Save Music in Chinatown 2 preview: Hector Penalosa from The Zeros

Of course, Hector Penalosa is best known as a member of The Zeros. The much-loved Chula Vista punk rock ‘n’ roll band played their first show on a bill with The Germs and Weirdos; was involved of the Elks Lodge riot show with The Go-Go’s, Plugz, and X; and opened for The Clash. But he’s also one of the nicest dudes ever. We began corresponding when he thanked me for reviewing a concert. Who does that? And then he began supporting the first Save Music in Chinatown show on his own. Not only did he encourage his friends to go, but he actually drove up from San Diego to attend it and brought some posters and a CD for the raffle. One of my musical heroes turned out to be one the coolest guys ever.

So how could I not ask him to take part in the second Save Music in Chinatown benefit? He’s going to play a set with his Beatles cover band, The Baja Bugs, which will be a blast, and then preview some new solo material. I’m super excited and honored that Hector is on the bill with Channel 3 and Money Mark, and hopefully this short Q&A will get you ready as well.

You headline some pretty big shows and just toured Japan. Why are you driving up to L.A. to play our little benefit?
To answer your question, it may seem like a little benefit but for the school children and the effect music can have on their lives, well, it’s a HUGE benefit in my eyes. I love to play and if I can help out with my musical capacities, why not?

Was the Zeros recent trip to Japan cool?
Tokyo was surreal! Sensory overload with the neon signs, gigantic video screens, loud audio, and lots and lots of people on the sidewalks. I was knocked out by it all.

Tomoko, the bass player of Supersnazz was our hostess after the Saturday night gig and we had so much fun. We went to a karaoke place and rented a room with three other musicians from the opening bands and had a blast for about an hour. I was in seventh heaven having the two brothers from Teengenerate on the bill.

The bands that played with the Zeros were really nice to us, and we all spent time together after the gigs at The Poor Cow Bar, owned by Fefe from Teengenerate.

Did the Zeros play Chinatown back in the day?
The Zeros did play in Chinatown L.A. back in the day. Madame Wong’s was one place we played, in late ’79 with the Alley Cats and The Go-Go’s, I think. And we played another spot with The Dils. Can’t say I remember the name. Maybe the Hong Kong Cafe? It was on the second floor and it faced the street. I remember that.

I love how The Baja Bugs play all the time and have the coolest flyers. How did the band come to be?
The Baja Bugs started in 1999 as a means to help a friend who was a Beatles fan. He wanted live Beatles’ music at his wedding and had inquired prices from L.A. Beatles’ tribute bands. He was quoted $4,000.00 for an hour’s performance by The Moptops and couldn’t afford such a price, so  I offered to play Beatles’ music at his wedding for a lot less money. He agreed and, of course, then I had to get a band together and learn an hour’s worth of Beatles tunes. Suddenly I had a challenge on my hands that I, myself, put there!

The Baja Bugs was never a long-term plan. It was supposed to be a wedding gig and nothing more. But the groom referred us to other people needing a Beatles band and we haven’t stopped since.

Can you tell me about the solo material that you’re working on?
I am always writing songs and I have a lot of them already “in the can,” so to speak. Recording is one of my favorite musical endeavors. I have released two solo albums, Hector on Cryptovision records from New York, which was released in 1988, and Music for Cats on Bam Balam records from Murcia, Spain, in 1996.

So it’s time to release another one, I’d say! The current songs are rock/pop with an aggressive guitar sound, sing-along melodies, and riffs that stick to the listener’s ears. That’s what songwriting is about–plus the feeling that music translates .

Besides recording my own songs, I’ve recorded many singer/songwriters who have an ear for good melody, riffs, hooks, etc. They inspire me to become a better songwriter, as well.

Anything else you want to add?
Looking forward to February 9th!

Check out the videos, below, and get advance tickets to the show (for less than at the door) at the Eventbrite page.