Harsh TV Interview with Eric Leach and Tony Fate of Symbol Six 12-1-2012
Eric: From all of us at Symbol Six we appreciate Harsh TV’s interest in us and this interview today.
Q: Tell us about who you are & what you do?
Tony: We are Symbol Six and we play American Hardcore Rock N’ Roll.
Eric: We are a Los Angeles based band that first formed in 1981. We have a self- titled release on Posh Boy Records. We played in the early years of Southern California punk rock with bands like Social Distortion, Bad Religion, T.S.O.L., Adolescents, Youth Brigade, and the Descendants. We broke up in 1982 and reformed in 2009 with the current lineup of myself, Tony Fate, Taz Rudd, Phil George, and Evan Shanks.
Q: Describe your Music in 5 words
Tony: American Hardcore Rock N’ Roll
Q: Please give your Fans 3 Fun Facts About you
Tony: When Symbol Six reformed it was with all the original members.
Eric: Right, when the band reemerged it was with all the original members from 1981.Since then Tony came over from the BellRays and the Black Widows which is still a recording, functioning, and viable band. They are one of my favorites by the way. He replaced Mark Conway and shares lead guitar with Taz Rudd.
Eric: And in the last three years we probably played, realistically, over 250+ shows. We recorded the album ‘Monsters 11’ which is out and available now. This was the first album out after the 27 year hiatus. It should be known that this band has not been together for 30 years, there is a big break in there. We toured the Northwest playing sixteen shows in 15 days, all the way up to Seattle, WA. We have played Texas, Arizona, San Francisco, San Diego, and Nevada. Symbol Six just recorded our next to be titled album and look forward to touring the US and definitely look forward to making our way over to the UK. One of our number one goals.
We definitely are a live band, we truly love playing live. We love playing in front of as many people as possible and writing music. We are not one of these bands that rely on old songs that just keeps playing and retreading them. We are constantly writing new songs and always trying to better ourselves. We have a lot of fun when we get to bring the music to the people.
Q. What makes your Voice Stand Out from other Artists?
Eric: I truly believe we are genuine in what we do. Symbol Six is not trying to chase a current trend. We have a lot of history within the band and individually. Collectively everyone in this band has around 10,000 shows and has written hundreds of songs. I think what we try to do and convey is just trying to be honest to what we enjoy in rock n’ roll songs.
We try to honor the past with our influences but make way to the future.This band has caught some flak at time some of our older fans. They question why we can’t, or don’t I should say, write songs like the early 80’s stuff. I cannot imagine how that is even possible. How does a band write a song as they were 15 or 16 years old? It just does not make sense. Again as a band and musicians, everyone is trying to better themselves. We refuse to dumb down just to please a few that don’t want to be progressive. We always say we do not operate in a pond, we operate in a stream.
Q: Do you write your own material?
Eric: We do occasionally play cover songs. We do play other peoples songs that influence us but we find that if we are going to cover someone else, as fun as it is, we might as well try to write on for ourselves.
Tony: Part of the fun of writing and starting a band so can be as good as your heroes and try to better them. Instead of going up on stage and playing 45 minutes of old punk hits, let’s write our own and see they can stand up.
Eric: I always find it very interesting that a lot of the fans of, for example, Black Flag, assume that Greg Ginn woke up one morning, just fell out of bed and was influenced by what was going on. He was really influenced by bands like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, and Alice Cooper. They find that hard to believe. But believe it or not, a lot of the hardcore bands out there their influences are not what they seem to be. And they don’t make any bones about that fact.
Tony: We are old enough that we were there when the punk rock movement started. In those days it was called the punk rock movement. We were influences by the rock bands of the day. Like Alice Cooper and Black Sabbath. We had to create a new style out of that.
Eric: When we heard and saw bands like the Ramones, The Clash and the Sex Pistols of course what was really refreshing was that energy and attitude. Pick up a guitar or grab a mic or sit by some drums and make some noise and have some attitude. Free yourselves of having to be a studio type musician. You can just kind of go out there. It doesn’t mean that some of the more technical bands weren’t influencing you but the punk rock scene really gave everybody the freedom and the equal standing to out there and do it for themselves. I see that with young bands today. I love to see that. The ones that are out there and are just going for it with conviction. You can spot them. The ones that are true to themselves and are not just trying to be a copycat band. They are influenced and then turn it into their thing. We are always looking for bands that remind us of ourselves when we first started out and are going for it.
Q: What are your Current projects that you are working on?
Tony: The new album. That is going in to be mastered. Symbol Six is going to release it digitally and then press up some LP’s. A limited edition 12” vinyl with bonus tracks. We have the Dr. Strange Records re-release of the Posh Boy album.
Eric: What’s really cool about the Dr. Strange re-release is our first record came out in 1982 on Posh Boy Records. Posh Boys Records was pretty much the Sam Phillips of punk rock. They put out first albums from Social Distortion, Adolescents, Rik-L-Rik, TSOL, and so many others. That came out on vinyl and Dr. Strange is reissuing all the original tracks from that debut album plus a bonus track that was on the Future Looks Brighter Compilation album called Box of Bones. Also included are rehearsals and live performances from 1981, demo song from 2009, and a cover of the Weirdos’ song ‘The Hideout’. So fourteen songs, 12 inch vinyl, poster inside with photos from world renowned punk rock photographer Edward Colver to be released worldwide and we are excited by that.
Symbol Six will be having a Kickstarter campaign launching any day to ask people that appreciate music and the hard work it takes to make these days. It has probably never been harder to make and to get it to the people. There is really not anyone out there putting it out there but the bands themselves. We are asking our fans and fans of music to just help us out with Kickstarter so we can produce this album and get it out there.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Tony: Having toured the world a few times, have a few more albums and singles out, and being considered one of the main architects of today’s hard rock sound. And when I say that I mean all hard rock. Punk, metal, hardcore, grunge, Little Richard, rock n’ roll whatever you want to call it.
Eric: We definitely are not and never have limited our scope of what we are trying to do. Basically when you listen to our music you can hear the attitude all through it. We are not ashamed and we make no apologies. I, personally, would like to have 10 more records out, toured the world 15 times, and second the motion of being one of best hard rock, in your face bands to come out of Los Angeles history.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?
Tony: Inspiration can come from things that you like and don’t like. Some band like Duran Duran is a big influence because I hate that kind of music. The songs I write I don’t want them to sound anything like Duran Duran. They are a big inspiration. Another inspiration would be Little Richard. I am inspired by watching my cat eat food in the morning.
Eric: I like that. There are things that inspire you in what not to do. I can find inspiration in almost anything as well. I don’t know why we are picking on Duran Duran. There some things they have done, in my world that I can give them credit for. It’s nowhere near what we do. I really like Tony’s answer on that one.
Q: Who would you rather listen to UK or US Music?
Tony: As long as it’s kickass and has some soul to it, I don’t care where it comes from.
Eric: I wasn’t even offended when The Clash did ‘I’m Bored of the USA’. I thought it was a great song. I could not possibly differentiate the two in terms of which I like better. Some of the greatest bands ever have come out of the UK and the US. The USA definitely has the distinction and stamp of inventing rock n’ roll. Which is not to be argued. And the Brits they did their thing too it which is awesome. Then the Americans came along and we did our thing to it. It kind of like this match that goes back and forth. I remember being influenced by so many of the great punk bands of England like Generation X, Sham 69, Crass, UK Subs. The thing was to better that. They kind of put it back on us that you have to be this good. What was really cool about punk rock in Los Angeles was we were trying to outdo that and I think we achieved a lot of great bands out here in the US. We were also battling within ourselves against New York but L.A. really fought it was up and made its mark. It’s indelible on the music scene. That’s the fun of being competitive in music. You want people to go after, to challenge you. To blow you away and scare the shit out of you. Bands that make you feel small so you can learn how to become big. Get back of the ground and kick some ass. Then when you are at that level then they are coming back after you. You always want to be in the position where you are the Billie the Kid, the Jesse James, on the street and they are coming after you.
Tony: This friendly rivalry between the two is really just the domain of the UK and the US. I have heard a lot of music from all over the world, punk rock especially. Most of them are just trying to copy us. Not really hearing any innovative stuff coming anywhere else. It's good, sometimes great. Very well done. Usually not too original.
Eric: Although I will put out there that we are big fans of Turbonegro out of Oslo and there a whole scene out there. The Hellacopters. I think there are sounds being mutated out there. I am always looking for that, how they regurgitate it back out and if it sounds good, you win.
Tony: No of them seem to be creating any new styles. That is unique to the United States and United Kingdom.
Eric: Well, you cannot deny AC/DC put their stamp on rock n’ roll.
Tony: Yeah, that’s true.
Eric: AC/DC invented entirely their own sound. Totally based in rock n’ roll and blues driven. But man, did they mutate it.
Tony: Whatever I just said applies to everything but AC/DC.
Q: What Artist do you listen to?
Tony: There a lot of great local bands. There is Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders; I just saw them last night. They are great! I have been listening to the new Jimmy Cliff album, its great! A real monumental piece of work.
Eric: Every time I start listing the local bands I get into trouble because I leave someone out. We have this great group of bands out here that are a part of American Hardcore Rock N’ Roll. Electric Frankenstein, Brainspoon, Piss Broke Rebels, Brass Knuckle Voodoo, Death on the Radio, Clepto, Barrio Tiger, Million Kids, and A Pretty Mess. An excellent group of musicians who are doing their own thing. You can find all of them at
Q: Who influences your music?
Tony: We pretty much covered that earlier, so my cat.
Q: Please describe your fashion style in 5 words?
Both: American Hardcore Rock N’ Roll.
Q: How can people Contact you & Collaborate with you?
Eric: You can find us at www.symbolsix.com and you can reach us through our band manager Ginger Kuroishi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eric: Symbol Six loves to play anytime, anywhere, and anyplace. You’ll have to help get us there but we will do it.
Eric: Thank you very much for your interest in Symbol Six and hope to see you sooner than later and many times over. Cheers!