In 1976, Chula Vista, California was not exactly the most thrilling place to be-it may be far from a good time for a poor boy in a rock'n'roll band. We were just school kids looking for something more than what this sleepy suburban community- sandwiched between San Diego and Mexico- had to offer.
Robert Lopez and I (Javier Escovedo) were attending Chula Vista High. Hector Penalosa and Baba Chenelle were at Sweetwater. THE ZEROS started back then. We rehearsed after school in my bedroom on Ash Avenue, or Robert's room, the one that was sky blue with white clouds. After awhile, we advanced to an actual rehearsal studio off E Street.Our sound was influenced by all our favorite bands: The New York Dolls, The Stooges, Bowie, Kiss, T-Rex, Velvet Underground as well as sixties punk groups like The Seeds, The Standells and The Animals, who we also took our look from. We wanted to look like the cover of the Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White album- black suits, ties, white shirts and real pointy shoes that we bought in Mexico. My brother, Alejandro, was the guitarist for The Nuns in San Francisco and I wanyed to impress him, so I wrote songs like "Wimp" and tried to be like Lou Reed.
The Zero's first gig was in Rosarito Beach, south of Tijuana. We played four songs. The last one was packed and everyone was dancing. That was it! I was hooked! I HAD to be in a rock'n'roll band!

We all agreed to de vote more time and energy to the music. As that time, our kind of music was just not heard or played in San Diego, so we set our sights on Los Angeles.

In the spring of 1977, I heard throught my brother that The Nerves were putting on shows in L.A. So we recorded a tape and gave it to our friend, Jackie Ramirez, who sent it to her penpel in L.A., Audrey Pavia, who played it for her then-boyfriend, Phast Phreddie (editor of LA's first fanzine Back Door Man), who gave it to The Nerves, who liked it and hired us for a gig at the Punk Palce-a 99-seat theatre in Hollywood, across the street from the Whiskey a Go Go and Tower Records.

Openning the show was the first ever performance by The Germs. Then we played. The Weirdos played last, their second or third gig, before they even had a drummer. The Damned were in town and made the scene.That was our start.

Soon after that we became regulars on the LA punk/new wave scene. We played all the clubs in LA: The Masque, The Whisky, The Starwood, and even places that some promoter would rent out for the night, like Larchmont Hall. that place was usually rented out for parties or weddings. They didn't understand the rock'n'roll scene at all.

When we went on, the crowd started to Pogo dance. The older people running out the lights and told us to stop playing. Of course we wouldn't, and the crowd went wild. Our friend Jett Compton kicked in the door to the office and made them turn the lights back on. As we packed up after the show, the old farts were still yelling at us. We thought it was pretty funny. In LA we would either stay with friends at the Canterbury (a run-down apartement building full of druggies, alkies, punks and cockroaches), the Bowl Motel or the Tropicana Motor Inn. the place we laids our heads for the night usually depended on how much money we got for the show we were in town to play that night. We spent a lot of time at the Canterbury!

Also, we would occasionally trek up to San Francisco to play the MabuhayGardens. We were generally considered the youngest band to play the fab Mab, at the time. I was the only one who could drive and had to motor my station wagon from Chula Vista up to The City, play the show, then drive right back so Robert, Baba and Hector could attend school the next day. But San Francisco was always fun. Once, Patti Smith joined us onstage for "Waitin' for the man". When we stayed for longer than a day we would spend the night with The Nuns.

Greg Shaw was one of the people who came to our early shows at the Hollywood Punk Palace. His BOMP MAGAZINE had spun off into a record label, and bands like the Nerves, the Weirdos, and even Devo were putting out singles with BOMP RECORDS. So the Zeros, too, were glad to do one.

Our first release, "Wimp/Don't push me around" came out in 1977. Later that year we went back into the studio to record the follow-up with producer Craig Leon, who Greg knew from New-York. We were real exicted about it because Graig had worked on the first records by the Ramones and Blondie. The session was fun, but the end result sounded too much like Phil Spector, and not the Zeros, so we later went back and recorded the straight rock versions of "Beat your heart out" and "Wild weekend", which became our second and final single for Bomp.

In 1978, Hector left to join F-Word because he wanted to live in LA. We enlisted Robert's brother, Guy, to play bass. Soon after, Robert left to live in LA too; It looked like the end for the Zeros when Ken Friedman called to offer us a tour of the West Coast- all the way up to Seattle. We sent as a three piece, Baba and I with Hector back in the band.

In Seattle, it was a dull night at a place called The Bird, so Baba pulled a Keith Moon-after three songs he trashed his drum set and walked off, leaving Hector and I staring at each other in bewilderment. Baba thought it was hilarious that I just walked back to him and calmy asked, "Are you all right?" We went back on stage to a much more lively crowd.

Following a great gig with The Avengers and The Dils at The Temple Beautiful in San Francisco, we decided to become part of that happenenin' scene by moving there. The city had some cool bands in those days, such as the two I just mentioned, along with the Nuns, the Sleepers and Negative Trend, and some good clubs too: The Mab, The Deaf Club, the temple. On February 8, 1979 we played with THE CLASH at a benefit for the New Youth Organisation, and a highlight in our career. Around this time we were being managed by Peter Urban, who also handled The Dils.
On March 17, 1979 we returned to L.A. to play a show with X, The Alleycats, The GO-Go's, The Plugz and The Wipers at Elks Lodge Hall. That show became the St. Patrick's Day Massacre. Our set followed The wipers; The go-Go's went on after us. But during the set by The Plugz, the L.A. Police Department arrived and closed the place, busting open some heads in the process. X and The Alleycats never got a chance to play.

In 1980 we opened some shows for John Cale during the West Coast swing of his tour. We continued to play a lot in the S.F. Bay area. As a three-piece our sound changed a lot. In 1980, we finally returned to the studio and recorded "They say", "Girl on the block" and "Getting nowhere fast", at Diamond Studios in San Francisco. We took a trip to Austin, Texas to play two nights at Raul's with Middle class- a very cool time. That year we made a trip to New York city where we played at CBGB's, Max's Kansas City, the UK Club and Danceteria, where three of our guitars were ripped off. Also, we smashed our van.

Back in S.F., we played a lot at the Roosevelt on Market Street. This was our best period as a trio, but it was also the beginning of the end. We sounded fine, drew well at the gate, but something was missing. "Punk" was about change. After five years, it was time for just that. Listen to "Nowhere fast" for more on that subject. Hector went on play with The Wolverines and Flying Color in S.F. .Baba also remained in S.F. to play with Kevin Hunter of Wire train, Ministry of Truth and MC and The Monster. Robert stayed in L.A. where he played with The Johnnys and currently is El Vez, the Mexican Elvis.

I return to austin to form The True Believers with my brother Alejandro(Rank & File - The nuns) and toured with Will sexton. Now, I live in New york where I'm the guitarist in The lost.


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