The heart of California DIY punk outfit Culture Abuse lies in the attitude they have towards their art, with vocalist David Kelling telling us “We’re gonna do what we wanna do, and what we like and what we feel is right” and “If there’s gonna be any art, if there’s gonna be anything, then we need to be in control.” Statements like these are in essence the band’s mission statement. In a genre many would think of as brass and obnoxious, Culture Abuse dial it down a notch and draw from a wealth of different experiences and influences, embodying DIY punks calmer side; one which some people may not know exists.
“If there’s gonna be any art, if there’s gonna be anything, then we need to be in control.”
Speaking on their influences, David pins the diverse world around the members of Culture Abuse, stating “I feel that for the most part we’re surrounded by people that are just different than us in general, even when we go out on tour”. The band’s sound steers clear of what you’d expect when you hear “DIY Punk”. David explains that the band’s vast amount of influences is what causes Culture Abuse’s deviation from the traditional punk sound, “If you’re surrounded by different shit all the time, it’s gonna open your mind to a lot of stuff. It helps to not stifle us in any way because who’s gonna say what we’re doing is wrong or not a certain way?”
The ‘surrounding of interesting characters’ spawns a series of house mates for David, of whom both have been on the cover of this very magazine. Sharing close living quarters with both Trash Talk’s Lee Spielman, and Trapped Under Ice’s Justin Tripp, as well as sharing a ‘skate house’ with other various artists over the years, it’s no wonder that David and Culture Abuse have found themselves at the forefront of not just the current new wave of punk, but also on our side of the globe. “Yeah its crazy when you do think about it like that.” Comments David. “I grew up in a tiny town where you near enough had nothing, you could still go to the bay, but not enough to be involved in the scene. But knowing that we’re doing this interview on the other side of the globe, whilst in the UK, right now isn’t something I’d ever imagined I’d be able to say.” And as David continues to make himself a cup of tea, he goes on to comment. “I think the biggest culture shock is seeing how bad us Americans are, I almost want to apologise at times.”
“Growing up I felt like I was a bit of a loser, and punk was a place where I could be cool”
One of the greatest ethos in punk is that it is accepting of everyone, whether it be sexual orientation, gender identification, race, background, political standpoint, or in David’s case, disability. Admirably speaking up about his cerebral palsy, a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination as a result of brain damage, David also finds that punk’s openness is the reason he’s been able to become comfortable with himself. “It’s only over the last few years that I’ve been able to be open about it. A lot of people just assume I’m drunk, and it definitely gives you a good sense of character because you can see how people react. Growing up I felt like I was a bit of a loser, and punk was a place where I could be cool, and that’s why I wanted in. Punk music is about that diversity.” But David is also quick to bring out the darkness of the industry’s still decades old approach. “It seems like a lot of venues would rather not invite you back instead of adapting for you though. We need to change access for disabled people at shows.”
“Punk music is about that diversity…”
Looking towards what the band want to achieve and what they’ve already succeeded in, David seems set on simply maintaining and growing what Culture Abuse already to, something bigger than just a group playing songs; “This band is totally an outlet in more ways than one, more than just music… I’ve only known to have a band as ananutlet for creativity”. As for moving forward, the band say this of their plans, “Unless I just couldn’t write any more songs and had no more ideas, then I’d be done. But I don’t think it really matters where I go or what we do, there’s still gonna be the ideas and constantly be dreaming of things”. Culture Abuse are ones to watch in the coming years as they seem set to take the punk world by storm, with all of the integrity, and equally with as much fun intact.
WORDS: DEC SHERRY | BAY DREAM IS OUT NOW VIA EPITAPH RECORDS