was cool learning all these little tricks and shit.

Ernesto Torres Robert is still like that to this day.

Jon Westbrook My van broke a head gasket on the first day of tour, so we had to miss the next two shows while everybody was trying to pool their money together to buy another van.

Félix Reyes We arrived at some late show in Austin. The first thing we saw and heard about was like some girl sitting on the roof right by the entrance and pissing down from the roof. She was pretty wasted.

Noel Sullivan We just did this fucking 30-hour drive. Everyone is just like high as shit from just smelling each other’s farts and sweating your balls off. We’re just sitting on the street under this roof. I was with Craigums and all of What Happens Next and Lifes Halt was sitting there and this chick comes up to the corner. We’re like, what is she doing? She fucking takes her pants off and totally starts pissing into the alley. That wasn't the craziest thing, but it was pretty impressive. This is like a 15 foot spray. We’re just kinda’ watching it, mystified. There's these other guys in the driveway and we had no idea who they are, they’re just locals. Two guys just talking about something. One guy just sees this and immediately just runs up and starts drinking it. It's so brutal because it's like hittting his face from like 15 feet and it’s splashing everywhere. The chick has no idea this is happening with her bodily excrements. She's on the roof clueless. We’re all in this dark alley like, oh my god this guy’s drinking piss! Then it ended and she zips up and bails and he wipes his face off and just tries to go right back in the conversation with his buddy.

Robert Collins It would be really easy to focus on all the highlights, the killer fucking shows. The two shows in one day in Chicago that were totally different, but both incredible. We played a show at The Fireside with American Nightmare and Kill Your Idols and then we went a played a backyard show in Pilsen with a bunch of neighborhood bands and both were fucking killer and totally different. Other shows that stick out - the show at ABC in New York was next level.

Max Ward I always wanted to play ABC No Rio because it was a hallmark or foundation of the scene…When I think about that show, I’m thinking about it from behind the drum set. So I'm the one who’s sitting behind the protected drum set, but I remember Devon having a really energetic performance.

Devon Morf We would sit in the car and talk about history and philosophy in our van, they had a television with a VCR where they’d watch The Simpsons and eat junk food - totally a generation gap there. Some of them would hang out in our van and they were just bored silly really quickly. They had no interest in talking about the Young Officers Revolt in Japan prior to World War II.

Craigums They were playing the radio trying to drown out the TV, because they’d want to hear what was on that. So the radio would be full blast, the TV would be full blast and then they would be trying to give directions to each other and just yelling…We played one tape, it was Live After Death, Iron Maiden. It was the only tape in the tape deck and it looped for 5 weeks straight.

Noel Sullivan You're all bottled up, smelling each other’s fuckin’ assholes for like six weeks. You put yourself through these crazy situations and some people thrive on it, some people don't really like it. They can’t do it. I think some people think they like it, but don't really like it and they keep on doing it.

Max Ward Noel was younger than the other guys in the band. He was really goofy, so he was just constantly joking.

Craigums He was always our punching bag, but he was always too cool to be taken down by the punches, but it never kept them from trying to knock him down a peg. He was the one-liner and not because he was good at one-liners but because his thoughts were just little nuggets. He would just say weird shit. For some reason I remember, and it was such a tangential thing, but in hindsight, it was totally directed, he said “old people are dumb” …He would also say things that were really naïve, but totally correct. Something about Noel was really special.

Max Ward The one thing I remember about that Boston show was looking up at one of the pipes that ran across the ceiling and seeing a couple of centimeters worth of dust that had collected on the top, just to show you how much dust was in the air…There’s probably bands that would walk into that situation be like, “we’re not playing here. Where is the PA, there's no stage, wait, you mean we’re playing a dirty floor with plumbing going over our heads?” That's what separates the bands that want to play the clubs versus the bands who are “the local punks set this up, the local punks are trying to do something outside of the club scene.” Sometimes you gotta’ play on the dirt floor with tons and tons of dust.

Ernesto Torres Man, that place was fucking filthy!

Jon Westbrook I take back what I said about never having worn a bandanna, I wore one across my face at that show.

Craigums We wore bandannas. That was probably the greatest benefit of being bandanna thrash, was that one show we played in Boston where it was so dirty that we wore them over our faces just for health purposes.

Robert Collins We all had black boogers for a week.

Devon Morf Who knows what was in that dust, that was ridiculous! Then I remember at one point I reached up and touched the lightbulb I gave myself an electric shock. It was a brutal show. I can't believe anybody stayed in there and watched the rest of that set because we should of just stood there silently and not moved instead of kicking up more dust.

Max Ward If you choose not to go through the regular route. If you're not going to go to the regular rock club, which provides a PA system and it’s got a bar and they’re gonna charge a ton of money because they want to make money off the show. But if you say, hey, we’re gonna’ do this ourselves, you have to find some space and normally it's some rough space not made for music. In Europe, you have all the squatted buildings, so you're literally walking into old factories or old buildings that have been occupied but not necessarily cleaned up. That kind of reminded me of playing a squat. We were definitely playing places of similar, let's say, uncleanliness.

Robert Collins A lot of really cool shows, but Flagstaff was pretty small, kinda’ like any other show, any other time in Flagstaff. Lifes Halt’s van broke down in Flagstaff and we missed our Austin show and had tons of really frustrating and regular tour things happen the whole time. We played in Rapid City, South Dakota, and there was a circle pit because when Lifes Halt played, all four members of What Happens Next ran around the stage and around the podium that was behind the stage the whole time they played because there was nobody else in the room, there was no one there, nobody came.

Ernesto Torres Fuck it, let’s just play! Everybody was going crazy.

Craigums That was probably the most fun show in that we had to make the fun ourselves…We actually switched instruments between bands. So I played drums for some of the Lifes Halt set. Felix played bass for some of our songs.

Robert Collins It was great, it was super awesome, had a lot of really killer shows. That West Coast stint coming down at the end was just next level. Those shows with Tear It Up and Fast Times were so good.

Max Ward It's crazy to think those two tours converged and the Seattle show was just out of control. The Portland show, it was fun for us even though everybody stood outside.

Craigums Lifes Halt’s van broke down again on the way to the last show and we were all stuck. I happen to be in their van on that stretch, because we were going home and they broke down an hour outside of San Francisco. It’s flat for probably 40 miles in every direction so it’s super hot. Everyone was already pissed and now we’re about to miss the homecoming show.

Robert Collins The last show of Start Something tour kinda’ blends in with other What Happens Next / Lifes Halt shows at Mission Records. It was killer and we were rolling with Tear It Up / Fast Times, but it didn’t feel like the tour was “over,” because Lifes Halt was still going south with those kids, and we had another show booked a week or two later in SoCal.

Craigums Lifes Halt were like “hey our friend Carl is doing this documentary of the tour.”

Robert Collins He came on the tour to make a documentary of the whole escapade.

Ken Ramsey Adding to the excitement of seeing those bands so many times on that tour was every time they showed up, Carl Cordova was there with a video camera capturing the fun. Definitely not today, but in 2001, when you see a person recording an event, you automatically are going to think there’s something significant happening, something worth documenting. That sort of put a fine point on the whole thing, hey this is important.

Craigums We worked for at least a year straight on editing all that footage into a documentary. We got as far as halfway through the trip and he was only logging footage. It was such a long time and then he quit the job where he had the editing bay, so that’s as far as it ever got.

Craigums When I saw Lifes Halt for the first time, they were doing it with a very specific pro wrestling approach. Ours was more just like a Monty Python way to fuck with each other…When we saw Lifes Halt they were doing shit that was just flat out dangerous…You can imagine when we did that tour, instead of it being us doing our thing, it became a battle.

Devon Morf Lifes Halt were good every night and we felt like with them as the standard bar, with What Happens Next, we were good every other night.

Max Ward It was very interesting, as with all bands, there is internal politics. It's not just internal about what the band is, but what kind of politics one has about their own relationship to the world, their own perspective on political or social issues. Everybody’s gonna’ come at it differently. It’s not like one band as a unit is going to go out and engage in the same way. Actually, you’re coming into communication and contact with these people who are coming to see your band, but you're also continuing to have these conversations within the vans as you’re driving between shows. You're thinking through like what was that about or if there was something that we were having a discussion about at a show, things got heated or something, we would talk about it in the van, kind of contemplate it. There was also probably people in both bands, who were like, “I actually don't really care about that stuff.” Some people could choose to be apolitical, some people could choose to be interested in one specific issue, but not all, some people really saw this as an idealistic venture and we need to consider all aspects of it, where we’re eating, who we’re staying with, what clubs we’re playing and all this kind of stuff. It was a constant conversation. There was fights on tour, for sure. There’s people who were leaving one van and going to the other because they needed to cool off. I don't think there was any fights between the two bands, but there were fights internal to the bands themselves and the other band would provide refuge for the one person who wanted to cool off. But at the end of the day, we would all pull up to the same gas station, go get some food, sit down on the curb, some people were skating, some people are talking about what the hell happened the night before.

Noel Sullivan You have to have some water come out of the pot sometimes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

We Sold Our Soul For Hardcore: Lifes Halt!

Lifes. Halt. If you saw this band in the flesh, then you get it. I don't have to explain, you can just skip down below and start reading the excerpts from their chapter. If not, just go here for an intense second hand experience and then start reading. That intensity in their music and delivery still holds up today. The messages, whether screamed in English or español, are still to the point in 2017. Everyone they reached walked away with a strong impression and their reach was far. For a little band from LA that never released a stand-alone LP, never left North America, and broke up way too fuckin' soon, their impact was great. I think I have received more comments about this band from more corners of the world than any other. If you still aren't sure, go here and then read on. Big, giant thanks to everyone for sharing their stories!!

PS: The stories of What Happens Next and Lifes Halt are unavoidably linked. This will be captured in full in a later chapter devoted to the Start Something split LP and tour. So just be patient...

PPS: Grammar sins abound!

We Sold Our Soul For Hardcore

Lifes Halt

Ernesto Torres (Lifes Halt) I lived in Bell Gardens, which is by East LA. The big thing back then was backyard gigs. You just went to all these backyard gigs. You saw a lot of bands that barely had a tape, most of the bands didn’t have anything. It was cool cuz’ it was just these ragtag people that just happen to have a bass or guitar and they’d form a band. It was totally local. And very violent. Which is pretty crazy, cuz’ you’d be going to East LA and there's all these cholos, and you’re going to a show. Violence wasn’t as bad as in the ‘80s but it was still pretty bad in the early to mid-90s.

Félix Reyes (Lifes Halt, No Reply) Me and Ernie and Charlie met in 1995 at a skating spot at USC by my house…I saw one day that somebody had a backpack that was on the ground and had a Minor Threat patch on it and had some straight edge stuff on it. I clearly identified with Minor Threat and was “this is cool, whose backpack is this?” and it turned out to be Ernie’s. That's how we met and we started skateboarding together and we started going to shows together. At that point time, Ernie and Charlie were really big into Strife. I would accompany them and go to the shows and I was really excited and happy because there's so much energy to it.

Ernesto Torres Charlie the guitar player, I knew him the longest. I lived in Bell Gardens. He lived in Bell Gardens, but he went to a different school and through skating, that's how I met him. He played guitar. So we skated and then we met Felix, the bass player, through skating. I might have seen him at a show - like Sick Of It All at a fest and he got kicked out. We were just skating somewhere at USC and I just happened to see him. I’m like “you’re the dude who got kicked out!”

Félix Reyes We did start a band at that time when we realized that we all played something. That was in ’95, that band was called Revulsion. We played a few shows and actually the last song on the Lifes Halt demo from ‘97 is a song that Revulsion had to tried to put together…Revulsion was mostly playing backyard shows.

Ernesto Torres We met and I don’t know if we ever talked about “yeah we should start a band,” it just kinda’ happened. From what I remember now, one day we were just playing in a band.

Félix Reyes A few years later, lo and behold, we had Lifes Halt.

Jon Westbrook (No Reply, Lifes Halt, Knife Fight) I knew them from the record store and was friends with them and suddenly one day they said they had a band.

Ernesto Torres The spirit that we had was early LA bands. That was us, but musically it was totally not that. It was just that idea. We just wanted to be fucking crazy and play and hang out. Musically, we were all pretty different. Felix, he had his own thing. I had my own thing. Charlie was off somewhere else.

Félix Reyes I had discovered what is known as Nardcore. I found those records for really cheap, a friend of mine had this old record store in Hollywood called Green Hell. He was like “oh you like you like hardcore or skate punk? You should check out Agression, you should check out Scared Straight.” They were so prevalent throughout LA because that stuff was like 10 or more years older. It was kind of not in-the-day and they had made so many of those records that they were just around everywhere, so I got a lot of cool stuff. That's the stuff that got me excited because I liked how fast it was and it had some melody and some rhythm.

Ernesto Torres We loved, of course Black Flag. We were way into Suicidal, that’s how the whole bandana thing came in.

Jon Westbrook They showed up and they play at a friend’s yard and were just awesome. There was a point in the middle of their set that all four of them were off the ground. Knocking all their cabinets and drums over, somersaulting into each other, doing wrestling moves. Those early shows were just bonkers. Which is funny because everyone talks about how No Justice was just the craziest band they’d ever seen…They were nothing compared to those early Lifes Halt shows. It was just complete chaos. Ernie sounds like he’s singing to a different band and is jump-kicking into Charlie who falls backwards into his amp, knocks it all over and the drummer stands up and kicks the drum set over. It happened every time they played.

Ernesto Torres We just wanted to fuckin’ go out there and just be crazy. Not crazy like punch some dude in the face, but maybe. We just wanted to go out there and put energy into what we did. These assholes that I used to play with, they were always kicking my ass like, “dude, can you be a little more energetic.”

Félix Reyes Ernie was a big driver in it all, as far as the art.

Ernesto Torres I didn’t have any musical talent, but I can draw, so that was my way of contributing.

Félix Reyes He did 99% of Lifes Halt art and also he wrote 99% of the lyrics, especially early on. He had cool ideas and we would talk about them. We were all pretty stoked on stuff that he was saying. I think there was a lot of stuff that we were already again being informed by, outside of the music or punk or skateboarding world. Things a little more political. I can think of that song “In My Face” on the 7" that is about aggressive advertising in lower income neighborhoods.

Ernesto Torres The demo that we made at this magical space somewhere, I don’t know, it might have been Santa Barbara. We made this tape and we would just send it out to labels that we liked. We sent one to Max. At the time, we didn't know Max. We sent it to Youngblood and it just so happened that Youngblood was the first one to contact us…that’s how the 7” came along. We started corresponding with Joe and Shawn.

Félix Reyes Certainly the 7” on Youngblood is what exposed the band to a lot of other people that had a lot to do with the band at that time and then afterwards.

Ernesto Torres Around the time that the PCH was around, that's really when it felt right. You knew everybody. It just felt a lot more intimate, around the mid-90s…It was this really underground space in Long Beach in the middle of nowhere. Literally just train tracks, refineries, it was just industrial. That’s where most of the shows were happening at that time.

Félix Reyes The PCH club was happening and our first show there, the guy that booked us, Reggie, who played in a noisy powerviolence band called Gasp, he booked us and I don’t think he had heard us, or maybe Ernie gave him the demo. He described us as “thrashy manic, fastcore” on the flyer… I remember seeing that and reading it and I think me and Ernie were like “what? Thrashy? Manic? Fastcore? What are you talking about?”… We started seeing it and hearing it especially applied to us as we became more associated with What Happens Next. Likewise, I don't think we fully applied the label to ourselves. We kind of let it just do what it did.

Ernesto Torres Growing up in LA, everybody speaks Spanish. It was never really a conscious thing for me like, oh I need to sing in Spanish because it’s my heritage. It’s not until after a while oh fuck, it just started hitting me more, “damn dude, you're fucking Mexican, you need to celebrate it a little bit more!”

Félix Reyes It had a huge influence on us politically and with our cultural identity in the way that we positioned ourselves and saw ourselves in the overall scene, was discovering Los Crudos was huge for us. I can remember the day, the moment when me and Ernie were record shopping at this old record store called Zed records in Long Beach. We’re going through the 7”s and Ernie pulls out this record, it was the first Crudos record with the glued on parts of the cover on the plastic sheet, and it was all kind of weird, but it was in Spanish.

Ernesto Torres I'm a Mexican citizen, you know, I'm a Mexican. I just for some reason have a little pride in that sense.

Félix Reyes It wasn't immediately apparent. On our first 7” we don’t have anything that is in Spanish or alludes to that perhaps except for a couple of themes in a couple of songs. It had a huge impact. Later on, if you look at the Lifes Halt releases, they’re singing more in Spanish, they’re singing more about these issues, their sound is perhaps rawer and less youth crew.

Noel Sullivan (Lifes Halt, Holier Than Thou) They were recording in Goleta one time and I went to go hang out with them. They were like, “we have this tour coming up, but the drummer can’t go” and I was like, “holy shit, I can play drums, I'm not really doing anything, maybe I can play.”

Félix Reyes Noel is a good guy and we love him to death and certainly he was the butt of our many jokes, but that motherfucker gave it back.

Ernesto Torres (Lifes Halt and No Reply) were just friends and that was our first tour and so we were just itching to go. It organically happened like, “oh you just started a band, let’s do a record, let’s go on tour.”

Félix Reyes It was two bands in a pretty small van.

Ernesto Torres Get your smelly friends, get in a van and just go. That to me was the embodiment of what we were doing.

Jon Westbrook We basically drove straight from LA to Chicago and then across the northern US over to Boston, New York and then down to Virginia to play Virginia Beach.

Félix Reyes We drove nonstop from Los Angeles, California to Omaha, Nebraska to play a show the following day. That was fucking bananas, man.

Noel Sullivan Everyone was more sober. It wasn’t like we were straight edge bands, everyone was just still young and pretty chill. That was pretty rad. There was definitely a lot eating.

Félix Reyes Dave Mandel likes the bands enough that he wants to put out a split 7” and he was doing some type of series, I remember. I think he did other split 7”s. Dave Mandel liked to have fun, we did a stupid amount of - this Is funny because it’s definitely contradictory - but we did a stupid amount of limited covers and alternative covers for that split 7”.

Jon Westbrook As far as I knew there was the colored vinyl that was supposed to be for mailorder and we did that one with the Simpsons stuff on it and that was for the tour. So there is supposed to be a tour press, a mailorder version and a regular version and then Ernie just started making covers for all sorts of different events.

Ernesto Torres Record collecting was cool, but it became silly…We would make covers just to piss people off.

Félix Reyes It was sort of like playing off of that aspect of the culture of record collecting and limited presses and colored vinyl that was so prevalent at the time.

Jon Westbrook My grand contribution to it was why don’t you guys make a ton of fake covers, put a big collage with the real covers on there and make that a cover. From that point forward, people actually thought that all of those covers existed. I know even on the Indecision website it said that there were 23 of all them but there weren’t. I think there were eight total.

Félix Reyes I remember Ernie being quite critical of that stuff, but also having fun with it and sort of doing it to be a facetious little jerk…“Oh yeah, limited version? Here’s 50 of them!”

Ernesto Torres No Reply broke up and Jon Westbrook didn’t have a band. He was always around so we were like, “do you want to join the band?” He is one of those interesting guys, not in a good way or a bad way, he’s just different.

Jon Westbrook I really liked it just because I really liked the band. I would go to as many shows and I could, so I was excited to join the band and take over the world. That's what it seemed like at the time. Every time we played somewhere else, it was getting bigger and bigger.

Ernesto Torres I wanted to bring some of that energy to Lifes Halt.

Jon Westbrook Those guys were outgoing and talking to everybody and making friends everywhere they went. The band was fun and energetic.

Félix Reyes Much like the split 7” with No Reply, it almost seemed like a natural thing to happen between Lifes Halt and What Happens Next. We were such good friends, very supportive of each other and had a cut-from-the-same-cloth type vibe.

Ernesto Torres I remember we played Mission Records, I believe and Robert (Collins) was at the show and he was so into it. Mind you, I was in my early 20s, Felix and them were like 19. Robert at the time, he was in his 30s. We were like fuck dude, you’re this old and you’re way into it! So we were feeding off that energy…later that night we played another show in some youth center…and he drove all the way out there with his old lady to go see us.

Félix Reyes We became good friends. We have a lot of respect for each other. At that time, it just made sense that we would play with such a band and that they would play with us because we were one of a handful of bands that had that general, older style hardcore approach.

Ernesto Torres We really looked up to those guys. They were awesome people. They really helped us out with a lot. Robert booked the whole second tour that we did, booked everything, did all the work. He was just full of energy, gung-ho, always ready to go.

Félix Reyes At that time already, they were like seasoned DIY professionals. They had been across the world in different bands. They had toured. They had put out records and so they certainly of course put us up even more. They put us under their wing. They had this aesthetic. They had this term or this label that was associated with us.

Ernesto Torres We started taking in things around us, like the people, the places, things that were happening. It just came about. At that point we had met a lot of people and just felt really lucky and just wanted to express that a little bit more…I think that was a six-week tour. You tell Robert, “hey we’re gonna’ go on tour.” He’s like “ok we’ll be gone for like half a year.” I don’t know if you know that about Robert and those guys, they don’t fuck around…Robert is still like that to this day.

Félix Reyes We were certainly pushed forward by them, but not forced forward, we were having a great time. We wanted to continue playing and potentially putting out records and they only got us more excited by one, being enthusiastic about us - our band and who we were personally - and about wanting to do things together.

Ernesto Torres Things were evolving for us at that time. We just felt really lucky that we had a lot of support. People were really into us. We felt at that point, definitely part of something bigger.

Noel Sullivan Ernie and Felix just didn't see eye to eye on a lot of shit, for whatever reason, you could call it creative differences.

Félix Reyes We may have perceived this pressure to be a leader in the scene. We were kind of like sidekicks to What Happens Next.

Ernesto Torres There was a lot of things going on. I think me and Felix started having a little fallout…I think it was expressed, if we don't go to tour Europe or somewhere else, we’re just gonna fuckin end it. It was not really happening, we couldn't really come together.

Félix Reyes There really is something unknown between what happened between me and Ernie, perhaps that he and I tried maybe once in the past 15 years to address but didn't get anywhere. There's probably other factors too. He and I definitely after the band broke up just drifted way apart.

Ernesto Torres We always got along, but for me personally, I got a little fed up… We reached the end of the friendship, we all wanted to do different things. Charlie wanted to concentrate more on school.

Jon Westbrook I didn't fully understand. When you’re sitting in the van for six weeks with somebody and eventually you start to get on each other's nerves. Basically, as soon as we got home they were like we’re gonna’ break up in a few months. The rest of us spent that whole time trying to get them to reconsider, but they just didn't want to do it anymore.

Félix Reyes Much like I think that they had shit going on. They probably thought that I was being irrational or unreasonable.

Ernesto Torres I like being a front man, but it’s not like I like writing lyrics. I supposed I was over it a little bit.

Jon Westbrook Me, Noel and Charlie didn't want to break up. We're like this tour went really well. People in Europe are constantly emailing us, we’re getting stuff from Japan, we could play South America. Why would we stop here?

Noel Sullivan We were gonna’ try to do Europe, we we're getting a lot of people hitting us up over there. That would have been awesome but it had just run its course.

Ernesto Torres Man, you want to talk about a last show, fuck, that was awesome! We saw a ton of our friends all over the place…Tear It Up came and played. We had our friends. It was at The Smell. Back then The Smell I think comfortably could hold 300 to 400 people, but there was so many people there it was ridiculous. For us, that was really the measure our success. Just like being able to bring people (together), people that wanted to see us play. That's all we want! It’s not about money or some kind of fame. We just had all our friends there. It was definitely special to have that many people there.

Jon Westbrook That was the most packed I had ever seen that venue, The Smell. Usually there’s only 100 people and I want to say like 600 people showed up.

Noel Sullivan That was a crazy fucking show, dude.

Félix Reyes To hear about people and meet people that had come a long distance for that was just really kind of mind-boggling and just really special. The fact that we were actually going through with just ending it all and realizing how much it meant to people that they would want to travel far to see that. It was bittersweet.

Robert Collins (What Happens Next?) Their last show was next level. I hadn't cried that hard in years. I spent the last half of that set literally singing along and sobbing. I remember sitting down on the back of the stage just shattered after it was done.

Ernesto Torres That one got me. That one choked me up, man. Rob came over after, he was in tears. He gave me a hug and I think we fell to the ground…I just can't say enough about that, just the support we just got from everybody there.

Robert Collins Something ended. That show was really, really, really special. That band was really special.

Noel Sullivan We had already done what we were going to do. Hardcore bands don't usually last that long.

Félix Reyes I don’t talk to Jon or Charlie or Noel on a regular basis, but if and when I see them or come in contact with them, it's like “oh hey what's up?” With Ernie, we don't come into contact at all and when we have it's always been kinda contentious, it's weird. I think it stems from the fact that I think I was the one that sort of initiated the “hey you know what, man, we’re done.”

Ernesto Torres I think as we grew as a band, some people changed. For the most part, we all got along pretty good. I personally don't talk to anybody in the band for no real reasons. The only person I really don't talk to is Felix.

Félix Reyes It was a feeling that I can't describe. I couldn't of described back then, much less now.

Ernesto Torres We were just seeing things differently, he didn’t get my sister pregnant or anything.

Félix Reyes It strikes me that it actually had an impact on not only the time and people living participating at the time, but like the years after, and even in the later ‘00s - maybe not so much the 2010s - but hearing from people and being hit up by people for reunion shows and people saying like, “there's a Latino fest in LA and it would be awesome if Lifes Halt played, all the kids would love to see Lifes Halt.” Hearing from friends that are still in LA and going to shows and in the scene that kids that came after look back on and respect the band.

Jon Westbrook Europe, South America, Japan, that band could’ve gone everywhere if the band hadn’t broken up.

Noel Sullivan You know what is fucking crazy is in Malaysia, they all knew I was in it! It was tripping everyone out, me included. If we toured Malaysia right now it would be fucking insane! They are obsessed with Lifes Halt in Malaysia!

Félix Reyes Thinking that people look back on it, or people that did not see it, would hold it in some regard as a meaningful and important thing…it’s proof that people did care and do care.

Ernesto Torres We were one of those bands, we just didn’t care. We would play anywhere, anytime with anybody.