Shoddy Cons
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Shoddy Cons

Ventura, California, United States

Ventura, California, United States
Band Hip Hop Rock


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The best kept secret in music


"Home Spun - Shoddy Cons"

By Michel Cicero 01/28/2010

Get the Shoddy started
No, it’s not a reference to a pair of dirty Converse, disheveled con men or low-rent con jobs. The name originates from the depths of Bohemia, drawn from the bluest vein of beat culture: Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. The band’s less-than-literary version of the passage in question: “It was something like, some girl was talking shit about some guy and the guy said, ‘you should get your shoddy cons together before you rag on someone else.’ ” The actual passage: “It was a dig at their shoddy routines and cons, past and present . . ..” So Cal skate-punk meets post-Ebonics hip-hop and pays homage to mid-century beat. It’s a breakdown of a breakdown, a distillation of everything worthy in music, poured into a communal bowl. This is the essence of the Shoddy Cons.

Come with love
Fill a room with the testosterone vapors of a bunch of angsty males, give them a beat to groove to and a rhyme to rally around, throw in a handful of restless females, pheromones freely flowing, and things could get a little, um, combustible. While the Shoddy Cons want you to have a good time, they don’t suffer assholes gladly, so leave the posturing at home. “I want people to always come with peace and love and have a good time,” says R.J. LeStrange. And come they do. The velocity of the band’s growth, since its first live show in late August, almost defies physics — especially in a music scene as unpredictable and sometimes apathetic as Ventura’s. LeStrange contributes lead guitar, keyboards and a recently acquired Theremin. He is joined by the band’s originator Graco Hernandez along with DJ Spinobi Fader Fatalatist, Jeremy Henry on bass guitar, Robert Enriquez on the drum kit and Pat Locke on guitar.

Game on
The men who comprise the Shoddy Cons hail from various places, move to different grooves and draw their references from all over the map, but one thing binds them. “We all grew up with a deep passion for music. It’s part of our heart and what makes it beat,” says Henry. “It’s why we all picked up an instrument in the first place.” The six met through fairly typical means: drinking at “the Sewer” over the years, driving friends to a concert and throwing dough at Hungry Howie’s. Enriquez, Locke and LeStrange played together in Fallen Bones in 2007ish, and early last summer decided to jam rock and roll, punk and dirty blues in Enriquez’s garage on the west end of Ventura. They invited Hernandez, who was interested in starting a live hip-hop band, and it kept growing. By their second rehearsal, Hernandez already had them booked at Bombay Bar & Grill. “We knew we had only three months to come up with a 30-minute set — game on,” says LeStrange. Since then, they’ve shared a bill with Rey Fresco, played Bombay’s four other times, Sans Souci eight times, Billy O’s three times, El Rey, the Sportsman, a private party and the Epoca Nueva art show in Santa Paula. They have recorded three songs and hope to have an EP done by summer.

Under the influences
Five players and a DJ, each with eclectic taste in music, equals one diverse band with a sound that escapes categorization despite members’ own description of it as “hip-hoppish.” Henry recalls the sweet sounds that emanated from the eight-track player in his dad’s Trans-Am — the Doors, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix. “Then I heard punk rock in junior high in the early ’80s,” he said, “and that changed my life.” LeStrange, who attended school for sound engineering, cites Tom Waits, Glenn Danzig, Bon Iver, Egberto Gismonti, Mos Def and his six-year-old son Jackson as some of his influences, as well as locals such as Franklin for Short and its spinoffs. He has his grandfather to thank for his first guitar. Spinobi started on the viola but eventually traded it for a boombox — a good move considering his djing earned him three Grammy awards for his work with Ozomatli. “I dig it all: rock, pop, electronic, jungle, punk, country, classical, reggae, funk, R&B, world music, polkas, Cumbia, sound effects — basically anything that resonates is music to my ears,” he said. Locke’s influences are the Beastie Boys, the White Stripes and his dog Roscoe P. Coltrane. While Hernandez’s taste leans heavily on straight-up rap and hip-hop, it also makes huge leaps to the likes of Kraftwerk, Metallica and Steely Dan. Enriquez likes everything from classical and jazz to punk rock. Elements of the whole history of popular music can be found, like seasoning in a stew, in the band’s repertoire. “Being in the Shoddy Cons allows us to explore all those styles of music without sticking to one specific genre,” he said. The best part about someone seeing us for the first time is their reaction to our sound.” Says Hernandez: “We’re definitely not cookie cutter.” - Ventura County Reporter


Currently working on first EP.



The Shoddy Cons are comprised of 5 players who have various musical backgrounds and influences. Forming less then 2 years ago, the Shoddy Cons have quickly become a local favorite in their hometown of Ventura, Ca. Their style of rock and roll, hip hop, blues and punk has made their sound very unique and hard to compare to other bands. The band has recently opened for Talib Kweli, Del the Funky Homosapien, Rey Fresco and are currently planning a west-coast summer tour.