Can you give us some background on the band such as who is in the band and what do they play?
Eric: Symbol Six was formed in Santa Monica, CA. (Dogtown USA)
Mark Conway Rhythm Guitar, Phil George-Drums, Evan Shanks-Bass, Taz Rudd- Lead Guitar, Eric Leach- Lead Vocals.
Punk Globe: How did you come up with the band name and when did you form?
Eric: Well, Symbol Six was formed in the fall of 1980, a lot of us grew up together and most of us have known each other since at least since 7th grade (Phil & Taz have been friends since 2nd grade (and they both think they were good in Little League baseball!).
By 1980 as a freshman in HS, I was ready and eager to start a band. And… because I couldn’t play an instrument, by default, I had to be the singer (no choice). Punk rock really made all this seem/be possible. This realization was amazing, before it was like you had to have had formal training, have been playing already for 10 years, maybe a degree that gave you permission to even consider the idea, etc. Punk rock changed all that with one big, loud, filthy “BANG”! Now all you needed was confidence and a “Fuck you” attitude. And on top of that, just great timing and being smack in the middle of a Los Angeles punk scene that had already begun to erupt with some of the most amazing music ever being played. Right here in our back yard; this was a mind blowing time for everyone. The Weirdos, X, Black Flag, Middle Class, F-word, The Mau-Maus, Vicious Circle, Fear, The Gears, Red Cross, The Germs, even the Go-Go’s, etc… Fucking amazing to be able to go to these shows. I was telling Mom, “I’m sleeping at Johnny’s house in Hermosa Beach,” (there was no Johnny and there was no house) and bam, we’re at the Fleetwood in O.C. or in Hollywood, hanging out at Oki Dogs. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (haha!!!!)
As far as coming up with the band name, I wrote a song called “Symbol Six,” and Donny thought it sounded cool enough for a band name, or at least cooler than the name we had at the time, which was “Gaudy Trash”! The name stuck and the song even made it onto our self-titled debut record, “SYMBOL SIX,” on Posh Boy Records! (Posh Boy was responsible for recording some of the all time great punk bands: T.S.O.L. Social Distortion, Adolescents, Agent Orange, Red Cross, Rik L Rik, Simpletones, CH3, JFA, China White, etc… amazing history there!!!). One particular highlight was driving to shows on Friday/Saturday nights and hearing your songs being played on KROQ’s “Rodney on the ROQ.”
Is this the original line up of the band?
Eric: Yes, this is the original line up with one recent exception. Donny Brook (original Necros bass player) moved to Phoenix, AZ this year (I’ve been told that when it’s 118 degrees in AZ it’s ok because it’s “dry heat”!). Evan Shanks joined us this year. Evan was the bass player of the early 80’s punk band Entropy; we’ve known Evan since Jr. High.
Taz was there from the start and wrote some of our earliest songs with us, he left in 81’ when he moved to Pasadena and started the Hollywood band, The Atoms and went on to play in Der Staab, Funeral and Decry.
Punk Globe: Who are some of the band’s influences?
Eric: A lot of UK punk rock, Sham 69, 999, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned, Generation X, X-Ray Specks, Sex Pistols, Motorhead, the above mentioned L.A. bands, Dead Kennedys, Stahlin. But also some bands that came before have to be considered too: Black Sabbath, Hendrix, The Kinks, MC5, The Stooges, Ted Nugent – they have all had their influence!!!
Who are your personal influences?
Eric: I like all these bands. Also I like The Black Widows, PIL, Killing Joke, Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, Social Distortion, Turbo Negro, The Helicopters, Judas Priest, Snot, Gluecifer, Rikk Agnew’s song writing and playing style was and is a big influence.
The Weirdos get a special mention; they were a major influence on Symbol Six. When we first started Symbol Six I was trying to convince our drummer Phil to join and he was not too sure about this idea. But after I dragged him to the Starwood one night to see the Weirdoes he was sold, and I had just landed the best drummer in L.A.! The Denny Brothers were and are amazing!!!
Do you have any releases? If so what label are you with?
Eric: We released a full-length album called “Monsters 11” on Symbol Six Records.
The soon to be Dr. Strange, re-release on 12” vinyl - the original Posh Boy record with some cool surprises! This record is going to be great: bonus tracks from live shows 1981, new unreleased recordings, rehearsal stuff, poster inserts with Edward Colver, and photos never released. It’s going to be full of cool stuff. It will tell the Symbol Six story!
Punk Globe: Have you toured? If so, please tell about the tours
Eric: This year we did a Pacific Northwest tour with our friends from Soul Trash and Canada’s, Off By An Inch, which took us From L.A. to San Francisco; Portland, Or.; Bremmerton, Wa.; Seattle Wa.; San Jose; San Luis Obispo; L.A.; Riverside; and San Diego. 16 shows in 15 days and only 1 arrest! We had a blast!!! There’s a really cool scene going on in Portland. A group of kids up there called The Pirate Punks. They took us in, fed us, set us up in different houses. We had a good time with all those dudes and dudettes!
Do you have any fun/wild/strange show stories to share with the readers?
Eric: Oh, yes we do! But I will need to find out what the Statutes of Limitations are before I answer this though!
Punk Globe: Favorite show you have played so far?
Eric: Fang/Circle One at the Colbalt Café. This was an all-age show, which is always a good thing. Everyone was there, guys from Wasted Youth, Bad Religion, Dinah Cancer from 45 Grave, Brandon Cruz - so many people hanging out! Cops in helicopters with floodlights, huge pit, it seemed like old times, haha! I was standing there on stage thinking, “Punk rock is alive and well.” So cool! Honestly, there’s something about every show we’ve played that we like! We have played over 150 shows this year and if we didn’t love playing we just wouldn’t play so much! There is a side out there that thinks we play too much, but I always ask, too much for who? We play for the people and we play for us! As long as people are there, it’s all good!
Punk Globe: Favorite venues to play?
Eric: Back in the day it was Godzilla’s in Sun Valley and Bards Apollo in South Central L.A.; that place was huge and insane! We had a guy walk in from the street during sound check with a gun wondering what all these strange looking white kids were doing in South Central??? It was crazy! Cuckoo’s Nest was always interesting! Today, we’ve had some great shows at The Redwood in DTLA, Blue Star, and backyard parties are still almost always fun! Anywhere out of town is good for us!
Favorite bands to play shows with?
Eric: Here are some local bands we love, in no particular order: Black Widows, The Livingstons, The F@gs, The Mau-Maus, Brainspoon, Barrio Tigers, Million Kids, Soul Trash, RF7, Cirlce One, Fang, White Flag Down, Pretty Mess, Barb Wire Dolls, Piss N’ Blood, Social Task, Dirty Eyes, Battle Flask, Glass Heroes, The Neurotics, Sassafras, so many… and now I will be hated for leaving so many out!!!!
Favorite things about having the band?
Eric: Meeting people, meeting other bands, making new friends and annoying our enemies is always something I enjoy! Every time we get to play, no matter where it is or who it’s with, I feel very fortunate to be able to do this for anybody and everybody that’s in that room at that time!
Punk Globe: Least favorite thing about having a band?
Eric: I’m not going to complain. You don’t have to be in a band, right? There are so many annoying things about being in a band, where would I even begin?!?
Punk Globe; Pick your dream show... It can be with any band at any location?
Eric: Sex Pistols, Motorhead, in the UK of coarse!!!!
And I might put Oasis as the opener so they could feel their spoiled fucking heads being smashed in!
Punk Globe: Do you have any website addresses that you would like to share with the readers?
facebook, of coarse. Please, hit us up and friend us; we talk with everyone!!!
Also, I’d like to encourage everyone to tune into http://www.stenchradio.com/
This guy Stig Stench runs a one-of-a-kind radio show out of Austin, Texas that will blow your mind! The best “live” punk rock show in the world! He always has amazing guests on his show, no commercials, no censorship, and no bullshit, totally free! Stig really is doing a lot to support our scene. You won’t be disappointed!!!
How did your show with The Lewd go?
Eric: Unfortunately we couldn’t play that show. We had already committed to a show in Joshua Tree, Ca. with Rikk Agnew, which by the way was another favorite show of mine. Out in the middle of nowhere, in the desert of Joshua Tree, pitch black sky, full of stars, no one around for miles. Think, Charlie Manson and the Family!!!. Outdoor stage and all these people there were having a ball! I want to play there again (thank you Terry)!!!!
Punk Globe: Anyone you would like to see on Celebrity Rehab?
I assume Dr. Drew as a Patient! Who are you supporting in the Howard Stern vs Andy Dick feud?
Eric: Probably Howard…Although Andy Dick is a funny motherfucker in his own right; he’s probably at his funniest when he’s getting picked on! I think our guitar player Taz and his friend Tony hung him out a window at the Hyatt Hotel on Sunset once??? (Seriously!) I wasn’t aware they were in a serious feud? I don’t get to listen to Howard much since he went to Sirius radio…
Punk Globe: Digital or Analog?
Eric: Well, I guess if we had our choice, we might go in with analog? There’s such a debate whether is really matters? It seems a bit impractical these days unless you have the money and luxury to do this…..
What is on the horizon for Symbol Six? Any tours or recording plans?
Eric: Re-capping on the Dr. Strange Records: Re-releasing our debut album (Posh Boy) on 12” vinyl early next year. We are excited about this. There will also be included several bonus live, never-before-heard tracks from 1980-82, and a couple studio tracks included. Plus, a really cool poster insert with tons of early photos by legendary photographer, Edward Colver (by far the most accomplished punk rock photographer ever)! If Edward Colver was pointing his camera"s at you in those days, something special was gonna happen! We have 4 compilations soon to be released. Scare America Records has a 2 disc CD out now which is in it’s second pressing that has 3 of our songs on it with a lot of kick ass bands. Suicide King Records is also coming out with a compilation this fall (every band recorded songs @ Downtown Sounds for this specifically). A third compilation is “Kaos Presents”: Chaotic Reasoning, and a fourth is “Stig Stench” compilation! And we are planning on going back into the studio to record new songs for a new record this year! (we just signed on with Suicide Kings Records to enter the studio this October for a new EP).
After that, we will working hard to get to the east coast and to Europe, can’t wait for this!
Look for us in your city, your backyard, in your house, in your space, in your head….. soon!
Punk Globe: Any last words for Punk Globe readers?
Eric: Thanks to all the supporters of Symbol Six and our music and….
THE BIGGEST THANKS to you Ginger and all at Punk Globe for supporting all the music, the bands, the scene and all the hard work you do!!!
And remember this people, “The future honors the brave”! Cheers Symbol Six