Rare house: The minds of the Slumrats


Alissa Martinez, Staff Writer

Rare House is a short documentary that was posted on Nov. 14, 2019, of raw footage that depicts the lives of the young aspiring artists of downtown Los Angeles, Mexican Slum Rats, showing the behind-the-scenes of their creative process, playing, and just their everyday lives. 

The members of this band include guitarist/singer Kevin Villaba, guitarist Benjamin Schlesinger, bassist Brock McHenry, and percussionist Andy Godinez. The four met through their mutual love of music and formed in 2017 while all of them were attending Granada Hills Charter High School. Three out of the four members are Mexican-Americans and have faced many obstacles because of their ethnicity. This band decided to form to be the voice for those who have felt the same way, wanting to inspire and make people’s lives better. You can easily see that in the footage.

The documentary shows a day in the life of a Slumrat, which basically shows the jamming in a garage, getting lunch at In-N-Out, driving around together cracking jokes, which all build up to a performance at Rare House, which happened to be their biggest show at the time. You can feel their high energy and the chemistry that all members have together, which makes you realize that they are real people with the same circumstances as us, not just these talented performers.

Making jokes about going to Six Flags, sharing their first few shows, and laughing together while in Villada’s car, makes you feel as though you are there with them. Seeing them come up with and practice songs like Ambiance feel very surreal to know how casually they can play these very complex and exciting songs. I really enjoy how they don’t fake it for the camera, either; they have fun regardless of how they’ll be perceived. They always stay true to themselves as well as their art, and it’s very inspiring.

Seeing them pack for their biggest show yet, you can feel the nervousness in the air and can see them stalling and waiting until the last minute to get ready. Lifting heavy speakers into the back of Villada’s minivan, discussing tracks to play, and poking fun at each other about their outfits to ease out the tension and anxiousness that they all have, shows you, drinking energy drinks to stay motivated and hype, driving to their biggest opportunity, and seeing the views of Los Angeles through the windows of the car, gives the viewer

While performing, you can see flashing colored lights, high-energy crowds, and the full essence that they have to offer to audiences. You can see that they are working hard to impress the crowd, by playing some of their catchiest and most danceable songs, Away and Bubu Lubu, which really capture their fun and raw surf-punk sound. Villaba gives all of his energy out and shines while singing and playing, which leaves crowds moshing and really enjoying the new and fresh sound they have to offer. 

Their sound has a very fresh and fun indie sound, which has been growing in popularity in Southern California. Surf punk still has many aspects that regular punk music has to offer, like the use of guitars, heavy drums, and powerful vocals, but is really associated with the surf culture on the shores of California. They use this fun genre to their advantage, creating very fun and fresh songs that can still be enjoyed by many people. Heavy guitars and drums, with the use of different vocal techniques, create their attention-grabbing music for fans and newcomers alike.

It’s insane to look back on this documentary knowing how much progress they have made in the past two years. They have been playing in the Nothing Fest III, playing shows all over the West Coast, and gaining more traction as the months go by. Still favored in their home of Los Angeles, this was the beginning of a larger picture, and they were able to gain new listeners to set off their career as aspiring musicians.

Although the band is on a whole different coast, it’s still so fun to listen to and see them perform their true and authentic art. As a Mexican-American myself, it’s so nice to just feel accepted and relate to musicians, and I feel really gravitated towards everything that they do. The overall beachy and punk vibe that they have to offer with their own Slumrat flare is something so appealing to the ears.

 If you love the message that they have to share or want to have a listen to some amazing surf punk music, I highly recommend you check out their iconic sound. The documentary of the Slumrats is available to watch on youtube and will definitely leave you fully understand their creative process and the overall personalities behind each member. I rate the documentary itself five paws out of five, which leaves people drawn to everything that they have to offer. The documentary only has a small chunk of their entire performance, but it is available online if you want to see the full experience they have to offer.