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JFA Celebrates 30 Years of Skate Punk

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Placebo Records: "The JFA era was the Mad Gardens era."

Lerma: This is where Tony Victor [Placebo Records, Madison Square Gardens] came in. He was promoting those shows. So he would find the venues, and he would always put out a flier at the record stores. "Hey, guys, you screwed up the last one, so once again, don't drink in the parking lots; don't get in fights." You know, stuff like that. [He opened] Madison Square Gardens . . . The bands would play in there. You can see on the cover of This is Phoenix, Not the Circle Jerks — that's Madison Square Gardens."

Pendleton: Once Mad Gardens started, it's funny, because people don't realize how nice it was to have a place to play. People, like, took it for granted: "I'll just start a band with three of my friends and get a gig at Mad Gardens." And I'm looking at these guys going, you don't realize, but for years, there was nothing like this.

Cornelius: The JFA era was the Mad Gardens era. When Mad Gardens went under, JFA started to not play as much.

Brannon: [Victor] was just a great marketing guy. In addition to everything else, he really helped put our name out there and get us out there, in a way that a bunch of dumb skateboarders who want to play punk music never would have done. So when Placebo folded, we did kind of disappear from the radar, because we went back to playing empty pool parties and slam-dance dives, and random keggers, and whatever sounded cool to us. We just went back to being ourselves.

Cornelius: [In the mid-'80s], it started to get really segregated. I wasn't really playing in the band so much.

Brannon: In '86-'87, we started going, "If everybody else is thinking [that] to be punk, you have to play fast, then we're gonna do something different. We're gonna play funk, I'm going to wear paisley shirts and stuff, and just get kind of crazy. And not give them what they want, but really give them what they need." Because it's not punk to be like everybody else.

As skateboarders — it's like when you drop into a pool — there are two ways to go about it. You can go, okay, I'm going to carve over the line, hit the sidewall front side, try and get in line with the steps. You can plan it out in your head how you're going to do everything. Or you can just go in there, go as fast as you can, and pump and see where you end up and make it happen.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.