Symbol Six (http://www.symbolsix.com)
Symbol Six was, as I told Eric Leach, always the trump card to pull out when talking about old-school punk rock. As many of you know, once you get into a debate with another punk you always one-up each other, and Symbol Six’s great EP could be the trump card “what about Symbol Six’s Posh Boy EP?” Then you could be shown to be worthy.
Symbol Six’s Eric Leach, and his band members are a great bunch of musicians, and some really nice guys. If you haven’t heard their music, or seen them live, word of advice . . . get off your ass and get their EP, and album, and check out damn near any club in Southern California . . . they have been playing constantly since 2009. Now read on:
1. First off, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. What was it like to work with Jay Lansford (of The Stepmothers, Channel 3, and The Simpletones) on your first EP?
Jay was very instrumental in the producing of the EP. He actually played a bunch of lead guitar on that as well. He was the first person to introduce me to how to structure songs, edit the writing process. Things I still very much use today. Jay is an amazing producer/song writer/musician!
2. A lot has been made of recording for Posh Boy, and Robbie Fields (co-producer of first EP) himself. How was/is your experience with Robbie Fields?
Robbie, in hind site, must be credited with seeing the future in so many great bands of that time. When we met him, he was pursuing us to record in ‘81; it was, to be honest, a real honor. He had already worked with the Adolescents, Social Distortion, TSOL, Agent Orange, Rik L Rik, so to even be considered, you’ve got to imagine was pretty big deal. We heard all stories about not getting paid etc, but for us it was wow, we’re going to get to make a record and get our music heard, fuck everything else!
3. How did you end up recording your first EP with Posh Boy?
Michelle from Flipside magazine was probably the ultimate, and 1st punk rock A&R/scout (un-officially), and she had Posh Boy’s ear. He’d ask her who was up, and coming, and if she saw or heard something, she’d hip him to it. She liked us early on, I guess she saw something, and passed it on. Thanks Michelle!
4. Twenty-nine years have past, and your EP is still offered all over Ebay. Does your influence on this younger generation of “punks” surprise you?
Since we reformed, I’ve been really very surprised at the influence that EP made on people. I really had no idea until recently, but we get emails and comments from all over the world about that record.
5. I hope this isn’t too far out, here’s a bit of self-analysis. You’ve been in the music world for over thirty years as a vocalist, and writer, so the question is what does Eric Leach bring to a band?
Well today, I’m probably less concerned with the small things (not really) and more sure musically about what I’d like to accomplish musically, less looking over the shoulder.
But, I bring my enthusiasm, and my book full of lyrics.
6. Back in a time where most of the music being produced was extremely amateurish, you were polished, and professional, what was your training?
I know exactly what you mean by that. We were just trying to be as good as our heroes of the time, and most of our heroes were pretty fucking good at what they did (Ramones, Sex Pistols, 999, The Clash, Generation X, etc). Local Bands like X, The Weirdo’s, TSOL, Agent Orange, Adolescents, they, I would say were elite, polished/pro’s. Who would you want to be like? As far as training: going to the Fleetwood in Redondo Beach, The Starwood in Hollywood, Blackies, Madam Wong’s as a 14 year old, that was my training.
7. Did you feel Symbol Six were accepted, given the fact you guys were so good?
Was there much of a stigma for polished musicians? Some of the super hardcore didn’t like us, but then again they didn’t like a lot of things. We weren’t about to apologize for anything, do what felt and sounded good to us and “fuck em’ all”!
8. There seems to be a lot made of your age, band being fifteen, nowadays, but back then it seemed the “young guys” focus was on Mad Society. Did age help or hurt you back then?
We really didn’t realize age as much at the time, except when you saw Mad Society, but that was bit of an anomaly (the singer was 8 or 9 I think?). Every venue seemed to be all ages, unlike today which is really too bad, and sad! Getting in to see all these amazing bands was never an issue back then so I guess we just didn’t give it much thought!
9. Who were/ are your influences, musically, and personally?
Well, that’s a big question, it started with all the English punks a lot of which I’ve mentioned, a few others were X-Ray Specs, Sham 69, Stiff little Fingers, Motorhead was big for me! And all of the L.A. scene was beyond special . . . Can’t forget Stiv!
10. How long was the original incarnation of Symbol Six together?
Only about 2 years but it was a fertile 2 years!
11. How much of a part do you play in the visual direction of the band, and the art direction?
I am very passionate in what I do, I give a lot of input, but we all listen to each others ideas, best ones win! There’s a great deal of synergy in Symbol Six, and there always has been. I basically founded the band, and brought us all together, that’s what singers do because most of us didn’t/don’t play an instrument, so if you wanted to be in a band, you had better start one yourself! Ha ha!
12. Other than being in the band you were in, give us some of your greatest memories of being the punk scene back in the 1980’s.
Every Fear show was great, The Black Flag riot @ Bacy’s Hall in ‘81, all the mayhem the Mau-Maus would cause by not playing, or their set being cut short. Meeting, and hanging out with Stiv Bators @ The Cathay De Grande. Our early show at Bards Apollo was special for me, and playing Godzilla’s was special as well!
13. Are there any more unreleased tracks that may find there way onto future releases?
There’s a couple . . . Shhhhh!
14. As a big Symbol Six fan where can people order Symbol Six merchandise, t-shirts, and posters?
We should have our store page up soon at (shameless plug) www.symbolsix.com. We are pretty lame in getting that to where it should be, but promise to be better…stay tuned!
15. Of the recordings you’ve done, what slab of vinyl (or CD for the younger fans) are you most proud of, or best represents your skills?
I personally love the new material, the older stuff will always be special too me, and we always play some of it live but the new stuff is where we’re going! We already have 7 or eight new songs we can’t wait to record!
16. Do you remember when you realized that punk was going to be a part of your life forever?
It’s always been here for me, even when my musical tastes have changed, but punk rock has always been a constant. I could never imagine it any other way. What an atomic amount of pure energy punk rock has given the world. We must never be afraid the push the limits, we must always be searching!
17. What was your first exposure to punk rock?
18. Who are you listening to now?
Seriously, anything and everything, I just sift all music looking for gold!
19. Which artist, band concert and/or show had the most impact on your life?
The Weirdos have to be up there for me and I’ll never stop loving Never Mind the Bullocks!
20. Our last question, rather than complain about the current state of punk rock, my question to you is: do you find it strange or maybe amusing how incredibly accepted punk is now?
Totally, but I look for the “attitude” in lots of music, people, art, life and I find that the “punk rock attitude” is alive and well, and lives in the most unexpected places sometimes or at least that’s where I get the most pleasure in finding it! Refuse to give in…
“The Future Honors The Brave!”