I went to El Rodeo Elementary school from kindergarten through 8th grade. I always had friends in school, I played sports and did all the other things kids do. I had a love for music and remember hearing Devo and other popular bands from that time, seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show on the Z Channel and prancing around the house singing Sweet Transvestite. I had no idea what that even meant, but I loved the visuals and Tim Curry’s voice was intoxicating. That soundtrack is so good.
When I reached 6th grade I started to feel like I didn’t fit in with the other kids and my interests didn’t really align with theirs. This was around 1981. I remember getting a copy of Ripper Zine (I just looked it up online and it was issue # 7 w/ The Fix, Bad Brains, Crucifix). This was in 1982 and I went deep into punk rock at that time. Seeing the Decline of Western Civilization on the Z Channel was life changing. I watched it whenever I could and waited with my cassette deck so I could tape the music when the bands started playing. I would walk to school with one or two of my friends that were into punk rock, my cassette player blasting the distorted music from the Decline. The kids that I grew up with now giving me strange looks, as I was officially an outcast.
I bought the Germs EP & LP at Music Plus on Westwood Blvd and X Los Angeles & Black Flag Damaged from Nickelodeon in Century City. That Damaged album cover scared the shit out of me and I Loved it! – Thank you, Ed Colver. I listed to Rodney on the Roq and taped every episode with my cassette player. I started writing to Henry Rollins, Mike Ness and other bands from that time. Rollins always wrote me back (and I kept him busy!). Mike Ness did too. Ness included drawings and thoughtful words that really connected me to their music. Rollins drew the bars on all the postcards he sent me and I put those bars on everything I could. I drew them on to t-shirts and wore them to school. Once I wrote the Vandals and asked for info on the band and stickers for my notebook. They sent me Joe Escalante’s report card and an Elvis sticker. I told Joe about this years later and he said, Yeah, I think I remember that! I still have the report card. I wish I had the letters.
I would get my t-shirts from Postermat in Westwood and other clothing from Poseur on Melrose. Me and two other friends were the only people in school wearing Bondage pants and ripped up punk shirts. My friend was suspended for going to school with a mohawk. When the school year came to an end, I dyed my hair purple with Crazy Color I bought from Retail Slut on Melrose. It was not common to see people with purple hair in the early 80’s.
When 8th grade began I moved from the Sex Pistols to PIL. This is about when I started playing guitar for hours and hours. I played with my friend and neighbor Ed. We learned songs by the Ramones, PIL and tried writing our own as well. We were playing loud shows for the neighborhood to hear and the Police even showed up to break up our gigs. We retaliated by waiting till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and playing at full volume for two minute intervals. Just long enough to wake up and annoy.
In High School I got serious about playing music and going to shows. I rode my Vespa P-200E to the Cavern Club on weekends watched the 60’s Garage bands play. Greg Shaw ran the Cavern Club and also owned Bomp! & Voxx Records. When I wanted to quit high school my Junior year Greg said I could work at Bomp! (I needed a job to legally leave school). He filled out the paperwork and my (very worried) Mom allowed me to take that step. I remember my first day at Bomp! Records. Greg gave me some great vinyl and I felt a sense of relief to have school behind me. The problem was Bomp! was deep in the Valley and I was lazy at 16. That was my first and last day there. I was serious about playing music and my first show with Chemical People was at the Cavern Club with Melanie & Karen from the Pandoras. After that Me, Ed and our friend Blair (who was studying to be a Doctor) started playing shows as Chemical People. Members changed, but the Chems played many shows across the U.S., Canada and Europe from the mid 80’s through the early 90’s. We were lucky to play with a lot of the bands that inspired us. Redd Kross took us out on our first road trip. ALL took us out on several tours and we were labelmates. We toured with SNFU, Didjits, Les Thugs (in France). We played shows with: Ramones, Nirvana, Mudhoney, L7, Pandoras, Hard-Ons, Naked Raygun.
Fast forward to now:
I haven’t played music in many years, but I still have those friendships and when I see bands cite Chemical People as an influence or mention us it’s nice to see.
My first punk show was X & Red Hot Chili Peppers 1984 at UCLA Ackerman Grand Ballroom. I worked for Bomp Records for one day. I worked on Identity Zine. I was in the 2013 movie Filmage the Story of Descendents/All and also The Larry Flynt Documentary. These days I live in West Hollywood with my cat Doris.
You can find out more about Dave at davenaz.com and @davenaz on Instagram.
Dave Naz 2020
(About this painting… This is my first all gouache painting. For whatever reason, the scanner translated the paint color to brown so I resorted to taking a photo of the painting with my phone camera to get the color closest to the painting. 6.5”x8”, cold press paper –SS)