Hi, boys and girls here is a new interview that our buddy of Baby Rakin rec did with Gabe of Concussive. Tell us a bit about your life and background before you entered the Norcal music scene. GS: The first 4 years of my life I lived in a rural coastal town called Gualala in a trailer park. When I turned 4 my parents took us to the East Bay Area where most of my family resides and historically has been from. I spent most of my years in Antioch, Pittsburg, Concord, Martinez and Richmond in Contra Costa County. I come from a working class family that is highly religious. My Dad was a pastor for the church we lived near in Gualala and still has status as an ordained minister. We moved around quite a bit. Weird, I know other people from that area that experienced that instability as well. I skated a lot and was just outside, I don’t know how else to explain it. I grew up in the 90’s/early 2000’s in a crazy time period in the Bay Area and the Northern California region in general.
What interested you about metal and punk music? What made you want to dive into the local music scene and how old were you?
GS: Parents split at like 11. My dad moved to Vallejo and let’s just say lots of things went way more south at home in the East Bay. It led to me going to shows and utilizing tools the Bay Area had to offer, like the physical and eventually digital version of the List to help me connect the dots and just be out. Eventually we moved to the Novato area where I lived from 15-18 and I plugged into shows in places like now defunct Epiphany’s Music in Santa Rosa, the still operating Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, community centers in the North Bay where punk shows were held. Having lived a majority of my life in the East Bay, I kinda just bridged and went back and forth for shows. I am always really grateful for how organized things were here back then to that regard even without the availability of the internet at first. My first gig was at a spot in Hunters Point in SF called the Pound where I began to be exposed to DIY culture. I was 11 or 12. After that it just became intertwined with my life.
Many people across the US are familiar with the big shows and festivals that you’ve organized and helped organize, including Zesta Grande. How did you get into booking? Tell us about your booking collective, ZestBay.
GS: As I alluded to earlier, by my early teens I was out going to shows often as I could, and what was really crazy about the early 2000’s was the mixed shows, they really were incredibly mixed so you got to kinda see everything if you just went. But booking seemed so distant, so the first opportunity I got was at a community center in San Rafael. They had a venue I had caught a few shows at called the Oasis that had (I guess) moved and become this new thing called the Verge. I booked there and at Burnt Ramen in Richmond and Hazmat in Oakland in the beginning that was probably like 2006ish-2009. After that, I booked house shows wherever I could and continued to book Burnt Ramen. Then, I wanna say in 2011, me and Raul plugged in, we clicked up and a couple years later him, me and our close homie Garret (a close friend and long-time resident at Ramen) had shows going on between a warehouse in East O, Burnt Ramen and a few house spots in Pittsburg, Oakland, San Jose and Santa Cruz. Crackin (a lotta times) multiple days a week, all year, every year until the 2016 ghost ship fire that took a bunch of innocent lives and resulted in a nationwide crack down on DIY spaces that pushed a lotta people out of their homes, including Burnt Ramen. We technically started Zest Bay that year as just a collective way to book/promote/backline and manage gigs and tours in the Bay Area/Northern California and just try to organize the best we could. We figured using the “Zest” that we’d use to hide our locations for gigs was a solid name. We wanted to have things transparent and managed properly with housing, flyering, etc. pre-arranged and we recognized the major lack of communication between different areas outside of the Bay Area so we collaborated with groups in different parts of California like Sacramento, Stockton, Santa Cruz, Chico, LA, San Diego, Orange County. We maintained our tight ties with Mexico while we started expanding and working with folks in Oregon, Nevada, Washington, and BC Canada and created a really amazing web of collaboration between different booking collectives to give bands a really awesome tour experience. We got a shuttle bus, a beat-up RV and a van and really pushed to help folks across the board and create a positive experience.
Your greatest achievement in booking is possibly Zesta Grande 2019. Tell us about it: what it was, how the idea/name was born, who helped with booking, how the booking process worked, its successes, things you would have liked to do better, the Zest bus idea, commendable occurrences, etc. Give us the Gabe Sutton point of view of what Zesta was about and why it was so important to many of us, even outside the US. For perspective, do you think it is fair to say that ZG2019 was the biggest exclusively pv/grind DIY event ever organized in the world to this date?
You scream for the powerviolence band Concussive, arguably one of Norcal’s most beloved noise-making crews. How/when did the band start and who were your influences? What are some of your best memories of Concussive shows? Is any new music/merch coming down the pipeline?
What bands do you think are killing it in California currently? What are some past Cali legends that should be mentioned?
GS: Well, with covid I’d say there’s been less movement in terms of new bands forming. But Heckdorlan, HARM, Violencia, Bob Plant, Healer, Hard Foul gonna get love currently but there’s a lotta active bands killing the game right now. California Love, Indisgust, Uzi Suicide, Corporal, Scully for former bands but that list is deep af as well.
GS: Well, as you hinted I’m a ‘farmero’; my goal is to grow food and feed folks and live off the land even though I grew up in a highly industrialized area. Luckily, my Dad growing weed in the hills when I was younger left me with a great appreciation for the land and permaculture. I currently have silkie, easter egger, olive egger, terkins, Delaware, buttercup, Rhode Island reds, and a couple backyard Easter egger roosters I hatched along with my 2 dogs and 2 cats (I live in a zoo). The long term goal is moving onto a decent sized plot of land and getting Nigerian dwarf goats, a Llama or 2, Muskogee ducks and a couple sheep. I’m a Dad, I work like crazy and just take care of my family. I enjoy hitting the coast or bailing deep into the redwoods and burning a fat 1 and enjoying the lack of people.
Contacts: Concussive fb