Trash Talk's homecoming
The Sacramento hardcore band returns to finally play a hometown show
There’s a misconception that Trash Talk never played Sacramento. That the hardcore three-piece formed here, utilized DIY practice spaces, wrote the song “Sacramento Is Dead” and then moved away to become a worldwide touring phenomenon that broke the devout hardcore mold by aligning with aggro-rap-turned-millennial-teen-angst ambassadors Odd Future.
Now, frontman Lee Spielman appears on Tyler the Creator records and posts Instagrams with Ghostface Killah and Blake Anderson of Workaholics. Buncha fame chasers that left us in the dust, right?
Even Mike Hood of famed-Sacramento hardcore band Hoods, who partially gave Spielman his start as an assistant at Hoods’ former downtown DIY venue Westcoast Worldwide, does not mince words on the cold shoulder.
“I think they should have stayed in Sacramento and worked hard here and claimed their city,” he wrote in a Facebook message. “Instead they took off south and I feel they forgot their hometown.”
Hood’s words echo a sentiment that seems to permeate the entire city. He’s not entirely serious, however, later offering, “Lee is a good kid. He’s like my son, so I’m hard on him.”
On Monday, March 16, Trash Talk is scheduled to end the drought with a show at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub that also features fellow Sacramento expatriate Lee Bannon and New York rap trio Ratking. Bannon, like Trash Talk, was widely underappreciated here and upon relocating to Brooklyn linked up with rap prodigy Joey Bada$$ and signed to Ninja Tune for his drum ’n’ bass debut Alternate/Endings. Both artists could have remained here like Hood, but opted to take the perceived easy route in large-market cities.
This said, neither act has removed their hometown from press bios. Spielman describes the decision to leave as necessary, not just for an aspiring band but as a personal growth philosophy.
“Every human should step out of their hometown, their own comfort zone,” he said on a call from Los Angeles.
“You don’t know if there’s other stuff out there that’s your shit if you don’t go look for it.”
At 26, Spielman has now fronted Trash Talk for 11 years. The band’s current incarnation also includes Garrett Stevenson on guitar and Spencer Pollard on bass. When Spielman was 13, he hung around Westcoast Worldwide, an artist warehouse with “Post No Bills” signs on the front. There he caught the bug for live shows. He admired locals like Hoods, 7 Seconds and Killing The Dream. Before forming Trash Talk, he and his best friend were left in charge to watch over Worldwide while Hoods toured.
“It was crazy because we were kids in high school and we’re opening up a venue every day, cleaning it, doing the sound, wrapping up cables, fucking paying bands,” he says. “Figuring out all that stuff. … It helped me organize how I run my life.”
The band didn’t perform much locally. Once, Trash Talk played the Boardwalk as an opener. Spielman said the leapfrog over Sacramento was never personal. Instead, most local friends and fans make the trip to Bay Area shows. That’s how it’s been since he was a teen.
“Even when I was doing shows as a kid people wouldn’t skip Sacramento on purpose. It was kind of out of your hands. San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are more centrally located so it’s easier to do it there.”
No matter the opinion on Trash Talk, the Harlow’s show is a homecoming. Spielman’s mother has yet to see him perform and the Midtown club offers plenty of partitioned VIP lounge space to remain clear of the inevitable mosh scrum—a rare annex in the traditional hardcore venue.
“No one in my family has ever seen us play, which is crazy because it’s such a big part of my life,” he says of his relatives, including his mother in particular.
“It’s not on her at all. It’s mostly been shows where it’s no place for a mother,” he said. “I have nowhere to put [her] and I don’t want some kid fucking diving on and hurting my mother.”