Bryan Migdol was on the ground floor of the burgeoning punk rock scene in the South Bay as the original drummer of Black Flag which had its origin in 1976 in Hermosa Beach.
More than 40 years later, Migdol is returning to Hermosa Beach with a new band, My High School Rebellion. The group will make its one and only appearance at Fiesta Hermosa Saturday, Aug. 31.
Migdol formed the band with Michael Vallejo (Circle One) and Rik Collins (The Woolly Bandits) as a record project.
“It wasn't really like a planned thing, it was something that morphed into what it turned into,” Migdol said.
My High School Rebellion became a conglomeration of veteran performers including Bill Close (The Freeze) and Aaron Minton (Prima Donna). They were joined by 11 vocalists for their new CD, which has two songs streaming online including “The American in Me” and “Ever Fallen Love,” and will be released as CD soon.
The vocalists include Christa Collins (Woolly Bandits), Casey Royer (DI, The Adolescents), Farrell Holtz (Decry), Elizabeth McGrath (Tongue), Suzi Carmichael (Turbulent Hearts), Axxel Ashford (The Gears), Billy Bones (The Skulls), Monkey (The Adicts), Stacy Dee (Bad Cop Bad Cop), Don Bolles (The Germs), and Kevin Presley (Prima Donna).
“I've pretty much got everybody from the record that's going to be there at Fiesta Hermosa other than three people who are on tour,” said Migdol, but he said they will be replaced by other well-known musicians.
Some of the songs that My High School Rebellion recorded were ones that Migdol listened to when he lived in Hermosa Beach in 1976 and 1977, mainly early British punk from bands like Generation X, Buzzcocks and The Damned.
Back when Black Flag started, they were young, rebellious, and “rough around the edges” in terms of their music. The Old Baptist Church on Manhattan Avenue became a refuge for punk bands.
“We would rehearse and we were early on in punk, so we would play these songs and kind of had an open door policy where we would allow people to come in and watch us rehearse,” recalled Migdol of the church. “It started getting out of control to the point where people from the South Bay would start coming in from Lawndale, Torrance. On any given day we would have 100 people at our rehearsal place.”
The police were not happy about that, according to Migdol.
“I'm older now I get it, I wouldn't like it either, so they started complaining about us,” Migdol said. “So the police really started harassing us. I wasn't with them, but when they did the Polliwog thing that was pretty much the icing on the cake.”
While he was not with the band at the time, a Black Flag concert in 1979 turned Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach into a “semi-riot."
Migdol went to high school with Mike Bell, whose company Bell Event Services, manages Fiesta Hermosa. When they were at the NAMM Show in Anaheim last year, Bell suggested the band play at the annual event in Hermosa Beach. But Migdol said that with the number of busy musicians, it is logistically challenging.
“But when I started asking people if they would be down to joining, everybody was like 'yeah, yeah, yeah, let's do it,” Migdol said.
But at first it did take some time to receive approval from the city.
“They seem to think that we're going to play there, there's going to be a riot there,” said Migdol, who added their new music is radio friendly and “clean.” “I had to explain to them that was 40 years ago... we were going to come out on stage with walkers, just to kind of joke around, but we decided not to do that.”
Migdol said it will be “weird” for him to be back performing in Hermosa Beach where “we caused all this havoc and had fun.”
Migdol said that 40 years later, it's a little ironic that Hermosa Beach is embracing punk and its history especially for tourism.
“I'm fine with that... it's a different time,” Migdol said.
Migdol stayed in the music industry over the years, but one thing he is excited about Saturday's performance is his family has never seen him play punk.
“So on many different levels this is a very exciting thing,” Migdol said. “It's going to wonderful and the band sounds really good.”
Punk band The Skulls will open for My High School Rebellion from 4:30 to 5 p.m. before they play on the Main Stage on the Pier Plaza, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The Skulls lead singer Billy Bones may also join My High School Rebellion for a song or two.