The L-10 Project (Punk/Rock)

Written by Jonny Havoc

The L-10 Project Posted Sep 1, 2006.

Barry Levine - Vocals Mike STICKz - Lead Guitar Rick Murder - Bass & Guitar Jon Havoc - Drums Brett Griffiths - Resident Caveman

What do you want to see happen thru music in the future?

Our main thing has always been simply about having fun in music, and that's the kind of the show that we do. I think there needs to be more fun in music, not that there isn't fun in music already, but there can always be more. People go to shows to have a good time after all.

Does being involved in playing music make you miss out on anything?

No, actually being involved in music has expanded my range of experiences. I was trained for the stage as an actor, and so when we started performing it was a lot easier for me to get up on stage without being overly nervous. Of course the difference between acting in a play and performing in a band is that when you're in a play (or film), you're pretending to be someone else, while when you perform in a band you're being yourself. My acting experience helps me to be a lot less inhibited on stage as myself than I might have been otherwise, and I can just let go fairly easily. As just about anyone who has ever seen us play can tell you, I'm a shameless ham on stage!

What other instruments can you play?

I play the guitar (slightly) and have played the oboe and piano in the past. Mike can play acoustic guitar, electric guitar, classical guitar, bass, and probably any other type of guitar there is. Rick plays guitar as well as bass. I don't yet know what Jon plays besides the drums.

What do you guys do for work right now, other than playing music?

Mike works for Verizon. Rick works at Hot Topic and runs Casket Clothing. Jon helps run No Division Screen Pring , and also co-founded Big Smile. I have been an Assistant Lecturer at the University of Southern California teaching freshman composition to new students.

Did your parents like you playing music and the person you are today?

Actually when I was growing up I was mostly into Classical music. We have a summer house in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and that's where Tanglewood is. The Boston Symphony Orchestra plays there during the summer and you can go there on weekend nights, bring dinner (people would bring anything from a picnic to a formal table dinner complete with china and silverware) and then sit or lie on the lawn under the stars listening to the orchestra play, which is lot more satisfying somehow than sitting formally in a concert hall. It was the main thing to do up there and just about all the kids went sooner or later. I didn't really get into rock until much later. I was already in college when that happened, and I didn't get into Punk until I was already at an age when most punks have left the scene. On the other hand this made me much more appreciative of the scene and has probably been a large reason why I've stayed in it for so many years. My parents actually saw the L-10 Project play once in 2003 when Mike and I went to New York to play at the Sidewalk Cafe. My mom, who is a notoriously tough critic, said we very good, and coming from her that means something. Neither of them is a fan of Punk, but they really like the acoustic act, even if I am wearing leather and sporting a mohawk when they see it.

Is there a venue or area you would like to play that you have not played before?

CBGBs in New York City, but that's probably not going to happens since, barring a miracle, the place is going to close this fall.

What is your favorite venue or area to play shows?

We've had a good time at the Anarchy Library. We also liked the Crooked Bar when it was still open, and we're sorry that it closed. That was a really intimate space, but it was in the same club as the Coconut Teaser. You'd pay one admission at the door and then you could go the rock club, or the acoustic room, or the dance room, and you could go back and forth between them whenever you wanted. Also the Crooked Bar had fried chicken and really really big glasses of beer!

I should add, however, that we don't play favorites when it comes to choosing clubs. We'll play anywhere that will have us.

How was your first show?

Our first club show was on November 13th, 2002 on the little stage in the front room of Zen Sushi. That show was the first time most of our friends heard us play the 'Penguins' song, and they all started banging on the tables in rhythm and screaming the chorus back to us in a call and response fashion. That's when we knew we had a winner on our hands.

Where was your best show?

That's a tough question, there are probably several I could choose from. One show that always comes to mind is our first show at the Anarchy Library in July of 2004. It was our first show in a few months and, as luck would have it, I got sick like the day before the show. I couldn't sing very much at all. However 'the show must go on' as they say so I decided (and even said from the stage) that since my voice was on vacation that day the rest of my body would make up for it. I wound up jumping around and doing weird physical stuff far, far beyond what I usually do in a show. But it worked; I even managed to get an audience member to spontaneously come up on stage and jump around with me.

Another memorable show was at the Time Out Sports Bar up in the Bay Area in May of 2003 (one of our few road shows). At that time we frequently covered Black Flag's 'I've Had It,' only we would do it as a country song and I would sing it with a deliberately bad country twang and do some bad imitation country dancing stuff. Anyway we started our show and the crowd seemed to be enjoying us. However when we started doing that song there seemed to be this confused pause, and then it was like the whole crowd backed up from the stage as one. Our friend Ryan said afterwards that it was like they were suddenly afraid of us! (Of course how often do you see old-school punks performing country? So maybe it was justified.)

What religion are you and does that have an effect on your music?

I'm Jewish, but aside from making me rather neurotic a lot of the time, it isn't something that plays a role in the band.

How did you come up with your band name and what does it means?

I came up with the name, but I don't remember exactly how, and it doesn't mean anything. Perhaps you have some suggestions?

Did you have any previous band names?

No. We threw out ideas for names when we first got together (none of which I remember now), but we settled on our current name pretty quickly and have used it ever since.

Who do you one day want to play a show with the most?

We're equal opportunity musicians. We'll be happy to play with anyone, anywhere, even if the other band is diametrically different from us. Personally I've always wanted to play a bill with a bunch of really old-school punk bands, just to see how the crowd would react to us. They'd either love us, or beat the crap out of us! But hey, that's punk!

Why do you play music, what makes you strive to be heard?

We want to have fun in music. There doesn't seem to be enough of that in the world so we try to make all of our shows a good time!

Why would anyone want to hear your music and what you are saying thru it?

If people want to have fun at a show then hopefully they would want to see us, because that's what it's all about for us.

How many people in the band right now are the original band members?

Mike and I are the original band members. Brett sort of gradually worked into the show because we would have him up on to the stage to dance like a caveman whenever we did 'Prehistoric Knife Fight.' Jon and Rick joined as drummer and bass player about four years after Mike and I began the band.

What brought your band together?

The idea was originally mine. I'd been trying to start something for quite a while, with varying degrees of success. A friend of mine once said that 'for every band you actually get off of the ground there will be five more that didn't go anywhere' which truer than he knew. I was in two other punk bands, both of which worked together long enough to get tight musically, and then both of which fell apart before we could record or perform. One fell apart because the guitarist decided to be a prima donna. The other fell apart mostly because of bad luck and some personal tragedies with individual members' families.

All of my earlier bands had been pretty standard punk groups, but there was nothing really special about them. Sometime during the fall of 2001 I thought it would be more fun to do something different. I thought it would be cool to mess with people's expectations by going out on stage in full old-school get-up (mohawk, leather, studs, boots, etc.) and then performing silly acoustic songs. This way we'd catch the crowd off guard , i.e. 'What you see is not what you get.' Surprising most of the people who have seen us play have liked the act.

I worked on the idea with a couple of people before meeting Mike but none of them were really into it. Actually I got the distinct impression from one guy that the whole concept of the L-10 Project was too out there for him to get his head around, and he didn't think people would be able to understand us.

Mike was the first person I proposed the concept to who really 'got it. In fact he turned out to have an even more bizarre sense of humor in some of his songs than I did.

Any funny or interesting stories?

We sometimes do this song called 'Espeedo' which is about a form of coffee that's even more powerful than espresso and I would jump around (and literally throw myself around) while doing the chorus that we used to tell people that their rooms were in danger of being physically destroyed if we did that song at full blast. The first time we did that song at Zen Sushi one of the staff came up to me after we finished it and asked me to please not break any of the furniture! (Remember this song is played acoustically.)

Then there was the first time I ever took off my shirt doing a show. There nothing particularly interesting about that in and of itself; band members strip on stage all the time, but usually to show how sexy they are. I'm rather overweight at this point, a condition that came about because of some meds. I was on which slowed my metabolism. So Mike and wrote a song about it called 'Anti-Depressants Make You Fat!' The first bunch of times we did it I just sang, and maybe during Mike's solo I'd turn around and shake fat my butt at the crowd. But eventually I decided to go even further and strip off my shirt, expose my upper body, and either drum on, or jiggle my fat gut. I did that for the first time at show we did at the Knitting Factory in September of 2005. Mike didn't know I was going to do that even though all evening long I had, in fact, dropped some not-so-subtle hints that I might do something like that at the show. But I guess he didn't pick up on them because when the song was over Mike was laughing uncontrollably at what I doing like I don't usually hear anyone laugh.

We almost got in trouble over that song about six months later when we did a benefit show at church community center in March of this year. I was told afterwards that When I took off my shirt security started talking to each other over their walkie-talkies and they said 'Hold it, he's stripping off his shirt. What do we do?' But were told that as long as it didn't go any further not to do anything.

How long have you been a band?

About four and a half years now since Mike and I started working together.

What do you wish for your band to be in 5 years?

God only knows. Hopefully successful, rich, and on top of the music world (and the real world to. Bow down to your rulers, bwahahaha!!!)

What is the best thing about being a band?

For me personally it's performing. I'm a shameless ham on stage and I really try to give a full blown performance each time.

When was your band formed?

The spring of 2002, when I met Mike at USC's Ground Zero Coffeehouse. He was the only other person at USC at the time who had a mohawk, which made it inevitable that we would start talking. We started working together not long after that.

Have you ever been on tour, how many and how did you go?

Not really. Once we did a show in the Bay area, once we played a show in New York City, and this year we played a pair of dates on the Warped Tour. Other than that we've yet to actually take a full tour of our own. We'd like to though. I think it would be a good thing to do.

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