A unicorn’s horn. A bear’s paw.
Two items that were on Le Joshua’s “rider”.
Who the fuck are these kids?
I think I was probably 18 years old and finishing high school. I was in a band called Masque Opera at the time and I was setting up a show at a coffee shop in San Pedro called Sacred Grounds. It was one of those places that all the local bands played at. All ages. It would be filled with kids and the show would be over by 11pm.
I had heard from a couple of friends about these really young kids that were doing this band called “Le Joshua”. They must have been in 8th grade. I first met two of them when I was working at a record store in Redondo Beach called Offbeat. The drummer, Drew Pearson came in wearing crazy sun glasses, didn’t take them off once, and handed me a crayon drawing of a smiling sun and it said “Masque Opera hot hot”.
I e-mailed them to play a show I was setting up at Sacred Grounds and their response?
A rider including a unicorn’s horn and a bear’s paw among other impossible to find items. It must have been about 75 items long. From 8th graders playing in a punk band? You have to be fucking kidding me. It wasn’t so much in the way that it was an obvious joke, but in how seriously they took this joke.
It was their first show. It was a sloppy mess, but I fucking loved it.
Le Joshua were punk as fuck.
From there we continued to grow up and we continued to become better and better friends.
I tried to go to every show they played in the area.
Le Joshua were the greatest fucking band that no one outside of the southbay area of Los Angeles has heard of.
In the southbay area they had a die hard cult following mostly consisting of our friends who knew every single word to every single song they ever made. They played garages, coffee houses, drive ways, back yards, the Smell, and everything in between. They wore matching outfits- maybe some kind of a call back to Nation of Ulysses. At the time, I never really thought about what it was that Le Joshua stood for. But looking back now it makes perfect sense to me.
They put out one album. “Point to the Sky”. They also had a couple live sessions on the college radio station KXLU. And a couple of unreleased songs that were catchy as hell including “Princess” and “It’s Over”.
I remember when the first KXLU session came out as a CD-R demo. Le Joshua were playing a show at a house or a back yard? I can’t remember. The only thing I remember is everyone going completely nuts and screaming the words to the opening song: “My husband is in the front yard, smoking his cigar, I just want to go out and say, I never loved you anyway, or anymore, you are such a bore!”
What was going on here?
How were these songs coming from kids in high school?
This was the essence of Le Joshua. Kids throwing angst in every direction in the only way that they knew how. And we were there to share in that angst.
Le Joshua always felt to me like a last gasp for air.
Still clutching onto a crazy angsty youthfulness that was slipping out of all of our hands.
We were growing up.
They played shows so insanely hard that singer Joey Destefano was usually crawling his way across the floor by the end of the sets. Drew Pearson’s drums had collapsed into a pile of ruins. Tyler Bell’s guitar had come unplugged a long time ago. And Ben Cruz’s amp had fallen over. This line up would later change with the addition of Todd Amaral on guitar.
The best show they ever played was at a house that was set to be demolished. A friend of ours had been evicted so he figured he would throw a house closing party. They had filled a whole room with sand so it was as if Le Joshua were playing on the beach. The house was wrecked before the wrecking crew even showed up.
They did a short tour with the band Wives (Dean And Randy’s band pre-No Age), a west coast tour by themselves, and another west coast tour with Mika Miko.
And then what happens to all bands that are formed at such a young age around high school?
Growing up. College. Members move away. Interests change. People get into different things. More growing up. And then Le Joshua fell apart.
They got back together for one last show at the Smell. It was aligned with Mika Miko’s final shows. By this time, more people than just a small cult following from the southbay had heard of Le Joshua. They hit the stage with a banner hung up behind them in white letters that screamed “God Save Le Joshua”. It was all that needed to be said. Their whole aesthetic and attitude was summed up in those words. The music exploded and the crowd went crazy. Kids I had never seen before were screaming along to every word. And then they faded back to a fond, hazy memory of what being a teenager was like.
To a small group of people that were there Le Joshua are legendary. I can only hope more people discover this band.
Freddy Ruppert has recently put out his second album as Former Ghosts entitled New Love. He will be touring Europe starting in the Czech Republic on 23rd February. The album is out now through Upset the Rhythm.