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Hemlock spins off a book and new alt-club event

Deathrock dancers bring Nothing to Kensington

Hemlock and deathrock set out to prove that print’s not dead.
Hemlock and deathrock set out to prove that print’s not dead.

Javi Nunez was into gothic metal and punk before he dove into deathrock, a subgenre of punk and goth that originated on the west coast circa 1980. The crossover act for him was Rudimentary Peni, a British punk band that, according to Nunez, drew him in with their “dark, deathrock influence.” He was soon finding more deathrock via a very mainstream source: chain music stores.

“Little by little, I started to discover more,” Nunez explained. “I would pick up the project samplers, the compilations they would have at Sam Goody and Wherehouse, and started to dive in the music there. I just started learning more and more, but I dove into the genre a bit more on the obscure end as opposed to your mainstays, like learning the genre through the Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees. I kind of took a different route.”

Nunez never played in bands, but by 2017 was looking to flex his love of deathrock in a different fashion. He booked a Monday night at Blonde Bar to DJ a set devoted to the somewhat obscure genre. The response was positive, and he was asked to return. Club Hemlock was up and running. The club night would stay at Blonde for about a year before it moved to Bar Pink. In 2020, it ended its run at its final home base, the Merrow in Hillcrest.

The end coincided with the pandemic, but Nunez had already been planning his exit. “I was leaning towards stopping it anyways, mainly because my day-to-day and my work [operating North Park’s AKA printing and clothing boutique] wasn’t slowing down anytime soon. It just got to be a little bit much for me. When I do events, I like to put in as much as I can. I’ll do merch, designs, I print the posters by hand, I print stickers by hand. I kind of apply that DIY aspect to it and I really don’t sleep on or carelessly walk into events. I never really wanted to get to a point where I was fighting not to resent something that I love doing as a job. I got a sense that it was leaning that way, and that’s when I decided I was gonna go out on a high note and push back before it got to that point.”

Nunez always arranged for photographers to be working the Hemlock nights, and there was only one occasion where the scheduled photographer flaked. He had loads of pictures to work with, and after receiving a very positive response to a ‘zine he put together for one of his final events, he decided to dive into creating an actual book documenting the Club Hemlock nights. He worked on the project throughout the pandemic, and the book had its release party at the Casbah in June.

“For that point in time, I wanted to document as much as I could, saying ‘This is what was going on here in San Diego,’” he said. But just when it seemed like Nunez was out of the club game, deathrock dragged him back in. On August 27, he will be part of a new night at the Kensington Club called Club Nothing.

Past Event

Club Nothing

  • Friday, August 27, 2021, 8 p.m.
  • Kensington Club, 4079 Adams Avenue, San Diego

“It is going to take elements of what I brought to the table with Hemlock and combine them with elements from a couple of other promoters here, taking all these parts and really creating something new that keeps that momentum alive and well in San Diego. There is a great momentum here, with a lot of hardworking promoters. The good thing is that everybody works together and with each other. When you do that, ultimately the scene and the community is benefitting from that. I like where it’s going, and I’m very enthusiastic to see where it goes post-pandemic.” Hemlock: A Night of Deathrock is available for purchase at the AKA shop and on their website.

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Hemlock and deathrock set out to prove that print’s not dead.
Hemlock and deathrock set out to prove that print’s not dead.

Javi Nunez was into gothic metal and punk before he dove into deathrock, a subgenre of punk and goth that originated on the west coast circa 1980. The crossover act for him was Rudimentary Peni, a British punk band that, according to Nunez, drew him in with their “dark, deathrock influence.” He was soon finding more deathrock via a very mainstream source: chain music stores.

“Little by little, I started to discover more,” Nunez explained. “I would pick up the project samplers, the compilations they would have at Sam Goody and Wherehouse, and started to dive in the music there. I just started learning more and more, but I dove into the genre a bit more on the obscure end as opposed to your mainstays, like learning the genre through the Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees. I kind of took a different route.”

Nunez never played in bands, but by 2017 was looking to flex his love of deathrock in a different fashion. He booked a Monday night at Blonde Bar to DJ a set devoted to the somewhat obscure genre. The response was positive, and he was asked to return. Club Hemlock was up and running. The club night would stay at Blonde for about a year before it moved to Bar Pink. In 2020, it ended its run at its final home base, the Merrow in Hillcrest.

The end coincided with the pandemic, but Nunez had already been planning his exit. “I was leaning towards stopping it anyways, mainly because my day-to-day and my work [operating North Park’s AKA printing and clothing boutique] wasn’t slowing down anytime soon. It just got to be a little bit much for me. When I do events, I like to put in as much as I can. I’ll do merch, designs, I print the posters by hand, I print stickers by hand. I kind of apply that DIY aspect to it and I really don’t sleep on or carelessly walk into events. I never really wanted to get to a point where I was fighting not to resent something that I love doing as a job. I got a sense that it was leaning that way, and that’s when I decided I was gonna go out on a high note and push back before it got to that point.”

Nunez always arranged for photographers to be working the Hemlock nights, and there was only one occasion where the scheduled photographer flaked. He had loads of pictures to work with, and after receiving a very positive response to a ‘zine he put together for one of his final events, he decided to dive into creating an actual book documenting the Club Hemlock nights. He worked on the project throughout the pandemic, and the book had its release party at the Casbah in June.

“For that point in time, I wanted to document as much as I could, saying ‘This is what was going on here in San Diego,’” he said. But just when it seemed like Nunez was out of the club game, deathrock dragged him back in. On August 27, he will be part of a new night at the Kensington Club called Club Nothing.

Past Event

Club Nothing

  • Friday, August 27, 2021, 8 p.m.
  • Kensington Club, 4079 Adams Avenue, San Diego

“It is going to take elements of what I brought to the table with Hemlock and combine them with elements from a couple of other promoters here, taking all these parts and really creating something new that keeps that momentum alive and well in San Diego. There is a great momentum here, with a lot of hardworking promoters. The good thing is that everybody works together and with each other. When you do that, ultimately the scene and the community is benefitting from that. I like where it’s going, and I’m very enthusiastic to see where it goes post-pandemic.” Hemlock: A Night of Deathrock is available for purchase at the AKA shop and on their website.

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