The Playground Slap

Ray DeZonia: Electronics, Keyboards, Vocals | Marcelo Radulovich: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Keyboards, Vocals | Bill Ray: Drums | Mike Keneally: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric) | David Ybarra: Bass guitar, Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric)

Genre: Alternative, Funk, Punk

Sound description: According to the the band's MySpace page, their music is "a Jamulian brew of peculiar funk. Rock with many nods to psychedelia, rap and jazz, with sprinkles of country and Latin sway, brooding songs with catchy sounds aloft a swingingly stiff, often atonal mess of introspection and parody."

RIYL: Zappa, Camper Van Beethoven, Oingo Boingo

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Synoposis

Inception: Cardiff by the Sea, 1982

Ex-Band Members: Michael Addis, Drums

Current Status: Playing and recording.

Influences: Frank Zappa, Midnight Oil, Bootsy Collins, Fishbone, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Camper Van Beethoven, They Might Be Giants, Adrian Belew's Bears

Background:

"We were active between 1982 and 1988," says Marcelo Radulovich, "re-united in 2006, recorded a bunch of stuff, played a couple of shows then went our ways."

Few bands reunite two decades later. The Playground Slap, originally from Jamul, was in 2006 based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and back in the game. When they first played together, from 1982 to 1988, the Playground Slap shared the stage with Ministry, Midnight Oil, and Camper Van Beethoven.

By 2007, the reunion (sans drummer Michael Addis) included original members Marcelo Radulovich (vocals, synths); David Ybarra (vocals, bass); and Ray DeZonia (synths, vocals) were joined by Bill Ray (drums) and Mike Keneally (various).

"Onstage, I play a monster 1984 Jupiter 6 synthesizer," says DeZonia. "I also use a laptop and MIDI controller for samples. A mixer, an amp, two stands, all the cables needed to power up and plug in, plus the T-shirts we sell. As soon as everything is onstage and working properly, I get some beer in me and all is good...I bought it at Prosound and Music in San Diego, back when they were called Musician's Repair. It started that Playground Slap sound. The Jupiter 6 is the mother ship of all vintage synths. During our old heydays I played both the Jupiter and a Juno-60, a combination that could produce some of the fattest and wicked sounds ever created."

Radulovich -- a member of the Trummerflora experimental music collective -- recalls his favorite live gig, from when he fronted an early punk band. "I was in a band called the Assholes (for whatever reason we called ourselves 666 for this gig), and we had the first of three spots opening for Black Flag in Fresno, 1982. It was the best gig because it convinced me that playing music -- standing on a stage with musical instruments making noise -- was the thing for me and something I wanted to keep doing for the rest of my life. I was 17. It was also the worst gig because we were too arty for the Fresno punks. We were improvising and switching instruments between songs...when they did not respond the way we wanted them to, we ended up insulting them, and they ended up yelling nasty shit because we weren't giving them what they were there for. Fights almost broke out -- we almost got the shit kicked out of us."

The Playground Slap unveiled new material at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar in July 2007.

Longtime drummer and former SDSU film student Michael Addis (who never graduated) directed the feature documentary Heckler, in which he follows comedian Jamie Kennedy on a stand-up tour as he elaborates on the surge in heckling in recent years, discussing the topic with Bill Maher, David Cross, Dave Attell, Patton Oswalt, Mike Ditka, Rob Zombie, George Lucas, and Carrot Top, among others.

"I remember being more of a heckler than a hecklee," recalls Addis of his SD musician days. "Our band was partially defined by what we hated. We were motivated by the bands in San Diego we deemed crappy (and we did heckle those bands frequently). In that respect, we were the kind of heckler/critics that I speak highly of in my documentary: those who don't get caught in the rut of criticizing without creating; those who are constructive in that they want art to improve and are angry when it falls below high standards."

In the film, Jewel, who has long been sharp-tongued in retorts to hecklers and press jibes, offers her perspective on heckling. Addis knew her from her early SD days when she was thick with his friend and her quasi-mentor Steve Poltz.

"I've always liked her and was friends with her back in the day. She's a good and confident woman, and every time we got together, I was struck by how you really couldn't ask for a better role model for girls....

"She says some very funny, interesting things in our movie.... And speaking of which, the dumb criticism people have of her teeth is what made me want to put her in the movie. The fact that the press has focused on the lack of straightness in her choppers is a perfect example of why the fourth estate is in such bad shape nowadays -- go after Jewel's teeth. It's a lot easier than doing actual journalism."

In 2011, bassist/singer David Ybarra was unable to play guitar for awhile, due to swelling in his hands caused by an ongoing battle against kidney disease, but he plans to continue playing bass.

Their 2013 odds-and-ends album Disco Nausea features material from their 1982 to 1988 heyday, as well as their 2006-2007 reunions. Marcelo Radulovich says “I reworked and remixed the material and this is the result, a great album, if I may say so myself. Features lots of great players like Mike Keneally and Bill Ray.”

Discography

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