It is almost a certainty that the largely youthful crowd expected at tomorrow night's local band showcase at Four 78 Ena Night Club will have never heard of the Squids. After all, it's been more than two decades since the seminal new wave outfit first appeared on the Honolulu underground scene.
Punk pioneering Squids
book a Waikiki reprise
By Shawn 'Speedy' Lopes
Perhaps even fewer of these digital-age youngsters will know what to do with the freebies that are to be distributed at the door (re-pressed commemorative copies of the Squids' 1981 recording, a 7-inch vinyl EP go to the first 100 paying customers). But make no mistake, this record is a piece of Hawaiian rock history. In pre-MTV Hawaii, only a few pockets of alternative culture existed, scattered primarily across Central and East Honolulu.
To locals already down with the incendiary message of punk rock and the artsy revelry of new wave, the Squids were Honolulu's harbingers of the New Sound; Hawaii's pioneers of punk rock.
"I never thought of myself as a pioneer," claims founding Squids guitarist Beano Shots, who despite his modesty is regarded as something of an icon in the Honolulu underground. "I just consider myself lucky to have been in the right place at the right time."
The late '70s were indeed the perfect time to explore the newfound possibilities of experimental rock and Shots -- then known only as David Sumida -- found his calling in New York City. While visiting a friend in the Big Apple in 1978, Shots took in a gig at the Bottom Line featuring the uncompromising rock quartet Television. The experience, as he reveals, bordered on the religious.
Featuring: HoInDaWall, Scare Tactics, Skanabata and Ready Go
Punk show and
Squids EP giveaway
Where: Four 78 Ena Night Club; 478 Ena Road
When: 7 to 10 p.m. tomorrow
Admission: $5, all ages
"It was like an epiphany," he says. "I was just awestruck, not so much by the music as their attitude. It was all so new to me. They seemed so proletarian and accessible, you know, coming out on stage in puka T-shirts and jeans. It was that night that I decided to be a musician."
The former art student returned to Hawaii, picked up a guitar and reinvented himself as Beano Shots. Soon, he allied with like-minded members of the local counterculture who, though unwitting, were the progenitors of Oahu's burgeoning alternative rock scene.
Together with Kit Ebersbach, Gerry Ebersbach, Dave "Rudy" Trubitt (now with Yahweh's Mistake) and Frank Orrall (Mumbo Jumbo, Hat Makes the Man, Poi Dog Pondering, et al), Shots formed the Squids, whom many believe to be the patriarchs of local alt-rock.
Beginning with their first paid gig on Halloween night 1980 at legendary new wave haunt 3D, through their successful run as Wave Waikiki's first house band, and their landmark 1981 recording, the Squids amassed a loyal legion of fans who deemed the band's magnum opus, "Tourist Riot," a local punk classic.
Of course, one band does not a scene make and emphatic outfits like the Ramones-y Obscene Routine and Collision (who shared similarities with the Clash both in sound and namesake) helped challenge the status quo in the early days. It was a wild, wide-open era, and the inventively garbed night creatures of Waikiki complemented the Squids' anything-goes attitude perfectly.
"People were wearing a lot of the ska fashions at the time, checkered suits and porkpie hats," Shots recalls. "You'd also see the earliest signs of goth fashion. The 'Corner People' as we called them, if they were too young to get in, would stand outside the Wave in their torn T-shirts and leather jackets, wearing spiky hair and safety pins in their noses."
These days, punk rock and its musical by-products wield as much influence as R&B, hip hop and electronica and it should come as no surprise that Shots' 14-year-old son Matty is currently a drummer in a punk band of his own. Although he has heard the Squids' EP, it is unclear whether Matty recognizes the significance of his father's record. "I think he thinks it kind of sucks, but he won't tell me," says Shots with a chuckle.
"For one thing, it's not cool to like your dad's music. But we've talked about letting me sit in with the band and if it ever happens, we're gonna do a Squids medley. It could happen."
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