Hailing from Houston, Texas, The Lockdowns formed in the spring of 2020. While bars, restaurants and music venues were shuttered, this foursome got to work practicing and writing songs for a new EP. Self-described as “Ramones-core,” the lockdowns are far from a basic three-chord punk group. The new EP, simply titled The Lockdowns was released in January, 2021.
The band has two distinct vocal styles.. Guitarist Jimmy and bass player Alex both take turns fronting songs and singing backup vocals. Combined, the two styles compliment each other giving listeners a fresh new sound reminiscent of The Lillingtons or Screeching Weasel.
Contributor Rob Gorczyca spoke to the band about their new EP. Check it out below.
Tell me how you guys got together to form The Lockdowns? Alex (Bass): We actually met at a Teenage Bottlerocket/MXPX show on February 29, 2020 in San Antonio, TX. Jimmy came up to me and said “You’re Alex from that Action Frank band?” We ended up hanging out that night and having a bunch of beers together and talked about putting a band together.
I told Jimmy that I know a drummer (Pedro) who had previously played in Action Frank.. I knew another guitarist named Herbert who was playing in a Ramones cover band. Herbert's band was playing a show at White Oak Music Hall so I went to see them play. As I’m standing there in the crowd watching the band play, I sent Jimmy a text “Yeah, Herbert’s in.”
Jimmy (Guitar): We had our first practice the week after the Covid lockdowns happened. As soon as they locked everything down we questioned whether we could even practice. We figured since we weren’t seeing anyone else we could still get together to play. We were even showing up to practice in masks.
What was Covid like in Texas? Alex: I kept working, but things were weird for a second. We couldn’t play shows or do “normal” stuff. Texas is a little more conservitive politically, so throughout Covid there were pockets of places where you never had to wear a mask. In some areas, things never changed.
Pedro (Drums): I never really stopped going to the office. I was working one day a week from home, so not much changed for me.
Herbert (Guitar): I worked from home and I put on like 25 pounds (laughter)
. Alex: Herbert would wear pajama pants to practice.
Herbert: That’s my outfit man, pajamas all day!
What do you guys do outside of the band? Alex: I work in packaging at a place called Karbach Brewing Company
Jimmy: I’m a sales manager at a brewery (Lone Pint). The brewery culture is pretty cool. It’s sort of like punk rock. It’s a bunch of different people coming together to kind of do the same thing. It’s a little counter culture, we get to be a little different, fuck the establishment, we get to do our own thing. The brewery I work at was started by a brother and sister who were working in oil and gas and hated everything they were doing to the environment so they started a brewery. They want to do everything green.
Pedro: I work in logistics. I have worked in the freight forwarding business for, I don’t know, 25 years. That’s what got me to the states.
Herbert: My job is pretty boring. I’m a data analyst (actually a workforce analyst, but I tell people I’m a data analyst because it’s easier to explain). I’ve been doing this for like 12 years. I work for call centers. I forecast how many calls we are going to get. Based on that I do all of the planning as far as how many people we are going to need to hire. I build schedules around that. I do a lot of reporting. If people are fucking up, I’m kind of like the police of the call center, where I point out if people are taking too long on calls.
Listening to the EP, it is very clear that you all are really good musicians. How long have each of you been playing? Alex: A long time. I started 16 years ago, it’s been a while.
Jimmy: I played saxophone for about 15 years. I played all throughout high school and started a ska band. I’ve played everything though. I play drums in another band right now.
Herbert: I’ve been playing guitar since I was in high school (around 2005-2006). I wasn’t very good at sports, so I thought it would be cool to play the guitar. I started playing bass actually and switched to guitar about 10 years ago.
Pedro: I started playing drums in 1995. I’m the oldest, the “elderly” of the band, I’ll be 45 soon. I’m originally from Brazil and I did the student exchange thing back in 1995 when I came to Idaho. I stayed there for 6 or 7 months. When I returned to Brazil, I started playing with some friends in a hardcore band.
What other bands have you been part of? Alex: I’m still in the band “Action Frank.” We did a big tour in 2016. We put out the full length in 2013. I also played bass in a hispanic ska band for a while called Fuska. They put an album out last year on Smelvis Records. I didn’t play on the record but I was in the music video, so that was cool. I was in a Starting Line-like, Drive-Thru Records-esque band called “Last Two Weeks” right out of highschool. I did my first tour ever with them. So I’ve done a few things, mostly pop punk, fast kind of stuff.
Jimmy: In high school, the first band I was in was my ska band. We played for like 5 or 6 years. We were pretty popular in Florida. We opened for Streetlight Manifesto and I had a good working relationship with Kevin, the trumpet player for Catch-22 who does the bookings for those guys. We tried to make the band work, but college got in the way. I played in a bunch of other bands. One of them was called Routine Scheme. I also played drums and bass in a reggae band called Stray Bomb, which was Sublime style punk rock reggae. Half the songs were in Spanish.
I currently play drums in a band called Beerdo. The best way to describe us is Dead Kennedys meet Blue Oyster Cult. So it’s a lot of surfy punk rock vibes with classic rock guitar riffs over it. On this new record we’re putting out, there’s a lot of Creedence (Clearwater Revival) style guitar riffs over fast punk drumming.
Herbert: I’m from El Salvador and that’s where I started playing. I had a band in high school. We wrote a bunch of songs but we never really went anywhere because we never took it too seriously. After this band, I started playing anything I could get my hands on. I played hardcore, punk, emo and indie rock. The biggest things in music that you could do in El Salvador, I did. I played in bands that had songs on the radio, I have a couple music videos and played a bunch of big shows.
I never really drifted too far from punk rock. First because I really like this genre of music and second because I really couldn’t play much else. I once auditioned for a death metal band and I couldn’t do it. So it’s all been very punk rock centered.
Other than my highschool band, I was in a punk band called Veni Vidi Vici. That was my band before moving to Houston. We were doing big things before I moved to the U.S. When I came to the U.S. I did a lot of cover and tribute bands from Ramones, Green Day, Blink 182. I had a Gimmie Gimmies style band where we took radio songs and played them in punk rock format with a female singer.
Until the Lockdowns, I was never really looking for an original band. I had people ask me to play in original bands and I never really wanted to. I just wanted to play, do this as a hobby and make money from it. But when Alex reached out to me, I had listened to Action Frank so much that I said “This has to be good, I’m in.” When I heard the songs that these guys wrote I thought “man, this is awesome, I have to be a part of this.” I’m kind of blessed that I was asked to be part of this group because I didn’t really help much and I’m really just a parasite of their songs (this comment made the rest of the band laugh). These guys made me believe in original music again because I wasn’t into the idea of playing original music again. I had bad experiences in the past playing shows for like three people, spending more money than we made, so yeah, this is super cool to be part of.
Pedro: I started in 1995 in Brazil playing in a hardcore band called Of Course Not, in Portuguese it’s Claro Que Não.
Then I met two guys here and we started a band called Carbona. I’m still part of the band even though we only record right now. We’ve been together for 22 years and we have like 13 albums out. We toured the states in 1998 with Chixdiggit, Marky Ramone, Grovie Ghoulies and others. We used to be pretty big in Brazil in the alternative scene in the late 90s when punk was pretty big there, with the help of MTV Brazil. There’s a bunch of stuff on YouTube, Spotify. The name of the band comes from the Ramones song “Carbona Not Glue.” Our first five albums are in english. Very Ramonish band in the beginning. Now it’s a little more like Screeching Weasel/Queers kind of thing.
I’ve only had like three bands though. I’m actually a big fan of the Lockdowns. They make fun of me because I listen to the Lockdowns at home. If I wasn’t playing with them I’d probably be a big fan.
Tell me about the recording process for the new Lockdown EP? Jimmy: We recorded everything here in the U.S., sent it all down to Hill Valley Studio (IG @hillvalleystudio) in Brazil where it was put together by Davi Pacote (IG @davipacote). We did guitar, bass, vocals all at our practice space. Pedro recorded the drums in a small studio here and then all of the tracks were sent to Davi to mix it down. I think we’ll probably do it again.
Pedro: Davi is like the punk rock guy in Brazil. All of the punk bands record with him. I know he’s working with Roger right now from Less Than Jake.
The EP is an awesome selection of songs that really display the band's style and abilities. How did you guys choose which songs to put on the EP? Alex: I had “Dirty Mouth” written. The other songs on the EP, Jimmy and I decided that I would write half and he would write the other half. We each had a few songs and we put an EP out. It made sense that we were both writing songs that we’d split it half and half. We’ll probably do the same thing for a full length. It’s really nice because with both of us writing songs there’s more and more material that we can work on that has potential to make it on a record or an EP. I don’t see it going any other way. We go halfsies on writing songs and then we get into a practice room and Pedro’s like “let me try this for this part” and Herberts like “I’ve got this thing for this part.” Then it becomes not just my song or Jimmy’s song, it becomes our song. It’s really cool how it works like that because I've been in bands where one guy writes the songs and the rest of the band learns them. It doesn’t work like that in the Lockdowns. I think that is part of why it’s successful.
Did you guys make any hard copies of the new Lockdown’s EP? Jimmy: No, we’ve talked about it and we might do a limited pressing down the line. I think the goal for us at the time, because we couldn’t play shows or generate revenue selling albums or t-shirts (due to Covid) so we were like, let’s record something and get our music online. We’re going to record a full length next and we’ll press that.
Alex: Putting out a digital album was the smartest thing we could do at the time. Now that things are starting to chill out, we can start thinking about selling hard copies.
Are shows starting to pick up in Texas? Alex: Yeah, they are. We have actually only played 3 shows as a band. Our show last night was really good. The first show was great too. The second wasn’t really even a show, we were the featured band on a podcast called Drink of Ages Radio Show. They interviewed the brewery Jimmy works at and we played songs in between. There wasn’t really an audience per se.
Jimmy: Yeah, there were people there and they had all of these cameras set up on the stage because it goes on ESPN radio in Houston. At the end of it they were like, go ahead and play whatever you want. I felt so fucking weird standing there with no one in front of us so I waved everyone that was there up to the stage. It just didn’t feel like a show without people in my face. I hate the distance between the audience. The best shows are always when you’re right there with the audience.
What’s the punk rock scene like in Houston, TX? Jimmy: There's a really cool DIY music situation in Houston. Some cool venues are Super Happy Funland, Satellite Bar, The House of Creeps, House of J, The Secret Group, a comedy club that does punk shows in the Black Box. Scout Bar is a bigger venue but they’re doing cool things. There’s a lot of small pop up venues where you can see a punk show for $5. Only 40 people show up but in a tiny ass house it always feels like a great show.
Pedro: My experience in Texas in general, I think that Austin and San Antonio have a better scene. Dallas is probably way worse than Houston. I remember seeing Face to Face who played three shows at the Gas Monkey in Dallas and there were only like 50 people at each show, it was weird. Seeing MXPX in San Antonio was amazing. I’ve been to shows in Austin too and it was really really cool.
I’ve been to some really good shows in Houston. I’ve lived here only 8 years and feel really lucky to have played at the Fitzgerald before it became a parking lot.
Jimmy: Fitzgerald was like “The” Houston venue to play at. It was a two story building. The downstairs had a short stage and the upstairs had a 4.5-5 foot stage. You’d walk in the back and there was a lounge room there where all the bands would hang out. All of the bands that played would write on the ceiling. You could walk back there and see everything bands wrote. Tim Armstrong wrote up there, Blink 182 before Travis Barker, Ben Weasel, Joe Queer signed it. It was a fucking cool venue that had everything but the owner was a racist piece of shit and she got shut down.
What are the chances of you guys actually doing a tour? Jimmy: For us, doing a large-scale tour, it would have to be like, a bigger band looking for a supporting band to do a tour, so at least we could make money on it. Pedro’s got a baby on the way, Herbert's got a baby, I have two kids, Alex’s job is really demanding. At least for me, the starving touring band, two months on the road, living off $3 a day is not that appealing for me at this point in my life.
Alex: I can see us doing little weekend runs. Texas is so big you can play cities 6 hours apart and not even cross state lines. We could do week runs to Florida and shit like that. It would really have to be something like “here’s money to do a tour” so we could justify going.
What bands are you guys listening to right now? Alex: I’ve been listening to Break Anchor, Elway, Red City Radio. Hot Mulligan, Free Throw. I’m kind of all over the place. I’ve been listening to the Riverdales old stuff a lot. I just bought a Chixdiggit EP. If you consider pop punk as an umbrella term, I’m kind of all over the place with it. I’ve been listening to The Vandals “Hollywood Potato Chip” a lot lately.
Jimmy: I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop lately. I also listen to the stuff I always listen to, like Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio. Dillinger Four I have to listen to a full album at least once a week. Less than Jake, Rehasher is really good. Anything that Roger does. For my all time favorite bands, it’s probably like the Beatles, The Ramones and then the Clash as my top bands, and probably MC5 and the Dolls (New York) right behind that.
Herbert: I’m very punk rock centered. I listen to a lot of Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, Teenage Bottlerocket, Elway, Spraynard. I also have this obsession lately with Manchester Orchestra and Andy Hull’s solo project called “Right Away, Great Captain! Super super good. His lyrics are gold. Lately I’ve been trying to listen to Country. I never listened to country music before being in Texas but I found this guy named Sturgill Simpson. His music is so good.
Pedro: I’ve been listening to a lot of Tiger Army and Nick 13, I love the stuff he does. I’m still into the Ramones, Queers, Screeching Weasel. I really like the Teen Idols. Recently I spent a solid two weeks listening to the Teen Idols, I love that band. I also listen to a lot of old metal like Poison and Kiss. One guy that I’ve been listening to a lot is J.D. McPherson from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I heard he used to be a punk rock guy and now plays a kind of rock-folk-50s style music, it’s really good. He comes to Houston once a year and the show is amazing. He has a guy playing the big stand up wooden bass, it’s really cool. Ramones are my all time favorite though. Jimmy is jealous because I got to see the Ramones twice.
What was it like seeing the Ramones? Pedro: I remember the first time I saw them was November 14, 1994. It was the Acid Chaos tour with Sepultura. The Ramones in South America are kind of like gods. Especially in Argentina and Chile. They play for like 50,000 people. Selling out like entire football stadiums. In Rio De Janeiro they were big as well. They played a classic venue called the Flying Circus (Circo Voador) and for me, it was even better because something happened on the Sepultura tour bus and they didn’t end up playing in Rio. I like Sepultura, but I don’t connect the two bands (Ramones and Sepultura) at all. So the show was at the beginning of this Jiu Jitsu event in Brazil, so it was a very, very violent show. I remember because I was on the second floor and guys from the ground were grabbing people by their legs and pulling them down and beating the shit out of them. I just remember though, it was so funny, when the Ramones entered the stage, I started to cry. I feel really lucky nowadays that I saw them. It was a very cool experience.
What are your goals as a band? Alex: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think we even know. We’re going to put out records, songs, EPs, play shows and see what happens. The skies are the limit but the momentum has already started. We’re getting really good feedback so far. People like the music, I think people are having fun with it. I think we all know we have something good going here so we’re going to see what happens.
Pedro: The timing is really good as well. I mean, after Covid, I think people are so hungry for the “new normal” to come back and to see shows and stuff, so I think it’s a good time to have something good going on and people liking us.
Jimmy: We are also making plans for a full length album. Alex has more songs done than I do, but I always do good under pressure. We set a goal for the end of July, so at least by then we should have at least 10 or so songs each. I have like 3 songs done and another 15 or 20 that I’ll either throw away or finish. I kind of start writing a song, and if it doesn’t come to me in 5 minutes I’ll walk away from it. I’ll go through my list and if something catches me, and I can write more to a song, that’s great but if I can’t add anything to it I’ll ditch it. I don’t really sit down and write everything at once. One of the songs on the new album “Another Second Apart” I wrote half of it and told Alex he should write something to it. So we kind of wrote that one together.