Part Time Punks, founded in 2005 by DJ and vinyl collector extraordinaire Michael Stock, has a long and storied history in the Los Angeles music scene, providing one of the most beloved club nights (and subsequent KXLU radio show) that features punk, post-punk, new wave, industrial, synth-pop, shoegaze, and other dark, off-beat and deeply satisfying sounds. Every Sunday at The Echo, Part Time Punks provides a safe-haven and den of musical discovery that Los Angeles music nerds can call home
How It All Began…
We spoke with founder Michael Stock and worked our way backwards through time to learn about how and why he started Part Time Punks and found a permanent residence at The Echo.
Stock continues, “The first place I ever DJ’d at was Silverlake Lounge for Scott Sterling. I was hanging out there quite a bit because in that era it was THE place to be in terms of seeing the best new bands (i.e. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Autolux, The Warlocks, Midnight Movies, etc). Then I pitched him what at that time was a crazy idea — ‘How about you let me DJ in-between bands and I will play records by bands who I think obviously influenced these new bands that are playing?’ Conceptually it makes for a cooler, stronger night. I remember Scott was really into the idea of someone actually playing records at one end of the bar; how ‘weird’ that would be, providing another performance level, but it took a lot of talking and time to get him to go for it, months.”
Finally Sterling agreed to have Stock DJ but things started off a little rocky. “So the first show where he let me DJ was when French synth-punks Metal Urbain played there…their first and only ever LA show. They weren’t sure where to put me and I ended up in this closet behind the stage with all the PA amps, where there was this tiny barred window with curtains where I could sorta look out and see what the hell was going on. The trick was of course, I would have to somehow slip out behind the band just as they were starting. I remember I was so nervous by the time Metal Urbain came on, I got too freaked out to go on stage because they’d already started and I spent the entire set in my little caged room behind the stage! So there you have it, my illustrious first DJ gig.”
Stock was also inspired to DJ at shows due to simple monetary reasons, or lack thereof.
And did that awkward first gig stop Stock? Hell no. His admirable persistence and enthusiasm would pay off soon enough. One day while chatting with Liz Garo (The Echo’s talent booker) Stock mentioned that him and his friend Ben White were going to throw a post-punk party at a DIY space/gallery up the street called Timbrespace (pre-cursor to Pehrspace) and Liz promptly responded, ” Why don’t you do it here at The Echo on a Sunday instead?” For Stock it was an easy answer. “Luckily I had no clue what the fuck I was doing because no promoter in their right mind would want a DREADED FUCKING SUNDAY (deadest night of the week for all eternity)! Being clueless at that point, I was like, ‘amazing, killer, yeah!’ That was May of 2005.”
The Secret to PTP’s Longevity…
It’s almost 2017 and Part Time Punks has since gone from a strange concept to blossoming into a well known musical institution. Stock ponders my inquiry as to what keeps PTP running full steam ahead. “Yeah what the hell is the secret?! Part of it is definitely due to its very nature, the fact that it’s changing all the time, every week, year, fluctuating along with my ever-growing/changing tastes and discoveries in music. One of the biggest compliments I ever got was from David Gedge of The Wedding Present during his third or fourth visit to the club, during a John Peel tribute. He was standing there next to me, surveying the scene and said, ‘I’ve gone to a lot of clubs literally all over the world and I’ve literally never seen another nite like this one, where it’s different every week. I think Peel would have greatly approved.’ That and the fact that REAL music fans keep coming out. Hooray for the constantly growing number of music freaks in LA! Without them there would be no Part Time Punks of course!”
Also at the heart of Stock’s keen and ever-evolving musical tastes is his true and passionate addiction to vinyl, which he spins exclusively. He recounts how he first came in contact with the magical wonders of vinyl. “I started buying vinyl when I was 11 or 12 in Nebraska and have literally NEVER sold anything! It’s always been about vinyl for me and always about the sound AND vision — the superior sound quality and the amazing art form of the vinyl record sleeve in all sizes.”
Part Time Punks — Mixtape Nites, Booking Bands Old and New
The PTP club nites are always popping whether its a mixtape themed evening, showcasing fresh, up-and-coming bands or pulling old-school artists tooth-and-nail from obscurity for a wondrous, one-of-a-kind reunion, Stock is at the helm of it all.
The mixtape approach to PTP has made outstanding contributions to some of its most popular, nostalgia driven nites.
Stock’s proclivity for booking beyond cool up-and-coming bands is also greatly regarded. Since we here at Grimy Goods are constantly on the lookout for badass new music too I had to ask Stock if he ever had a similar experience to mine, where he gets totally hyped and has that kind of ‘holy shit, this (fairly unknown) artist is amazing, therefore I must book them and get everyone else to listen to them right now,’ kind of moment. “Thank god for that ‘holy shit’ moment, shares Stock. “If anything, THAT is also to credit for the longevity of PTP — both the Sunday nites at The Echo and the radio show. I fall in love with bands every week and it really is this love affair that drives me to play them on the radio and/or book them… This process of discovery happens in a myriad of ways. I’m always on the hunt and I’m constantly being hit up by bands and/or managers, booking agents and tons of recommendations from people who listen to the radio show and call or email in with tips. Typically the next step in the romance is the love letter aka the fan letter, where I usually write a very gushing, sometimes embarrassingly gushing letter, telling these bands how much I love them and: (a) can they please email me tracks for the radio show, (b) how much I’d love to have them play a PTP nite, and (c) asking them if they’d like to come into the studio and record a PTP radio session.”
Stock also books some fantastic older bands, many of whom have slipped into obscurity or remained on hiatus from the stage for years. Turns out that same persistence that got him in at The Echo those many moons ago also proves fruitful in persuading and coercing older bands to come out of hiding and back into the spotlight.
“This part of it also starts off with a fan/love letter, explains Stock. “Booking these older bands is a process that very literally often takes YEARS. No exaggeration! Many of them have been resistant initially. When I first contacted The Raincoats they said there was no way it would ever happen but I would check in with them once or twice a year. Eventually things shifted and suddenly the records were being reissued and suddenly it made sense. Same story with The Bush Tetras, Section 25, A Certain Ratio, The Jazz Butchers, Zounds, etc.”
DIY Art Work, DIY Spirit…
With Stock’s immense can-do attitude and DIY spirit constantly propelling him and the bands he loves forth in the LA music scene, it comes as little surprise that that same independent spirit finds its way into his unmistakably, famous black and white concert posters and flyers.
Also out of necessity comes innovation.
- I have no fucking idea how to use Photoshop and in fact I refuse to learn it is now out of principle.
- That very first day I went to Staples in 2005 (down the street from Amoeba) and asked nervously if I could borrow a pair of scissors, and how the hell did I reduce and enlarge things and other embarrassingly naive questions… the one question answered that set the path for these was, “how much is color vs. black and white?’ and when I learned a color poster was $1.59 vs. a b&w poster was 12 cents, that was that!
- Total confession time here, but I’m colorblind. Not totally mind you, but enough so that b&w was really the only choice for that reason too (or should I say three).”
Part Time Punks Now And More To Come…
While all Part Time Punk shows have something to offer, the following shows are Stock’s top upcoming picks and hearing his unbridled enthusiasm for them has us thrilled with the recommendations. Check these out and follow Part Time Punks online for all the latest and greatest music discoveries!
10/16 – Black Marble
“One of my favorite bands of this decade and they haven’t played LA since they last played PTP over three years ago. They have a massive fanbase in LA thanks to all the KXLU DJs spinning that record nonstop a few years back and their new record is freaking incredible.”
10/23 – Jowe Head
“He was a founding member of Swell Maps and played with Television Personalities for over a decade. Fun fact: The TVPS did the tune ‘Part Time Punks’ that the club is named after. Jowe Head has done a number of sold out shows on the East Coast over the past few years but never been to California so I really can’t wait for this one.”
12/11 – Pylon
“Pylon (aka Pylon Reenactment Society as they’re now known since guitarist Randy Bewley passed away) is coming back! They played the second PTP festival back in 2009 and stole the fucking show…the entire room was breathless for the whole set…which was really saying something because that lineup was insane. One of the best shows at Part Time Punks ever! I’m totally freaking out that they’re coming back seven and a half years later to play for a whole new generation of fans.”
Interview Feature by Emily Saex