DISCO’S OUT … MURDER’S IN!: HE LOVED TO HATE
Dave Spacone: Let’s go back to that moment. What do they do when they leave that show? On the way home, they decide to roll a crack dealer. Basically do him in.
Heath Mattioli: Maybe!
Dave Spacone: Possibly! But all of this can be looked at as ‘What is the story of man?’ When man has nothing to do, he just destroys things. Because that way he can somehow take ownership of his life when things are so confusing.
So that’s the story? Pursuing power by causing pain.
Heath Mattioli: And what was it all about? It was about that moment. They never looked past it. Maybe [LMP founder] Santino did with his gang growing, but the soldiers didn’t look past that moment. So what was it all for? Shit! For nothing! Just that night, just that day.
It’s a vicious circle. They start out as little kids who need protection from scary older guys. Soon they are the scary older guys, and the little kids form gangs to get protection from them.
Heath Mattioli: That’s exactly what it was.
Dave Spacone: The iron fist of irony.
Heath Mattioli: Different guys in the gang had a different mentality when it came to that. Certain guys only wanted to fight guys that were bigger, or fight guys with the numbers against them. They didn’t wanna pick on these small punks or guys like that. But other ones were complete maniacs that wanted to spread fear at all costs—to kill and fuck up anybody they didn’t know. That’s just the way it was.
What would L.A. punk have been like if these gangs never existed?
Heath Mattioli: It had to exist. The deeper I got into it, I realized this is the byproduct—it was impossible not to exist. At least in Los Angeles.
Dave Spacone: This is the artistic side—the spirit of DIY. Nowhere was it bigger. People came up with their own record labels, youth putting on shows, the legend of Black Flag … just being in a van all over the United States. L.A. started all this, and punk rock started all this. I think the inventiveness of making music and putting music out there and putting culture out there, I don’t think that exists without punk rock. Or how about this: where we’re at now with all that isn’t going to be so big. Doing it yourself and realizing you can do it, and everyone can tell you you suck and the world can be against you and somehow you can have an audience for your art and the things you make … we’re not where we’re at now without punk rock. Shepard Fairey? No Shepard Fairey without punk rock. That’s his favorite thing. And he admits it.
So to you, the positive energy of punk—teaching people they could do it themselves—had to have this negative brutal side as well? The nihilistic side of ‘no rules’?
Heath Mattioli: Exactly my point. Everything good has that dark side. This had to exist. I can’t imagine punk rock being some beautiful artful place for expression … there just had to be a dark violent side.
At one point, Frank makes it simple: ‘So much hate, so much fun.’ Is that this book in six words?
Dave Spacone: Look at it on a scale the three of us can understand. Firecrackers at 4th of July—what did you do? You tie ‘em to your models and you blew ‘em up. Now that’s us exploring our dark sides. Now take Frank—so much hate, so much fun. The violence was fun. No one can understand a thrill killer except another thrill killer, and they can only share in the experience. They don’t respect, they don’t understand, and all we can do is try to come up with theories about it.
Heath Mattioli: To get another person to suffer like you suffer … maybe there’s some type of fucking commonality there in that moment? I don’t know. [‘So much hate, so much fun’] says everything. That was Frank’s mentality. He hated himself, man. He knows still today … that was the price to pay to be that evil and that mean and heartless and to look back now, it saddens him. It really does. It was all for naught! What did he get from it? Nightmares for the rest of his life. And a big big cross to bear. But the hate was fun—it was so deep and dark he somehow found a love of it. He loved to hate.
BOOK RELEASE PARTY FOR DISCO’S OUT … MURDER’S IN! WITH GUEST READERS JACK GRISHAM OF T.S.O.L., XANDER SCHLOSS OF THE CIRCLE JERKS AND THE WEIRDOS, GABBY GABORNO OF CADILLAC TRAMPS AND ERIN BENSON (IGGY POP’S GRANDDAUGHTER) WITH PHOTO GALLERY BY ED COLVER AND DJ MICHAEL STOCK (PART TIME PUNKS) ON SAT., NOV. 14, AT WERKARTZ, 927 S. SANTA FE AVE., DOWNTOWN. DISCO’S OUT … MURDER’S IN!: THE TRUE STORY OF FRANK THE SHANK AND L.A.’S DEADLIEST PUNK ROCK GANG IS AVAILABLE NOW FROM FERAL HOUSE. FERALHOUSE.COM.