LYLB 1637 SA90“Patient Zero,” the opening track off of local band SA90’s debut record Johnny On The Phone, could be a lost X track—emotionally intense, dissonant dark punk rock.

The rest of the record is solid, too, from start to finish. That may be because, although SA90 is relatively new to the local scene, most of the members are long-time punkers. Several used to be in the Sealants, and before that a whole slew of other punk rock bands. Now in their 40s, they continue to rock out, talk shit about hippies, and live the punk rock lifestyle.

“I feel like I’m still doing the same things I was doing 30 years ago, how I live my life,” says bassist Mark Hanford. “The reason punk rock has lasted as long as it has is because it never really had a goal. It had the goal of upsetting the status quo, but it didn’t have the goal of making the world a better place. Being an adult doesn’t preclude being able to play this really fun, sometimes silly, sometimes intense music.”

The one addition to SA90 who’s newer to the scene is singer Celina Bottini, who brings a lot of the emotional intensity to the music. She writes all of the lyrics, and they are a reflection of her not-so-stable life growing up.

“It really helps me to express a lot of dark periods in my life that I’ve overcome. It’s been therapeutic to me, where I can start talking about events, situations, relationships that tortured me for years,” Bottini says.

The musicians and Bottini are coming from two very different places, but the band connects in a very visceral place. As Hanford puts it: “It’s like three guys that didn’t have a rough childhood picked up this girl that had a really tough childhood, and gave her an outlet to express herself.” 

INFO: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21. Blue Lagoon, 923 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $5. 423-7117.

09/14/16 Update: Mark Hanford identified as the bassist. 

Contributor at Good Times |

Aaron is a hard-working freelance writer with a focus on music, art, food, culture and travel. In addition to Good Times, he's a regular contributor to Sacramento News & Review, VIA Magazine and Playboy. When he's not working, he's either backpacking, arguing about music or working on his book about ska. One thing's for sure—he knows more about ska than you.

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