It doesn't take much prodding for SiX frontman Lauren Boquette to vent about current rock trends.
"I don't think rock 'n roll is supposed to be comfortable," he argues. "There's a whole new wussy generation of well-taken-care-of kids that somehow didn't have to cut their teeth at the roots of rock 'n roll. Chuck Berry didn't have that option you want to play music, you get out there and grit your teeth and play."
Boquette's band has done just that. He and former Cypress Hill guitarist Alfunction have logged more than a thousand shows since starting out in 2001. (Bassist Corey Bush and drummer Nate Bowers round out the current lineup.)
Even in sonically assaulting moments, which are frequent, SiX songs reward multiple listens with subtle invention and lyrical depth. When Boquette growls, "You can try to blame the streets you're from / Blame all the drugs you've done / We can always find something or someone to pin it on," you get the sense he knows what he's singing about.
Which, it turns out, he does. Growing up in the shadows of the since-closed Long Beach Naval Shipyard, he says, "it was just the classic scene of alcoholic dad, abusive family, chaos, no money. Everything about SoCal Long Beach white trash was pretty much what I grew up in."
Solace, he found, came from community.
"My older friends looked after me and we hung out in the park," he says. "A lot of late nights drinking beer, listening to AC/DC, you know, trying to figure out the world."
Boquette, whose heroes range from Judas Priest to the Replacements' Paul Westerberg, first pursued his rock dreams with former band Drown, which signed to Geffen Records in the mid-'90s. The label was looking for a "really heavy" band to fill the void left by Rob Zombie's hiatus, and Drown delivered an album that was "heavy as fuck" just in time for Geffen's regime change and reinvention as a pop label. Drown was dropped.
With a broken relationship further fueling the disillusionment, the singer acquired a sleeve tattoo dominated by the word "ALONE." He also began listening obsessively to Pink Floyd's The Wall, which is never a good sign.
"There was a time between about '95 and '99 where I did not feel connected to this planet," he reflects. "But then you start to realize you're actually not alone at all. You're actually connected through a whole different group and mentality of people. The world we're in, it's just a big island of misfit toys."
A decade and three indie-released SiX albums later, including 2007's blistering Between the Warning and the War, he's feeling good about himself and the band, if not about what he sees as society's "mall-level mentality you know, let's just corral the bodies and tell them what to buy and how to live."
"For the normal working-class person, the only way we can change is internally," says Boquette, who's gone on to adopt a broader take on conventional family values. "I'm definitely not part of a traditional family, but I feel like through music I am part of a bigger family."