Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Drive Along Mission Bay and The Zeros

Sea World explored, we return to Highway 101 North for a run alongside Mission Bay that offers some outstanding views, As is almost always true during our trip through San Diego, this is a rough alignment of the old highway, with portions now part of Interstate 5.

Mission Bay Park Sign
Mission Bay Park Is Between E.Mission Bay Drive (Old Highway 101) And The Bay Itself
(Flickr user Chris Lee/CC)

Skating At Mission Bay Park
The Path That Runs Along The Bay Is Popular with Strollers and Skaters
(Flickr user Aaron Fulkerson/CC)

Sailboat on Mission Bay
A Sailboat On The Water
(Flickr user Aaron Fulkerson/CC)

Mission Bay at dusk
The Bay At Dusk
(Flickr user Keoni Cabral/CC)
Playlist Additions
The Zeros
Amazon Store

San Diego is well known for the alternative rock scene.that went national in the 1990's as record labels sprang into action signing "alternative" bands in the wake of Nirvana. We will get to that story a little further down the road, today we look at the roots of that scene.

The story of the San Diego alternative music scene begins in the days when punk rock was racing around the world of rock music in the late 1970's. In Hollywood, the music industry seemed to inspire a rebellious DIY scene. Just South in San Diego County, the city of Chula Vista gave the world a group called the Zeros that would gain international notice as some early West Coast, American punk rock.

The Zeros were originally composed of Javier Escovedo on vocals/guitar. He was of a notable family that included older brother Alejandro Escovedo who played guitar for the San Francisco punk band The Nuns as well as the pioneering alt-country Rank and File. Escovedo was joined by Robert Lopez on guitar, both of them attending Chula Vista High School. Rounding out the band Hector Penalosa on bass and Baba Chenelle on drums who both came from Sweetwater High School.

In 1976, San Diego was a difficult place to be a rock and roller. There were precious few places to perform in the city. San Diego was geared to the tourist industry, rather than the entertainment industry like Los Angeles to the North. So a group of high schooler's in  Chula Vista started a band called the Zeros. They donned the skinny tie and Beatle haircut look that was seen as freakish in the mellow country rock world of mid seventies Southern California,

The band would, as Tom Waits and Iron Butterfly had earlier done, drive up to Hollywood to perform on weekends, rushing home to go to school on Monday, The first major gig they had was in Los Angeles in 1977. The Germs opened the show, then The Zeros played, with the Wierdos taking the headliner slot.

In a dynamic Los Angeles punk rock scene The Zeroes were active. The appeared at the opening of the legendary punk club The Masque. They were primarally a live act, over the course of the bands career they only released a handful of singles. Reviewers called them the "Mexican Ramones".

In 1978, a membership change occurred when Penalosa left the band to be replaced by Guy Lopez, Roberts brother. The Zeros relocated to San Francisco where there famously performed a set that consisted of playing Beat Your Heart Out eight times in row before leaving the stage.

The line up changed again as the Lopez brothers returned to Los Angeles and Penalosa returned to the band carrying it on as a trio. In 1980, the band released its last singles before a short tour. Then the The Zeros, like so many of the early punk rockers, broke up.

After the break up of the band, guitarist Robert Lopez went on to continued fame as cult favorite El Vez. Meanwhile Javier Escovedo joined his brother Alejandro Escovedo, moved to Austin Texas and started the band True Believers, an early important member of the Austin alternative music scene that gathered more musicians respect than record sales.

In the 1990's, alternative rock took over the airwaves due to the success of Nirvana and Nevermind. Bands that began the punk movement were reuniting and touring. The Zeros released a collection of their singles and outtakes in 1991. Don't Push Me Around joins our playlist this week.

Album : Don't Push Me Around The Zeros

  • Don't Push Me Around 2:25  
  • Wimp 2:34  
  • Main Street Brat 3:03  
  • Handgrenade Heart 3:26  
  • Beat Your Heart Out 2:18  
  • Wild Weekend 1:33  
  • Cosmetic Couple 2:14  
  • Rico Amour 2:42  
  • Beat Your Heart Out 2:15  
  • Getting Nowhere Fast 2:54  
  • She's Just A Girl On The Block 3:25  
  • They Say That (Everything's Alright) 2:16  
  • Live, San Francisco, 1978 10:37  
The Zeros reunited in proper in 1995, performing live and returning to the studio to record a new album called Knocking Me Dead. They still had the same raw energy and they were still having fun rocking out.

In 2009, the band was to gain official recognition as they were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Diego Music Awards by Wayne Kramer of the MC5.

The band again returned to the studio to record 1999's Right Now! which continues their classic Punk Rock sound, The band still performs occasional live shows because, as members of the band have said, they have fun doing it.

Signing Off And Coming Attractions

I would love to hear comments from San Diegans sharing experiences at Mission Bay Park. Has any reader seen the Zeros live? How were they? Did you have fun? Please leave a comment. Your stories help me tell my stories.

Next On Interstate 95Vero BeachFlorida: Returning to the Interstate, we continue North heading towards our next Spring Training baseball stadium.
Next On Route 66ChicagoIllinois: We continue to dig into music related to Chicago.
Next On Highway 101: San Diego, California. We face a decision, do we take the oldest route, or a newer highway alignment

Mileage Stats

Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/1071 Tracks/268 Videos/41 Posts
Highway 101: 25 Miles/2 Countries/1 State/654 Tracks/414 Videos/31 Posts
Interstate 95: 143 Miles/1 State/96 Tracks/156 Videos/16 Posts
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