Punk music has changed. And there's nothing you or even Johnny Rotten can do about it. Unlike the golden years of the movement (where rebels and outsiders played at dive clubs night after night, bringing in salaries of beer and ragged patches with band names on them) today's punks have a somewhat different lifestyle.
Take the band Rufio for example. The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., quartet's touring schedule over the past few years probably looks more like the Kelly Clarkson world tour than anything underground. If Rufio had a map in their living room (or private estate?) you would see thumbtacks placed over Japan, Australia, Canada and England. And that's just for their last tour.
Although playing at a dive like Scrappy's every night may be more "anti-establishment," traveling the world has helped Rufio become a better band. "The fact that we were (in Japan) was just amazing," says Rufio's bass player Jon Berry. "It's nice playing for those foreign countries 'cause, I don't know, it's a good experience. (The fans) are very appreciative and very energetic. It was cool."
Rufio is also a veteran of the Vans Warped Tour, modern punk's biggest and most popular festival. This has put their name in lights along with many other popular groups such as the Alkaline Trio, NOFX, MXPX and No Use for a Name.
"We knew a lot of the bands that were playing this year," Berry said. "It's cool to hang out. That's always a good thing about Warped Tour."
But even though not everyone in the crowd was a longtime fan, the high profile of the event gave Rufio a lot of exposure.
"It's cool because the crowds are awesome, you know, bigger crowds. It's fun."
In fact, Rufio is going to see a lot of crowds in the next few months. Along with their free show in the Grand Ballroom at the Student Union Memorial Center tonight, Rufio will be playing nine more shows (including one at the University of San Diego) and then heading off to tour Canada. After that, they will be traveling the U.S. again with MXPX and Reliant K.
The extensive touring is to promote their July 6 album release of The Comfort of Home. Berry calls it their best work yet, and says that the whole band is "stoked" about it. "I think it's the best we've done so far," he says confidently. But then, with a touch of anger: "I don't know how good it's going to do because it's not fuckin' screamo and shit like that."
When asked further about the sudden outburst, he goes on: "I don't like stupid music. I like melody. I don't know. There's a lot of dumb bands out there," Berry said. According to Berry, screamo bands are part of "the craze," and not necessarily musically talented or fun to listen to. Berry's influences range from rock and metal, to skate punk like Lagwagon and Strung Out.
And with a hint of sarcasm in his voice, Berry even admitted to liking the great Kelly Clarkson. "Yeah, she's awesome. I'd love to meet her someday. She has people write some good songs for her," Berry said.
But the band itself has different standards, most of which probably include not sucking. "I just want them to feel like they're hearing something genuine. We just really like to make our music interesting and stuff."
Rufio will be playing with The Spill Canvas and Your Name in Lights at the UA Grand Ballroom in the student union tonight at 7:30. Tickets are free with a CatCard and $5 without one.