Punk Online

SPIDER – Interview

SPIDER – Interview


Photo: David Vchi

Los Angeles punk band SPIDER release their brand new self titled EP on May 12th. For fans of early Black Flag and The Damned, the songs are forceful blasts of pure punk rock DNA. The EP captures the essence of SPIDER as a visceral and rhythmic band firing on all cylinders.

We at Punk Online were very keen to catch up with the band and we were made up when they agreed an exclusive interview with us.

Please read on and answers are given in order by Hector Martinez (lead vocals), Karl Izumi (guitar) plus a couple of quotes from Steve Westerkamp (bass) and Mikki Crash (drums).


Can you give us the background on Spider – when & how the band formed?

Hector Martinez: The band was initially formed by Alf Silva, his brother Ramiro Silva, and Steve Westerkamp.

Because I was good friends with Alf, Ramiro and Steve and because I recently graduated law school and had a few years of music industry experience under my belt, I originally volunteered to be the band’s manager.

My first order of business was to find the band a singer. I originally asked Mike Magrann from Channel Three if he wanted to be in the band. At the time, Channel Three was on hiatus and not very active. I always thought he was a great vocalist and songwriter so I offered him the spot.

Mike politely declined, but he encouraged me to try out. He said the hardest part about being in a band is the chemistry between the band members getting along with one another. Since we were all friends, that was the easy part and I guess the hard part. So, I dove in head first and started writing lyrics to the songs.

Everything clicked after that and we soon started writing songs together. Funny thing is, now that I think about it. Along with being a member of the band I still am the manager!

Karl came on board as our guitar player sometime around 1997 when Ramiro moved to Washington for a better job.

Alf moved on to be the full-time drummer for Channel 3 after Spider took a hiatus in early 2000’s.

With a new sense of urgency, passion and focus, we reunited a couple years ago and have been going strong ever since.


Karl Izumi: Not sure exactly when Spider formed in the 90’s. I was convinced to join the band by Steve once Romero left the band. I think the true identity of the band really developed when we had the dirty, damp basement studio in downtown Long Beach. We spent many long nights just drinking and doing drugs while writing songs in that place. A very dark moment in our lives but the creativity was well beyond what we expected.


Being a punk from the early 80’s myself, it’s great to see bands still forming and producing great music. What made you get into punk in the first place?

Hector Martinez: Punk rock spoke to me when I was a kid. The rebelliousness, the questioning of authority, the secular humanity, the freedom, the anger, a lot of the same things that fueled by study of philosophy later in college. Also, the scrappiness and DIY culture that punk offered really appealed to me. As Emerson said so eloquently years prior, “Ne te quaesiveris extra.” indeed!

Punk Rock changed my life and it offered me a home, I was very much an outsider to normal society. For the most part, I think I still am.
Karl Izumi: For me was seeing The Ramones on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concerts on TV in 1977, I was only 10 years old. That was it for me, I knew what I wanted to be. Then I heard of the Sex Pistols from some neighborhood teens and this new music called Punk rock. I was so fascinated by the whole scene in the UK and the US. It was what the music that all the adults discouraged and hated at that time so I knew this was what I needed to listen to. I guess I was a rebellious Asian kid at an early age. LOL
Steve Westerkamp: My first exposure to punk rock was the local TV music show called ‘New Wave Theater.’

Mikki Crash: I just like playing good old fashion punk rock with my friends. (That’s all I got)



Why did you reform around two years ago? What were the aspirations?

Hector Martinez: Our aspirations are to put on the most authentic, raw, unapologetic, energetic, live show with a complete lack of pretense. What you see and hear is coming straight from our inner core. No trial runs, no double takes, you only get one shot at life, every second counts and our shows aim to connect with that sentiment. Spider personifies The will to live.


Karl Izumi: Steve and I were playing with our other band WALK PROUD because we just released a new LP in 2015 so we were already active with gigs and touring for the past 6 years. I believe it was Hector who wanted to go back at it again after a hiatus from the band over the years. But since we have been lifelong friends, I knew putting Spider back together wouldn’t be a challenge. To be honest, I feel the chemistry of Spider is better than any other band I have ever been in due to the fact that we all grew up together.

Tell us more about the Long Beach punk scene.

Hector Martinez: Long Beach has a vibrant, rich and diverse punk history. Bands from this area have a range of unique sounds and textures, from Secret Hate, Beat To Death, TSOL to the Suburban Lawns. There’s an amazing energy here that fuels the punk zeitgeist of Long Beach. We’re just doing our own thing and hopefully can add to that history.

Karl Izumi: The Long Beach punk scene is alive and well. Many of us over the years have migrated here because of its diverse music and art scene. Not only for punk but the music scene in general is good. A lot of touring bands definitely have Long Beach as a place to play due to the demand good music around here.

What would you say is the typical Spider audience (age, social standing etc)?

Hector Martinez: I’d say it varies from 20 something to 40 something.

Karl Izumi: It’s varied in ages groups. I would say mostly an older crowd in the Long Beach area due to age restrictions of the bars. There definitely an older crowd here in Long Beach, I thinks it where the older punks come to retire. LOL! Although in Los Angeles there tends to be “pop-up” venues occasionally for the All ages shows. I tend to like those show better because the kids really get into the bands. It’s hard for the All ages venues because the police or the city authority tends to shut them down after a few weeks.


Photo: David Vchi

Do all of the band have the same musical influences – which bands & type of music influence who?

Hector Martinez: My personal influences are Iggy Pop, Black Flag, Queen, The Germs and The Clash.

Karl Izumi: I feel everybody has their own taste in music. I do appreciate the older punk stuff though. I can’t really get into some of the “Pop punk” stuff from the 90s. Ugh.ugh….I think I just threw up in my mouth…excuse me. It has to be hard and punchy not necessarily fast.


You’ve just secured a spot at the Punk Rock Bowling event with bands such as Television and Weirdos. Will this be your biggest gig to date?

Hector Martinez: We’re honored to be asked to play at this year’s Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas, looking forward to checking out all the bands performing that night, including Alice Bag, The Avengers, and Generacion Suicida. I think it’s gonna be the best club show that week. It’s the one I’d go to even if Spider wasn’t playing! As far as our biggest show to date goes, I think our biggest show to date was last year’s performance at the Music Tastes Good Festival in our home town of Long Beach, CA. It was a nice gig to let everyone know Spider is back! We look forward to playing more festivals, we’d LOVE to play Rebellion, It’s Not Dead, Riotfest, Coachella, etc… At this point we’re earning these gigs one show at a time. Our goal is for us to play as many of these festivals as possible, we’ve been putting in the work and it’s starting to pay off.

Karl Izumi: I’m excited and honored to play with bands on this show. Definitely looking forward to it. I don’t think this was our biggest show, we just recently played the “Music Tastes Good” festival which had a lot of big named artists at that event.


As I put this interview together I’m listening to ‘Youth Insurance’ [Spiders album]. This is classic 80s punk music. Are you finding more of America’s ‘youth’ getting into punk or is it mainly the mainstream shit that people still follow?

Hector Martinez: Thanks, you know classic 80’s punk is what we are at a molecular, chemical, level. We’re making the only kind of music we know how. It’s always amazed me how different one band can sound from another. You know the basic premise is that you have these 4 individuals, put them together and see what they come up with. You can have 4 completely different folks, put them together and their band sounds completely different. I just love that concept. This music that our band Spider makes is a direct representation of what’s in our DNA channeled through the universe and out of our fingers, hands, vocal chords, brains. Crazy to think of really, how it all works. No real other way to explain it. It’s always fascinated me, that is, what sounds 4 human beings are capable of creating. Never the same with any other combination.

I think there is a majority contingent of America’s youth listening to X Factor stuff, but there’s always gonna be that segment of the population that’s listening to underground music. It’s a Yin/Yan thing. Without the crap music, you would have anything to compare the good stuff too.
Karl Izumi: I feel it’s a little of both. There are some who just follow the fashion and trend of their peers which will fade as they get older. Then there are the groups that really appreciate punk music and its history who collect old vinyl, read the books and study the real reasons why the movement has withstood the test of time. Those are the kids who will grow up to make a difference in their lives.


New Spider self titled EP cover

Would you describe Spider as a political band? What subjects do your songs cover?

Hector Martinez: I think individually we are political, if you’re paying attention I don’t see how you couldn’t be.

To me, voting with your dollars seems to be the best way to make a direct impact on a day to day basis. Supporting folks who are like minded in their private enterprises, choosing to opt out of contributing financially to this or that corporate entity whose bottom line you find abhorrent is a practical way to exercise your political will.

Every time I think I’m the only one thinking or experiencing something, I always later find out there are others going through the same thing. There is truth that we can ‘rise like lions in unvanquishable number’ and shake off these chains if we set our minds to it.

On a creative level, the music Spider creates is visceral and raw our lyrics mostly deal with the existential human condition. If being aware and naked expression is political, then yeah we’re political on a primitive level.


Karl Izumi: I personally would say we are not as politically opinionated as other bands but we have our views. I personally have fans and friends from both sides of the political spectrum. It’s really hard to be opinionated without creating a controversial argument. I do know Spider will stand up for animal rights and cruelty. Although not vegan, we love animals! We also act like them on stage so much to fact that some venues won’t allow us back!


What really pisses you off about the state of the country/world at present?

Hector Martinez: The election of Trump and the people who voted for him. I really can’t relate to that segment of society. We are not ‘United States’ over here, we’re divided as fuck. I’m just glad I live in a progressive state like California, the odds are a lot greater here that I won’t run into some Trump supporter. I despise the fucking idiots who voted for that demagogue and his plutocracy.

Karl Izumi: The world is a mess and Trump is an idiot! Good for punk rock. LOL


With one album already out, are there plans for future releases?

Hector Martinez: Yes, we’re in heavy songwriting mode right now, I’m looking forward to what we come up with. We have a ‘best of’ Spider EP in production, highlighting the best of our (now out of print) album ‘Youth Insurance.’ We are planning on putting out a brand new EP with all new songs soon too.


Any plans to come and play some live shows over the pond in the UK?

Hector Martinez: Man, we would love to play in the UK and across Europe, we know a few folks in the UK and we have pockets of fans here and there. It’s one of my personal goals I hope to achieve this year. If you know anyone at Rebellion, put in a good word!!

Karl Izumi: We are working on new songs now, hopefully to put out an ep soon.


Where would you like to see Spider in the next few years?

Hector Martinez: You know ‘time’ is a crazy illusion, it’s like every moment is simultaneously the past, the present and the future. I just want to keep healthy and keep the band performing and firing on all cylinders, writing and recording new songs is a continuous goal too. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, remaining mindful of the here and now is critical. As long as Iggy Pop is going strong, so will I.

Karl Izumi: I personally live in the NOW. Hopefully with a little luck we will stay together for next few years.


Punk Online would like to extend our eternal thanks to SPIDER for taking time out to talk to us. Please support them by buying their new EP & get a hold of a copy of their album ‘Youth Insurance’ – you won’t be disappointed!



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