Q&A: Drive A's Bruno Mascolo Talks Green Day, Emo and Los Angeles' Punk Rock Legacy
Led by appropriately snotty lead vocalist/guitarist Bruno Mascolo, Drive A hails from Los Angeles and is happy to harken back to the classic hardcore punk days of Orange County when bands like Black Flag and the Adolescents were giving the disaffected a little hope.
The band's recently released debut effort, Loss of Desire, is filled with pop-punk hooks ala Green Day, while songs such as "Smiling with Hate" and "The Hell with Motivation" tell you a good deal of the story.
The 18-year-old Mascolo took some time at a recent tour stop in Cleveland to share a bit of his sparkling personality. Drive A performs with HIM, Dommin and We Are the Fallen tonight at the House of Blues.
For such a young band, you guys often reference punk bands from the '70s and '80s. How were you influenced by those acts?
In punk rock, in our genre, if you don't know what came before you, you can't make quality music. It's really important to know where your music came from. Our bass player [Taylor Knowles], he loves the Misfits. Me and the guitar player [Jason Nott], we caught the Buzzcocks a few years ago and that really influenced us. We were always just around punk rock.
Does the huge contingent of emo bands kind of take the punk out of punk rock?
Yes, I think so. I know it does. We've toured with some of those bands, unfortunately. To me, punk rock is more about being original. Any band can play really fast. Emo, to me, is just generic. We are definitely not a safe rock band. A punk band needs to have something to say and have originality to the music. With emo--I've seen this first hand--the haircuts and fashion mean more than the music. What the hell do people see in those bands? It's not a fucking fashion show.
When Green Day really hit it big, was that a blessing or a curse for punk rock?
I love Green Day. They are one of my favorite bands. I think it's cool that they were able to take their music to as many people as they could. I am not going to say Green Day are sellouts because I like their music. At the end of the day, people get caught up in shit like what commercial the band was in and blah, blah, blah. The only way you are a sell out is when you change your music in a way that you don't actually like.
Did Green Day's success open up avenues for punk bands everywhere?
I think Green Day exposed punk to a whole new group of people who probably would have never heard it. They helped spread the word.
Does it make you feel bad for bands like Black Flag and the Misfits--bands that suffered in relative anonymity, at least in mass popularity?
Not really. The people that I'm around, we respect Green Day just as much as Black Flag. Those bands were an important part of the genre. Bands have to prove themselves and earn your place. I think now that people that listen to Green Day, they know and appreciate what came before. Well, that might not apply to some people, but I wouldn't hang out with them.
How do you think the punk rock has lasted so long, from the Sex Pistols until today?
Punk rock is no bullshit. It's about telling it like you see it. There are no three-minute guitar solos. It's fat-free music. I think that's the reason for punk's longevity.
What is it about Los Angeles that the city has produced so many legendary punk acts?
I think L.A. is full of angry people. They don't have the patience for anything. They are all rude. Punk is naturally the kind of music that comes out of the city. Our music is about being pushed to the point of giving up your dreams and accepting reality. Our music is about coming to terms with yourself. It's not depressing at all.
Drive A performs tonight at the House of Blues.