Of all music genres, punk rock may be the most dependent on the energy of live shows, especially when so many punk bands — both past and present — focused their efforts on the in-person experience rather than laying down meticulously recorded tracks. With mosh pits being the antithesis of the pandemic’s public health rules, punk is feeling the shutdown pain, so a virtual concert this Saturday hopes to ease some woes.
Called the “Punk Summit,” the 4-10 p.m. show features six bands performing on stage at the Majestic Ventura Theater. Five of the bands — All A Blur, The Hell Toupees, The Robot Uprising, Bootleg Brigade, IDecline, and Sick Boy — are from Ventura County, which has been a hotbed of the subgenre nardcore since kids from the Oxnard suburbs started playing back in 1977.
And then there’s one Santa Barbara band as well: The Deveros, with Jesse Bates on guitar and vocals, Nate Hill on bass and vocals, and Karstyn Bates on drums. Punk is a passion, not a profession for the trio, as Jesse works in construction, Hill is a bartender, and Karstyn manages a house-cleaning business while learning web design. Along with occasional members Tommy Hawkins and Joe Stransky, Karstyn said, “We all go way back. We’ve known each other forever!”
They answered a few of my questions in anticipation of Saturday’s summit.
When did The Deveros start?
Karstyn Bates: The Deveros started in the summer of 2000. So that would make us around for 20 years now! Jesse and Nate are original members. I started later in 2013. I’ve only been playing drums for about eight years now, and The Deveros was my first band. Jesse and Nate have been playing for much longer, at least 20 years, if not more, learning their instruments. Nate has also been in 1984 and Silent Meow. I have been in the Shady Ladies, an all-girl punk band (Karstyn). And the three of us also have another band with our friend Silvie called Uber Death.
What’s a primary inspiration for the band?
Nate Hill: I was drawn to punk rock by the Ramones — loud, fast, and energetic.
KB: I think we can all agree we love the Ramones, and they are a huge inspiration! I felt at home and understood when I found punk rock in high school. I never fit in with normal people.
How would you describe the Deveros’ music? Where does it fit in the punk-rock range?
Jesse Bates: The Deveros is simple music for simple people. We didn’t aspire to be punk; we just like good music. I don’t know what punk is these days, but if people want to call us punk, I ain’t gonna argue with them.
NH: We are influenced by Ramones, Screeching Weasel, Queers, Misfits, Lillingtons, and Teen Idols.
KB: I agree with Nate, but we kinda have a harder edge. And we like to play fast!
What is the relative state of punk rock in S.B., including pre-COVID?
NH: The punk-rock scene is still alive in Santa Barbara, especially now with no live shows.
KB: Yeah, we are getting old. We need another generation to carry on the torch in Santa Barbara.
Is there a tight connection between the Santa Barbara and Ventura County punk scenes?
KB: Yes, I would say so! We have played just as much down in Ventura as in Santa Barbara. We love playing in Ventura — great bands, fans, and punk rockers! Lots of great punk bands have come out of the 805!
Virtual punk rock must be a new thing for everyone. What do you expect of this show on the weekend? Where are you actually performing?
KB: We will be performing at the Majestic Ventura Theatre, actually! It was a last-minute venue change. I’m not quite sure what to expect honestly. Music is nothing without the fans and the energy, so it’s hard to not have a crowd. But as a musician, you just want to play.
I hope it turns out well! And Jeff “Six” Barber did a great job putting this all together, so we really hope people tune in! And mosh around their living room.
It could be the first of many more virtual shows or could be our last. I guess we’ll see! Who knows what 2020/21 has in store for us?
The Deveros are playing the virtual Punk Summit on Saturday, October 17. The entire concert runs from 4 to 10 p.m., but The Deveros live set is from 4:50 to 5:20 p.m. Watch the live Facebook stream here.