We had the opportunity to talk to Alan Kasameyer, guitarist and vocalist for the Hawaiian punk rock band, El Sancho. During our conversation, Alan shared his experience playing punk rock in the islands, with legendary bands, and a bit of Hawaiian punk history.
El Sancho’s History
After moving to the Big Island of Hawai’i, Alan had difficulty finding people to play punk rock with. Eventually, he found Nate Werneck, who played the bass, and Tony Joyce who played the drums. In their desire to play music, they soon formed a band called El Sancho. With a regular presence around the island, strong lyrics, and fast beats, they have embraced the local punk rock scene on the Big Island of Hawai’i since 2018.
Their music talks about oppression, racism, and zombies, among other things. Alan stated that El Sancho existed purely in the “Trump era”. Writing what was on their minds, their lyrics translated to angry thoughts of fascism and Trumpism.
Hide your girlfriends
Alan shared that the name of the band came after they played a gig in a local elementary school. Nate Werneck (bass) came up with the idea of naming the band, “El Sancho” as a tribute to his favorite taco spot in his hometown in Oregon.
El Sancho is a term most commonly used in Mexican lingo that translates to “the guy who steals your girlfriend”. This silly joke stayed as a permanent name for the band.
The band has released numerous singles on digital music platforms, in addition to two CDs and one 7” record. They have opened for bands like D.O.A, The Cutthroat Brothers, and D.I.
The Sharx, hardcore band from Hawai’i – 1983
Photo courtesy of Comrade Motopu
Punk Rock Scene in Hawai’i
The punk movement in Hawai’i dates back to the 1970s. Bands such as Rolling Mango Review and Zacharia were active in the Manoa area on the East side of Hawai’i. Schools such as Roosevelt and the University of Hawai’i started getting into new wave and punk in the mid-70s, which is where the punk scene in Hawai’i started to shift.
Early punk bands played mostly covers and new wave music. At the end of the 70s, bands started to incorporate original songs into their shows. The first punk band in Hawai’i to come out with an original single was the Fuckin Flyin A-Heads.
In the early 80s, Cringer was considered one of the building blocks in Hawaiian punk rock history, along with other bands such as Fidler and Botch. The members of Cringer were originally from Manoa, Hawai’i, and later moved to Los Angeles to eventually transition to the band J Church who sold many records in years to come.
During the 1990s, when punk started to become more popular, a Hawaiian band called Grapefruit toured in California with Jason Miller, founder of a local record label called, Hawaiian Express based in Honolulu, HI. Local Hawaiian punk rockers soon learned Jason’s purpose, as he was notorious for promoting the punk rock scene in Hawai’i.
Every year, in June, Jason Miller holds the Sailor Jerry Festival in Oahu, Hawai’i. This festival is a celebration of a local tattoo artist, famous for his western-Asian style and art. It also honors the global influence he made from the art he produced. Jason Miller and his record label, Hawaiian Express, help promote bands by letting them play at this festival.
Hi-Tide Nation is another music promoter in Hawai’i. They are known for booking punk rock bands such as The Dead Kennedys, DOA, Polly Shore, and many, many more. HI-Tide Nation is also very famous for bringing punk rock bands into the outer islands, which is atypical for bands in this genre. Because of this, DOA was the first band to come on tour on the Big Island.
According to Alan, there are not many active punk bands in Hawai’i, so when a new band comes along to play in a local club, lots of people come out of curiosity.
Although Hawai’i is known for its beautiful beaches and majestic nature, Alan shared that touring the islands of Hawai’i is challenging due to the additional expenses that going from one island to another one brings.
Want to find out more about the Hawai’i punk rock scene? Check out these links to explore:
- Big Island Music Magazine
- Comrade Motopu (Hawaiian Punk Museum)
- Hawaiian Express Records
- Sailor Jerry Festival
- Punk Rock in Exile (Alan’s Music Blog)
2022 – Bloody Scar / I’m Unhappy To Live on Earth (demos)
2021 – Jollier Than Thou
2021 – Bad Dad
2021 – You’re Dead! (But You Don’t Even Know It)
2021 – How To Kill A Zombie
2021 – Our Part In The Darkness
2020 – We Finally Won The War On Christmas
2020 – Back To The Bay
2020 – I’m Unhappy To Live On Earth
2019 – Self-Title