Latch Key Kids:
H-Town Punk Heroes, Back to Life and Better Than Ever
(l to r) Marc Manic, Tim Guerinot, Dillon Sexton, Rhino Neumann, & Donnie Reyes.
Photo courtesy of the Latch Key Kids.
In any other city, they would've been legends.
No, I'm serious -- back in the day, in that late-'90s punk explosion that seemed to rock Houston, fast, loud, earnest-as-hell punk rockers the Latch Key Kids were one of the Bands Most Likely To Make It, right up there with folks like 30footFALL, The Jinkies, and Blueprint.
They played with every punk or hardcore band that came through town, cranking out their propulsive, shout-along brand of punk rock, and watching from the outside, it felt like they were destined to break through. They put out a couple of 7"s, made a couple of compilation appearances, and put out two full-lengths, Anytime, Anyplace and Innocence Gone (both on local labels 1492 and Pinche Flojo Records); they were on their way, getting bigger and better. Epitaph or Fat Wreck were bound to come knocking.
And then they just went away. They didn't break up, per se -- no farewell shows, no splintering off to other side projects, no "artistic differences." They just stopped playing, went back to their day-job lives, and that was that. No more Latch Key Kids.
Fast-forward a decade, to December of 2007. We here at SCR got a somewhat mysterious email from Latch Key Kids frontman Tim Guerinot, saying pretty much this: "FYI, Latch Key Kids from Houston are playing some shows in February of 08'." The band reformed out of the ether, stepping right back onstage to play with NOFX and No Use For A Name and holding their own with the big-timers. From there, they headed on out to Vegas to play two sold-out nights with Bad Religion and Strung Out, following up with more shows in Houston and Austin.
It's almost like they never left. Actually, it's better than if they'd never left -- the band's grown up a hell of a lot in the intervening years, and that time apart's made them, if anything, stronger and more together than they were before. Against all odds, they've come back to punk rock as adults and picked up where they left off.
(l to r) Dillon, Tim, & Marc.
Photo courtesy of the Latch Key Kids.
SCR: So, why now? Why the reunion, after all these years? And who the heck came up with the idea, anyway?
Tim Guerinot: Why not? I think everyone was at a point in their life where we noticed how much we missed playing in LKK. Everytime we saw each other, we'd talk about music, which in turn started up conversations about the band. Rhino had just got back from tour with Pennywise, and we hooked up for some breakfast. He suggested we play a few shows. Within three hours, everyone had been contacted and agreed to fire it up. Within a week, we were slotted to play with NOFX and No Use For a Name.
Whoa...that fast? That's pretty damn impressive...was it a right-place-right-time deal?
Not really. Over the last few years, Rhino has worked as a tour manager, drum tech, guitar tech, etc., for 20-plus punk bands. He just called the NOFX guys who he'd worked for in the past and asked if we could play. They were very cool with it.
What've you all been up to in the meantime? Anything music-related, or had you all drifted off to The World of Real Jobs?
All of us went to school and have real jobs. Except for Rhino; he was fortunate to keep it going as far as music-related activities.
So Rhino's actually been playing with Pennywise? I hadn't heard about that...
No. He was Fletcher's [Dragge] guitar tech and Byron's [McMackin] drum tech for a while.
And what kind of real jobs do the of you guys have, just out of curiosity?
Pilot, teacher, IT-related, semi-professional fencer -- the sport, that is.
Who's in the band, these days? I know you had a number of Kids pass through over the years.
Most of the core guys and a new one. Me, Rhino [Neumann, guitar], Dillon [Sexton, bass], Marc [Manic, guitar], and Donnie [Reyes; drums], formerly with FenixTX. We always have my brother JJ [drums] and Dave Ng [bass] on retainer when needed. We consider LKK more like a fraternity. Whenever we have a show, we just see who's available to do the show.
How easy was it to get everybody back together? No Pixies-style bad blood, I hope? I wasn't ever sure really what the reasons were for the breakup in the first place, so...
Getting everyone back together was so easy. No bad blood at all. Never was a breakup. Everyone just had other stuff going on which needed our attention. Therefore, we didn't have the time to ever get together. Now we're at a place where we can start playing again, and it feels really good.
Latch Key Kids
World Burns to Death
You guys have just been on hiatus this whole time? Man...I'd wondered why I never saw any news about the band actually breaking up.
Yeah. One day we just had other stuff we had to do. Real life stuff that kept piling up over the years had to finally be addressed.
What's the reception been like since you've started doing shows again?
Amazing! I was shocked when we played in Las Vegas that a few people remembered the songs. In Austin, one guy brought an old LKK shirt, back beat to shit, and asked if he could trade his old one in for a new one. We were like, "Dude, keep the rag and here's a new one."
Dillon Sexton. Photo courtesy of the Latch Key Kids.
How did the Vegas shows go? Who all did you play with up there?
We played with literally our biggest influence, Bad Religion! Also, one of my personal favorites, Strung Out, and friends of ours from back in the day, Death by Stereo. We played sold out shows back-to-back at the House of Blues. The crowd went crazy. After one of the shows, we were hanging with Brian Baker from Bad Religion. He was giving us a breakdown of our performance and at one point said the songs sounded rad. We all thought, "Those songs are from '98!" I guess fast music is somewhat timeless.
After the show, we also got to hang out with the guys from Pennywise -- my personal favorite all-time band. They had a show the next day at a skate park in Las Vegas. Really cool!
Do you see yourselves as an influence on the current crop of bands around Houston? Are there any out there now that you guys like?
I don't know about influence. If so, then thanks for the props! Yeah, I like Eye Against. I heard some of their stuff the other day and was impressed. I saw a live show recently; lots of energy. I like bands that let it all hang out. My brother is in a hardcore band from Austin called World Burns to Death. Those guys rock! I'm usually the cleanest person at the shows. We also are of course supporters of our friends from 30footFALL. We played a few shows right when we started playing again, and it was great to see those guys.
How about your peers from the old days? Anybody still around? Anybody you miss dearly?
Yeah, hung out with Rad Rich the other day. Went to a Los Skarnales show the other night. Those guys are so amazing -- classy bunch of dudes. Ran into all the old Pinche Flojo guys. We all have mad respect for them. Those guys sacrificed so much to release our CDs and give us tour support back in the day. I definitely miss Blueprint and Injury.
Along the same lines, how's it feel when you look back at the scene a decade or so ago?
It seems pretty similiar, although I haven't seen too much skate rock lately. Hopefully we can help out again and get it going in H-town. Human behavior doesn't change. If you play music from the heart, people typically dig it. It was really cool, when we played with NOFX, to see everyone yelling and dancing.
(l to r) Tim, Dillon, Marc, & Rhino.
Photo courtesy of the Latch Key Kids.
How long-term is this, anyway? Is this just kind of a relative one-off, or are you hoping to keep the Latch Key Kids around a while?
Not a one-off. We've been asked to already tour with some really big bands. We want to finish our new stuff and release something before we do any long-term touring. We definitely want to play for a long time.
Can you give any hints as to which big bands? Or is it top-secret at this point?
One of 'em was Bad Religion. After we played with them, Brian Baker told us to rent a van and keep playing shows with them. I must say that made everyone's year to hear that from one of the guys from BR. They're the coolest guys ever.
The other one I have to keep secret for awhile.
Any plans for a new release? I remember you mentioned something about doing some recording -- how'd that go?
Definitely plans for a new release. We have like 20 new ideas we are working on. Although we want to write something real that all feel, don't worry, it will be hard, fast, and loud. It just takes time writing quality lyrics along with the music to make it all work. END