Honolulu Weekly
Not Just Random Nihilism

Not just random nihilism
Punk band 86 List’s upcoming event at Coffee Talk would have Linda Richman discussing it for hours.
Margot Seeto

86 List / What motivates a band to get faster and more aggressive over time?

“Usually bands get slower as they get older,” says 86 List frontman Josh86. “Ours has to do with honest subject matter about real things, about real feelings. Not just bullshit boyfriend songs. Not just random nihilism. [It’s] things we’ve experienced, things we care about.”

As he speaks, Josh86 paces the hallway in front of his practice studio at the Blaisdell Hotel. The self-produced Respect on the 86 Records label (with assistance from Analogrithem Records) is the band’s fifth album in 11 years.

On [], Josh86 reveals that there is a code based on a certain old-school Konami video game that unlocks a stream of 86 List’s Pirate Radio catalog online. You’ll be able to hear all the songs that 86 List has put out. Ever. It’s up to you to figure out how. Hint: if you can figure out how to contact Josh86 and prove that you’re a big enough fan, he might point you in the right direction.

After all that time, it’s not surprising to hear such a monologue from a person so entrenched in not only his own band’s history, but also in the Honolulu underground music scene as a promoter and innovator for more than a decade.

86 List currently consists of its three original members: lead vocalist and guitarist Josh86, bassist and cheesecake-maker extraordinaire Otto and drummer Derek86. The future looks strong for the trio of punk rockers, but that no longer means making it onto a major label. The youngest members of the band are in their late 20s, and 11 years in the business has changed the group’s perspective on success and happiness.

“We switched gears five years ago about whether or not to try to make it,” says Josh86. “The best thing to do is make a goal of staying together, making more music and to continue to be a punk band in Hawaii. I’m happy living in Hawaii, playing music with my band members that I’ve been fortunate enough to find and stay with.”

As for stand-out songs on Respect, Josh86 first points to “Red Tide,” a commentary about Hawaii’s disappointing unwillingness to support civil unions.

“In my generation, this will be the most important issue as far as human rights, civil rights. It’s black and white with where we stand on that issue. That song is kind of a big deal.”

“Taken” illuminates the more personal issues that Respect illustrates.

“[It’s] a bit of my story of being in the Honolulu underground scene for a long time. It’s beautiful and tragic at the same time. I dumped so much of my time into this. I don’t have a career, I don’t have a degree.”

Despite this admission of jadedness, Josh86 is not giving up on providing Honolulu with underground music and making sure others can too. This is why he feels so passionately about all-ages shows.
Paving the way with all-ages shows

There aren’t many venues on the Island that support all-ages shows. Without legal-aged clientele to buy alcohol, the lack of cash flow instills fear in business owners’ bank accounts. Crusaders of the music scene try, but Oahu has seen recent all-ages venues such as The Spot and Alter Solum go under in less than a year’s time.

What’s worked for Unity Crayons, a promotion group currently made up of Josh86, The Hell Caminos’ Mike Camino, Analogrithem’s Aaron Collins and multi-band drummer Jack Tawil, is to use pre-existing venues that have a family-friendly vibe. Coffee Talk in Kaimuki has been a consistent all-ages venue for Unity Crayons since 2003. Josh86 shares that the key factors for having a safe all-ages show are that it be “an alcohol-free environment, drug-free. And one or two underage bands on bill.” He points to No Image, whose members are all under 14 years old.

“I hope they will inspire some other young kids to form bands,” he says. As for Coffee Talk, Josh86 says that parents are familiar with the venue and feel comfortable having their children there. And coffee is something show-goers can purchase to support the venue’s business.

It sounds like a formula for success, but “after three years, the pace slowed down. There were fewer people, less young bands,” says Josh86.

There were only sporadic shows at Coffee Talk between 2006 and now, so Unity Crayons is making another push to reinvigorate the all-ages scene with 86 List’s Respect CD release show this weekend. “I don’t know if this will bring people back around,” says Josh86.

“I don’t know what the underground all-ages scene is like now. If there’s some sort of need for it to exist, we’ll keep doing shows.”

While the all-ages show promoters are few, Josh86 mentions Jason Miller, Otto, Ara Laylo and Blaine Nishizawa as others who share the principles of reaching out to youth. So why are musicians and music lovers well over the legal age trying so hard to organize all-ages shows with little expectation of financial success?

“It’s not about money,” says Josh86. “That’s what exactly got me in the door with music. Had there not been all-ages shows when growing up, I might not have ever saw that it was not hard to start band. I want to make sure that that door is open for somebody else to see that there is a community of people that are interested in it. Maybe even start a band.”

Unity Crayons hopes to rebuild support for all-ages shows, and dreams of creating a full-time all-ages spot.

“I want Unity Crayons to one day have an all-ages rec center,” says Josh86. “In the daytime, there will be music rehearsal, art classes, workshops, a place for kids to hang out. At night, showcase bands that have used the space during the week. It’s still something I want to do before I die.”

This weekend, start small by shelling out a few bucks for cover and a coffee, and be proud that you are supporting what may one day again be a flourishing culture for the Island’s youth.

In response to the track Red Tide off of the album Respect, Expression Magazine says “thank you so much for your support in equality.”

Josh86’s tale written in music, ink

By Gary C.W. Chun
Friday August 20, 2010

Josh Hancock literally wears his life on his body. It’s the palette for multiple tattoos that cover his chest and the length of both arms.

If you know anything of his lyrical work for the 86 List, Black Square, or his solo project with his band the Pressure, the iconic images inked on his arms come as no surprise: Chuck Berry, Elvis Costello, The Clash’s “London Calling” album and its late front man Joe Strummer, as well as the logos of punk figureheads Operation Ivy and Bad Brains.

His love for his Hawaiian home is illustrated on his chest: a colorful assemblage of flowers, a hula dancer and Diamond Head.

As his musical alter ego Josh86, Hancock has juggled writing for his three bands — dating back 11 years with punk stalwarts the 86 List. He also did his fair share of concert promotion, when his non profit Unity Crayons was still active.

But for this and next weekend, it’s all about the 86, as he, Otto86 and Derek86 promote their fifth album “Respect” with two shows featuring themselves and assorted punk-loving associates.

“I write a lot for both (86 List and Black Square),” said Hancock, “and if I have a song that doesn’t fit here or there, I keep it for myself. They’re usually more personal, talking about struggles, dramas and lessons learned in life. With 86 List, it’s punk rock, and Black Square, political ska.”

The 28-year-old Hancock figures he’s written close to 200 songs over the years.

“It’s all therapy,” he said. “To me, doing band practices are just as important as performing, because all of us are sharing pieces of our lives. Even during tours on the mainland, where we’re sleeping on kitchen floors and eating from 7-Elevens, just playing with these guys makes me feel lucky, because I’m song-making with good people. … It’s both a social and expressive outlet for me.”

He considers the 86 List’s new album a bit of a departure, with “music that’s more pop-y and bouncy.” Lyrically and thematically, Hancock still touches on sociopolitical issues, including the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, civil unions in the song “Red Tide ” and American imperialism in “Like Rome.”

Not that music is ever off his radar.

“In the song ‘Taken,’ I wrote about the struggles of independent music scenes both here and abroad,” he said. “In the local scene, it seems we’ve lost a bit of our fan base for some reason, whether it’s because we’ve all gotten older or some think we’re not the band they think we could’ve been. It’s made for some weird drama over the years.”

86 List

Black Square

MySpace: Josh86

With a possible slot set aside for Black Square on the national Vans Warped Tour next summer, Hancock tempers hope with realistic expectations.

“In our genre, getting on the Warped Tour is the top, because you’re playing with a huge assortment of bands from around the country. But regardless of whether we get it or not, I’ve learned to appreciate where I am now and what I have in front of me.”

As what he hopes his future will bring, Hancock’s plans are two fold.

“One goal is to make 10 albums before I turn 30, and I have one more album to go. … The other I hope to realize before I become 40. I’m currently leasing and renting out studios in the old Blaisdell Hotel downtown, and I’m hoping it’ll lead towards opening up a small but true music venue with solid acoustics.

“I’ll always be rooted in Hawaii,” he said.

The 86 List’s fifth CD, “Respect,” proves the punk-rock band hasn’t mellowed after 11 years.

Time hasn’t dulled 86 List’s edge

By John Berger


86 List
(86 Records)

The 86 List — Josh86 (guitar/vocals), Otto (bass/backing vocals) and Derek86 (drums/backing vocals) — celebrates its 11th anniversary with its fifth CD of original music. The guys’ work is as impressive as in years past. They address contemporary political issues while also sharing brutally honest observations on the local underground music scene.

The opening track, “86 Guns,” shows that they haven’t mellowed with age and popular success. The trio describes its songs as weapons in the struggle to “right the wrong.” This one is a fitting theme for it.

The guys delve into a specific political issue with “Watada,” a shout-out to Lt. Ehren Watada, the Army officer who was court-martialed (and later chose discharge) after refusing to serve in Iraq. They take a broader look at American foreign policy with “Like Rome” and conclude that “like Rome, America will fall … someday!”

Other songs describe the challenges facing alienated young members of the local underground scene.

The 2011 Hoku Awards are nine months away, but count this a front-runner in the rock album category.

“Respect” is available at Otto Cake (1160 Smith St. in Chinatown) and online at iTunes, and

Call: 808-834-6886

» “86 Guns”
» “Choices”
» “Like Rome”

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