“Don’t let the name fool you—It’s Casual is anything but. Led by singer/guitarist Eddie Solis, this Los Angeles-area punk rock duo blasts through riff-heavy tunes somewhere between Rollins-era Black Flag and Slayer. It’s a brutal, straightforward approach that has redefined skate rock and proven
the old adage that less is more.”
That’s what the bio for It’s Casual says. What it DOESN’T say is how amazing and inspirational a person Eddie Solis is. He runs a record label, Stoked Records, and he also has his own radio show Los Angeles Nista . He is a man of conviction and he is a true Los Angeles boy who loves his city. I was lucky enough to speak with him recently and was just blown away by his passion, energy, and enthusiasm. Oh, and It’s Casual kicks ass, too! Check it:
Amps: Man, you are ONE busy guy!! The band, your label, a radio show and your Greencore cause that you’re very passionate about. How do you find time for it all?
Eddie: You know what? All that stuff that you just said is components that motivate me. So I think what separates me from other people is that I’m not just worried about writing songs and making records. Because I’m involved in and take pride in three different things, my record label, Stoked Records, my radio show Los Angeles Nista and the band It’s Casual, to answer your question, I just make the time. That’s what I do. I spend about six hours a day on each thing, so coffee is where it’s at for me!
Amps: You stuck to the original message of The New Los Angeles this time around, but you expanded the themes as well for The New Los Angeles II. Tell me a little about that.
Eddie: What you said about about TNLA and TNLA II, you’re absolutely right. Part one was about what I see in each place. These are the facts. Now, I’m gonna bring to light some issues, whether it’s positive or negative, but they’re existing. You know, I wrote the song “Live Food” because I take public transportation and I choose to be car free, people they don’t get it because it’s a car culture out here. It’s not like the East coast or Chicago. People have no idea that we have a subway system! It’s not marketed to the entire human demographic. Anyway, what I see as I go around is a lot of overweight kids and that’s why the lyrics say “Childhood obesity, you’re gonna die of heart disease” and I think it’s a trickle-down effect of kids having kids. Parents not being completely responsible in the moment and saying, “This is what I need to do to upgrade their quality of life.” That circles over to the way the huge corporations that have control of a lot of people actually prevent progress.
Over the summer, I don’t know if you saw these billboards, Walmart had a campaign in L.A. County: it was a blue billboard with a 2-liter of Pepsi and a frozen pizza. I couldn’t believe it! And it said, “Effortless Dinner.” And I was like, “Exactly! It’s effortless!!” That’s what’s happening. People are making kids and instead of worrying about their diets they’re worried about getting the new PS4 because they’re immature. And that’s the trickle-down effect as to why their kids are obese. And I’m not saying everyone is that way, but there’s a lot of truth to it. So “Live Food” is kind of a joke because I don’t think a lot of people realize that the average shopper who subscribes to that billboard mentality just doesn’t get it. You need vitamins, you know? And my message is loud, clear, and direct, like a punch in the face, and I think that’s what life is, you know? People make their lives completely excessive and it hinders them with debt, bad diet, and if you just keep things within your means and straight to the point you don’t get caught up in all that.
It’s a very interesting time we’re living in. Part of my advocacy for car free living is that I just write what I know. I’m being as sincere as possible. I’ve been doing this for a decade and I think that there are many things that people could change.
Amps: I really like your message of “Greencore”, by the way. If I went to L.A. right now I would NOT rent a car, I would have to go public transportation just from reading things you’ve written about it being a totally different city when you’re not stuck on a freeway.
Eddie: I’m born and raised Los Angeles, I’m 38 years old, and I’ve traveled across the country many times over on tours. I love my city, and I love other cities, but L.A. is home, and I will never leave no matter what. I think after going cross-country and experiencing other cities it made me appreciate here even more. It’s big, and so full of life, and there’s something for EVERYONE whatever your taste is for food or music. The thing about it is, the reason why I called the album The New Los Angeles is because a decade into being car free I just saw the city through a new perspective, through the eyes of a bus rider. And I got inspired. I had been missing these things my entire life and I discovered amazing skateboarding spots, amazing art on walls that I never knew existed, mom and pop stores, skateboard shops, bakeries, food places, little liquor stores with great IPA’s, cool parks, restaurants, everything. And if I hadn’t taken public transportation I never would have learned about all these areas, and gotten inspired.
And that translates into my music. Yeah, it’s hardcore punk rock, and that’s how I choose to express myself, but it’s still with enthusiasm. There’s not one curse word in my music, and I’m not trying to shove anything down anyone’s throat. This is my inspiration, my city, and that’s why I called the record that. It FEELS like a new city to a bus rider. And that’s how I came up with the concept of TNLA I & II. The thing about L.A. is there’s the EZ Pass that you can use for all the subways, rail trains, and buses. And it’s also good for the suburbs. Now if you fork out $84 a month, divided by 30 days that’s $2.85 to travel unlimited all day. One, you’ve got your phone; you can write e-mails for work, text, or whatever. Two, you’re connecting with your city and people; you’re seeing more. You don’t have to fight for or pay for parking. You don’t have to pay for gas. It’s just a simple thing that I feel many people in L.A., this so-called car culture overlook. And for me it’s just inspirational.
Amps: Were you nervous creating your Los Angeles Nista show? That’s out of your comfort zone, right?
Eddie: Yeah, I never set out to do a talk radio show or host a show, you know? I got a lot of press and attention for TNLA I. I did a lot of shows and had a lot of personal contact from people who wanted to know more about using the MTA schedule. And I felt like I was really advocating something here, and it felt really good. I just go with what I know. I’m not trying to put on a show or anything. If you put me under a microscope, this is what it is. So I felt I needed to challenge myself and create a new platform for my message. That’s how I created it. I took the show to a couple of internet radio stations and as a matter of fact I just produced my 83rd episode last night. And every episode is city specific to Southern California. And we’ll have a guest in to represent a key destination or destinations, and we’ll talk about that person’s involvement, professional career in that area. It’s definitely strategic and coherent, and I’m excited!
Amps: What does Eddie do to unwind, when you’re away from EVERYTHING?
Eddie: Mostly skateboarding, that’s my number one. I do a lot of reading and research. I feel like I’ve had a second berth of being able to retain information, and I’m very eager to research a lot of topics.
Amps: You do realize you just put a record out and obviously you’re gonna be touring, right? Can you please watch yourself on the skateboard, huh? Some of us would like to see you live!
Eddie: (Laughing) I appreciate the concern! But I’ve been skating since ’87, and I feel I have pretty good control, and it’s a great sport for me to blow off my steam. It keeps me motivated since it’s a non-team sport, and I take it very seriously. But I also know my limitations!! Last thing I wanna do is try something new, eat it, and not be able to play for six months!
Amps: If you weren’t doing all of this, what WOULD you be doing?
Eddie: I would probably either be working for the MTA or for a record label because that’s what I’ve always done.
Amps: I have to say, you’ve really inspired me to look into ways to improve myself and my family’s lives as well.
Eddie: Dude! What you just told me, that’s priceless! That’s what it’s all about. If you can get something from what I’m doing, more power to you. We can all learn from each other in this world, and I hope I can learn from you as well. Life is just an ongoing work in progress and there are just so many great things one can do.
Amps: What’s next for you?
Eddie: Besides the ongoing Los Angeles Nista radio program, I’ll be writing another It’s Casual record, rehearsing, booking a tour, and in addition to that I have a whole list of bands I’m working with through my label.
Amps: Eddie, I really want to thank you for sitting down with me. You are an inspirational guy, and your enthusiasm is contagious, I love it!
Eddie: Absolutely, Damian. Keep in touch with me, and it was a pleasure talking to you, man. Take care!
I mean, come on. If after reading this you don’t want to go out and do something to improve yourself or help someone else, then something is seriously wrong with you. It’s Casual will be hitting the road in 2014. Be sure to check out The New Los Angeles I & II, both are out now. Also, tune into Los Angeles Nista, Mondays at 9PM PST, and get out of your cars and take a walk or something once in a while, willya??